15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.
Verses 15-17: Not only has Joshua remained faithful to the commands of the Lord, however unorthodox they might have seemed, but he is also remaining faithful to the promise his men made to Rahab regarding her family. The emotions of all the Israelites were undoubtedly high at this time, having camped around Jericho for about a week. They were eager to conquer and begin to fulfill what God had promised them. Joshua tempers those emotions, first by proclaiming God has given them the city, second by letting them know the city and all within it will be devoted to the Lord, and third by reminding them of the one place that has sanctuary from the invasion. As we go through life we often need the help of others, directly or indirectly, in order to accomplish our goals and the plans that God has for our lives. And in the moment when we obtain that desire, it can be easy to focus on that moment and forget to thank those who helped get us there. Be like Joshua and remember where the help came from, both from God and from those who helped along the way. Something as small as providing thanks and recognition can bless someone far beyond what you will ever know.
18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
Verses 18-21: Common practice throughout history is to loot the spoils of the conquest of an area. Food, drink, and monetary possessions were up for grabs and a great incentive for the soldiers to put their lives on the line. But this conquest of Jericho is different; everything within the city is to be devoted to the Lord. And not just in any manner, it is to be destroyed except for the gold and silver (which were placed in the treasury of the Lord). All people and all animals within, with the exception of Rahab and her family, were slaughtered. This seems harsh, after all isn’t the God we know a loving God? These are parts of the Bible that we, as Christians, ought to wrestle with rather than react. A reaction would be to simply ignore the fact that everyone there died. Another would be to throw the Bible aside and proclaim that you cannot believe in a god who would do such a thing. Yet we can see only an infinitesimal glimmer of what transpired. Perhaps God, in His all-knowing wisdom, foresaw that this land would lead to the complete destruction of the Israelites if even one was allowed to win. Perhaps God knew that if everything was destroyed in Jericho, it would ultimately save more lives over the course of the military campaign. We will never know the answer. We can only speculate. But the more a person wrestles with these passages, considering possible reasons that align with the traits of God, the more developed and mature our faith becomes and the better apologists we will be able to become.
22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Verses 22-25: Not only did Rahab receive life through her actions, she was also welcomed in among the Israelites. And God had a great plan for Rahab, which can be seen in completion when you look at the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. From a prostitute in a city that God had promised for total destruction to being a link in the chain that led to the coming of Christ. What great honor was bestowed upon Rahab, a woman who probably never imagined great things would ever come out of her life. She never lived to see this happen, nor do we know of any promises given to her about it, but I have to believe that Rahab has been rejoicing in Heaven ever since she first found out that the Son of God would be born from her line. Think of those people who have touched your life over the years without ever knowing it. Even a complete stranger possesses the power to completely change a person’s day, and changing one day for the better could transform them for life. You don’t have to actively preach the Gospel to every person you meet. But every person should be able to see the Gospel being lived out through you and your interactions.
26 Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.
“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
shall he set up its gates.”
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Verses 26-27: Joshua lays down a curse on whoever would dare to rebuild Jericho, that it would cost him both his firstborn and youngest son in the completion of this feat. And Jericho remained in ruins until a man named Hiel of Bethel decided to rebuild it during the reign of King Ahab (See 1 Kings 16:34). And, sure enough, Joshua’s declaration came true regarding to cost to rebuild Jericho. But why would this curse be laid, and why would God honor it? It was a city whose whole destruction was dedicated to God, and it was through God that the walls came crashing down to give the Israelites the victory. We see that the Lord was with Joshua and God’s fame spread through the entire land. It is not clear whether it was Joshua’s fame or God’s fame spreading, but we can be certain that if the former, it also brought about the latter. Time and time again we have seen Joshua follow God’s commands faithfully, and constantly reminding the Israelites of God and His promises to them. A successful military campaign at Jericho would be unlikely to change that.