Joshua 6:15-27 – Destruction of Jericho

Last week the Divine Warrior laid out the battle strategy for Joshua.
  • A strategy that was anything but a typical battle strategy.
  • In our text today, the strategy is completed and comes to a successful conclusion.
  • I want to deal with three specific and repeated themes, not with the text in its entirety.


Joshua 6:16 (ESV) — 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.
Joshua 6:20 (ESV) — 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.

At the seventh encircling of Jericho, the soldiers were to finally break their silence and shout.
  • In this instance, the Israelites would “have been sounding a war cry”, or a battle cry – John Howard.
  • The purpose would have been to:
    • (1) Frighten and intimidate the enemy – John Howard & Woudstra.
    • (2) Praise God for the coming victory – John Howard.
    • (3) Unify, Inspire and Encourage each other – Woudstra.

In the ANE, “mustering for a holy war took place by means of a blast of the trumpet” – Gerhard von Rad.
  • Like the battle cry, sounding the trumpets would also have served to do the 3 aforementioned things.
  • The Israelites used the shophar – “a curved musical instrument made of the horn of a ram” – TWOT.
  • It was important not only in the military life of Israel, but was also used in a religious context such as “expressions of praise” – TWOT.
  • Psalm 98:6 (ESV) — 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

In Guns of August, author Barbara Tuchman points out over and over the necessity of music in battle to unify, inspire and encourage.
  • “Cut off from the rest of the Belgian Army, the garrison troops and the 4th Division felt themselves deserted. Commandant Duruy, Lanrezac’s liaison officer at Namur, returned to Fifth Army headquarters to say he did not think the forts would hold out another day without some evidence of French help. ‘They must see the French troops marching along with colors unfurled and a band playing. There must be a band,’ he pleaded” – Barbara Tuchman.
  • “In dust, heat, and discouragement and fatigue beyond telling the British retreat continued. Trailing through St. Quentin, the tired remnants of two battalions gave up, piled up their arms in the railroad station, sat down in the Place de la Gare, and refused to go farther…Major Bridges wished desperately for a band to rouse the two hundred or three hundred dispirited men lying about in the square” – Barbara Tuchman.

Trumpet and Judgment:
It needs to be noted that in certain contexts the sound of the trumpet carried with it the idea of coming judgment.
  • No doubt, in our text, judgment was coming down on Jericho.
  • Something we discussed in our God-sanctioned war lesson.
  • But, importantly, as Paul tells us, there is coming one final blow of the trumpet that will carry with it eternal consequences.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (ESV) — 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.


Joshua 6:19 (ESV) — 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.”
Joshua 6:24 (ESV) — 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.

There is a parallel in Joshua 6 with the Gospel of John.
  • In John’s Gospel, he portrays one’s status with Christ in black or white terms.
  • One is either in the light or in darkness.
  • One remains under God’s wrath or doesn’t.
  • One is drawn or isn’t.
  • One has ears to hear or they don’t.
  • And so on…

In Joshua 6, all the inhabitants, animals and things are either “put into the treasury of the house of the Lord” or “devoted to destruction”.
  • Significantly, in either case the idea was that they were “given over” or “set apart” for the Lord – John Howard.
  • Before we tackle the significance of being “devoted to destruction” I want to first deal with “the treasury of the house of the Lord”.

In Joshua, the “house of the Lord” probably refers to the “tent of meeting in the tabernacle” – Michael Heiser.
  • At the time of the attack on Jericho, the tabernacle was probably located at Gilgal.
  • The treasure itself would be used for “carrying out the Lord’s service” in the tabernacle – Woudstra.
  • From Moses to David and beyond, we see example after example of treasure being consecrated for use in the tabernacle.
  • Numbers 31:54 (ESV) — 54 And Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tent of meeting, as a memorial for the people of Israel before the Lord.
  • 2 Samuel 8:11 (ESV) — 11 These also King David dedicated to the Lord, together with the silver and gold that he dedicated from all the nations he subdued,

What went on in the tabernacle?
Exodus 40:1–15 (ESV) — 1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3 And you shall put in it the ark of the testimony, and you shall screen the ark with the veil. 4 And you shall bring in the table and arrange it, and you shall bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 And you shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the testimony, and set up the screen for the door of the tabernacle. 6 You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, 7 and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 8 And you shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court. 9 “Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it may become holy. 10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. 11 You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water 13 and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests. And their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

We have to mention that both the tabernacle and all its religious artifacts point to Christ.
  • In other words, “the tabernacle was a type of God’s dwelling with men through Jesus…” – David Murray.
  • “A type is a real person, place, object, or event that God ordained to act as a predictive pattern or resemblance of Jesus’ person and work…” – David Murray.
  • For example, as the Israelites submitted to God’s tabernacle demands “they trusted in the Messiah, without knowing all the details of how fulfillment would finally come” – Vern Poythress.


Joshua 6:18 (ESV) — 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.
Joshua 6:21 (ESV) — 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.

As we mentioned, everything in Jericho was going to be consecrated to the Lord.
  • (1) Either put in service of His tabernacle
  • (2) Or devoted to destruction

How is destruction an act of consecration?
  • “The Hebrew phrase for ‘devote to destruction,’ cherem, refers to the destruction of life—human and otherwise—as an act of devotion to Yahweh. The destruction is an act of complete consecration; therefore the verb has a religious connotation: destruction is an act of sacrifice” – Michael Heiser.
  • Or to put another way, destruction can be seen as an “irrevocable surrender to God” of those things that “impede or resist” God’s Work – TWOT.
  • And the Lord tells Israel that if this is not done destruction will come upon “the camp of Israel” (6:18).

To make sense of this, we need to keep in mind, once again, the context and character of God issues from our God-sanctioned war lesson.
  • Additionally, this language “was targeted, not indiscriminate” within the book of Joshua – Michael Heiser.
  • It is directed against the tribes of Canaan.
  • Who, as we already saw, were especially wicked in God’s eyes.

Additionally, God instructed Moses in Deuteronomy 7:2-6 that this devotion to destruction of the Canaanites must occur, otherwise they will lead the Israelites astray.
  • Deuteronomy 7:2–4 (ESV) — 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

BTW – There are those who think the Canaanites were related to the Nephilim (offspring of fallen angels and humans) of Genesis 6 – Michael Heiser.
  • As such, their wickedness was even more heinous in God’s sight.
  • The spies sent out by Moses to Canaan reported the following:
  • Numbers 13:33 (ESV) — 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

One more sobering aspect of this devotion to destruction was the role of the Divine Warrior – Christ.
  • Exodus 23:20–23 (ESV) — 20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. 22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out,

But, vividly contrasted with Christ as judge is Christ as savior.
  • Rahab’s rescue from the devotion to destruction takes up most of the end of Joshua 6.
  • The stark contrast of Rahab’s rescue with Jericho’s destruction is “unusually significant” – Woudstra.
  • Richard Hess suggests that Rahab’s rescue was theologically possible because:
  • She had “ceased to be a Canaanite and ‘devoted’ [herself] to the God of Israel”
  • So she did not escape “devotion” to God, but by her faith, her “devotion” was salvation and not destruction.