City of Jericho in the Old Testament

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Jericho is often referred to as the oldest city on earth, with a history of over ten thousand years. This ancient city is located in the region of Canaan at the lower end of the Jordan valley about eight miles north of the Dead (Salt) Sea. It lies 840 feet below sea level making it the lowest city in the world. Hunters were attracted to this location because of the abundant water sources nearby. Aqueducts and other irrigation systems were built early on, making the city an agricultural center. By 8000 BC, about 2,000 people had permanently settled near present-day Jericho (Metzger and Coogan, 1993).

Jericho was an important city in the Old Testament. The city was overtaken and devastated several times. However, it was always reoccupied -- sometimes quickly and other times very slowly. Herod the Great, Cleopatra, and Augustus are some of the mighty rulers that once took claim of some or all of Jericho. Many Galileans would travel through the Jordan valley and go by Jericho on their route to Jerusalem. By taking this course, they could avoid passing through Samaritan territory (Metzger and Coogan, 1993).

Jericho is perhaps most recognized, especially to youngsters, as the city where Joshua was victorious in battle. This story of marching and shouting and crumbling walls is unbelievable unless you attribute it to God's almighty power. The capture of Jericho is significant because it is the beginning of the war of conquest and the first time a ritual act, "herem," is implemented . "Herem" refers to God's judgment on the condemned and his preservation of those who remain faithful to him. In the story of the Fall of Jericho, Rahab and those in her house were the only residents of Jericho to survive Joshua's conquest. The true victory of the city belongs to the Lord as the city was attained through obedience to His commands (Coogan 2001).

The Fall of Jericho entails a great deal of symbolism. For seven days the Israelite kings and soldiers marched around the city walls. On the seventh day, they encircled it seven times while seven priests carried seven trumpets. The number seven recalls the seven days of creation in Genesis. This implies the creation of a new order and foreshadows the success that will follow the first major battle of the holy war.
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