"Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.” (Joshua 6:1)
The city of Jericho must have been almost paralyzed with fright. Rahab had descriped th peoples expectations in Joshua 2:9-11. “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
The Jordan river was in flood and they had counted on it to at least delay Israel’s approach for at least several days, possibly even weeks. Instead, God dammed up the river and allowed Israel to cross on dry ground in a single day. With no time to call for reinforcements, all Jericho could do was lock up their gates and hope somebody came to their rescue in time.
“And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:2-5)
Jericho was a large, heavily fortified city, with far better defenses than any city Israel had encountered. God gave Joshua specific instructions as to how they were to attack. From a human military approach, the plan God proposed sounds ludicrous. For six days, each day the army was to simply march around the city once a day without talking or making any undue noise, and return to camp.
On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times. Then the priests were to sound their trumpets and every man was to Attack going straight into the city. Remember this is a walled city with walls thick enough that Rahab’s house had been built on top of the wall. Even if the walls collapse, the Israelites will have to climb over the rubble, yet God said the walls would fall down flat and they could go straight in.
“And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD. And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.” (Joshua 6:6-15)
Thoroughly convinced that Israel was going to be victorious, one can only imagine the trepidation in Jericho as Israel sounded the trumpets and marched around the city the first day. The total lack of talk must have been especially unnerving. Even after they returned to camp, Jericho would not dare open the gates or allow anyone out, suspecting concealed ambushers lying in wait. The tension undoubtedly built each time Israel approached again. The seventh day must have been especially stressful when they didn’t stop marching.
In Deuteronomy 20:10-12, God had commanded, “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:” For seven days, Jericho had the option of surrendering, and for seven days they refused.
“And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” (Joshua 6:16-19)
Rahab, the harlot had surrendered herself to Israel, but the rest had refused. Now Joshua commanded them to give a great shout when they heard the trumpets, because God had given them the city. They were to protect Rahab and her family, but to kill everyone and destroy everything else except the metals, which were to be dedicated to the Lord and placed in the treasury. Attempts to salvage anything for themselves would bring God’s curse on Israel.
“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” (Joshua 6:20-21)
When the people shouted, following God’s instructions, the walls fell down flat, just as God had promised. In fact Archaeologists claim the walls of the entire city sank into the ground except for a single small section where Rahab’s house was. Israel did not have to climb over piles of rubble to attack, but were able to march straight in from every side. Can’t you imagine the consternation of the defenders when the wall sank and they were instantly exposed to Israel’s attack with no protection. It would be almost impossible to respond to the change in time to protect oneself.
Israel followed God’s orders, killing and destroying everything as he had commanded, except for one person.