Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

OT Tuesday: And the Walls Come 'a Tumblin Down

Last week on Old Testament Tuesday we discussed how Joshua had men scout the city of Jericho and with the aid of the harlot Rahab the scouts were able to bring valuable information back to the Israelites. 

Now the Israelite army is lined up at Jericho, a large city surrounded by a double ring of walls, the outer ring was 6 feet wide, the inner ring was 12 feet wide. Jericho was built on the top of a hill so it could only be taken by an army waging an uphill battle, which in the bronze age was tantamount to suicide. To take a city like Jericho the normal method would be to place the city under siege: surround the city with your army and block all traffic in and out, in essence to starve them out. A typical siege could last for months, or even years. However God had the fall of Jericho scheduled to happen in a week. 

After Joshua insured that everyone was circumcised and ready for battle (Joshua 5:2-8) and after Joshua had a little chat with Jesus (Joshua 5:13-15) (and look here if you missed it) God laid out his battle plan:
The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” (Joshua 6: 2-5)
 So for the next six days, Joshua would rise, gather up his troops, and follow the seven priests with the ram's horns (shofar) and the priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant in their daily march around the city. Wordlessly they marched, the only sound was the scuff of their feet on the rocky soil, the clanking of their weapons, and the constant blasts coming from the horns. Once their march was over they'd break ranks and return to camp, done for the day. If you're a military type that's not a bad duty. Can you imagine what the people of Jericho were thinking? An army marching around your city, not saying anything at all, no commands, no demands, just those endless horns. Then after taking a lap around the walls they stop and go away, all without uttering a single word.

Finally on the seventh and last day Joshua assembled his army, the priests took up their shofar and the ark, and they marched around the city seven times, and on the seventh time when the priests blew their trumpets Joshua shouted Shout! For the Lord has given you the city." (Joshua 6:16) He also told them to take only the things that were not under ban (iron, bronze, gold, silver) and Rahab and her family. Everything else was to be destroyed, nothing else to be taken. 
So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20)
Once the city was taken Joshua told the two spies whom Rahab had hidden Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” and the spies brought Rahab and her entire family to safety, and her family joined the Israelites

Fast forward more than three thousand years... While excavating in and around Jericho between 1930 and 1936, Prof. John Garstang wrote, 
"As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls [of the city] fell outwards so completely that the attackers would be able to clamber up and over their ruins into the city."
Why is this important? Because the evidence from every other archaeological site in the Middle East always showed the walls of the cities always fell inward. Every single one except, of course, Jericho. They all fell inward rather than out for a very simple reason: when attackers besiege a city they are typically trying to get in, not out, the attackers are pushing inward on the walls, they can't pull outward. And yet Jericho's walls clearly fell outward.

Archaeologists also found large stores of recently harvested grain that had been burned. Food stocks were a valuable asset, it can be eaten or used as currency in a barter so it's one of the primary things carried off by a conquering army. But the food had not been taken in accordance with God's command in Joshua 6:17-19 , and instead was put to the torch. Finding large stores of grain left behind by an army is unique in archaeological and a testament to the Israelite Army's faith in God. 

Even the cut stone and bricks were left behind, and those items are almost always carted off to build new buildings elsewhere. (Go stroll through a Home Depot or Lowes, check the prices and tell me you wouldn't mind finding an unclaimed cache of free building materials)

Another interesting thing archaeologists found: in the German excavation of 1907-1909 they discovered that a small section of the north wall did not fall down, and buildings were found to be built attached to the wall. If you remember, Rahab's house was built against the wall, and from the north side of the wall is the hills of the Judean wilderness (mountains) where the spies his for three days after escaping from Jericho (Joshua 2:16,22) This could most likely be the area where Rahab's house was. 

The design of Jericho's defense was awesome; built on a hill, surrounded by two rings of brick wall, and also below the outer ring was a tall (12 foot) retaining wall that attackers would have to climb just to get at the outer wall that they would have to climb or knock down. Archaeologists found that when the outer wall fell outwards it fell over the retaining wall, creating a ramp that an attacker could easily walk up (Joshua 6:20)

Jericho used to be considered a "Bible problem" but while the biblical account remains fixed the archaeological accounts change as they are studied and are coming into line with biblical accounts. Once thought to have happened one thousand years earlier than the time frame of Joshua, re-evaluation of archaeological data revamped the time to 1400 BC, right when the Bible said it would happen. It was once thought that the city burned, then collapsed, but re-evaluation of archaeological data showed that the fire occurred after the walls collapsed. 

What will be discovered next? Sadly the ruins of Jericho lies within palestinian territory so no archaeological digs that would shine a positive light on Judaism are allowed. But if we put our faith in God and follow his commandments he will show us some awesome stuff (Jeremiah 33:3)

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