8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.
14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord.”
20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.
Sometime about sixty or so years ago in Didbrook school, Miss Last will have told her infant class (there were two teachers and two classes for the whole school) the story of Joshua fighting the Battle of Jericho. I am sure that the storytelling ended with the walls tumbling down and the city falling to the Israelites.
It would be years later I actually read the Biblical account for myself and saw that the breaching of the walls was far from the end. What followed was a wholesale slaughter of the entire population of Jericho and all their livestock. Perhaps Miss Last did not want to give us nightmares by telling the whole story of the sacking and destruction of Jericho.
With 21st century hindsight it does seem a horrific story but sadly that was the way of things in those days and indeed up until only two or three hundred years ago when an army was victorious it was not uncommon for the defeated to be put to the sword. ‘Butcher’ Cumberland was no misnomer (but neither was he unusual).
The chronicler of Joshua’s exploits records the events to show that his victory was complete, that the God of the Israelites is in charge and will brook no opposition. It is not so much a celebration but a warning to others not to oppose his chosen people. It seems horrific to our sensibilities, but there is always a danger when applying modern moralities retrospectively.
Suffice it to say that God’s purpose was served by Jericho being delivered to his people, and paving the way for their occupation of the promised land; means may not always be just, but the end in this case was of far more importance.
Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, it is sometimes hard to understand your ways and the ways of your people. Sometimes it seems cruel, unjust and unmerciful from a God of love, justice and mercy, but we do not see the whole picture, only you know how the pattern will resolve itself. So may we trust you to do what is right, when it’s right, and to find ways to help you achieve your, not our, will.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,