Genesis 12:7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Now with the instructions of the Commander of the Lord’s armies locked into His mind, Joshua calls the very select group of priests and warriors and issues their special instructions to them.
Joshua 6:6 Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns (literally SHEVA SHOFAROT HA YOVELIM – the 7 Jubilee trumpets) before the ark of the Lord.”
And then Joshua assembled the people and gave them their instructions.
7 And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.”
And then comes the ‘battle’ of Jericho – the City of Palm Trees.
8 So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns (SHEVA SHOFAROT HA YOVELIM – 7 Jubilee trumpets) before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets (SHOFAROT), and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.
9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets (SHOFAROT), and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets (SHOFAROT).
So the men of war advanced before the ark and the priests.
Then came the 7 special priests blowing the trumpets
Then came the ark.
Then came a rear guard of armed men.
10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout! (RUA)’ Then you shall shout (RUA).”
So let’s replay this day by going into the camp where the Israelites were – in Gilgal.
On day one of this campaign, the people got out of bed very excited. The camp was abuzz.
The men of war put on their armour and took up their weapons and no doubt talked about the day ahead.
The priests washed and put on their priestly gear and then took up their trumpets. Then they went to the tabernacle and carefully took out the golden ark of the covenant with the mercy seat with the angels.
They all assembled and waited for Joshua’s command and then began the journey by foot from the camp (in Gilgal) across the few kilometres to Jericho with all its palm trees becoming visible as they neared it.
It was around 25 degrees Celsius (77F) (which is the average temperature at that time of year).
It was harvest time so the barley was high and ready to eat – but with the approaching Israelites, a lot of the barley may have already been harvested and brought into the city to sustain the people of Jericho in the impending siege. Jericho had an internal water supply, so they were all set for potentially a year or more of siege.
The population of Jericho, which consisted of the city residents and the Canaanites who normally inhabited the surrounding land all (who had come into the city for protection) watched from the ramparts especially as they saw the Israelite army approaching.
The great cohort of warriors and priests arrived at Jericho with Joshua and assumed their positions. And upon his order they started their journey around the City of Palm Trees.
As instructed they all remained silent as the priests blew the trumpets. They all went around the city just once and returned to the point they started at. Along the way on the northern wall they all saw the scarlet thread draped out of one of the windows and understood that this was the brave Rahab’s house where her family would have been assembled.
Remembering that Jericho was a maximum of 10 acres or a maximum circumference of 805 metres (2640 feet). This distance ordinarily would take an average person, at a slow gait, about 10-15 minutes to walk. But with lots of men and trumpets and the overall significance, it could have taken anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, but not a huge amount of time all in all.
Then once they had finished their circumnavigating the city, they began the walk back in procession back to their camp at Gilgal to the utter surprise and confusion of the onlooking King, army and residents of Jericho and made it back, I guess, by about lunch time.
The men of war got out of their armour and the 7 priests removed their priestly clothes, put the trumpets away and returned the ark to the tabernacle.
Then they probably went off and told stories with each other and their families over lunch with the children listening on in amazement.
11 So he had the ark of the Lord circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the camp and lodged in the camp.
On day two of the campaign, it was early to rise, breakfast and then they repeated the whole process.
12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.
13 Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns (SHEVA SHOFAROT HA YOVELIM -7 Jubilee trumpets) before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the trumpets (SHOFAROT). And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets (SHOFAROT).
14 And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did six days.
And so it continued day by day – early to rise, breakfast, get dressed, get the weapons, get the trumpets, get the ark and then out to the city, get in formation – armed men, 7 priests with trumpets, the ark, the rear guard. The men stayed silent.
The priests blew the trumpets continually. And then after marching around the city once, each time noticing the scarlet thread hanging from a particular window, they returned to camp.
The people of Jericho were undoubtedly petrified and confused. Rahab and her family were scared and excited, each day wondering -‘Will today be the day?’
But in the 7th day the routine changed. Instead of the normal once around the city, today would be 7 times.
We’ll look at that special day in the next post.