Joshua 6:20, The Battle of Jericho

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.

//In perhaps the most famous conquest of the Israelites, Jericho fell in miraculous fashion around the year 1200 B.C. For six days, Joshua’s army marched around the city, parading the Ark of the Covenant and blowing their trumpets. On the seventh day, they trudged around the city seven more times, and as the trumpets blared one final time, the city walls came tumbling down.

This was the first battle Israel fought as it began its conquest of Canaan. The story goes that Israel destroyed every one of the enemy, both young and old, with all their animals, setting a precedence of utter genocide for battles yet to come. For this was the command of God, as they entered the promised land: [T]he LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.

One wonders how Israel could honor such a heartless God? Had they learned nothing from 400 years of mistreatment in Egypt? Thankfully, the evidence argues against the biblical version. Archaeological data shows that the walls of Jericho were destroyed over 300 years before Joshua arrived. Jericho was first destroyed in about 2300 B.C., then rebuilt, and destroyed again by fire in the sixteenth century B.C. As archaeologist Bill Dever says, “if you want a miracle, here’s your miracle: Joshua destroyed a city that wasn’t even there.”

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