Jericho, Babylon, and Armageddon
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30 RV)
by James Parkinson
Listen to audio
Joshua had been Moses’ attendant and then his appointed successor. Joshua was to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. The fortified city of Jericho was on the route, but Jericho shut its gates against Israel — a hostile act, being unwilling even to sell them food.
Jehovah God disclosed the battle plan to Joshua (Joshua 6). Joshua rose early on the first day and for six days the Israelite army and the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
marched around the city once each day. Then they (the Israelites) rose early on the seventh and last day and they marched around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. At the end of the last circuit, there was a long blast of the trumpet and Jericho’s wall fell down before them.
John Garstang, Kathleen Kenyon, and other archaeologists tell us that Jericho’s wall had been 15-20 feet high, with a trench of water dug on the outside, and the wall fell outward. An earthquake likely caused the wall to fall into the trench. Instead of a wall and trench, Israel now had a cobblestone road leading up into the city! “The wall fell down flat so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city” (Joshua 6:20).
Jericho had one Early Bronze Age wall and two Middle Bronze Age walls around all but the downhill eastern side of the city (where not needed); the outermost wall curved farther around the northeast side. Thus, when “the wall (singular) fell down flat” it would have been at the northeast corner, toward the camp of Israel. The wall still stands to its full height only at the northwest corner, indicating where Rahab’s house had been — opposite the city gates at the southeast corner of Jericho. The grain bins were found full, but charred, affirming that the time was at the Spring harvest, that the siege was brief, and that “they burnt the city with fire” (Joshua 6:24).
Joshua at Jericho Has Also Prophetic Significance
Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 draws a lastday prophecy from Joshua vs. Jericho, where he gives four phenomena in reverse order (see table, top of next page).
Further, the seven priests bearing “seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark” are the basis for the seven trumpets in Revelation. The seven days around Jericho evidently divide the Gospel Age into seven periods of time and the seven priests represent the seven messengers to the seven periods (Revelation 8-11). The seven messengers giving the letters to the seven periods would therefore also span the Gospel Age (Revelation 2-3). (Perhaps the seven trumpeting priests marching together implies that their consecutive messages are complementary, even though centuries apart.) The seven marches around Jericho on the seventh (last) day would typify the seven last plagues (Revelation 16). Joshua 6 thus gives us a framework to understand a third of the Book of
Comparison of Jericho Events, with 1 Thessalonians 4:16
(1) They rose early at the dawning of the day
(2) at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets
(3) Joshua said unto the people, Shout
(4) the people shouted with a great shout
1 Thessalonians 4:16
(4) and the dead in Christ shall rise first
(3) and with the trump of God
(2) with the voice of the archangel
(1) with a shout
Three other Types and Lessons
(1) The Greek form of the name Joshua is “Jesus,” and Joshua beautifully typifies Jesus Christ. Jericho typifies symbolic Babylon, which is commonly identified with Rome (as in
1 Peter 5:13).
(2) 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 also draws from the Jericho history, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: 1We shall all fall asleep, but we shall not all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in [during] the last [seventh] trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (RVIC).
1 Thus read the majority of best Greek manuscripts of Paul (designated א C A* 1739 33 0243*), though two others (B 81) and 575 lesser Gk. mss. read as most English Bibles.
(3) Rahab had earlier saved the lives of the two Israelite spies; so she and all her kindred were rescued before the city was burnt. There is evidence of hasty burials just prior to the fall of Jericho, suggesting a contagion only days before the siege. So “they set them [Rahab and kindred] without the camp of Israel” (Joshua 6:23), meaning they were quarantined (perhaps according to the laws of Leviticus 13). Afterward, Rahab was rewarded by marrying Salmon, of the tribe of Judah, from whom descended David, and later Jesus Christ himself (Matthew 1:5).
After Jericho was conquered and burned, Joshua charged Israel with an oath, “Cursed be the man before Jehovah, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: with the loss of his firstborn shall he lay the foundation thereof, and with the loss of his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it” (Joshua 6:26 ASV). About seven centuries later the prophecy and curse were fulfilled by Hiel the Bethelite in the days of King Ahab of Israel (1 Kings 16:33-34).
The reality is always greater than the type; so the period between Jericho’s destruction and re-building should represent Christ’s thousand-year kingdom and the rebuilding of Jericho by Hiel would represent Satan’s attempt at a comeback during the “little season,” or more literally, “short time” (Revelation 20:3). In the rebuilding of Jericho, we see that Satan’s “short time” is to be of significant duration. (The implication here that some — typified by Hiel’s firstborn — will go into second death near the beginning of this “short time,” and others — typified by the youngest — at its end, may commend further study, as this is not shown in Pharaoh’s charioteers at the Red Sea, nor probably in Revelation 20:7-10 nor Isaiah 22:15-19, though it might be in Isaiah 65:20.)
Aspects of Armageddon
Revelation’s seven angels /messengers with trumpets evidently correspond to the seven priests with the seven trumpets/messages at Jericho (there being no other similar group in the Bible). So the seven days marching around Jericho picture the two thousand years of the Gospel Age. The fall of Jericho typifies Armageddon and the fact that Babylon cannot fortify itself against Jehovah God.
The successive disobediences, oppression, and liberating battles of the Judges (Deliverers, Liberators) each give another lesson regarding Armageddon and the ultimate liberation of the human race into the thousand-year Kingdom of Christ.
Man learns from history that man does not learn from history. Thus, when Joshua and his contemporary elders died, Israel returned to idolatry — worshiping Baals and Asherahs. Hence, the need for Judges — Liberators.