Glimpses of Israel - Jericho

by Joseph Hunting

Jericho has the distinction of being the oldest inhabited city on earth. It was already an established city when it was destroyed by the Hebrews as they began their conquest of the Promised Land 3,500 years ago. At that time it was situated in a very fertile Jordan valley described in the Bible as "well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord." (Genesis 13:10)

When the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah together with the other cities in the area, Jericho was spared. However, after it was destroyed by Joshua he warned that the city was never to be rebuilt and placed an awful curse upon anyone who attempted to rebuild the city. "Then Joshua declared a terrible curse upon anyone who might rebuild Jericho, warning that when the foundation was laid, the builder's oldest son would die, and when the gates were set up his youngest son would die." (Joshua 6:26 TLB)

Six hundred years later the prophecy was fulfilled. "It was during his reign (King Ahab's) that Hiel, a man from Bethel, rebuilt Jericho. When he laid the foundations, his oldest son Abiram died; and when he finally completed it by setting up the gates, his youngest son Segub died. For this was the Lord's curse upon Jericho as declared by Joshua, the son of Nun." (I Kings 16:34 TLB)

In Bible times the rebuilt city of Jericho was also called the City of Palm Trees and it was an important stopover for travellers wishing to avoid Samaria en route to Galilee. Recently archaeologists in excavating the mound that marked the site of Biblical Jericho have exposed a circular tower and the walls of buildings. An interesting link with those days is Elisha's spring which still gushes with sparkling fresh water two thousand five hundred years after the prophet healed the spring from impurities.

In the twelfth century the Arab Omayyad dynasty built magnificent palaces, the remains of which are still preserved to this day.

Towering above Jericho is the traditional Mount of Temptation on the edge of the Judaean wilderness and not far distant is the famous Qumran site which yielded many of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Jericho witnessed the initial entry of the children of Israel into their inheritance and after three and a half thousand years their descendants have again possessed the Land promised to them. It was the power of the Eternal that took them into their land so long ago and it is the same God who is keeping them there today.