Glimpses of Israel - Omayyad Palace, Jericho

by Joseph Hunting

Not only was Jericho famous for its supernatural destruction when the Israelites under Joshua invaded Canaan, but at that time Joshua put a curse upon the man who should rebuild the city.

"And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that rises up and builds this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in (that is, in the death of) his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it" (6:26).

This curse was fulfilled about seven centuries later during the reign of King Ahab of Israel. "In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun" (1 Kings 16:34).

Jericho has had a continuous history with many rulers building their winter palaces there. Among them were members of the Omayyad dynasty. The Khalif Hisham of this dynasty ruled from Damascus, but in 724 AD he built a magnificent palace about a mile north of the famous Elisha's spring.

Excavations in 1953 revealed beautiful relics of the past with some of the finest mosaics to be found in Israel.