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Bible history - ancient cities - Jericho

Updated on November 26, 2010

The Fall of Jericho

The antiquity of Jericho

Jericho, a city of antiquity, situated in a plain traversed by the Jordan on an east-west route 16 kilometres (10 mi) north of the Dead Sea, at the lowest permanently inhabited site on earth. It is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world.  Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of over 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back to 9000 BC.

Second in prominence only to Jerusalem

Jericho enjoyed a place of importance in Christian scripture, perhaps second in prominence only to Jerusalem. It was first mentioned as the city to which the two spies were sent by Joshua from Shittim (Jos ii. 1-21). It was the first place in the Promised Land taken by the Israelites after their passage of the Jordan, on their return from bondage in Egypt, led by Joshua, the successor to Moses. The nature of its capture was miraculous, as its walls, described as so considerable that houses were built upon them (Jos ii. 15), crumbled in the wake of Joshua. As he left the city in ruins Joshua bestowed it him upon the tribe of Benjamin (Josh, xviii. 21), thus it is subsequently referred to in the scriptures as “city of Benjamin”.

Joshua commandeth the sun to stand still

Home of Elisha

It seems to have been left uninhabited for sometime after this before it was later rebuilt. Once rebuilt Jericho rose again to prominence in Biblical tradition. It is closely connected with the prophets Elijah and Elisha. It was in its vicinity that Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings ii. 1-22), and was the home of Elisha, where he " healed the spring of the waters ." It also contained a school of the prophets. In its plains Zedekiah fell into the hands of the Chaldseans (2 Kings xxv. 5; Jer. xxxix. 5). Under Herod the Great Jericho gained prominence as the place of his retirement and subsequent death. It was from here that his death was announced to the people by Salome.

Visited by Jesus

In the New Testament Jericho is mentioned as having been visited by Jesus. It was here that he and gave sight to two blind men (Matt. xx. 29—34), and forgave Zaccheus (Luke xix. 1—10). Between Jerusalem and Jericho was laid the scene of his story of the good Samaritan. Tradition makes the lofty mountain, called Quarantana, to the north-west of the city, the scene of the fasting and temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness after his baptism.


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