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Wrong shortcode initialized
The story of the walls of Jericho tumbling down is super fun. But it’s also a sign of God’s mission as stated in Moses 1:39 – to draw His children to Him. The passive way in which the Israelites approached the city, circling it with the ark of the covenant, gave the citizens of Jericho a week-long chance to watch and consider switching sides. When the walls finally fell down it was a testimony to the Israelites and the Jericho-ites (?!) that the God of Israel was a God of power. So rather than having the Israelites use their own strength, God used His power to help all of His children see that they could rely on Him.
Why do the Canaanites get the short end of the stick in this story? They’re just living their own lives in Canaan and now these foreigners get to come in and take over? Not cool, right?
Well, the Canaanites had some serious problems. They were committing some truly abhorrent sexual sins (seriously, just read the first 15 verses of Leviticus 18 to find out– so gross), and offered their own children as burnt sacrifices to their gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-31). Not the kind of next-door neighbors God would want for His holy nation.
One thing to remember as you read Joshua 10:36-39 (and back in Deuteronomy) is that some of these stories likely include the use of hyperbole. Phrases such as “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth” (Deuteronomy 20:16) and “utterly destroyed all the souls therein” (Joshua 10:39) sound like God gave the Israelites permission to start a genocide.
But if you fast forward to Joshua 15 you’ll find that these same cities that the Israelites supposedly destroyed still had Canaanites living there. So it seems that Joshua– like other authors of his time who wrote about battles– used hyperbole (exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally) rather than speaking literally. (For more on the use of hyperbole in the scriptures check out this article from Meridian Magazine and episode 593 – an interview with Professor Trevan Hatch– of the One Minute Scripture Study podcast.)
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