Chapter 2 - Jericho's Giants
From the most ancient times Jericho was known as the worlds oldest city. Modern excavators confirm its great antiquity. They say Jerichos ruins show it to be the earliest instance of urban civilization known to man. In olden days it also became widely known as the "city of the giants"1--because so many Gibborim once lived within its walls.
Today, however, most people remember Jericho for its unique place in the annals of warfare. For here, in Joshuas day, occurred perhaps the strangest battle of all time. According to the biblical records, which have now been verified by modern archaeological work, Jerichos high, fortified walls collapsed before the Hebrews onslaught, as if literally knocked down by the hand of God. This took place after the Hebrews, at Joshuas command, marched around the city for seven days. The sudden buckling of the walls at the end of the seventh days march, at the sound of the last trumpet, followed by the besiegers mighty shout, was foretold by Joshua.
In his journal, Joshua also mentions Jerichos giants. This brief reference, recorded in Joshua 6:2, quotes the Lord as saying to him: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor." The mighty men here denotes the Gibborim, this phrasing being derived from the same Hebrew word that Moses used in Genesis 6:4 to signify the giants. Thus, Joshua indicates that when Jerichos walls fell outward and the Israelites charged over the dusty pile of rubble into the city some of the combatants they met and slew were the Gibborim. An ancient tradition, incidentally, confirms this scripture, for it relates that some of Jerichos giants escaped the doomed city and fled to Africa.2
Before its destruction, Jericho occupied a large, lush oasis, surrounded by a sunbaked wasteland where temperatures in summer time sometimes reached 120 degrees. Crowded within its double walls were the royal residence of the king and several solidly built stone structures and public buildings that archaeologists say exhibited "excellent architectural technique." It contained both large and small dwelling places, but space was at such a premium that some houses were built across the top of the walls.3 Watered year round by a copious, bubbling spring (now called Bin es Sultan), the broad extremely fertile plain round about the city yielded plentiful crops and provided groves of date palms, balsams, sycamores, and henna, for which Jericho became famous. Because of its strategic location, the city also thrived as a center for trade. Besides its various woods and agricultural crops, its merchants trafficked in salt, sulphur, copper, and bitumen, all being found in great abundance in the region around the Salt Sea. Jericho also abounded in silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron.4 From its widespread trade, its merchants grew wealthy, and its citizens lived in comfort and safety behind its well fortified walls.
The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 5 (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1901), p. 659.2.
According to Joshua 6:21, the Hebrews destroyed every living thing in Jericho--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, and donkeys. But this statement does not say that none escaped, though some read it so.3.
During his excavation work, Dr. John Garstang discovered the ruins of several houses that had been built across the top of the two walls. When the outer wall fell outward, it dragged the inner wall and the houses with it down the hillside. Also see Joshua 2:15.4.