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Jericho - drawing of the collapsed walls of the city

Jericho's walls collapse as an earthquake shakes and twists its foundations.
The revetment and the mud brick wall above it start to crumble.
The bricks fall into a pile at the base of the wall, forming a ramp for the invader.

See below for the photograph on which this drawing is based

More heroic legend than historical fact? That is the question - one on which archaeologists disagree.

But the story was certainly based on true events.

At the time that Joshua invaded, Jericho was probably a small settlement or fort. It was a natural target for any invader, because it was the strategic key to the area west of the Jordan.



 Excavated walls at Jericho - compare with drawing above
Note the houses built into the walls, as described in the Bible



How did a small group of semi-nomadic tribesmen, lacking military discipline and any proper weaponry, beat a superior Canaanite enemy?
A well-trained enemy with superior technology?
How could they defeat powerful Canaanite fortress cities, which they described as 'great and walled up to heaven'? (Deuteronomy 1:28)

Well, they didn't. Jericho was past its zenith, its army a shadow of its former strength. The foe that Joshua faced was depleted, weakened. The land of Canaan was unable to present a unified front against an invasion. It had been exploited by Egypt, so that its once-great wealth was gone.

The Hebrew tribes, one the other hand, had a highly developed intelligence service. Cleverly, they used any source they could. It's been suggested that Rahab, called a prostitute in most translations of the Bible, might really have been an inn-keeper. 

Inns were ideal places to gather information about the morale of a city, its weak spots, how capable it was of defending itself  (though it must be admitted that brothels are probably also just as useful for this).


Napoleon once said that an army marches on its stomach. Joshua already knew this and paid close attention to logistics -  supply of food and equipment. The Israelites plundered cattle and produce, which meant that they had fresh food. Their enemy did not.

The Israelites were also excellent tacticians. They avoided frontal assaults on an enemy, and whenever they could they used deception, surprise, military cunning and diversionary tactics - anything rather than straight confrontation, which was not their forte.

Note: Archaeologists have debated whether or not the Israelites conquered Jericho. Kathleen Kenyon, who excavated Jericho in the 1950s, claimed that Jericho was destroyed in the 16th century BC, before the time of Joshua, but a  comprehensive new survey of Kenyon’s evidence at Jericho has led Bryant Wood to conclude that a walled city existed at Jericho until about 1400 BC, when it was destroyed in a conquest similar to the Biblical account.


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