Joshua 6:26

And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.

And Joshua adjured them at that time – It appears that he had received intimations from God that this idolatrous city should continue a monument of the Divine displeasure: and having convened the princes and elders of the people, he bound them by an oath that they should never rebuild it; and then, in their presence, pronounced a curse upon the person who should attempt it. The ruins of this city continuing would be a permanent proof, not only of God’s displeasure against idolatry, but of the miracle which he had wrought in behalf of the Israelites; and for these reasons God willed that it should not be rebuilt: nevertheless, he left men to the operation of their own free will, and recorded the penalty which those must pay who should disobey him.

He shall lay the foundation thereof, etc. – This is a strange execration; but it may rather be considered in the light of a prediction. It seems to intimate that he who should attempt to rebuild this city, should lose all his children in the interim, from laying the foundation to the completion of the walls; which the author of 1 Kings 16:34 says was accomplished in Hiel the Beth-elite, who rebuilt Jericho under the reign of Ahab, and laid the foundation of it in Abiram, his first-born, and set up its gates in his youngest son Segub: this was 550 years after Joshua pronounced the curse. But we are not sure that this means that the children either died a natural or violent death on this occasion for we may understand the history as relating to the slow progress of the work. Hiel having begun the work at the birth of his first-born, was not able to conclude before the birth of his last child, who was born many years after: and as their names are mentioned, it is very likely that the distance of time between the birth of each was well known when this history was written; and that the extraordinary length of time spent in the work, in which a multitude of vexatious delays had taken place, is that to which the prophetic execration relates. Yet the first opinion is the most probable. We must not suppose that Jericho had been wholly neglected from its overthrow by Joshua to the days of Hiel; if it be the same with the city of palm trees, mentioned Deuteronomy 34:3. We find it mentioned as an inhabited place in the beginning of Judges 1:16, a short time after the death of Joshua: And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees, with the children of Judah, etc.; and this said city (if the same with the city of palm trees) was taken from the Israelites by Eglon king of Moab, Judges 3:13. The ambassadors of David, who were disgracefully treated by Hanun king of the Ammonites, were commanded to tarry at Jericho till their beards should grow, 2 Samuel 10:42 Samuel 10:5. It appears, therefore, that there was a city which went under this name long before the time of Hiel, unless we can suppose that the city of palm trees was a different place from Jericho, or that the name Jericho was given to some part of the circumjacent country after the city was destroyed, which is very probable. After Hiel had rebuilt this city, it became of considerable consequence in the land of Judea: the courses of priests lodged there, who served in their turns at the temple; see Luke 10:30. There was a school of the prophets there, which was visited by Elijah and Elisha, 2 Kings 2:42 Kings 2:52 Kings 2:18; and it was at this city that our Lord miraculously healed blind Bartimeus, Mark 10:46Luke 18:35, etc. At present, Jericho is almost entirely deserted, having but thirty or forty miserable cabins in it, which serve for a place of refuge to some wretched Moors and Arabs, who live there like beasts. The plain of Jericho, formerly so celebrated for its fertility, is at present uncultivated, producing nothing but a few wild trees, and some very indifferent fruits. See Calmet.


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