How Did the Walls of Jericho Fall?

  1. When Elijah was fleeing from Queen Jezebel, he and Nathan passed Jericho.
  2. King Ahab pushed Obadiah to meet Hiel of Bethel, who rebuilt the walls.

These fictions based on real events made me curious.

Just how did those walls come tumbling down?

I asked my engineer cousin, Donald Ingram.

— Dave

From the architectural findings, it would appear that the first thing Jerichoans did was build an earthen wall around their approximately 500 citizens.  Walls were needed because people are evil.  It could have been that the Jerichoans needed protection from those they had offended!

But earthen walls are not a lot of protection: just something to hide behind while shooting arrows and throwing spears.

Mudbrick Wall

So they built a mudbrick wall atop the earthen wall.  First, that’s a poor foundation.  Second, they must have been in a hurry, or lazy, not to use stone.  Third, mud bricks deteriorate in rain, and earthen walls erode.  I think they saw that coming, so they decided to build a second wall, further down the slope, with a stone revetment to keep the earthen foundation from eroding.

Poor Foundations

Now we have the archaeological two walls arranged domino fashion, on poor foundations.  It may say something about Jerichoans that they didn’t take the time to start with a better foundation.

All the Jerichoans knew about the success of the Israelites in conquering the Canaanites.  And they were afraid.  But they trusted in their walls, rather than attempting to make peace with the Israelites, and the Israelite God.  All except Rahab, that is.

Epithets and Arrows

When they discovered the Israelites simply marching around their walls and tooting their horns, their fear must have turned to derision.   They must have crowded on the upper wall, shouting epithets and shooting arrows and throwing stones at the stupid Israelites.  All except Rahab.


On the seventh day, the Israelites made seven rounds.  Suddenly they stopped and blew their horns really loud.  The Jerichoans roared back in derision.  Some of them noticed that the wall they were crowded upon actually swayed.

Now for a note from our sponsor:  Our new building at DeVry had three floors.  The fire department regularly, but without warning, pulled our alarms.  We followed a fire drill, and they timed how long it took us to vacate the premises.


On the way out the 3rd floor outside fire escape stairs, the stairs would wobble when a bunch of boys were descending it.  It would sway.  I measured it.  It would sway about a foot from side to side.  I modeled those stairs on my computer with a finite element analysis software application.  It corroborated the swaying in the first harmonic.  I decided bracing was needed, drew up a proposal, and submitted it.  DeVry followed my advice, and my reward was to be written up in their news letter.  Back to the ranch . . .

They Lurched Back

The Jerichoans notice that the 24-foot high, 6-foot wide wall swayed just a little bit when they were all upon its brim.  Not to worry.  But when the Israelites blew their horns so loudly, it startled the onlookers.  They lurched back.  The mudbrick wall on a sand foundation lurched the other way – action, reaction.  Then it rocked back, and everyone lurched the other way to compensate.  They actually exacerbated the swaying, the same as the DeVry boys did to the fire escape stairs.


In mere moments, the weakest part of the upper wall leaned too far out toward the eroded bank it was built on, and slammed down into the lower wall, toppling it too, and killing some of the best Jerichoan fighters.  The weak part of the upper wall pulled the rest of the upper wall down with it, rolling over like a wave breaking on a shore.

All except the portion of the wall where Rahab and her kin were huddled.  Their house was build against the wall, and evidently that was enough extra bracing to keep it from following the rest of the wall.

And the rest is history.  Rahab went on to become the great-great something grandmother of Joseph of Bethlehem. (Matthew 1:5)

The Walls of Jericho – by Bryant G. Wood PhD

The Walls of Jericho: An Alternative Interpretation – by 0. Bar-Yosef

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