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We must remember, too, amid our reflections on the destruction of Jericho, that, while the Israelites, in completing it, acted under the explicit direction of God, they had no right to indulge any vindictive or malignant feelings, nor wantonly to inflict any unnecessary suffering upon the inhabitants. We have no evidence to lead us to believe that they did so. The whole proceeding is to be regarded as essentially unlike the common kinds of warfare; nor does it furnish, if viewed in its true light, any justification of them. We should never forget, that the spirit of hatred, of revenge, of retaliation, or of taking pleasure in the sufferings of others, is always wrong. We may be called upon, by the providence of God, in the various relations of life, to punish transgressors. But while doing this in obedience to rightful authority, whether human or divine, and while exercising a proper abhorrence of the offence, we should cherish nothing like malicious resentment against the individual, but regard him with pity and compassion, and avoid all that tends to provoke his anger, or aggravate the sufferings which strict justice demands.
This same spirit, too, should pervade our conversation, when we find it necessary to speak of the faults, or the crimes of others. Let the truth, however severe, be spoken in love ; under the influence of candor; without exaggeration; always, and only, to do good; and remembering that it is a fellow-sinner whom we feel it our duty to censure.
A moral lesson to the Israelites in the destruction of Je
richo. Their attack upon Ai unsuccessful, and the rea son of it. The offender detected.
"By faith,” we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about seven days.” Joshua and the Israelites believed the divine de. claration with regard to this strange event, and scrupulously performed the conditions on which it depended. It was to them another illustrious display of the faithfulness and power of Jehovah. They saw in it the need of relying on his arm for success in the arduous enterprise which was before them. In the exercise of a simple faith in God, they did that which to all human appearance seemed to have the least connection with the anticipated result; and it was miraculously brought about in the very way, and at the very moment that had been predicted. Thus, at the outset of their career in taking possession of the promised inheritance, and when they most needed it, they had their confidence strengthened in the divine protection. They were taught also their dependence on God; and their faith was confirmed in his promises, by witnessing the wonderful effect which one exercise of this faith produced.
The prostration of the walls of Jericho, in connection with the simple marching round them of the Israelites, the blowing of the trumpets, and the shout of the multitude, may be made matter of ridicule by the sceptic and the scoffer. But this only shows what narrow views such minds can take, and what impious feelings such hearts can indulge. He who looks at the nature of God's moral government over man ; the necessity of his exhibiting his character, at times, in the way of miraculous agency; the peculiar circumstances in which the Israelites were placed ; and the kind of instruction and encouragement which they needed, will discover in the remarkable event that we have been considering, how well it was adapted to accomplish the most important ends. The wisdom of God, his power, his justice, and his faithfulness, were most conspicuous in it; and the whole course of the Is. raelitish history, if we study it with pious and enlarged views, will continually furnish us with illustrations of the same truth.
It was the design of God, that the ruins of Jericho should remain a perpetual memorial of what he had done, and of his reasons for doing it, in the destruction of that city. At his command, Joshua bound the Israelites by a solemn oath never to rebuild it. "Cursed," said he, "be the man before the Lord, that riseth up
and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.” The import of which seems to be, that, persisting in this impious attempt, in the lapse of time from the commencement of the work to its completion, he should be punished by the death of all his children, from the oldest to the youngest. We read of the fulfillment of this prediction, (1 Kings, 16:34) 550 years afterwards, in the case of Hiel, the Bethelite, who rebuilt Jericho in the reign of Ahaz, and "laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his first born, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub."
The destruction of Jericho showed that the Lord was, indeed, with Joshua ; who was thus raised still higher in the confidence and respect of the Israelites, while the terror of his name was spread throughout the country in all directions; and these were additional reasons for what befel that devoted city.
The Israelites, it will be recollected, were forbidden, under the penalty of being accursed, to take any of the spoils of Jericho for their own
If any one should do this, it would make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.” God would regard the whole body of the people as affected by the transgression in such a way as to draw down upon them his terrible displeasure. They ought to have a better state of moral sentiment; magistrates and parents, those who had authority and influence in whatever degree—all, by their prayers and efforts-should produce a higher, universal tone of obedience to the divine commands, than to have it appear that even one could be found who would rob the treasury of the Lord. If an individual should trangress in this respect, all would be treated as guilty, until the offender was detected, and the punishment due to his transgression inflicted upon him. This would lead to greater diligence on the part of all to prevent the commission of such a crime, or to detect it if committed. It was committed, and we shall see the result.
There was a city, called Ai, about two miles east of Beth-el, and some ten or twelve miles north of Jericho; probably a strong, fortified place, and belonging to the Amorites. Joshua sent spies to examine the situation of this city, and the country round it, as he proposed to make Josbaa & Judges.