After the defeat of Jericho, Joshua declared, "Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho: 'At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates'" (Joshua 6:26). Why did he give this curse?
What was the curse of Jericho? How was it fulfilled?
First, Joshua clearly did not want to see this city that worshiped other gods to be rebuilt. A curse was upon its citizens and their memory due to their worship of false gods.
Second, the destruction of Jericho served as an example to other cities that opposed Israel and its God. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, Jericho was the first major city they encountered. Its devastation would serve as a powerful warning to other people in the land of God's power.
Third, Joshua realized the negative influence the city could have on the Israelites. In fact, the very next chapter records the account of Achan, an Israelite who secretly kept some of the plunder from the battle. His sin caused the Israelites to lose their next battle. Eventually, Achan's sin was revealed and punished.
Joshua's curse was literally fulfilled years later during the reign of King Ahab. We read in 1 Kings 16:34, "In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun."
Some have misunderstood this curse, believing Jericho would never be rebuilt. However, the curse only referred to the one who attempted to rebuild the city. The rebuilt Jericho appears in the New Testament as the place where Jesus healed two blind men (Matthew 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35) and where Jesus met Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–3). It is also mentioned in the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30). The city of Jericho exists still today, home to approximately 18,000 residents in the West Bank.
Joshua's curse served many purposes, yet one of the most significant was the exact fulfillment of the curse hundreds of years later, as recorded in 1 Kings 16:34. This is one of many fulfilled prophecies in the Bible that point to the supernatural work of God in human history.
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