Biblical Places Spiritual Spaces - Jericho

Jericho - The Oldest and Lowest City in the World

Lukas considering the oldest city in the world. 2018

When you hear the word ‘Jericho”, what do you think of?

For many, its “The walls came tumbling down.” It’s a reference to when the Israelites marched around the city for seven days and when they shouted, the walls miraculously fell down.

For three residents of Jericho, this was indeed their story. Their spiritual walls fell down and they became notable people.

Located at the north end of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest city on Earth, with an elevation of 846 feet below sea level.

The Dead Sea has a heavy mineral content that allows anyone to float.

Arielle, Mikaela and Moselle

People come to the Dead Sea from all over the world for the therapeutic benefits of the mud! Physicians give prescriptions for skin disease treatments at the spas along the shore.

Jericho is the city of palms, with the mountains of Moab in the distance.

It is also the oldest city in the world, with archeological evidence that there was a settlement here at 8000-9000 B.C. There are 13 foot walls at Tel al Sultan that were built around 8000 B.C. with one of the watchtowers measuring 28 feet in height.

The 9000 year old tower

A recently excavated wall

The most modern wall, with Ben and Lukas, which marks the parking lot for the Tell, and the famous Mt. Temptation Restautant.

We have had many delicious meals here!


Jericho is the city of palms that was on one of the major thoroughfares of the ancient world. Any travelers coming from Galilee or Syria on their way to Jerusalem would usually walk down the Jordan River valley, and when they arrived at the northern end of the Dead Sea, they followed the Wadi Qelt up to Jerusalem. Jericho is where the Wadi Qelt intersects the Jordan River.

Hiking up the Wadi Qelt

The trail was famous for robbers hiding along this narrow gully

Lukas, Jair, Mikaela, Moselle and Gal

In the Judean Wilderness, this is a water spot

A nice place to spend Shabot

Jericho has a rich Biblical history, with three personalities that continue to tell the story of God’s salvation and redemption.

1) A low self-image woman well used by many.

1 Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.
2 But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
4 Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5 They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) 7 So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
8 Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9 “I know the LORD has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
12 “Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13 when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”
14 “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the LORD gives us the land.”
15 Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. 16 “Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.”
17 Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. 18 When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. 19 If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. 20 If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.”21 “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.                                                                                                              Joshua 2:1-21

St George monastery

20 When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. 21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. 22 Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.”
23 The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.
24 Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the LORD’s house. 25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.                                                              Joshua 6:20-25

Here are the other Biblical references to Rahab:

5 Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).
Obed was the father of Jesse.  6 Jesse was the father of King David. Matthew 1:5-6

She became the great great grandmother to King David, and an ancestor or Jesus!

30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:30-31

24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. James 2:24-26

Rahab is noted as a hero of the Faith!

A Canaanite woman became a believer that Yahweh was the Lord of Lords, the supreme deity of all.  It is probable that many in Jericho knew that from the evidence that Rahab described, but it was only her that acted on her faith, which resulted in her salvation as well as her family.

Rahab, a former prostitute and societal lowlife, not invited into polite company, nor acknowledged by the rich and elite, became one of the heroes of our faith, because she acted on her faith. She was the great, great, grandmother of King David, and ancestor of Jesus.

A rare Dead Sea Rainbow

2) Some human trash along side the road.

46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. Mark 10:46-52

A blind son of Timaeus had heard about Jesus, probably from many passing from Galilee through Jericho on their way up to Jerusalem. He probably heard that Jesus had been doing miraculous things, and that He was a teacher like no other.  Notice how he addressed Jesus as “My Rabbi.” He calls Jesus ‘Son of David’, a title only used for the Messiah. He knew, even thought he was physically blind, that Jesus was the Lord.

Son of Timaeus was loud and persistent, in spite of many in the crowd telling him to be silent. He wanted an encounter with Jesus. Jesus sensed his need, and his desire to know him, and called out to him. Jesus gave Son of Timaeus an opportunity. Bar Timaeus spoke sincerely and directly, “I want to see!” Jesus connected Bar Timaeus’s faith with the miracle that gave him his sight. Suddenly his sight was restored. Bar Timaeus looked around, picked up his phone, and began scrolling his social media accounts.

No, he didn’t do that or the cultural historical equivalent. He physically followed Jesus down the road, and probable on the Jerusalem. Because Mark mentions him by name, and Matthew doesn’t, Son of Timaeus was probably known by the Christian community when Mark wrote his Gospel. Son of Timaeus was a living witness to the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ, and his miraculous power.

Son of Timaeus was a beggar, which life consisted of sitting in public places, utilizing his handicap to ask for financial help. He was a nuisance to polite society, and often ignored and overlooked. Notice how the crowd, those who knew him, told him to shut up when he began making a scene as Jesus approached. To them, he was nobody special. But to Jesus, it was just the opposite- he stood out in that crowd. Jesus recognized a man who realized his need for a personal encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus stopped his journey to receive this nobody into his family. Without a doubt, Son of Timaeus became a very effective follower and disciple maker of Jesus.


3) A despicable, traitorous, scum of the earth

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.
8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Zacchaeus was a man who had it all- money, power, and standing in the Roman world. To his Jewish friends, he was a traitor working for the oppressive Roman government, who became wealthy through ruthless forceful stealing from the Hebrew population. He ‘persona non grata” to all his family, neighbors, and childhood friends. To the religious crowd, he was considered to be already dead to righteous society. Yet with all his power, position and pleasure, he was missing something- true life. Living in Jericho, he had heard of the Rabbi from Capernaum. He might have even known one of Jesus’ disciples, a former tax collector name Matthew (or Levi). Undoubtedly he knew of him being part of Jesus inner circle. Perhaps that was the first inkling that Jesus was not all about being religious, but indeed the Son of Man described in the book of Daniel (Chapter 7).

God had obviously been pursuing Zacchaeus, and the desire to see Jesus was so strong that this dignified man did something very out of character- like a child, he climbed a tree to get a better view of the passing group. Jesus, knowing all things, recognized Zachaeus, and surprised everyone in the crowd by inviting himself into Zacchaeus home. This was a declaration of friendship, which those who had suffered under Zacchaeus’ taxation were rightly surprised, but wrongly disappointed. None of them invited Jesus into their homes, or at least its not recorded.

Imagine the conversation that took place in Zacchaeus’ home, probably as they shared a meal, and refreshing drink. Who said what? Did Jesus confront him over his unrighteous lifestyle? Did Matthew say anything to him? Probably. Something happened that profoundly changed the course of Zacchaeus’ life. His response demonstrated the action he took as a result of his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. His actions spoke loudly to those in his community. His decision to follow Jesus cost him much. His position in the Roman society and his wealth. He traded that all for the presence of Jesus in his life.

Laura and Juliana discover the espresso bar / juice stand

Three Individuals who were not polite society in Jesus’ time became ardent followers of Jesus, and probably part of the Jesus’ ministry team. They all took action on their faith. They undoubtedly changed their world. And we remember them as heroes of the faith.  True faith is expressed by a change in lifestyle, behavior, attitudes, and especially in caring for others. We become ‘others centered’, and willing followers of the King. He now is our focal point, and we become his hands and feet for his agenda for all mankind.

James was the brother of Jesus, who didn’t really accept him as the Messiah early on. John records that Jesus brothers mocked him and considered him insane at one point.

But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.                   John 7:2-5

One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.    Mark 3:20-21

Jesus appeared to James after the Resurrection (1 Cor 15) , and James became the leader of the Jerusalem Christian community (Acts 15). James gives us the final word on our lesson from Jericho.

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.                                                                                               James 2:14-26

Another Dead Sea Rainbow

James says that Christian Faith is useless unless it gets actively expressed in our own personal decisions as well as our service to those in our communities.

He’s right! ‘Secret Agent’ Christians have limited effectiveness in carrying out the Great Commission. They are on the sidelines, even in the dugout, never coming to the plate and taking their swings in the work of the Kingdom. It’s a diabolical strategy to keep us ineffective in the ministry God has called each of us to.

Imagine if every follower of Christ took seriously their faith, as Rahab, Son of Timaeus, and Zacchaeus did, with active changes in life style and dedication to the purposes of the King. Our communities would become very different. There would be less poverty, less suicides, less depression & anxiety, a greater sense of community, more job satisfaction, safer streets, a more robust economy, and less marginalized people. Remember,

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

God has specific things planned for each of us to accomplish during our lives here on Earth. The Greek text of this verse indicates that when God created this Earth, he had each of us in mind, by name, and has assigned us a role in advancing His Kingdom and bringing many into His family. He has empowered us with supernatural giftings from the Holy Spirit to accomplish things that we would never be able to do on our own. And, He promises that He will be there with us, working along side us, actually through us, to bring many into the Kingdom.

“All Authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Therefore, proceed on the journey that you began with me and make disciples of the people I place you with, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to obey all I commanded you, and remember, I’ll be with you as you do these things.”

The Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20 GMB literal translation

Jericho gives us three examples of those who took their faith seriously, took risks, and became notable heroes of our faith.

Let’s be like them for our generation.

Contemplating the lesson of Jericho


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