When we think of Jericho, we tend to think of its walls tumbling down. What a wondrous sight! What a miracle! When the Israelites left Egypt the number of able-bodied men of war was a staggering 603,550 (Numbers 1:46; Exodus 38:26). Give the high attrition rate - all but two from this number, Joshua and Caleb, survived the 40 years of wilderness wanderings - we know that the numbers were replenished in such a way that the arrival of the Israelites struck fear in hearts of the Canaanites. We hardly think of the several hundred thousand Israelite soldiers marching in the hot sun, round and round the city-fortress of Jericho. What a wondrous sight that was! And what a miracle was worked among them!
Picture in your mind over this mighty army all lined up with their weapons. Wouldn't that have been about the largest military parade in the history of the world? That would be about several hundred times more troops than in our National Day Parade.
If they were all on one side of Jericho, the military column would be about one kilometer long. Let's give an average of one metre between each row of men. That makes about 1,000 rows. How many men would there be in each row? 500? 500? 600? Wow
..In most military parades the men march three to ten abreast only. Can you imagine 600 abreast?
By the lefttttt, (or perhaps it was the right?) quickkk march! The only sounds from the Israelites were the thud of feet on the ground and the plaintive, lonely sounds of seven ram's horn trumpets [Joshua 6:4 & 9]. Why were these the only sounds? Because Joshua had commanded the people: "Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until I tell you to shout!" [Joshua 6:10] Isn't it eerie to see several hundred men marching around in the hot sun, not grumbling, not joking, not singing marching songs, not chanting like we do in the army, but maintaining a steely silence?
Now picture the Jericho forces waiting on the fortress walls. What would they be doing
.. if not jeering and shouting taunts and insults? "Hey, stupid! Why are you walking in the sun? Hope you get sunstroke!", "Hey! Too scared to attack us, huh?", "Eh, crazy!" these are some of the kinder things men are liable to shout at enemies who are just marching around their military position.
Now imagine you are an Israelite soldier marching around Jericho, sweating in the hot sun and hearing all kinds of insults, AND NOT BEING ALLOWED TO REPLY. Arggh! You can hardly stand it! The only way you can stop yourself shouting back insults is by
.. what? By great self-control, by keeping a cool head, right? And that means discipline. After one week of marching around Jericho a total of 13 times, without saying a word, without raising their voices, without shouting war cries, and without yelling back hot-headed insults, the ragged, desert-trained Israelite soldiers had turned into disciplined troops able to keep a cool head under severe provocation.
And after marching about four to five kilometers a day around Jericho each day for six days, and 30 to 35 kilometres on the seventh day, weren't the Israelite soldiers physically very fit?
And after a 30 kilometre hike, don't troops tend to straggle and spread out, so that instead of a one or two kilometer column, they now completely surrounded Jericho? Didn't God already know this when he said at the beginning, "then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in"? [Joshua 6:5]
If the Israelites had broken through the city gate or one part of the wall and charged in through the narrow breach, then only the troops in front would see action. Most of the troops would not be "blooded", would not be fighting and killing. But if every man went straight in, every man stood a strong likelihood of doing actual fighting. Every Israelite soldier would then be experienced and hardened by actual combat. Would an army experienced and hardened in combat not be ready to take over the whole of Canaan after that? Did the all-wise God not use the Marches Around Jericho and the Battle of Jericho to turn the whole Israelite army into experienced and battle hardened fighters, in preparation for the conquest of the Promised Land?
All praise to Yahweh our God! By wisdom and a miracle he made the walls of Jericho collapse. And by his wisdom and a few words he prepared the whole Israelite army to take over the Promised Land!