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In my childhood I often heard the expression “the trumpet of Jericho” (which is used in Russian to describe a very loud voice or a loud cry) and wondered what it could mean after all. When I grew up and became an adult, I got interested in the Bible and started to read it – only then did I understand the meaning of this expression. From the Bible I learned how God led His people to take over the promised land, and that the first city that God turned into the hands of the Israelites was the ancient city of Jericho. After a while, I myself had the opportunity to visit the place where Jericho once stood.

JERICHO (Arabic – Ar-riha, Ariha, Hebrew – Yeriho), is an ancient city lying within the boundary of the tribe of Benjamin. According to the common meaning of the word, it means fragrant, but some interpreters assert that it means moon, or crescent, because the inhabitants of Jericho probably worshipped it.

The Biblical Jericho is the most ancient, in the opinion of many scholars, city on the earth. The city existed continually on the same spot for seven thousand years, which sets the record among other settlements.

Mount of Forty Days (Mount Quarantania)

Ruins of the old city of Jericho lie west of the modern city’s center. The first traces of people inhabiting this area date back to eight thousand years before Christ. A mighty tower over eight meters tall dating back to the pre-Pottery Neolithic epoch has been discovered here, as well as some burials of the Chalcolitic period; city walls of the Bronze age – possibly, those very walls that fell from the loud trumpeting of the Israelites (famous “trumpets of Jericho”); ruins of the winter residential palace of Herod the Great with saunas, swimming pools and luxuriously decorated halls; and the mosaic floor of a synagogue dating back to V—VI centuries.

Monastery of Temptation

At the foot of Tel-as-Sultan hill there is a spring of prophet Elisha; the Bible says that according to the prophet’s word the bad water of this spring “has remained pure until this day” (2 Kings 2:19-22). Many experienced scientists believe that in the neighbouring hills great archeological treasures are hidden, which can be compared to those of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

Metochion of John the Forerunner in Jericho

Three kilometers north of modern Jericho there are the ruins of a Byzantine city and of a luxurious palace of Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik dating back to VIII—IX centuries.

West of Jericho, the Mount of Forty Days is rising, which is also called the Mount of Temptation, or the Mount Quarantania. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ fasted for fourty days as He was in the Judean desert; at some point, the devil approached Him and began to tempt Him. It is believed that Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil on this very spot. Now there is an Orthodox Monastery of Temptation located here.

Zacchaeus’s Fig Tree

Jericho is also mentioned in the story related to Zacchaeus, which is narrated in chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke. According to the Bible, Zacchaeus was a rich man, being the chief tax collector; he was short in stature and lived in Jericho. When Jesus Christ was passing through the city where Zacchaeus lived, the latter desired to see the Messiah at least from the distance, so he climbed up a sycamore fig tree. Jesus Christ noticed him there and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Gospel of Luke 19:5).

Trumpets of Jericho

Zacchaeus hastily came down and received Jesus with joy. Having been deeply touched, Zacchaeus made a promise to give four times as much to those he mistreated when he was collecting taxes and levies. In the house of Zacchaeus, because of people’s murmuring, Christ spoke the prominent words, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Gospel of Luke 19:9-10).

There is a tradition, according to which Zacchaeus later became the first bishop of the church in Palestinian Caesarea.

On the spot, where according to tradition the house of Zacchaeus stood, there is now the Metochion of John the Forerunner in Jericho of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. Earlier, the site was in the possession of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society. On this property there is also the sycamore fig tree that withered because of time; over what is left of it a chapel is built.

Jericho was the first of Canaanite cities that according to God’s command was taken over by the Israelites.

Trumpet of Jericho (Shofar)

After their exodus from Egypt and Moses’ death, the Israelites were headed up by Joshua. This is the name of one of the books of the Bible – the Book of Joshua. It gives a detailed description of how the Israelites on the way back from Egyptian captivity were gradually conquering the promised land. According to the will of God, the first city on the Israelite’s way was the city of Jericho.

When the Israelites came up to Jericho, the king of Jericho ordered to bar all the gates of the city. But the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in…

The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there… So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days…The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!”… When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.”

Two spies, who came earlier to Jericho to spy out the city, promised to save Rahab and her relatives for hiding them from their persecutors. They ordered her during the take over of Jericho to fasten a red rope to her window. Rahab followed their instructions and they saved her with the rest of her relatives. After that the city of Jericho was burned down.

Such is the short Bible story about the city of Jericho and its vicinities.

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