The Ark of Jericho
Debby asks …
“Why you didn’t seize the opportunity to capture the flag through the battle of Jericho story, for I believe that this single incident wins your entire argument that the ark was a communication device.”
She recaps the Jericho story and continues: “Subsequently, when the trumpets blasted and the people shouted, the wall collapsed. Is it not logical to suppose that at that precise premeditated moment, the Lord emitted an immense sound (or nuclear explosion) from the ark that caused the walls’ collapse?… The Lord’s directive for the priests to be blowing into the trumpets may have somehow equalized the pressure in the priests’ ears, just as the loud shouting may have equalized the pressure in the people’s ears against the explosion. Otherwise they might have all become deaf from the event.”
Debby’s supposition is very interesting, and it brings up two points about how I’ve gone about writing Talking With God.
(1) In all my research throughout the book, I have tried my best to stick to the actual descriptions of events exactly as they are related.
(2) Where I have conjectured, I state that clearly. It is usually relating to word meanings or to the few descriptions that seem out of context or lacking in contextual logic.
In the case of the attack on Jericho, all we really have are the words describing the system for knocking down the city’s walls:
- marching with the Ark
- blowing of rams’ horns
There is no mention of the Lord’s participation in the event (other than His order for the Israelites’ leader, Joshua, to carry out His instructions). Thus, He was not included in the actual process. As to the possibility of the Ark’s emitting sound or explosion, once again there is no actual description of the occurrence.
In discussing actual communication through the Ark, I have emphasized the need for protection when using it. The priests and anyone exposed to Ark had to condition themselves. (“Condition” is my interpretation of the word “sanctify.”)
The Jericho story is in the Joshua 6. The very beginning of the book is a continuation of the book of Numbers, the history of the wilderness journey that extended into the Israelites’ first months in The Promised Land, Canaan.
The story starts with the Israelites preparing to cross the Jordon River into Canaan. Joshua 3:5–7 says, “And Joshua said to the people, ‘Condition yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you…’ And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying. ‘Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and pass on before the people’… And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to magnify you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know… I will be with you.’” The rest of the story details the crossing of the Jordon with the Ark.
If the Lord spoke to Joshua, it had to be through the cloud. So, to protect the people from the cloud’s danger, the Lord ordered them to condition themselves. When the Lord spoke, the ark could not have been wrapped as it normally was when born by the priests, so the people were commanded to follow it from “about two thousand cubits… come not near it.” (Joshua 3:4)
The ingredients were all there for proper use of the Ark as a communications device:
- the Lord speaking
- danger when He appeared
- protection by conditioning.
Now we come to the Jericho story. Joshua had received orders from the Lord detailing the system for destroying the city and the people. “Joshua …called the priests, and said to them, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.’” (Joshua 6:6) “The seven priests … passed on and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.”
NOTE: With one exception explained in my Appendix A, the Book of Joshua doesn’t use ark of the testimony.
Nowhere is there mention of Joshua conditioning the people or the Lord speaking to them. Joshua, not the Lord, gaves all orders to the priests. So we must conclude that the Ark was, as usual, wrapped during the Jericho attack, and therefore posed no danger to the priests or the people. Itcould not have been used in its communications role. So, while Debby’s thought is most interesting (and creative!), I have to stick to how the Bible describes the events at that point in time.