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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

 Numbers 22:1;  Joshua 2:1-3;  Joshua 2:5;  Joshua 2:15;  Joshua 3:16. From a root "fragrance," or "the moon" ( Yareach ), being the seat of Canaanite moon worship, or "broad" from its being in a plain bounded by the Jordan. Jericho is to the W., opposite where Israel crossed the Jordan under Joshua, at six miles' distance. It had its king. Walls enclosed it, and its gate was regularly shut, according to eastern custom, when it was dark. Its spoil included silver, gold, vessels of iron and brass ( Joshua 6:19), cast in the same plain of Jordan where Solomon had his foundry ( 1 Chronicles 4:17). The "Babylonian garment" ( Joshua 7:21) betokens its commerce with the East. Joshua's two spies lodged in Rahab's house upon the wall; and she in reward for their safety received her own preservation, and that of all in her house, when Joshua burned the city with fire, and slew man and beast, as all had been put under the ban. The metals were taken to the treasury of the sanctuary ( Joshua 6:17-19;  Joshua 6:21-25).

Other towns had their inhabitants only slain, as under the divine ban ( Deuteronomy 7:2;  Deuteronomy 20:16-17;  Deuteronomy 2:34-35), while the cattle and booty fell to the conquerors. Jericho's men, cattle, and booty were all put under the ban, as being the first town of Canaan which the Lord had given them. They were to offer it as the firstfruits, a sign that they received the whole land as a fief from His hand. The plain was famed for palms and balsams, whence Jericho is called "the city of palms" ( Deuteronomy 34:3;  Judges 1:16;  Judges 3:13;  2 Chronicles 28:15). The town stood, according to some, N. of the poor village Riha, by the wady Kelt. However, modern research places it a quarter of a mile from the mountain Quarantana (the traditional scene of Christ's temptation), at the fountain of Elisha. This accords with  Joshua 16:1, "the water of Jericho," and Josephus mentions the fount and the mountain near (B. J., 4:8, section 2-3). Traces of buildings occur S. of the fountain. Its site was given to Benjamin ( Joshua 18:21).

It is mentioned in David's time as a town ( 2 Samuel 10:5). Joshua's curse therefore was not aimed against rebuilding the town, which the Benjamites did, but against its miraculously overthrown walls being restored, against its being made again a fortress. See Hiel in Ahab's ungodly reign incurred the curse ( 1 Kings 16:34). Elisha "healed the waters" of the fountain, called also Ain es Sultan ( 2 Kings 2:18-22), half an hour N.W. of Riha, in the rainy season forming a brook, which flows through the wady Kelt into the Jordan. Here myrobalanum, acacias, figtrees, etc., stand where once grew Jericho's famous palms. In its plains Zedekiah was overtaken by the Chalaeans ( 2 Kings 25:5;  Jeremiah 39:5). Robbers still infest the road from Jerusalem down (a steep descent) to Jericho, as when Jesus spoke the parable of the good Samaritan ( Luke 10:30); Pompey undertook to destroy their strongholds not long before. Moreover, some of the courses of priests lived at Jericho, which harmonizes with the mention of the priest and Levite returning that way from Jerusalem.

From mount Pisgah, the peak near the town Nebo, on its western slope ( Deuteronomy 34:1), Moses looked "over against Jericho." Jericho strategically was the key of the land, being situated at the entrance of two passes through the hills, one leading to Jerusalem the other to Ai and Bethel. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days" (whereas sieges often last for years) ( Hebrews 11:30). Trumpets, though one were to sound for ten thousand years, cannot throw down walls; but faith can do all things (Chrysostom). Six successive days the armed host marched round the city, the priests bearing the ark, as symbol of His presence, in the middle between the armed men in front and the rereward or rearguard, and seven priests sounding seven ramshorn (rather Jubilee) trumpets, the sign of judgment by "the breath of His mouth"; compare the seven trumpets that usher in judgments in Revelation, especially  Revelation 11:13;  Revelation 11:15.

On the seventh day they compassed Jericho seven times, and at the seventh time the priests blew one long blast, the people shouted, and the wall fell flat. Even though volcanic agency, of which traces are visible in the Jordan valley, may have been employed, the fall was no less miraculous; it would prove that the God of revelation employs His own natural means in the spiritual world, by supernatural will ordering the exact time and direction of those natural agencies to subserve His purposes of grace to His people, and foreannouncing to them the fact, and connecting it with their obedience to His directions: so in the Egyptian plagues. The miracle wrought independently of all conflict on their part at the outset marked that the occupation of the whole Holy Land was to be by His gift, and that it was a, fief held under God at His pleasure. Under Elisha a school of prophets resided at Jericho.

( 2 Kings 2:5;  2 Kings 4:1;  2 Kings 6:1-2;  2 Kings 5:24, for "tower" translated "the hill" before the city: Keil). Of "children of Jericho" 345 returned from Babylon ( Ezra 2:34). They helped to rebuild the wall ( Nehemiah 3:2;  Nehemiah 7:36). Archelaus in our Lord's days had irrigated the plain and planted it with palms. Herod the Great had previously founded a new town (Phasaelis) higher up the plain. The distinction between the new and the old towns may solve the seeming discrepancy between Matthew ( Matthew 20:30), who makes the miracle on the blind to be when Jesus was leaving Jericho, and Luke, who says it was when Jesus was come nigh unto Jericho ( Luke 18:35).

The Lord Himself, in whose genealogy Rahab the harlot is found, here was guest of Zacchaeus the publican, a lucrative office in so rich a city as the Roman Jericho was. The tree that Zacchaeus climbed was the fig mulberry or tree fig. The Lord's visit to Bethany appropriately follows His parable of the good Samaritan who relieved the man robbed between Jerusalem and Jericho, for Jesus was then traveling from Jericho to Jerusalem, and Bethany was only a little way short of Jerusalem ( Luke 10:25;  Luke 10:38;  John 11:1). James and John's proposal to call fire down upon the Samaritans who would not receive Him in an earlier stage of the journey suggested probably His choosing a Samaritan to represent the benefactor in the parable, a tacit rebuke to their un-Christlike spirit ( Luke 9:51-56).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

was a city of Benjamin, about seven leagues from Jerusalem, and two from the Jordan,  Joshua 18:21 . Moses calls it the city of palm trees,  Deuteronomy 34:3 , because of palm trees growing in the plain of Jericho. Josephus says, that in the territory of this city were not only many palm trees, but also the balsam tree. The valley of Jericho was watered by a rivulet which had been formerly salt and bitter, but was sweetened by the Prophet Elisha,  2 Kings 2:19 . Jericho was the first city in Canaan taken by Joshua,  Joshua 2:1-2 , &c. He sent thither spies, who were received by Rahab, lodged in her house, and preserved from the king of Jericho. Joshua received orders to besiege Jericho, soon after his passage over Jordan,  Joshua 6:1-3 , &c. God commanded the Hebrews to march round the city once a day for seven days together. The soldiers marched first, probably out of the reach of the enemies' arrows, and after them the priests, the ark, &c. On the seventh day, they marched seven times round the city; and at the seventh, while the trumpets were sounding, and all the people shouting, the walls fell down. The rabbins say, that the first day was our Sunday, and the seventh the Sabbath day. During the first six days, the people continued in profound silence; but on the seventh Joshua commanded them to shout. Accordingly they all exerted their voices, and the wall being overthrown, they entered the city, every man in the place opposite to him. Jericho being devoted by God, they set fire to the city, and consecrated all the gold, silver, and brass. Then Joshua said, "Cursed be the man before the Lord who shall rebuild Jericho." About five hundred and thirty years after this, Hiel, of Bethel, undertook to rebuild it; but he lost his eldest son, Abiram, at laying the foundations, and his youngest son, Segub, when he hung up the gates. However, we are not to imagine that there was no city of Jericho till the time of Hiel. There was a city of palm trees, probably the same as Jericho, under the Judges,  Judges 3:13 . David's ambassadors, who had been insulted by the Ammonites, resided at Jericho till their beards were grown,  2 Samuel 10:4 . There was, therefore, a city of Jericho which stood in the neighbourhood of the original Jericho. These two places are distinguished by Josephus. After Hiel of Bethel had rebuilt old Jericho, no one scrupled to dwell there. Our Saviour wrought miracles at Jericho.

According, to Pococke, the mountains to which the absurd name of Quarantania has been arbitrarily given, are the highest in all Judea; and he is probably correct; they form part of a chain extending from Scythopolis into Idumea. The fountain of Elisha he states to be a soft water, rather warm; he found in it some small shell fish of the turbinated kind. Close by the ruined aqueduct are the remains of a fine paved way, with a fallen column, supposed to be a Roman milestone. The hills nearest to Jerusalem consist, according to Hasselquist, of a very hard limestone; and different sorts of plants are found on them, in particular the myrtle, the carob tree, and the turpentine tree; but farther toward Jericho they are bare and barren, the hard limestone giving way to a looser kind, sometimes white and sometimes grayish, with interjacent layers of a reddish micaceous stone, saxum purum micaceum. The vales, though now bare and uncultivated, and full of pebbles, contain good red mould, which would amply reward the husbandman's toil. Nothing can be more savage than the present aspect of these wild and gloomy solitudes, through which runs the very road where is laid the scene of that exquisite parable, the good Samaritan, and from that time to the present, it has been the haunt of the most desperate bandits, being one of the most dangerous in Palestine. Sometimes the track leads along the edges of cliffs and precipices, which threaten destruction on the slightest false step; at other times it winds through craggy passes, overshadowed by projecting or perpendicular rocks. At one place the road has been cut through the very apex of a hill, the rocks overhanging it on either side. Here, in 1820, an English traveller, Sir Frederick Henniker, was attacked by the Arabs with fire-arms, who stripped him naked, and left him severely wounded: "It was past mid-day, and burning hot," says Sir Frederick; "I bled profusely; and two vultures, whose business it is to consume corpses, were hovering over me. I should scarcely have had strength to resist, had they chosen to attack me."

The modern village of Jericho is described by Mr. Buckingham as a settlement of about fifty dwellings, all very mean in their appearance, and fenced in front with thorny bushes, while a barrier of the same kind, the most effectual that could be raised against mounted Arabs, encircles the town. A fine brook flows by it, which empties itself into the Jordan; the nearest point of that river is about three miles distant. The grounds in the immediate vicinity of the village, being fertilized by this stream, bear crops of dourra, Indian corn, rice, and onions. The population is entirely Mohammedan, and is governed by a sheikh: their habits are those of Bedouins, and robbery and plunder form their chief and most gainful occupation. The whole of the road from Jerusalem to the Jordan, is held to be the most dangerous in Palestine; and indeed, in this portion of it, the very aspect of the scenery is sufficient, on the one hand, to tempt to robbery and murder, and, on the other, to occasion a dread of it in those who pass that way. One must be amid these wild and gloomy solitudes, surrounded by an armed band, and feel the impatience of the traveller who rushes on to catch a new view at every pass and turn; one must be alarmed at the very tramp of the horses' hoofs rebounding through the caverned rocks, and at the savage shouts of the footmen, scarcely less loud than the echoing thunder produced by the discharge of their pieces in the valleys; one must witness all this upon the spot, before the full force and beauty of the admirable story of the good Samaritan can be perceived. Here, pillage, wounds, and death would be accompanied with double terror, from the frightful aspect of every thing around. Here, the unfeeling act of passing by a fellow creature in distress, as the priest and Levite are said to have done, strikes one with horror, as an act almost more than inhuman. And here, too, the compassion of the good Samaritan is doubly virtuous, from the purity of the motive which must have led to it, in a spot where no eyes were fixed on him to draw forth the performance of any duty, and from the bravery which was necessary to admit of a man's exposing himself, by such delay, to the risk of a similar fate to that from which he was endeavouring to rescue his fellow creature.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [3]

JERICHO was situated in the valley of the Jordan, about 5 miles west of the river and about 6 north of the Dead Sea. The distance between Jerusalem and Jericho was about 17 miles. The immediate vicinity enjoyed the advantage of abundant springs ( 2 Kings 2:19-22), and showed great fertility. It was the ‘city of palms’ ( Deuteronomy 34:3,  2 Chronicles 28:15), and Josephus gives an enthusiastic account of the abundance and variety of its products ( BJ iv. viii. 2, 3).

The Jericho which was destroyed by Joshua was a considerable town, characterized by the wealth of its inhabitants and the strength of its fortifications (Joshua 6, 7). The rebuilding of the city is described in  1 Kings 16:34, but the place is referred to at earlier dates ( Joshua 18:21,  2 Samuel 10:5,  1 Chronicles 19:5). A school of prophets was established at Jericho ( 2 Kings 2:5), and it was from Jericho that Elijah and Elisha went down to Jordan. Other references are found in  2 Chronicles 28:15,  2 Kings 25:5,  Jeremiah 39:5,  Ezra 2:34,  Nehemiah 3:2;  Nehemiah 7:36.

In the time of our Lord, Jericho was a large and important town. Antony granted the revenues of Jericho and the surrounding district to Cleopatra, and these were farmed from her by Herod the Great. Afterwards Herod received Jericho by gift from Augustus, and erected a citadel, which he called Cypros , above the town. He also built within the city a palace, in which he died. This palace was rebuilt by Herod Archelaus after it had been burned down by Simon during the troubles which followed upon the death of Herod the Great (Josephus Ant . xvii. x. 6 and xiii. 1). After the deposition of Herod Archelaus as tetrarch of Judaea, Jericho was held directly by the Roman procurator, who farmed out its revenues.

Modern Jericho ( er-Riha ) is a miserable village of 300 inhabitants; the forest of palms has entirely disappeared, and only here and there can traces of the former fertility of the district be seen. The exact site of the Canaanite Jericho does not correspond with that of the modern village, and probably there were two towns, a little apart from one another, which, during the prosperity of the Roman occupation, may have been united by continuous building.

By tradition, Jericho has been closely associated with the Baptism of Jesus and the Temptation. The site of Bethany or Bethabara (wh. see), however, cannot be fixed with certainty, and some ( e.g. Conder) maintain that the ford east from Jericho cannot be the place, but rather a ford farther north, lying east from Cana of Galilee. The traditional scene of the Temptation is a mountain called from this association Quarantania , lying to the west of Jericho. But the uncertainty of the scene of the Baptism and the vagueness of the phrase ‘the wilderness’ ( Matthew 4:1 ||) make this a matter of tradition only.

From Jericho to Jerusalem there are three roads. The central one of these is the most direct, and was that used by pilgrims going from Galilee to Jerusalem, who took the circuitous route in order to avoid entering Samaria. It is an extremely arduous path, and wayfarers were much exposed to the attacks of robbers, who easily found secure concealment among the bare and rugged hills which it traversed: a fact which gives vividness to the parable of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 10:30). This road was that which Jesus took on His last journey to Jerusalem. After the raising of Lazarus, Jesus and His disciples withdrew ‘into a city called Ephraim’ ( John 11:54). (On its site see art. Ephraim). From this place Jesus could see the pilgrim bands from Galilee going down to Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. And in all probability, when ‘the Passover was nigh at hand,’ He joined one of these bands, and so paid that visit to Jericho with which the names of Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus are associated. See artt. Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus.* [Note: The statement is frequently met with, in connexion with our Lord’s treatment of Zacchaeus and also in connexion with the parable of the Good Samaritan, that Jericho was a sacerdotal city. In regard to this, it is certain that the priests and throughout the towns and villages, but were scattered throughout the towns and villages of Judaea. Jericho, as within easy reach of Jerusalem and an important place, may have been a favourite residence for the priests (see Schurer, HJP ii. i. 229).]

Literature.—Stanley, S P [Note: P Sinai and Palestine.] ch. vii. pp. 305, 316; G. A. Smith, HGH L [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] 264, 268, 493, 496; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, artt. ‘Jericho, ‘Ephraim,’ ‘Bethabara’; Farrar, Life of Christ , ii. 178–186.

Andrew N. Bogle.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Joshua 3:16 2 Kings 2:19-22 Numbers 22:1 34:15

This city was taken in a very remarkable manner by the Israelites ( Joshua 6 ). God gave it into their hands. The city was "accursed" (Heb. herem, "devoted" to Jehovah), and accordingly ( Joshua 6:17; Compare  Leviticus 27:28,29;  Deuteronomy 13:16 ) all the inhabitants and all the spoil of the city were to be destroyed, "only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron" were reserved and "put into the treasury of the house of Jehovah" ( Joshua 6:24; Compare  Numbers 31:22,23,50-54 ). Only Rahab "and her father's household, and all that she had," were preserved from destruction, according to the promise of the spies ( Joshua 2:14 ). In one of the Amarna tablets Adoni-zedec (q.v.) writes to the king of Egypt informing him that the 'Abiri (Hebrews) had prevailed, and had taken the fortress of Jericho, and were plundering "all the king's lands." It would seem that the Egyptian troops had before this been withdrawn from Palestine.

This city was given to the tribe of Benjamin ( Joshua 18:21 ), and it was inhabited in the time of the Judges ( Judges 3:13;  2 Samuel 10:5 ). It is not again mentioned till the time of David ( 2 Samuel 10:5 ). "Children of Jericho" were among the captives who returned under Zerubbabel  Ezra 2:34;  Nehemiah 7:36 ). Hiel (q.v.) the Bethelite attempted to make it once more a fortified city ( 1 Kings 16:34 ). Between the beginning and the end of his undertaking all his children were cut off.

In New Testament times Jericho stood some distance to the south-east of the ancient one, and near the opening of the valley of Achor. It was a rich and flourishing town, having a considerable trade, and celebrated for the palm trees which adorned the plain around. It was visited by our Lord on his last journey to Jerusalem. Here he gave sight to two blind men ( Matthew 20:29-34;  Mark 10:46-52 ), and brought salvation to the house of Zacchaeus the publican ( Luke 19:2-10 ).

The poor hamlet of er-Riha, the representative of modern Jericho, is situated some two miles farther to the east. It is in a ruinous condition, having been destroyed by the Turks in 1840. "The soil of the plain," about the middle of which the ancient city stood, "is unsurpassed in fertility; there is abundance of water for irrigation, and many of the old aqueducts are almost perfect; yet nearly the whole plain is waste and desolate...The climate of Jericho is exceedingly hot and unhealthy. This is accounted for by the depression of the plain, which is about 1,200 feet below the level of the sea."

There were three different Jerichos, on three different sites, the Jericho of Joshua, the Jericho of Herod, and the Jericho of the Crusades. Er-Riha, the modern Jericho, dates from the time of the Crusades. Dr. Bliss has found in a hollow scooped out for some purpose or other near the foot of the biggest mound above the Sultan's Spring specimens of Amorite or pre-Israelitish pottery precisely identical with what he had discovered on the site of ancient Lachish. He also traced in this place for a short distance a mud brick wall in situ, which he supposes to be the very wall that fell before the trumpets of Joshua. The wall is not far from the foot of the great precipice of Quarantania and its numerous caverns, and the spies of Joshua could easily have fled from the city and been speedily hidden in these fastnesses.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

JERICHO . A city situated in the Jordan valley about 5 miles from the north end of the Dead Sea, now represented by the miserable village of er-Rîha . It was the first city conquered by the Israelites after their passage of the Jordan. The course of events, from the sending of the spies to the destruction of Achan for infraction of the tabu on the spoil, is too well known to need repetition here (see   Joshua 1:1-18;   Joshua 2:1-24;   Joshua 3:1-17;   Joshua 4:1-24;   Joshua 5:1-15;   Joshua 6:1-27;   Joshua 7:1-26 ). A small hamlet remained on the site, belonging to Benjamin (  Joshua 18:21 ), which was insignificant enough for David’s ambassadors to retire to, to recover from their insulting treatment by Hanun (  2 Samuel 10:5 ,   1 Chronicles 19:5 ). The city was re-founded by Hiel, a Bethelite, who apparently endeavoured to avert the curse pronounced by Joshua over the site by sacrificing his sons (  1 Kings 16:34 ). A college of prophets was shortly afterwards founded here (  2 Kings 2:4 ), for whose benefit Elisha healed its bitter waters (  2 Kings 2:18 ). Hither the Israelites who had raided Judah, in the time of Ahaz, restored their captives on the advice of the prophet Oded (  2 Chronicles 28:15 ). Here the Babylonians finally defeated Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, and so destroyed the Judahite kingdom (  2 Kings 25:5 ,   Jeremiah 39:5;   Jeremiah 52:8 ). Bacchides, the general of the Syrians in the Maccabæan period, captured and fortified Jericho ( 1Ma 9:50 ); Aristobulus also took it (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . XIV. i. 2). Pompey encamped here on his way to Jerusalem ( ib. XIV. iv. 1). Its inhabitants, whom the great heat of the Ghôr had deprived of fighting strength, fled before Herod ( ib. XIV. xv. 3) and Vespasian ( BJ IV. viii. 2). In the Gospels Jericho figures in the stories of Bartimæus (  Matthew 20:29 ,   Mark 10:46 ,   Luke 18:35 ), Zacchæus (  Luke 19:1 ), and the Good Samaritan (  Luke 10:30 ).

The modern er-Rîha is not exactly on the site of ancient Jericho, which is a collection of mounds beside the spring traditionally associated with Elisha. The Roman and Byzantine towns are represented by other sites in the neighbourhood. Ancient aqusducts, mills, and other antiquities are numerous, as are also remains of early monasticism.

The site, though unhealthy for man, is noted for its fertility. Josephus ( BJ IV. viii. 3) speaks of it with enthusiasm. Even yet it is an important source of fruit supply. The district round Jericho is the personal property of the Sultan.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Jer'icho. (Place Of Fragrance). A city of high antiquity, situated in a plain traversed by the Jordan, and exactly over against where that river was crossed by the Israelites under Joshua.  Joshua 3:16. It was five miles west of the Jordan and seven miles northwest of the Dead Sea. It had a king. Its walls were so considerable that houses were built upon them.  Joshua 2:15. The spoil that was found in it, betokened its affluence. Jericho is first mentioned as the city, to which the two spies were sent by Joshua from Shittim.  Joshua 2:1-21. It was bestowed by him, upon the tribe of Benjamin,  Joshua 18:21, and from this time, a long interval elapses before Jericho appears again upon the scene.

Its second foundation under Hiel, the Bethelite is recorded in  1 Kings 16:34. Once rebuilt, Jericho rose again slowly into consequence. In its immediate vicinity, the sons of the prophets sought retirement from the world; Elisha "healed the spring of the waters;" and over against it, beyond Jordan, Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven."  2 Kings 2:1-22. In its plains, Zedekiah fell into the hands of the Chaldeans.  2 Kings 25:5;  Jeremiah 39:5. In the return under Zerubbabel, the "children of Jericho," 345 in number, are comprised.  Ezra 2:34;  Nehemiah 7:36. Under Herod the Great, it again became an important place. He fortified it and built a number of new palaces, which he named after his friends. If he did not make Jericho his habitual residence, he at last retired thither to die, and it was in the amphitheater of Jericho , that the news of his death was announced, to the assembled soldiers and people by Salome.

Soon afterward, the palace was burnt and the town plundered by one Simon, slave to Herod; but Archelaus rebuilt the former sumptuously, and founded a new town on the plain, that bore his own name; and, most important of all, diverted water from a village called Neaera, to irrigate the plain, which he had planted with palms. Thus, Jericho was once more "a city of palms" when our Lord visited it. Here, he restored sight to the blind.  Matthew 20:30;  Mark 10:46;  Luke 18:35. Here the descendant of Rahab did not disdain the hospitality of Zaccaeus, the publican.

Finally, between Jerusalem and Jericho was laid the scene of his story of the good Samaritan. The city was destroyed by Vespasian. The site of ancient (the first) Jericho is placed by Dr. Robinson in the immediate neighborhood of the fountain of Elisha; and that of the second (the city of the New Testament and of Josephus) at the opening of the Wady Kelt (Cherith), half an hour from the fountain. (The village identified with Jericho lies a mile and a half from the ancient site, and is called Riha . It contains probably 200 inhabitants, indolent and licentious and about 40 houses. Dr. Olin says it is the "meanest and foulest village of Palestine;" yet the soil of the plain is of unsurpassed fertility. - Editor).

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 13:10

The combination of rich alluvial soil, the perennial spring, and constant sunshine made Jericho an attractive place for settlement. Only about 6.4 inches of rain fall there per year (mostly between November and February), and the average temperature for January  Isaiah 59 F, while it   Isaiah 88 F for August. Jericho is about 740 feet below sea level (accounting for its warm climate) but well above the Dead Sea eight miles southward which at 1,300 feet below sea level marks the earth's lowest point. Thus Jericho could be called “city of palms” ( Deuteronomy 34:3;  Judges 1:16;  Judges 3:3;  2 Chronicles 28:15 ) and has plenty of palm trees today.

Jericho was an oasis situated in a hot plain, living in its own world with no major settlement in sight, and lying between the two focal points of Jerusalem and Amman in the mountains to the west and east. It is mentioned in the Bible usually in association with some movement from one side of the Jordan to another—the Israelite invasion, when Ehud takes tribute to the Moabite king, when David sends envoys to the king of Ammon, when Elijah and Elisha cross the Jordan, or when Zedekiah attempts to escape the Babylonians.

In New Testament times Jericho was famous for its balm (an aromatic gum known for its medicinal qualities). This along with its being the winter capital made it a wealthy city. When Jesus was hosted by Zacchaeus ( Luke 19:1-10 ), it was probably in one of Jericho's finest houses. Its sycamore trees were quite valuable. Such a city could expect to have its share of beggars, as the Gospels tell us ( Matthew 20:29-34;  Mark 10:46-52;  Luke 18:35-43 ).

The archaeology of Jericho is closely associated with the name of Kathleen Kenyon, an Oxford University scholar who excavated there between 1952-1959. The earliest recognizable building on the site dates apparently (based on radiocarbon dating) from about 9250 B.C., a time marking the change from the Paleolithic to the Mesolithic period in Palestine. By 8,000 B.C. a walled town (the world's earliest) of about ten acres had been built. About 6000 B.C. pottery appeared in Jericho. About 4000 B.C. a period of abandonment began, but by 3300 B.C. Jericho was coming into her own again into what Kenyon calls the “Proto-Urban” age. Jericho came to have solid defense ramparts and walls. From about 2200-2000 B.C. the mound of Jericho was a campsite rather than a town, when some 346 excavated tombs show its occupants to be from various tribal units. From about 1400 to possibly slightly after 1300 B.C. Jericho was a small settlement. The town at Joshua's time was small and may have used some of its earlier walls for its defenses. Thus more critical scholars underline the conflict between archaeological data and the biblical conquest narrative, while more conservative scholars have recently tried to redate the archaeological evidence or deny that tell es-Sultan is biblical Jericho without giving a satisfactory alternative. See Archaeology; Conquest; Joshua .

Karen Joines

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

The strongly fortified city that was the first to be taken by Israel when entering the land. The spies had been sheltered there by Rahab the harlot, from whom they heard that the terror of Israel had fallen upon the inhabitants. The city and all therein was accursed, and was to be utterly destroyed, except the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, which were consecrated to the Lord: typical of the power of Satan in the world that stops the progress of the Christian: he must count it all as accursed, though God may use such things by consecrating them to Himself.

The capture of the city was altogether of God, after it had been compassed six days by the people, accompanied by the ark and the priests blowing the trumpets: in that way they proclaimed the rights of the Lord of all the earth to the land, while Jericho was the fortress of the enemy. On the seventh day, after being compassed seven times (double type of perfection) the priests blowing their trumpets, the people shouted, and the walls of the city fell down. The city was destroyed and all that had life was put to the sword, except Rahab and those she had with her sheltered under the scarlet line.  Joshua 2:1-22;  Joshua 6;  Hebrews 11:30 . A curse was pronounced upon the man who should re-build the city. This was verified when Hiel built it.  1 Kings 16:34 .

Jericho was allotted to Benjamin,  Joshua 18:21; but later was taken possession of by Eglon the king of Moab. It is designated 'the city of palm trees.'  Deuteronomy 34:3;  Judges 1:16; Judges

3:13;  2 Chronicles 28:15 . Afterwards 'sons of the prophets' dwelt there: they said that the situation of the city was 'pleasant,' but the water was bad. It was Elisha's first miracle, he cast in salt and the water was healed. It was the ministration of the heavenly blessing in the place of the curse.  2 Kings 2:18-22 . Some who returned from exile are described as 'children of Jericho.'  Ezra 2:34;  Nehemiah 7:36 .

But little more is known of Jericho until Antony gave its palm groves and balsam gardens to Cleopatra; from her the place was rented by Herod the Great, who had a palace there, and it was there he died. It was burned down soon after, but was rebuilt by Archelaus. This was the city visited by the Lord, when He lodged with Zacchaeus and cured the blind men.  Matthew 20:29;  Mark 10:46;  Luke 18:35;  Luke 19:1 .

The Ain es Sultan, 31 52' N, 35 27' E , is held to be the fountain healed by Elisha, and the ruins around mark the site of the ancient city, five miles from the Jordan; but this is not the site of the Jericho of N.T. times, which may or may not agree with the situation of the miserable village of Eriha, which is sometimes called Jericho: it is a mile and a half S.E. of the ancient site.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [9]

The ancient town of Jericho was destroyed and rebuilt many times, though sometimes the rebuilt town was beside, rather than on top of, the ruins of the former town. The present town of Jericho, the Old Testament town destroyed by Joshua, and the New Testament town visited by Jesus all occupied different sites, though these sites are within a kilometre or so of each other.

One reason for this constant settlement of Jericho was the presence there of a good spring of water. This ensured a constant supply of fresh water and made the place such an oasis that people called Jericho the city of palm trees ( Deuteronomy 34:3). The town was located in a flat area of the Jordan Valley. To the east a small plain dropped away into the Jordan River, and to the west barren hills rose up to the central highlands.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Jericho was in existence in 8000 BC. Its first mention in the Bible concerns events about 1240 BC, when the Israelites under Joshua approached Canaan from the plains of Moab, crossed the Jordan River and conquered Jericho in their first battle in Canaan ( Numbers 22:1; Joshua 2; Joshua 3; Joshua 4; Joshua 5; Joshua 6).

Joshua announced a curse over Jericho, and for the next few hundred years no one dared rebuild the town properly, though some sort of settlement still existed there ( Joshua 6:26;  Judges 3:13;  2 Samuel 10:5). When a man named Hiel later rebuilt the city, he suffered the punishment announced by Joshua ( 1 Kings 16:34; cf.  Joshua 6:26). A school for young prophets was located at Jericho in the time of Elijah and Elisha ( 2 Kings 2:4-5;  2 Kings 2:15-22).

There were further destructions and rebuildings of Jericho over the following centuries. The town was still in existence in New Testament times, having been rebuilt by Herod the Great. The narrow road that descended from Jerusalem through wild and rocky country to Jericho was dangerous because of bandits ( Luke 10:30).

Jesus visited Jericho on his final journey to Jerusalem, and may have passed through the town on other occasions. Among those who benefited from Jesus’ visit were some blind beggars and a well known tax collector ( Matthew 20:29-34;  Luke 18:35-43;  Luke 19:1-11).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

A city of Benjamin,  Joshua 16:7   18:21 , about eighteen miles east north east of Jerusalem, and seven miles from the Jordan. It was the first city in Canaan taken by Joshua, who being miraculously aided by the downfall of its walls, totally destroyed it, sparing only Rahab and her household, and pronounced a curse upon the person who should ever rebuild it, which was more than five hundred years afterwards fulfilled on Hiel,  Joshua 6:26   1 Kings 16:34 . Meanwhile a new Jericho had been built on some neighboring site,  Judges 3:3   2 Samuel 10:5 . Jericho was also called the "city of palm-trees,"  Deuteronomy 34:3   Judges 1:16 , and became afterwards flourishing and second in importance only to Jerusalem. It contained a school of the prophets, and as the residence of Elisha,  2 Kings 2:4,18 . Here also Christ healed two blind men,  Matthew 20:29-34 , and forgave Zaccheus,  Luke 19:2-8 .

The site of Jericho has usually been fixed at Rihah, a mean and foul Arab hamlet of some two hundred inhabitants. Recent travellers, however, show that the probably location of Jericho was two mile west of Rihah, at the mouth of Wady Kelt, and where the road from Jerusalem comes into the plain. The city destroyed by Joshua may have been nearer to the fountain of Elisha, supposed to be the present Ain es-Sultan, two miles northwest of Rihah. On the west and north of Jericho rise high limestone hills, one of which, the dreary Quarantana, 1,200 or 1,500 feet high, derives its name from the modern tradition that it was the scene of our Lord's forty days' fast and temptation. Between the hills and the Jordan lies "the plain of Jericho,"  Joshua 4:13 , over against "the plains of Moab" east of the river. It was anciently well watered and amazingly fruitful. It might easily be made so again, but now lies neglected, and the palmtrees, balsam, and honey, for which it was once famous, have disappeared.

The road from Jericho to Jerusalem ascends through narrow and rocky passes amid ravines and precipices. It is an exceedingly difficult and dangerous route, and is still infested by robbers, as in the time of the good Samaritan,  Luke 10:30-34 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

Jericho ( Jĕr'I-Kô ), City Of The Moon, or Place Of Fragrance. A city of Benjamin, situated in the valley of the Jordan, on the west side of that river, and north of its entrance into the Dead sea.  Joshua 2:1-3;  1 Kings 16:34. It was also called the City of Palm-trees.  Deuteronomy 34:3;  Judges 1:16. As Jericho was the first city that was taken, on the west of the Jordan, the ban was laid on all the property in it. Joshua burned the city with fire, and pronounced a solemn curse upon the person who, at any succeeding period, should build its walls or set up its gates.  Joshua 4:13; which was executed upon Hiel, 533 years afterward.  1 Kings 16:33-34. Previous to this, however, the city had been rebuilt, but not upon its ancient foundations.  Judges 3:13;  2 Samuel 10:5;  2 Kings 2:4-5. The more ancient city was probably in the neighborhood of the beautiful fountain, which is apparently the same whose waters Elisha healed.  2 Kings 2:18-22. The later Jericho appears to have occupied the site of the miserable and filthy village, Er-Riha, nearly two miles from the fountain.  Ezra 2:34;  Nehemiah 3:2;  Matthew 19:1;  Matthew 20:29-34;  Mark 10:1;  Mark 10:46;  Mark 10:52;  Luke 18:35-43;  Luke 19:1-10. Riha lies almost desert; and even that "one solitary palm tree" which Dr. Robinson saw is gone. The inhabitants are a feeble and licentious race. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho still retains its ancient character for scenes of assault and robbery.  Luke 10:30.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [12]

The name means, his moon—from Jareac. This is the famous city before whose walls the Lord manifested such a miracle of grace to Israel, in causing them to fall to the ground at the blasting of the rams' horns. (See  Joshua 6:1-27) It was situated about seven leagues from Jerusalem, and about two from the river Jordan, ( Joshua 18:20-21) and was called by Moses the city of palm trees; and, no doubt, in point of pleasantness, must have been a lovely place. (See  Deuteronomy 34:3) But we find, in the after days of Israel's history, the barrenness of Jericho spoken of, ( 2 Kings 2:18-22) See Elisha. There is somewhat particularly striking concerning Jericho being cursed by Joshua before the Lord, and yet that Rahab the harlot should be of this city, concerning whom such blessed things are spoken of in Scripture. (See on the one hand,  Joshua 6:26 compared with  1 Kings 16:34; and on the other, see  Joshua 2:1-24 with  Hebrews 11:31) If the reader will be at the trouble to count the period between Joshua's curse on Jericho, and the rebuilding of Jericho by Hiel the Bethelite, he will find that near five hundred and thirty-seven years had passed between the one and the other. The Hebrews paid great respect to the Cherem, that is, the curse of Joshua. This anathema was carefully remembered by them; and, no doubt, when Hiel in defiance of it began to build Jericho, the pious believers among the Hebrews felt indignant at the daring attempt, and marked the issue in the event that followed on Hiel's two sons.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [13]

 Luke 10:30 (c) In this passage, Jerusalem represents the place of Christian privileges and Jericho represents the way of the world. The verse presents this trip as a path downward.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

Jer´icho, a town in the plain of the same name, not far from the river Jordan, at the point where it enters the Dead Sea. It lay before the Israelites when they crossed the river, on first entering the Promised Land; and the account which the spies who were sent by them into the city received from their hostess Rahab, tended much to encourage their subsequent operations, as it showed that the inhabitants of the country were greatly alarmed at their advance, and the signal miracles which had marked their course from the Nile to the Jordan. The strange manner in which Jericho itself was taken must have strengthened this impression in the country, and appears, indeed, to have been designed for that effect. The town was utterly destroyed by the Israelites, who pronounced an awful curse upon whoever should rebuild it; and all the inhabitants were put to the sword, except Rahab and her family . In these accounts Jericho is repeatedly called 'the city of palm-trees;' which shows that the hot and dry plain, so similar to the land of Egypt, was noted beyond other parts of Palestine for the tree which abounds in that country, but which was and is less common in the land of Canaan than general readers and painters suppose. It has now almost disappeared even from the plain of Jericho, although specimens remain in the plain of the Mediterranean coast.

Notwithstanding the curse, Jericho was soon rebuilt [HIEL], and became a school of the prophets (;; ). Its inhabitants returned after the exile, and it was eventually fortified by the Syrian general Bacchides (;; ). Pompey marched from Scythopolis, along the valley of the Jordan, to Jericho, and thence to Jerusalem; and Strabo speaks of the castles Thrax and Taurus, in or near Jericho, as having been destroyed by him. Herod the Great, in the beginning of his career, captured and sacked Jericho, but afterwards strengthened and adorned it, when he had redeemed its revenues from Cleopatra, on whom the plain had been bestowed by Antony. He appears to have often resided here, probably in winter: he built over the city a fortress called Cypros, between which and the former palace he erected other palaces, and called them by the names of his friends. Here also was a hippodrome or circus, in which the same tyrant, when lying at Jericho on his death-bed, caused the nobles of the land to be shut up, for massacre after his death. He died here; but his bloody intention was not executed. The palace at this place was afterwards rebuilt more magnificently by Archelaus. By this it will be seen that the Jericho which existed in the time of our Savior was a great and important city—probably more so than it had ever been since its foundation. It was once visited by him, when he lodged with Zaccheus, and healed the blind man . Jericho was afterwards made the head of one of the toparchies, and was visited by Vespasian before he left the country, who stationed there the tenth legion in garrison. Eusebius and Jerome describe Jericho as having been destroyed during the siege of Jerusalem, on account of the perfidy of the inhabitants, but add that it was afterwards rebuilt. The town, however, appears to have been overthrown during the Muhammadan conquest; for Adamnanus, at the close of the seventh century, describes the site as without human habitations, and covered with corn and vines. The celebrated palm-groves still existed. In the next century a church is mentioned; and in the ninth century several monasteries appear. About the same time the plain of Jericho is again noticed for its fertility and peculiar products; and it appears to have been brought under cultivation by the Saracens, for the sake of the sugar and other products for which the soil and climate were more suitable than any other in Palestine. Ruins of extensive aqueducts, with pointed Saracenic arches, remain in evidence of the elaborate irrigation and culture of this fine plain—which is nothing without water, and everything with it—at a period long subsequent to the occupation of the country by the Jews. It is to this age that we may probably refer the origin of the castle and village, which have since been regarded as representing Jericho. The place has been mentioned by travelers and pilgrims down to the present time as a poor hamlet consisting of a few houses. In the fifteenth century the square castle or tower began to pass among pilgrims as the house of Zaccheus, a title which it bears to the present day.

The village now regarded as representing Jericho is supposed to date its origin from the ninth century. It bears the name of Rihah, and is situated about the middle of the plain, six miles west from the Jordan, in N. lat. 31° 57´, and E. long. 35° 33´. Dr. Olin describes the present village as 'the meanest and foulest of Palestine.' It may perhaps contain forty dwellings, formed of small loose stones. The most important object is a square castle or tower, which Dr. Robinson supposes to have been constructed to protect the cultivation of the plain under the Saracens. It is thirty or forty feet square, and about the same height, and is now in a dilapidated condition.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(Heb. Yericho', יְרַיחוֹ , place of Fragrance , prob. from balsamous herbs growing there;  Joshua 2:1-3;  Joshua 3:16;  Joshua 4:13;  Joshua 4:19;  Joshua 5:10;  Joshua 5:13;  Joshua 6:1-2;  Joshua 6:25-26;  Joshua 7:2;  Joshua 8:2;  Joshua 9:3;  Joshua 10:1;  Joshua 10:28;  Joshua 10:30;  Joshua 12:9;  Joshua 13:32;  Joshua 16:1;  Joshua 16:7;  Joshua 18:12;  Joshua 18:21;  Joshua 20:8;  Joshua 24:11;  2 Kings 2:4;  2 Kings 2:15;  2 Kings 2:18; also written יְרֵחוֹ , Yerecho ',  Numbers 22:1;  Numbers 26:3;  Numbers 26:63;  Numbers 31:12;  Numbers 33:48;  Numbers 33:50;  Numbers 34:15;  Numbers 35:1;  Numbers 36:13;  Deuteronomy 32:49;  Deuteronomy 34:1;  Deuteronomy 34:3;  2 Samuel 10:5;  2 Kings 25:5;  1 Chronicles 6:78;  1 Chronicles 19:5;  2 Chronicles 28:15;  Ezra 2:34;  Nehemiah 3:2;  Nehemiah 7:36;  Jeremiah 39:5; Jeremiah 52, 8; once יְרַיחה , Yerichoh ',  1 Kings 16:34; Sept. and N.T. Ι᾿Εριχώ , Josephus Ι᾿Εριχοῦς [Genesis Οῦντος ]; Strabo, 16, 2, 41, ῾Ιερικοῦς ; Ptolem. 5, 16, 7; ῾Ιερεικοῦς ; Vulg. Jericho; Justin. Hierichus ), a city situated in a plain traversed by the Jordan and exactly over against where that river was crossed by the Israelites under Joshua ( Joshua 3:16). It is first mentioned in connection with their approach to Palestine; they "pitched in the plains of Moab, on this side Jordan by Jericho" ( Numbers 22:1). It was then a large and strong city and must have existed for a long period. The probability is that on the destruction of the cities of the plain by fire from heaven Jericho was founded, and perhaps by some who had resided nearer the scene of the catastrophe, but who abandoned their houses in fear. Had the city existed in the time of Abraham and Lot, it would scarcely have escaped notice when the latter looked down on the plain of Jordan from the heights of Bethel (Genesis 13). From the manner in which it is referred to, and the frequency with which it is mentioned, it was evidently the most important city in the Jordan valley at the time of the Exodus ( Numbers 34:15;  Numbers 31:12;  Numbers 35:1, etc.).

Such was either its vicinity or the extent of its territory that Gilgal, which formed their primary encampment, stood in its east border ( Joshua 4:19). That it had a king is a very secondary consideration, for almost every small town had one ( Joshua 12:9-24); in fact, monarchy was the only form of government known to those primitive times the government of the people of God presenting a marked exception to prevailing usage. But Jericho was further enclosed by walls a fenced city its walls were so considerable that at least one person (Rahab) had a house upon them ( Joshua 2:15), and its gates were shut, as throughout the East still, "when it was dark" ( Joshua 5:5). Again, the spoil that was found in it betokened its affluence Ai, Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir, and even Hazor, evidently contained nothing worth mentioning in comparison besides sheep, oxen, and asses, we hear of vessels of brass and iron. These possibly may have been the first fruits of those brass foundries "in the plain of Jordan" of which Solomon afterwards so largely availed himself ( 2 Chronicles 4:17).

Silver and gold were found in such abundance that one man (Achan) could appropriate stealthily 200 shekels (100 oz. avoird.; see Lewis, Heb. Rep . 6, 57) of the former, and "a wedge of gold of 50 shekels (25 oz.) weight;" "a goodly Babylonish garment," purloined in the same dishonesty, may be adduced as evidence of a then- existing commerce between Jericho and the far East ( Joshua 6:24;  Joshua 7:21). In fact, its situation alone in so noble a plain and contiguous to so prolific a river would bespeak its importance in a country where these natural advantages have always been so highly prized and in an age when people depended so much more upon the indigenous resources of nature than they are compelled to do now. Jericho was the city to which the two spies were sent by Joshua from Shittim they were lodged in the house of Rahab the harlot upon the wall, and departed, having first promised to save her and all that were found in her house from destruction ( Joshua 2:1-21). The account which the spies received from their hostess tended much to encourage the subsequent operations of the Israelites, as it showed that the inhabitants of the country were greatly alarmed at their advance, and the signal miracles which had marked their course from the Nile to the Jordan.

The strange manner in which Jericho itself was taken (see Hacks, De ruina murorum Hierichuntiorun, Jena, 1690) must have strengthened this impression in the country, and appears, indeed, to have been designed for that effect. The town was utterly destroyed by the Israelites, who pronounced an awful curse upon whoever should rebuild it; and all the inhabitants were put to the sword, except Rahab and her family (Joshua 6). Her house was recognized by the scarlet line bound in the window from which the spies were let down, and she and her relatives were taken out of it, and "lodged without the camp;" but it is nowhere said or implied that her house escaped the general conflagration. That she "dwelt in Israel" for the future; that she married Salmon son of Naas-aon. "prince of the children of Judah," and had by him Boaz, the husband of Ruth and progenitor of David and of our Lord; and, lastly, that hers is the first and only Gentile name that appears in the list of the faithful of the O.T. given by Paul ( Joshua 6:25;  1 Chronicles 2:10;  Matthew 1:5;  Hebrews 11:31) all these facts surely indicate that she did not continue to inhabit the accursed site; and, if so, and in the absence of all direct evidence from Scripture, how could it ever have been inferred that her house was left standing? (See Hoffmann, Rahabs Erettung , Berl. 1861.) (See Rahab).

Such as it had been left by Joshua, such it was bestowed by him upon the tribe of Benjamin ( Joshua 18:21; it lay also on the border of Ephraim [ Joshua 16:7]), and from this time a long interval elapses before Jericho appears again upon the scene. It is only incidentally mentioned in the life of David in connection with his embassy to the Ammonitish king ( 2 Samuel 10:5). The solemn manner in which its second foundation under Hiel the Bethelite is recorded upon whom the curse of Joshua is said to have descended in full force ( 1 Kings 16:34) would certainly seem to imply that up to that time its site had been uninhabited. It is true, mention is made of "a city of palm trees" ( Judges 1:16;  Judges 3:13) in existence apparently at the time when spoken of, and Jericho is twice once Before its first overthrow and once After its second foundation designated by that name (see  Deuteronomy 34:3, and  2 Chronicles 28:15); but these designations must be understood to apply only to the Site , in whatever condition at the time. (On the presence of these trees, see below.) However, once actually rebuilt, Jericho rose again slowly in importance.

In its immediate vicinity the sons of the prophets sought retirement from the world and Elisha "healed the spring of the waters;" and over and against it, beyond Jordan, Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" ( 2 Kings 2:1-22). In its plains Zedekiah fell into the hands of the Chaldaeans ( 2 Kings 25:5;  Jeremiah 39:5). By what may be called a retrospective account of it, we may infer that Hiel's restoration had not utterly failed, for in the return under Zerubbabel the "children of Jericho," 345 in number are comprised (Ezra 3:34;  Nehemiah 7:36); and it is even implied that they removed thither again, for the Men Of Jericho assisted Nehemiah in rebuilding that part of the wall of Jerusalem which was next to the sheep gate ( Nehemiah 3:2). It was eventually fortified by the Syrian general Bacchides ( 1 Maccabees 9:50; Josephus, Ant . 13, 1, 3).

The Jericho of the days of Josephus was distant 150 stadia from Jerusalem and sixty from the Jordan. It lay in a plain overhung by a barren mountain, whose roots ran northward towards Scythopolis and southward in the direction of Sodom and the Dead Sea. These formed the western boundaries of the plain. Eastward, its barriers were the mountains of Moab, which ran parallel to the former. In the midst of the plain the great plain, as it was called flowed the Jordan, and at the top and bottom of it were two lakes: Tiberias, proverbial for its sweetness, and Asphaltites for its bitterness. Away from the Jordan, it was parched and unhealthy during summer; but during winter, even when it snowed at Jerusalem, the inhabitants here wore linen garments. Hard by Jericho, bursting forth close to the site of the old city which Joshua took on his entrance into Canaan, was a most exuberant fountain, whose waters, before noted for their contrary properties, had received (proceeds Josephus) through Elisha's prayers their then wonderfully salutary and prolific efficacy. Within its range seventy stadia (Strabo says 100) by twenty the fertility of the soil was unexampled. Palms of various names and properties some that produced honey scarcely inferior to that of the neighborhood; opobalsamum, the choicest of indigenous fruits; cyprus (Arabic "el- henna"), and myrobalanum ("zukkum") throve there beautifully and thickly dotted about the pleasure grounds (War, 4, 8, 3). These and other aromatic shrubs were here of peculiar fragrance (Justin. 36:3; Josephus, Ant. 4, 6, 1; 14, 4, 1; 15, 4, 2; War, 1, 6, 6; 1, 18, 5). Wisdom herself did not disdain comparison with "the rose plants of Jericho" ( Sirach 24:14). Well might Strabo (Geog. 16, 2, § 41, ed. Muller) conclude that its revenues were considerable. The peculiar productions mentioned, in addition to those noticed above, were honey (Cedren. p. 104) and, in later times, the sugar cane (see Robinson's Researches, 2, 290 sq.). (See Rose Of Jericho).

By the Romans, Jericho was first visited under Pompey. He encamped there for a single night and subsequently destroyed two forts Threx and Taurus that commanded its approaches (Strabo, Geogr. § 40). Dagon (Josephus, War, 1, 2, 3) or Docus ( 1 Maccabees 16:15; comp. 9:50), where Ptolemy assassinated his father-in-law, Simon the Maccabee, may have been one of these strongholds, which were afterwards infested by bandits. Gabinius, in his resettlement of Judaea, made Jericho one of the five seats of assembly (Josephus, War, 1, 8, 5). With Herod the Great it rose to still greater prominence: it had been found full of treasure of all kinds; as in. the time of Joshua, so by his Roman allies who sacked it (ibid. 1, 15, 6); and its revenues were eagerly sought and rented by the wily tyrant from Cleopatra, to whom Antony had assigned them (Ant. 15, 4, 2). Not long afterwards he built a fort there, which he called "Cyprus," in honor of his mother (ibid. 16, 5); a tower, which he called, in honor of his brother, "Phasaelis;" and a number of new palaces, superior in their construction to those which had existed there previously, which he named after his friends. He even founded a new town higher up the plain, which he called, like the tower, Phasaelis ( War, 1, 21, 9).

If he did not make Jericho his habitual residence, he at least retired thither to die and to be mourned, if he could have got his plan carried out; and it was in the amphitheater of Jericho that the news of his death was announced to the assembled soldiers and people by Salome (War, 1, 38, 8). Soon afterwards the place was burned and the town plundered by one Simon, a revolutionary that had been slave to Herod (Ant. 17, 10, 6); but Archelaus rebuilt the former sumptuously, founded a new town in the plain, that bore his own name, and, most important of all, diverted water from a village called Neaera to irrigate the plain, which he had planted with palms (Ant. 17, 13, 1). Thus Jericho was once more "a city of palms" when our Lord visited it. As the city that had so exceptionally contributed to his own ancestry as the city which had been the first to fall, amidst so much ceremony, before "the captain of the Lord's host and his servant Joshua" we may well suppose that his eyes surveyed it with unwonted interest. It is supposed to have been on the rocky heights overhanging it (hence called by tradition the Quarentana) that he was assailed by the tempter; and over against it, according to tradition likewise, he had been previously baptized in the Jordan. Here he restored sight to the blind (two certainly, perhaps three [ Matthew 20:30;  Mark 10:46]: this was in Leaving Jericho; Luke says "as he was Come Nigh Unto Jericho," etc. [ Luke 18:35]).

Here the descendant of Rahab did not disdain the hospitality of Zacchaeus the publican an office which was likely to be lucrative enough in so rich a city. Finally, between Jerusalem and Jericho was laid the scene of his story of the good Samaritan, which, if it is not to be regarded as a real occurrence throughout, at least derives interest from the fact that robbers have ever been the terror of that precipitous road (comp. Phocas, ch. 20; see Schubert, 3, 72); and so formidable had they proved only just before the Christian era that Pompey had been induced to undertake the destruction of their strongholds (Strabo, as before, 16, 2, § 40; comp. Joseph. Ant. 20:6, 1 sq.). The way from Jerusalem to Jericho is still described by travellers as the most dangerous about Palestine. (See Hackett's Illustra. of Script. p. 206.) As lately as 1820, an English traveller, Sir Frederick Henniker, was attacked on this road by the Arabs with firearms, who stripped him naked and left him severely wounded.

Posterior to the Gospels, Vespasian found it one of the toparchies of Judaea (War, 3, 3, 5), but deserted by its inhabitants in a great measure when he encamped there (ibid. 4, 8, 2). He left a garrison on his departure (not necessarily the 10th legion, which is only stated to have marched through Jericho) which was still there when Titus advanced upon Jerusalem. Is it asked how Jericho was destroyed? Evidently by Vespasian; for Josephus, rightly understood, is not so silent as Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Res. 1, 566, 2d ed.) thinks. The city pillaged and burnt in Josephus (War 4, 9, 1) was clearly Jericho, with its adjacent villages, and not Gerasa, as may be seen at once by comparing the language there with that of 8, 2, and the agent was Vespasian. Eusebius and Jerome (Onomast. s.v.) say that it was destroyed when Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans. They further add that it was afterwards rebuilt they do not say by whom and still existed in their day; nor had the ruins of the two preceding cities been obliterated. Could Hadrian possibly have planted a colony there when he passed through Judaea and founded Æ lia? (Dion Cass. Hist. 669, c. 11, ed. Sturz; more at large Chronicles Paschal. p. 254, ed. Da Fresne.) The discovery which Origen made there of a version of the O.T. (the 5th in his Hexapla), together with sundry MSS. Greek and Hebrew, suggests that it could not have been wholly without inhabitants (Euseb. E. H. 6, 16; Epiphan. Lib. de Pond. et Menesur. circa med.); or again, as is perhaps more probable, did a Christian settlement arise there under Constantine, when baptisms in the Jordan began to be the rage? That Jericho became an episcopal see about that time under Jerusalem appears from more than one ancient Notitia (Geograph. S. a Carolo Paulo, p. 306, and the Parergon appended to it; comp. William of Tyre, Hist. lib. 23, ad f.). Its bishops subscribed to various councils in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries (ibid. and Le Quien's Oriens Christian. 3, 654).

Justinian, we are told, restored a hospice there, and likewise a church dedicated to the Virgin (Procop. De Oedif. 5, 9). As early as A.D. 337, when the Bordeaux pilgrim (ed. Wesseling) visited it, a house existed there which was pointed out, after the manner of those days, as the house of Rahab. This was roofless when Arculfts saw it; and not only so, but the third city was likewise in ruins (Adamn. De Locis S. ap. Migane, Patrolog. C. 88, 799). Had Jericho been visited by an earthquake, as Antoninus reports (ap. Ugoilini Thesaur. 7, p. 1213, and note to c. 3), and as Syria certainly was, in the 27th year of Justinian, A.D. 553? If so, we can well understand the restorations already referred to; and when Antoninus adds that the house of Rahab had now become a hospice and oratory, we might almost pronounce that this was the very hospice which had been restored by that emperor. Again, it may be asked, did Christian Jericho receive no injury from the Persian Romizan, the ferocious general of Chosroes II, A.D. 614? (Bar-Hebraei Chron. p. 99, Lat. 5, ed. Kirsch).

It would rather seem that there were more religious edifices in the 7th than in the 6th century round about it. According to Arculfus, one church marked the site of Gilgal; another the spot where our Lord was supposed to have deposited his garments previously to his baptism; a third within the precincts of a vast monastery dedicated to John, situated upon some rising ground overlooking the Jordan. Jericho meanwhile had disappeared as a town to rise no more. Churches and monasteries sprung up around it on all sides, but only to smoulder away in their turn. The anchorite caves in the rocky flanks of the Quarentana are the most striking memorial that remains of early or mediaeval enthusiasm. Arculfus speaks of a diminutive race Canaanites he calls them that inhabited the plain in great numbers in his day. They have retained possession of those fairy meadowlands ever since and have made their headquarters for some centuries round the "square tower or castle" first mentioned by Willebrand (ap. Leon. Allat. Συμμικτ . p. 151) in A.D. 1211, when it was inhabited by the Saracens, whose work it may be supposed to have been, though it has since been dignified by the name of the house of Zacchaeus. Their village is by Brocardus (ap. Canis. Thesaur . 4, 16), in A.D. 1230, styled "a vile place;" by Sir J. Maundeville, in A.D. 1322, "a little village;" and by Henry Maundrell, in A.D. 1697, "a poor, nasty village;" in which verdict all modern travellers that have ever visited it must concur. (See Early Travels In Pal. by Wright, p. 177 and 451.) They are looked upon by the Arabs as a debased race and are probably nothing more or less than veritable Gypsies, who are still to be met with in the neighborhood of the Frank mountain near Jerusalem and on the heights round the village and convent of St. John in the desert and are still called "Scomunicati" by the native Christians one of the names applied to them when they first attracted notice in Europe in the 15th century (i.e. from feigning themselves "penitents" and under censure of the pope. See Hoyland's Historical Survey of the Gipsies, p. 18; also The Gipsy, a poem by A.P. Stanley).

Jericho does not seem to have ever been restored as a town by the Crusaders; but its plains had not ceased to be prolific and were extensively cultivated and laid out in vineyards and gardens by the monks (Phocas ap. Leon. Allat. Συμμικτ . [c. 20], p. 31). They seem to have been included in the domains of the patriarchate of Jerusalem, and, as such, were bestowed by Arnulf upon his niece as a dowry (William of Tyre, Hist . 11, 15). Twenty-five years afterwards we find Melisendis, wife of king Fulco, assigning them to the convent of Bethany, which she had founded A.D. 1137.

The site of ancient (the first) Jericho is with reason placed by Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Res. 1, 552-568) in the immediate neighborhood of the fountain of Elisha; and that of the second (the city of the New Test. and of Josephus) at the opening of the wady Kelt (Cherith), half an hour from the fountain. The ancient, and, indeed, the only practicable road from Jerusalem zigzags down the rugged and bare mountain side, close to the south bank of wady el-Kelt, one of the most sublime ravines in Palestine. In the plain, half a mile from the foot of the pass, and a short distance south of the present road, is an immense reservoir, now dry, and round it are extensive ruins, consisting of mounds of rubbish and ancient foundations. Riding northward, similar remains were seen on both sides of wady el-Kelt. Half a mile farther north we enter cultivated ground, interspersed with clumps of thorny nubk ("lote-tree") and other shrubs; another half mile brings us to Ain es-Sult  n, a large fountain bursting forth from the foot of a mound. The water, though warm, is sweet, and is extensively used in the irrigation of the surrounding plain. The whole plain immediately around the fountain is strewn with ancient ruins and heaps of rubbish.

The village traditionally identified with Jericho now bears the name of Riha (in Arabic er-Riha) and is situated about the middle of the plain, six miles west from the Jordan; in N. lat. 34 ° 57', and E. long. 35 ° 33'. Dr. Olin describes the present village as "the meanest and foulest of Palestine." It may perhaps contain forty dwellings, with some two hundred inhabitants. The houses consist of rough walls of old building stones, roofed with straw and brushwood. Each has in front of it an inclosure for cattle, fenced with branches of the thorny nubk; and a stronger fence of the same material surrounds the whole village, forming a rude barrier against the raids of the Bedawin. Not far from the village is a little square castle or tower, evidently of Saracenic origin, but now dignified by the title of "the house of Zacchaeus," This village, though it bears the name of Jericho, is about a mile and a half distant both from the Jericho of the prophets and that of the evangelists. Very probably it may occupy the site of Gilgal (q.v.). The ruinous state of the modern houses is in part owing to a comparatively recent event. Ibrahim Pasha, on his retreat from Damascus, near the close of 1840, having been attacked by the Arabs in crossing the Jordan, sent a detachment of his army and razed Jericho to the ground.

The soil of the plain is unsurpassed in fertility; there is abundance of water for irrigation, and many of the old aqueducts are almost perfect; yet nearly the whole plain is waste and desolate. The grove supplied by the fountain is in the distance. The few fields of wheat and Indian corn, and the few orchards of figs, are enough to show what the place might become under proper cultivation. But the people are now few in number, indolent, and licentious. The palms which gave the ancient city a distinctive appellation are gone; even that "single solitary palm" which Dr. Robinson saw exists no more. The climate of Jericho is exceedingly hot and unhealthy. This is accounted for by the depression of the plain, which is about 1200 feet below the level of the sea. The reflection of the sun's rays from the bare white cliffs and mountain ranges which shut in the plain, and the noisome exhalations from the lake and from the numerous salt springs around it, are enough to poison the atmosphere.

For further details respecting Jericho, see Reland's Paloest. p. 383, 829 sq.; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. p. 85 sq.; Otho's Lex. Rabb. p. 298 sq.; Bachiene, 2, 3, § 224 sq.; Hamesveld, 2, 291 sq.; Cellar. Notit. 2, 552 sq.; Robinson's Researches, 2, 267 sq.; Olin's Travels, 2, 195 sq.; Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 439 sq.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

jer´i - (the word occurs in two forms. In the Pentateuch, in   2 Kings 25:5 and in Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles it is written ירחו , yerēḥō  ; יריחו , yerı̄ḥō , elsewhere): In  1 Kings 16:34 the final Hebrew letter is (ה , h), instead of wāw (ו , w). The termination wāw (ו , w) thought to preserve the peculiarities of the old Canaanite. dialect. In the Septuagint we have the indeclinable form, Ἰεριχώ , Ierichō̇ (Swete has the form Iereichō as well), both with and without the feminine article; in the New Testament Ἰερειχώ , Iereichō̇ , once with the feminine article The Arabic is er - Riha . According to  Deuteronomy 32:49 it stood opposite Nebo, while in   Deuteronomy 34:3 it is called a city grove of palm trees. It was surrounded with a wall (  Joshua 2:15 ), and provided with a gate which was closed at night ( Joshua 2:5 ), an d was ruled over by a king. When captured, vessels of brass and iron, large quantities of silver and gold, and "a goodly Babylonish garment" were found in it ( Joshua 7:21 ). It was on the western side of the Jordan, not far from the camp of Israel at Shittim, before crossing the river ( Joshua 2:1 ). The city was on the "plains" ( Joshua 4:13 ), but so close to "the mountain" on the West (probably the cliffs of Quarantania, the traditional scene of Christ's temptation) that it was within easy reach of the spies, protected by Rahab. It was in the lot of Benjamin ( Joshua 18:21 ), the border of which ascended to the "slope (English versions of the Bible "side") of Jeremiah on the North" ( Joshua 18:12 ). Authorities are generally agreed in locating the ancient city at Tel es - Sultān , a mile and a half Northwest of modern Jericho. Here there is a mound 1,200 ft. long and 50 ft. in height supporting 4 smaller mounds, the highest of which is 90 ft. above the base of the main mound.

The geological situation (see Jordan Valley ) sheds great light upon the capture of the city by Joshua ( Joshua 6 ). If the city was built as we suppose it to have been, upon the unconsolidated sedimentary deposits which accumulated to a great depth in the Jordan valley during the enlargement of the Dead Sea, which took place in Pleistocene (or glacial) times, the sudden falling of the walls becomes easily credible to anyone who believes in the personality of God and in His power either to foreknow the future or to direct at His will the secondary causes with which man has to deal in Nature. The narrative does not state that the blowing of the rams' horns of themselves effected the falling of the walls. It was simply said that at a specified juncture on the 7th day the walls would fall, and that they actually fell at that juncture. The miracle may, therefore, be regarded as either that of prophecy, in which the Creator by foretelling the course of things to Joshua, secured the junction of Divine and human activities which constitutes a true miracle, or we may regard the movements which brought down the walls to be the result of direct Divine action, such as is exerted by man when be produces an explosion of dynamite at a particular time and place. The phenomena are just such as occurred in the earthquake of San Francisco in 1906, where, according to the report of the scientific commission appointed by the state, "the most violent destruction of buildings was on the made ground. This ground seems to have behaved during the earthquake very much in the same way as jelly in a bowl, or as a semi-liquid in a tank." Santa Rosa, situated on the valley floor, "underlain to a considerable depth by loose or slightly coherent geological formations,... 20 miles from the rift, was the most severely shaken town in the state and suffered the greatest disaster relatively to its population and extent" ( Report , 13,15). Thus an earthquake, such as is easily provided for along the margin of this great Jordan crevasse, would produce exactly the phenomena here described, and its occurrence at the time and place foretold to Joshua constitutes it a miracle of the first magnitude.

Notwithstanding the curse pronounced in  Joshua 6:26 the King James Version, prophesying that whosoever should rebuild the city "he shall lay the foundations thereof in his firstborn," it was rebuilt (  1 Kings 16:34 ) by Hiel the Bethelite in the days of Ahab. The curse was literally fulfilled. Still David's messengers are said to have "tarried at Jericho" in his day ( 2 Samuel 10:5;  1 Chronicles 19:5 ). In Elisha's time ( 2 Kings 2:5 ) there was a school of prophets there, while several other references to the city occur in the Old Testament and the Apocrypha ( 2 Chronicles 28:15 , where it is called "the city of palmtrees";  2 Kings 25:5;  Jeremiah 39:5;  Ezra 2:34;  Nehemiah 3:2;  Nehemiah 7:36; 1 Macc 9:50). Josephus describes it and the fertile plain surrounding it, in glowing terms. In the time of Christ, it was an important place yielding a large revenue to the royal family. But the city which Herod rebuilt was on a higher elevation, at the base of the western mountain, probably at Beit Jubr , where there are the ruins of a small fort. Jericho was the place of rendezvous for Galilean pilgrims desiring to avoid Samaria, both in going to and in departing from Jerusalem, and it has been visited at all times by thousands of pilgrims, who go down from Jerusalem to bathe in the Jordan. The road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho is still infested by robbers who hide in the rocky caverns adjoining it, and appear without warning from the tributary gorges of the wadies which dissect the mountain wall. At the present time Jericho and the region about is occupied only by a few hundred miserable inhabitants, deteriorated by the torrid climate which prevails at the low level about the head of the Dead Sea. But the present barrenness of the region is largely due to the destruction of the aqueducts which formerly distributed over the plain the waters brought down through the wadies which descend from the mountains of Judea. The ruins of many of these are silent witnesses of the cause of its decay. Twelve aqueducts at various levels formerly branched from the Wâdy Kelt , irrigating the plain both North and South. Remains of Roman masonry are found in these. In the Middle Ages they were so repaired that an abundance and variety of crops were raised, including wheat, barley, millet, figs, grapes and sugar cane. See further Palestine (RECENT Exploration ).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [17]

An ancient city of Palestine, in the SW. of a plain of the same name that extends W. of the Jordan and NW. of the Dead Sea; it was the first city taken by the Israelites when they entered the Holy Land, the walls falling down before them after being compassed for seven days by the priests blowing on rams' horns and followed by the people.