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Jericho was a fenced city in the midst of a vast grove of palm trees, in the plain of Jordan, over against the place where that river was crossed by the Israelites (Joshua 3:16). Its site was near the 'Ain es-Sultan, Elisha's Fountain (2 Kings 2:19-22), about 5 miles west of Jordan. It was the most important city in the Jordan valley (Numbers 22:1; 34:15), and the strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan. It was the key to Western Canaan.
This city was taken in a very remarkable manner by the Israelites (Joshua 6). God gave it into their hands. The city was “accursed” (Hebrew: 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).
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 It would seem that the Egyptian troops had before this been withdrawn from Canaan.
In New Testament times Jericho stood some distance to the southeast 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 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 … 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.
See the Christian archaeological video which describes this ancient city: On the Promised Land: Crossroads of the World (part of the Faith Lessons video series). “As Jericho was God’s first gift to the Jews in the land of Israel, we are to devote to Him our 'first fruits'—the possessions and talents He has given each of us.”