Jericho is one of the most famous cities in the Bible. It is the second most excavated city in Israel, behind Jerusalem. It is known as the “oldest city on earth” due to archeological discoveries onsite, and is one of the lowest cities on earth, at 846 feet (258 meters) below sea level. Biblical events from the time of Joshua to Yeshua happened here. Today, it is a large, spread-out city with primarily Arab inhabitants. It is located on the eastern side of Israel, in the Jordan Rift Valley, on the north tip of the Dead Sea.
Joshua’s battle at Jericho is one of the most well-known battles in the Bible (Joshua 6). In the days of Joshua, Jericho was much smaller. It was a fortified mound in the northern section of modern Jericho, known today as Tel es-Sultan. Joshua 6:20 says, “and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead.” Here, archeologists found a retaining stone wall with mud bricks collapsed around it, creating a ramp-like structure leading into the city. This fits exactly with the biblical descriptions of the wall falling “underneath itself” (literal translation), and the Israelites going straight into the city. For a short video description of this event, see here.
In addition to the walls, archeologists found numerous jars of burnt grain dating to the time of Joshua. This fits perfectly with the biblical description in Joshua 6:24 saying, “Then they burned the whole city and everything in it.”
In 2 Kings:19-22, right after Elijah is taken by the chariot of fire, Elisha purifies spring waters at Jericho so that it would not cause “death or unfruitfulness any longer.” Today, there is still a spring at Jericho that provides water and irrigation for many fruits, flowers, and spices. A monument called “Elisha Spring Fountain” commemorates this event.
Yeshua Heals Two Blind Men
At Jericho, Yeshua heals two blind men; one named Bartimaeus, who called out: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” At this time, Jericho was separated into a residential area that surrounded the spring, and a municipal section built by Herod the Great and the Hasmonians. Matthew and Mark record that this healing happened as Yeshua was “leaving” Jericho, but Luke records that is was as He was “approaching.” This likely sets the miracle between the residential and municipal Jerichos, as Yeshua is leaving one and approaching the other.
Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree in Jericho in order to see Yeshua as He passed by (Luke 19:1-10). Little did he know that Yeshua would come right up to him and announce that He was coming to his house. The picture below shows the commemorated “Zacchaeus Sycamore Tree” in Jericho.
The Good Samaritan
In Luke 10:25-37, Yeshua tells the parable of the Good Samaritan to exemplify who is a true neighbor. The setting of this parable is on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This road was known for its difficulty; it is approximately 15 miles (24 kilometers) long with an elevation difference of about 3400 feet (1060 meters). Yeshua walked this road multiple times; there are few who attempt it today.