Joshua 6:26, 27: Joshua’s Cursing of Jericho

Verse 26:[1] And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, (1 Kings 16:34) Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.

[He uttered a curse, וַיַּשְׁבַּע[2]] He swore (Septuagint, Syriac, Jonathan, Munster); he adjured (Montanus, Pagnine, Vatablus), understanding either them (Dutch, English), or the sons of Israel (Vatablus). He cursed by adjuration (Junius and Tremellius). He uttered a curse, namely, with the name of God invoked. Thus Numbers 5:19, 21 (Masius).

Adjured them; or, made them to swear; caused the people, or some in the name of all, to swear for the present and succeeding generations, and to confirm their oath by a curse. Before the Lord, that is, from God’s presence, and by his sentence, as they are said to cast lots before the Lord, Joshua 18:8, 10, that is, expecting the decision from God. He intimates, that he doth not utter this in a passion, or upon a particular dislike of that place, but by Divine inspiration, as appears from 1 Kings 16:34. God would have the ruins of this city remain as a standing monument of God’s justice against this wicked and idolatrous people, and of his almighty power in destroying so great and strong a city by such contemptible means.

[Who would raise and build, אֲשֶׁ֤ר יָקוּם֙ וּבָנָ֞ה][3]] Who shall arise and build (Malvenda, Vatablus, Tigurinus, Pagnine), that is, who shall attempt, study, and try to restore Jericho (Vatablus). Who, rising up, would build (Munster). Who shall arise, that is, who shall be born, or is going to be (Masius). Who shall exist: thus, No one has arisen (that is, existed) greater than John[4] (Drusius). Others: he shall raise; thus Jerome and Theodotion were reading יָקִים, to cause to rise[5] (Masius).

[In his firstborn (thus most interpreters), בִּבְכֹרוֹ] With his firstborn (Vatablus); at the cost of the firstborn (Junius and Tremellius); unto the ruin of his firstborn (Castalio); for his firstborn, or, because of his firstborn (Dutch); with the death of his first born (Arabic), that is, all his sons shall die while he is building this city, from the eldest to the youngest (Munster, Vatablus, Masius, Drusius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). For, as the foundations of edifices are wont to be laid first, so the gates are wont to be set up last (Masius). The reason for this malediction was not that the place of itself was to be cursed, for the holiest of men, Elijah, Elisha,[6] etc., did not shun this city after its restoration, neither did Christ[7] (Masius): But, 1. it was the completion of the curse, that what had been destroyed would not be revived (Bonfrerius): 2. that it might stand as an eternal monument of Divine power and vengeance (Masius, Lapide, Maimonides in Masius). Thus the Romans were ordaining with a frightful curse that overthrown Carthage would not be inhabited forever[8] (Masius). Strabo relates in Geography 13 that similar dire curses are offered by Agamemnon concerning Ilium,[9] and by Crœsus concerning Sidene.[10] Now, God held the dire curses of Joshua as established, 1 Kings 16:34 (Grotius).

That riseth up and buildeth, that is, that shall attempt or endeavour to build it. So this curse is restrained to the builder, but no way belongs to those who should inhabit it after it was built, as is evident from 2 Kings 2:18; Luke 19:1, 5. The builder shall lose all his children in the work, the first at the beginning, others in the progress of it by degrees, and the youngest in the close of it, when the gates use to be set up. This was fulfilled, 1 Kings 16:34.


Verse 27:[11] (Josh. 1:5) So the LORD was with Joshua; and (Josh. 9:1, 3) his fame was noised throughout all the country.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּשְׁבַּ֣ע יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖יא לֵאמֹ֑ר אָר֙וּר הָאִ֜ישׁ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר יָקוּם֙ וּבָנָ֞ה אֶת־הָעִ֤יר הַזֹּאת֙ אֶת־יְרִיח֔וֹ בִּבְכֹר֣וֹ יְיַסְּדֶ֔נָּה וּבִצְעִיר֖וֹ יַצִּ֥יב דְּלָתֶֽיהָ׃

[2] שָׁבַע, to swear, is here in the Hiphil conjugation, which frequently conveys a causative sense.

[3] יָקוּם, to arise, is in the Qal conjugation.

[4] Matthew 11:11; Luke 7:28.

[5] In the Hiphil conjugation, which frequently conveys a causative sense.

[6] See 2 Kings 2.

[7] See Luke 19:1, 5.

[8] From 264 to 146 BC, Rome and Carthage engaged in three bloody wars, as each sought expansion of its power in the western Mediterranean.

[9] Agamemnon is the semi-mythical commander-and-chief of the Greek military forces during the Trojan War.  Strabo relates that it was rumored that Agamemnon, having destroyed the city, pronounced a curse upon the site.

[10] A similar thing is related by Strabo concerning Crœsus, the sixth century BC King of Lydia, and his cursing of anyone attempting to rebuild the ruins of Sidene, a city of Lycia.

[11] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ וַיְהִ֥י שָׁמְע֖וֹ בְּכָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 6:26, 27: Joshua’s Cursing of Jericho

  1. A sweet meditation from Jonathan Edwards, “Notes on the Bible”: “Joshua 6:26 and 1 Kings 16:34, ‘And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.’ Jericho herein was a remarkable type of the church of the elect. Jericho was a devoted cursed city, it was devoted to perfect and to eternal destruction. To perfect destruction, in that every man, woman, and child, ox, sheep, and ass, were destroyed by God’s command, and it was forbidden ever to be built again. So the elect are naturally under the curse of the law, which devotes those that have broken it to perfect and eternal destruction. However, this city was one very capable of being redeemed from that curse; but that was only by the curse being transferred upon him that built it. So the church of the elect could have the curse removed no other way but by its being laid upon Christ, who undertook to restore it. So Hiel the Bethelite represented Christ, who is from the true Bethel, or house of God, even heaven. He was to lay the foundation of it in his firstborn, and in his youngest son to set up the gates of it. So his eldest son represented Christ who is the firstborn of every creature, and is our elder brother. The foundation of the redeemed and restored church is laid in the blood of the first and only-begotten Son of God. The gates of it were to be set up in his youngest son: so after the church is redeemed by Christ, the gates of it are to be set up in the blood of the martyrs. It is in that way the church is to be erected and finished, and brought to its determined glory and prosperity in the world, even through the sufferings and persecutions of believers. Jericho, though once an accursed city of the Canaanites; yet, after it was thus redeemed from the curse, became a school of the prophets. 2 Kings 2; 4:38; 6:1, 2.”

  2. Matthew Henry: “All this magnified Joshua and raised his reputation (Joshua 6:27); it made him not only acceptable to Israel, but formidable to the Canaanites, because it appeared that God was with him of a truth: the Word of the Lord was with him, so the Chaldee, even Christ himself, the same that was with Moses. Nothing can more raise a man’s reputation, nor make him appear more truly great, than to have the evidences of God’s presence with him.”

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