Archaeology Confirms the Walls ‘Fell Flat’

In 1997 two Italian archaeologists hired by the Palestinian Department of Archaeology excavated for one month at ancient Jericho. Their conclusion was not surprising, considering who hired them: No evidence supports the Jewish conquest of Jericho. But information gathered from previous digs not only contradicts these claims but also verifies the truth of Joshua6.

Joshua sent two spies to gather information about the land of Canaan and Jericho in particular (Josh. 2:1). When they returned, they would have told him that Jericho was centered amid a beautiful, vast grove of palm trees, covering about 8.5 acres.

Surrounding the entire city was an enormous earthen embankment with huge, stone retaining walls at its base. At the top of the embankment stood a colossal, 46-foot-high mud-brick wall. The houses were actually built on those massive, thick walls.

Extraordinary archaeological discoveries have been made at Jericho. The Bible says the walls “fell down flat” (6:20). Piles of mud bricks from the collapsed wall were found in 1997, confirming the walls were not destroyed by a battering ram, but that they collapsed. The Bible also says the entire city and everything in it was burned (v. 24). A layer of ash three feet thick with remnants of burnt timbers and debris was found.

Of particular interest to excavators was that Jericho showed no signs of having been plundered. The Israelites were under strict orders not to take anything from the city (v. 18). Among the destroyed buildings were found many large jars full of charred grain. Normally, ancient conquerors carried off grain as spoils of war. But not at Jericho. The grain also indicated the city was not under siege for long. Had it been, the food would have been gone.

However, the most fascinating discovery was on the north side of the city. The wall and houses built against it were preserved. When the spies came to the city, a Canaanite prostitute named Rahab hid them (Josh. 2). In return she asked that she and her family be spared.

Rahab was instructed to gather her family and stay inside her house during the assault. The Israelites rescued her, and her house was spared. Is it possible her house was located on the north side?

All this data from the excavator’s spade confirms the genuineness of the biblical account.

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