Jericho is the lowest city on earth, and is located 10 miles north of the Dead Sea. Jericho is also one of the oldest cities in the world, and inhabitants lived here over 10,000 years ago. An archaeology finding of a Neolithic Tower in the site of Tell es Sultan was dated from at least 8500 BCE.
The Hebrew Bible and the New Covenant Jericho
Jericho has been mentioned many times in the Hebrew Bible and the New Covenant. The most familiar story in the Hebrew Bible is in Joshua 6:1-21. When the Israelites attacked the city of Jericho, they first walked around the city walls once a day for six consecutive days. On the seventh day, they walked seven times, then blew their trumpets with loud shouts at the city walls. The city walls collapsed by a miracle! After Joshua destroyed Jericho he pronounced a curse against it. Since then, the city was never rebuilt. However, a new city we named New Covenant Jericho was built about two miles away from the Jericho of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Due to the warm and pleasant winters, the kings of the Hasmonean dynasty and Herod the Great built their winter palaces in Jericho. For more information, please click here.
Jericho is Jerusalem’s back door. When Jesus traveled back and forth from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem, he would pass by Jericho. Here Jesus, our Jewish Messiah, healed a blind man named Bartimaeus.
Nowadays, there is a modern village with a few thousand inhabitants about a mile east of the site of Jericho in the Hebrew Bible.
This is a sign stating that Jericho is the lowest city on the earth. It is 1,300 feet below sea level. Since Jericho is only 6 miles north of the Dead Sea which is the lowest sea level (1,385 feet) in the world, no wonder Jericho is the lowest city on the earth.
With an oasis around Jericho, it has earned a name called “the City of Palms” in Deut 34:3; Judg 3:13; 2 Chr 28:15.
Deut 34:3 “ the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar.”
Judg 3:13 “Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms.”
2 Chr 28:15 “The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow Israelites at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria.”
entrance to tell
This is the entrance to the Tell es Sultan, an excavation site of the old Jericho. Jericho was submitted in the World Heritage List Nominations in May 2021. For more information, please click here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/6545/
A Neolithic Tower
This Neolithic Tower (Neolithic New Stone Age Period from about 8500 to 4500 BCE) is still well preserved.
As you can see in the picture, there is an interior staircase and the exits are on the top of the tower (see the iron grid door). The tower is 28 ft. long x 25 ft. high.
According to Dr. Rasumussen, the excavator of this site — Kathleen Kenyon, used the “trench method” to cut into the mound. The advantages of this method are:
- To get an overview of the various strata (levels) of different times of civilizations.
- Cost effectiveness.
- To provide a reasonable survey by the archaeologist.
- All the remains of a given stratum are left for future generations of archeologists to excavate.
Elisha’s Spring, fed by springs issuing from Wadi Qelt, Wadi Nu’eima, and from beside the Tell es-Sultan site, led Jericho to become the largest oasis in the region. This powerful spring puts forth 1,000 gallons of water every minute. The water of these springs flowed freely into streams that crisscrossed the Jericho oasis up until recent times. Their flow is now regulated by governmental control (Wright P121).
Photo was contributed by Dr Rasumussen.
Stories of Elisha's Spring
The name of Elisha’s Spring reminds us of the story of 2 Kings 2:18-22. Why did Elisha cure the water?
Joshua's curse of the ancient Jericho
Let’s go back to Joshua 6:26. We are familiar with the story of the conquest of Jericho, but we always overlook why Joshua cursed this city after the conquest.
Joshua 6:26 “At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: ‘Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: ‘At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates.’”
1 Kings 16:34 “In his days Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.”
Elisha cured the spring of water in Jericho
Although Joshua did not explain why he pronounced such a curse against Jericho, 2 Kings 2:18-22 may give us an answer:
2 Kings 2:18-22 “ 18 They returned to him while he was staying in Jericho; and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?” 19 Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Behold now, the site of the city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful.’ 20 And he said, ‘Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not come from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.’” 22 So the waters have been purified to this day, in accordance with the word of Elisha which he spoke.”
A possible cause for the abandonment of ancient jericho
In fact, archaeologists have evidence that the city was suddenly abandoned around 1550-1200 BCE in the late Bronze Age (the time of the Joshua Era) for more than 400 years. Jericho was built of mud bricks. The water used for making the bricks contained mollusca (water snail) being found in the excavations. Mollusca is a host of schistosomiasis which can contaminate fresh water and could affect humans. In this case, schistosomiasis could definitely affect inhabitants of ancient Jericho. According to www.cdc.gov, children who are repeatedly infected can develop anemia, malnutrition, and learning difficulties. After years of infection, the parasite can also damage the liver, intestine, spleen, lungs, and bladder. When this happened dating back to several thousand years ago without medical knowledge and treatment, schistosomiasis was a death destiny.
So from the above scriptures and archaeological discoveries, it is conceivable that Joshua made the curse in order to prevent future inhabitants here from being threatened by schistosomiasis. But because of Elisha’s miracle healing the contaminated wells, Jericho became a place where people could continue to live.
The mountain in the picture is called the Mount of Temptation. It is claimed to be the traditional site of Satan’s temptation of Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry. You can ride up by cable car or walk up to the site. In the middle of the mountain an Eastern Orthodox monastery was built.
herod the great palace
The picture shows Herod the Great’s Third palace. Jericho is hot in summer, but the winter climate is pleasant.