The sinful city of Jericho was judged by God through the Israelites. The seemingly impenetrable walls were collapsed by a miracle.
In the Old Testament, in Joshua chapter 6, we have an account of the Israelites defeating the city of Jericho when they came into the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. According to the biblical account, after the Israelites marched around the city once a day for six days, on the seventh day they encircled the city seven times. On the seventh time around, the priests blew the trumpets, the people shouted and the walls fell flat.
The first major excavation of the site of Jericho, located in the southern Jordan valley in Israel, was carried out by a German team between 1907 and 1909. They found piles of mud bricks at the base of the mound the city was built on.
It was not until a British archaeologist named Kathleen Kenyon reexcavated the site with modern methods in the 1950s that it was understood what these piles of bricks were. She determined that they were from the city wall which had collapsed when the city was destroyed!
Walls of Jericho
Cross-section of the fallen bricks from the wall of Jericho. [Enlarge]
The story in the Bible goes on to say that when the walls collapsed, the Israelites stormed the city and set it on fire. Archaeologists found evidence for a massive destruction by fire just as the Bible relates. Kenyon wrote in her excavation report,
“The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt.”
What caused the strong walls of Jericho to collapse? The most likely explanation is an earthquake. But the nature of the earthquake was unusual. It struck in such a way as to allow a portion of the city wall on the north side of the site to remain standing, while everywhere else the wall fell.
The spies leave Rahab's house on very wide Jericho wall. Supplied by Eden Communications.
The spies leave Rahab's Jericho wall house.
Rahab's house was evidently located on the north side of the city. She was the Canaanite prostitute who hid the Israelite spies who came to reconnoiter the city. The Bible states that her house was built against the city wall. Before returning to the Israelite camp, the spies told Rahab to bring her family into her house and they would be saved. According to the Bible, Rahab's house was miraculously spared while the rest of the city wall fell.
This is exactly what archaeologists found. The preserved city wall on the north side of the city had houses built against it.