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Jericho – city of palm trees

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GENTLE BREEZE

By  NELLY FAVIS VILLAFUERTE

Nelly Favis Villafuerte

Nelly Favis Villafuerte

Recently, I received a letter from a 71- years old Senior Citizen from Sta. Cruz, Manila. His name is Nilo T. Balboa. Let me reproduce excerpts of his letters to me, as follows:

“Dear Madam:

“Good day as you receive this letter of mine.

“I am Mr. Nilo T. Balboa a senior citizen, 71 years, residing at Isabela Bldg., 1126-O Tomas Mapua St., Sta. Cruz, Manila. As I was fixing old newspaper in my room, I stumbled on your column ‘Gentle Breeze’ dated 12-10-17, Sunday, of the Manila Bulletin with article “The Amazing History of Jerusalem’. Thanks to that article for it added to my knowledge about Jerusalem. After reading your article, I learned that you are giving away Holy Bible for free. As I have been longing to have one in English, I hope it is still available. Thank you and God bless you.

“Very truly yours,

“Nilo T. Balboa”

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For the benefit of Nilo Balboa and others who enjoy reading about Biblical places in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, let me share about the city of Jericho.

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In ancient times, Jericho was a city in Canaan located about 7 miles from the north end of the Dead Sea and 5 miles west of Jordan.  Jericho which is known as the “City of Palm Trees” is 800 feet below sea level.  Considered by many as the oldest city in the world, it was the first city attacked by the Israelites after crossing the Jordan.  The Biblical wall of Jericho which was the inner fortress of the city enclosed about seven acres.

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The colorful Biblical account of the fall of the walls of Jericho never ceases to amaze us.  Despite their human wisdom, modern-day skeptics cannot solve the mystery of how the strong walls of the ancient city of Jericho fell – not by the might of war weapons, but by the marching of Israelites for seven days around the fortified city of Jericho without a single Israelite casualty.  Bible-believing Christians look at the biblical account as another event to magnify God’s omnipotence and at the same time to test the faith, obedience, and patience of His people. Simply put, the conquest of Jericho by the Israelites was a triumph of faith where the Israelites led by Joshua (the successor of Moses in leading the Israelites to the Promised Land) did exactly what God directed them to do, no matter how strange, foolish, and impossible the directions of God seemed to be.

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Evidence of the destruction of Jericho was excavated by Dr. John Garstang, the director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and of the Department of Antiquities of the Palestine government in 1929 to 1936.  The remarkable finding of Dr. Garstang was that the Jericho wall did actually “fall down flat,” the exact phrase used in the Bible to describe the fall of the Jericho wall.  In the Book of Joshua 6:20  “So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown.  As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city “(Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version).

From Halley’s archaeological account of Dr. Garstang’s excavation of the ruins of Jericho:  “The wall was double, two walls being 18 feet apart; the outer wall, 6 feet thick; the inner wall, 12 feet thick; both being about  30 feet high.  They were built, not very substantially, on faulty uneven foundations of brick 4 inches thick and 1 to 2 feet long, laid in mud mortar.  The 2 walls were linked together by houses built across the top as Rahab’s house “on the wall.”  Dr. Garstang found that the outer wall fell outward, and down the hillside, dragging the inner wall and houses with it, the streak of bricks gradually getting thinner down the slope.  The foundation walls of the palace, 4 courses of stone high, remain in situ, tilted outward.  Dr. Garstang thinks there are indications that the wall was shaken down by an earthquake (of which traces may be seen), a method which God could have used as easily as any other.”

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Dr. Garstang also excavated massive layers of charcoal and ashes.  Wall ruins, especially the outer wall, were found reddened by fire.  Even houses beside the wall were razed to the ground as evidenced by the deep layer of black burnt debris – with traces of white ash overlaid with reddish brick debris.  These findings of Dr. Garstang confirmed what the Holy Bible said: “As they (the Israelites) burned the city with fire, and all within it…”  (Joshua 6:24).  Dr. Garstang’s discovery is just one of the many archaeological excavations that coincided exactly with Biblical accounts.

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The story of the siege of Jericho is narrated here to highlight God’s sovereignty over all things and people and over all the resources of a nation.  Jericho was delivered to the Israelites on the basis of God’s mercy and power and not on the basis of the human merits of the Israelites.  This story is a timely reminder to all of us that we should not be relying completely on our military men and weapons for the security of our country.  At this crucial time of our country, let us be reminded of our Lord’s reassurance:  “. . .If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14). Let us give glory to our Lord!

*           *           *

This column continues to give out copies of the Holy Bible for free to those who cannot afford to buy their own copies. If interested, please send your letter-request to Ms. Nelly Favis Villafuerte, 5233 Fahrenheit St., Palanan, Makati City. Kindly mention if it is the Tagalog, English, Cebuano, or Ilocano Bible that is preferred.

Be joyful and forgiving!

(Comments may be sent to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: villafuerte_nelly@yahoo.com.)

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