Q. Is Jericho also known in the Bible as the City of Palms? If so, I thought Jericho was destroyed by Joshua and not rebuilt until the time of Ahab (Joshua 6:24; 1 Kings 16:34). Judges 3:13 mentions that Eglon, the king of Moab, took possession of the City of Palms (Jericho?). How could that be if Jericho was not rebuilt yet?
A. The city of the palm trees is Jericho and/or the oasis around it. Joshua and his men destroyed the city, but archaeology shows us that Jericho was rebuilt on the site not long afterward. In fact, digs show that Jericho was reoccupied several times.
You are aware of the Israelites’ ups and downs. God would send a deliverer when the Israelites were down spiritually and militarily. In this particular period of time, the Moabite king, Eglon, took over the city to use it as temporary headquarters within Israel. The Israelites had apparently already reoccupied the city, but they did not refortify it with city walls, due to the curse mentioned in Joshua 6:26. Note that this verse says that the curse would be on anyone who rebuilt its foundation or gates. In other words, refortification would bring the curse, not mere habitation. (Refortification did not occur until Israel’s occupation of Jericho during Ahab’s reign, which you mentioned.) No doubt, Eglon fortified the city to some degree while occupying it. Bible students differ as to why he did so when there was a curse against it. Some believe Eglon simply didn’t know about God’s curse. Others believe he did so in deliberate defiance of Israel and her God.
This article appeared in the “Q & A” column of the Baptist Bulletin by Norman A. Olson.