Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

The Seven Trumpets of Jericho, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot c.1896-1902, in the care of The Jewish Museum

And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
Joshua 6:3-4

Sometimes things just don't make sense, and that doesn't make them wrong. Sometimes we just don't understand, and we must proceed with pure trust. Joshua, on meeting the Angel of the Lord, was expecting a military strategy for the taking of Jericho. His army was amassed and ready to fight, ready to storm the walls, presumedly with battering rams, climbing ropes and other devices to overcome the solid fortress surrounding the city. Instead God asks the soldiers to do nothing more than march round the city, following the priests bearing the ark of the covenant and blowing their ram's horn trumpets. That's all. And then at the end of each day to retire, quietly. This they must do six times.

We can imagine the fear and bewilderment of the city residents. They were poised to fight. They knew how to fight and defend their city, but this was just weird—and likely very unnerving. We fear more what we do not understand. After six days of this silent treatment from the Israeli army the nerves of the residents were in tatters. And on the seventh day it was voices, not arms that brought down the walls, it was joyful singing, not physical violence that was required for victory.1

Being in touch with God does not mean being in the know, indeed it so often means just the opposite, being exactly in a state of not-knowing. This is different to ignorance though. Ignorance is a state of Godlessness, it is to be lost and not even know you are lost. Not-knowing is a conscious state, a place where we are able to embrace the mystery and perhaps make progress simply by doing the next right thing— circle the city or do the washing up, whatever is necessary. Or perhaps just sit quietly for a time. Our actions may appear strange to those around us, but explanation is unnecessary. With trust, all will come to make sense. Or else it won't. I suppose that is what we mean by faith.

1 Certainly much violence followed as the Israelites took possession of the land. This was by no means a peaceful campaign, it only started in an unusual way, perhaps one of the first examples of psychological warfare.