Sounds of War: What Brought the Walls of Jericho Down?

In: Greek and Roman Musical Studies
Andreas Kramarz Legion of Christ College of Humanities 475 Oak Avenue, Cheshire, CT 06410 USA

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The destruction of Jericho’s city walls (Joshua 6) is commonly attributed to the blowing of trumpets. After examining similar stories from ancient Greece, the article addresses various imprecisions of this notion. First, the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin versions of the biblical text suggest several possible instruments, but eventually the ram horn (shofar) remains the only reasonable option. Secondly, regarding the actual cause of the walls’ fall, textual analysis, again across languages, reveals a rather complex picture. Further insights are gained from the interpretations of both Jewish and early Christian commentators and contemporary scholarship. After considering a variety of possibilities, ranging from an earthquake to the ‘magic’ number seven, the solution proposed here is rooted in the soteriological hermeneutics of Sacred Scripture as a whole. In a way, none and all of the people’s actions are relevant, because only faith and obedience to God’s commandment elicit the divine ratification of salvation.

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