1. Exposition

Why was it wrong to rebuild Jericho?

1 Kings 16:34 (ESV)

34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

Ahab thought Jericho was a threat, and so he wanted it rebuilt. There was, however, a major problem. Jericho was supposed to remain an open city, in ruins. Joshua 6:1–27 records the conquest of Jericho, where all that occurred was a testimony to God’s greatness. For six days the people circled the city once a day, and on the seventh day, they circled it seven times. Then the priests sounded the trumpets, the people shouted, and the walls fell down. The power of God brought them down. It was a scene of the mighty deeds of God.

Upon its destruction, the city was devoted to the LORD (Joshua 6:17, Joshua 6:21). The LORD claimed the right of ownership; the city and all that was in it were his, a testament of his awesome deeds. And so Joshua pronounced the curse: anyone who dared to lay his hands on this heap of rubble would be defying the Lord and his rights.

Jericho’s ruins lay there for centuries. The judges, and later the kings allowed the message of Jericho’s ruins to resound. Even the kings who were so wicked did not touch Jericho’s ruins. King Ahab is the turning point.1 He truly was the king who did more to provoke the LORD to anger than any before him. Ahab shut up the proclamation of the ruins!

Calvin said, “The rebuilding of it would have been equivalent to an erasure effacing the miracle."2