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Meaning and etymology of the name Jericho

Jericho Jericho

Jericho is a city near the Jordan, which walls famously fall when Joshua has the Israelites march around it (Joshua 6). Although Joshua curses anyone who would rebuilt the city (6:26), Hiel of Bethel does it anyway, at dear cost, during the days of king Ahab (1 Kings 16:34). But apparently, Jericho had remained to exist between its destruction and its revival (Joshua 16:1, 7; 2 Samuel 10:5). Perhaps the ruins remained a landmark, or perhaps a new settlement grew out of the same reasons that spawned the old Jericho.

The rebuilt Jericho is visited by Elisha (2 Kings 2:5), and Jesus on more than one occasion (Mat 20:29; Luke 19). Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, is captured there (2 Kings 25:5), and is taken to Babylon after horrible torture. Some 345 men of Jericho who return from the Babylonian exile go back to Jericho (Ezra 2:34) and help with the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:2).

The meaning of the name Jericho is disputed. BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBS Study Bible Name List take its meaning from riah (riah) meaning smell, scent, accept. Jericho is called the City Of The Palms (Deuteronomy 24:3) and apparently its district was 'abounding in palms, rose-gardens, balsam, etc' (BDB Theological Dictionary).

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names recognizes the similarity with Jerah (yareah) meaning moon as time indicator; month (see the names Jerah and Jaroah).

The name Jericho may mean City Of The Moon (Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) or Place Of Fragrance (NOBS Study Bible Name List).



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