Marching Around Jericho

From The Lunar Sabbath Encyclopedia

The day after Marching Around Jericho is often cited as a Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath.

This page presents the rationale for considering it as a Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath, and discusses several objections.


YHVH commanded Joshua to march around Jericho seven days in a row:

And YHVH said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 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. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. (Jos 6:2-5)

How is it possible that the Israelites did this without marching on the Sabbath? Seven consecutive days of marching were commanded, and so on a traditional calendar one of those days would need to be a Sabbath day.

We know that travel on the Sabbath day is prohibited, based on the teachings in Exodus Chapter 16. After some of the Israelites disobey the command to not gather manna on the Sabbath day, YHVH commanded them to not leave their tents on the Sabbath:

And YHVH said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that YHVH hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exo 16:28-30)

Since the Israelites likely only walked a short distance to gather manna, marching around Jericho should certainly be a longer distance which would also be prohibited. Obviously YHVH does desire for us to travel to our places of worship on the Sabbath, but doing something not necessary such as gathering manna is clearly prohibited.

We do find that limited travel on the Sabbath was understood in the first century, according to Acts 1:12. This passage refers to the distance between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives as a "Sabbath day's journey". John Gill [1] elaborates on the meaning of this phrase:

A sabbath day's journey, according to the Jews, was two thousand cubits from any city or town, and which they often called, תחום שבת, "the bound of the sabbath" [2].

And that this was the proper space they also gather from Jos_3:4 it being the distance between the ark and the people when they marched; and though this was not fixed by the law, yet being a tradition of the elders, was strictly observed by them...

Hence, in some copies it is here inserted, "such being the distance that the Jews could walk"; that is, were allowed to walk by their canons.

Thus we can see that it was understood by the Jews of the first century AD that no unnecessary travel was to be done on the Sabbath day.

There are probably some good arguments that can be made regarding why YHVH could have commanded the Israelites to violate the Sabbath by marching around Jericho. However, it is also possible that this was commanded and done without violating the Sabbath. According to the Lunar Sabbath Calendar, the Sabbath will always fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of the month. This is because the first day of the month, the New Moon Day, is not counted as one of the six working days (see Ezekiel 46:1). This provides an additional day between the last Sabbath of the previous month (the 29th) and the first Sabbath of the next month (the 8th).

If YHVH commanded Joshua to begin marching on the first day of the month, there would have been seven days in which to fulfill this command before the Sabbath day (the 8th), negating any need for the Israelites to travel on the Sabbath. While there is no evidence in the book of Joshua regarding the day that the march began, there is evidence in the Book of Jasher regarding this date. Although the Book of Jasher is not canonized, it is mentioned twice in the Bible and is cited therein as a source of information. In Chapter 88 of the Book of Jasher [3] it says:

And it was in the second month, on the first day of the month, that YHVH said to Joshua, Rise up, behold I have given Jericho into thy hand with all the people thereof; and all your fighting men shall go round the city, once each day, thus shall you do for six days.

This passage provides additional evidence that the Israelites began their marching on the 1st of the month, and concluded before the 8th of the month. Therefore this pinpoints the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of the month as Lunar Sabbaths.


While it appears to be true [3] that the march around Jericho began on the first day of the month, this does not necessarily prove that the 8th day of the month was a Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath, or that the Sabbath did not fall on one of the first six days.

First, it must be established that the command to march around Jericho each day for seven days was given by YHVH to Joshua (Jos 6:2-5). It cannot be said that a direct command from YHVH is "unnecessary", therefore the the travel would have been deemed "necessary" and allowable. In fact, Jesus himself addressed whether the Sabbath can be profaned while walking through a cornfield on the Sabbath:

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. (Mat 12:1-6)

Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees that the Priests were commanded to profane the Sabbath each week by other specific commands given by YHVH to them. By extension, the same priority should be given by Joshua if commanded to profane the Sabbath in order to march around Jericho.

Second, the distance to march around Jericho cannot be considered to be significant. We know from recent archeological excavations what the size of Jericho was [4], and can calculate the distance around the city walls to be approximately 1/2 mile [5]. This is within the distance of what was considered a "Sabbath Day's Journey" in Acts 1:12, the distance that Jews of the first century were permitted to walk for even "unnecessary" travel.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the Rabbinical definition of a "Sabbath Day's Journey", the march around Jericho was necessary, a direct command of YHVH, and was not a significant distance to travel. Therefore it cannot be argued that the 8th day of the month must have been a Lunar Sabbath in order for the march around Jericho to be permissible.

See Also

Jericho: A Battle March on the Sabbath???


  1. John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
  2. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 2. Vid. Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 27. & 28. & Origin. Philocal. p. 14.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jasher, Ch 88 v14
  4. Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence
  5. What was the distance around the walls of Jericho?

Pinpointed Lunar Sabbaths
Abib 15 in Egypt The First Week of Manna The Last Day in Rephidim
The Law of the Leper The Consecration of Aaron and his Sons Esther 9
The Feast of Tabernacles The Wave Sheaf Offering Passover in Gilgal
Marching Around Jericho The Dedication of Solomon's Temple Hezekiah's Cleansing of the Temple
The Healing at the Pool Healing of the Blind Man Paul's Journey to Troas
The Crucifixion Week Siege of Jerusalem Christ the Firstfruits