Jer’icho (place of fragrance), a city of high antiquity, situated in a plain traversed by the Jordan, and exactly over against where that river was crossed by the Israelites under Joshua. Josh. 3:16. It was five miles west of the Jordan and seven miles northwest of the Dead Sea. It had a king. Its walls were so considerable that houses were built upon them. ch. 2:15. The spoil that was found in it betokened its affluence. Jericho is first mentioned as the city to which the two spies were sent by Joshua from Shittim. Josh. 2:1-21. It was bestowed by him upon the tribe of Benjamin, ch. 18:21, and from this time a long interval elapses before Jericho appears again upon the scene. Its second foundation under Hiel the Bethelite is recorded in 1 Kings 16:34. Once rebuilt, Jericho rose again slowly into consequence. In its immediate vicinity the sons of the prophets sought retirement from the world; Elisha “healed the spring of the waters”; and over against it, beyond Jordan, Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” 2 Kings 2:1-22. In its plains Zedekiah fell into the hands of the Chaldeans. 2 Kings 25:5; Jer. 39:5. In the return under Zerubbabel the “children of Jericho,” 345 in number, are comprised. Ezra 2:34; Neh. 7:36. Under Herod the Great it again became an important place. He fortified it and built a number of new palaces, which he named after his friends. If he did not make Jericho his habitual residence, he at last retired thither to die, and it was in the amphitheatre of Jericho that the news of his death was announced to the assembled soldiers and people by Salome. Soon afterward the palace was burnt and the town plundered by one Simon, slave to Herod; but Archelaus rebuilt the former sumptuously, and founded a new town on the plain, that bore his own name; and, most important of all, diverted water from a village called Neæra to irrigate the plain which he had planted with palms. Thus Jericho was once more “a city of palms” when our Lord visited it. Here he restored sight to the blind. Matt. 20:30; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35. Here the descendant of Rahab did not disdain the hospitality of Zacchæus the publican. Finally, between Jerusalem and Jericho was laid the scene of his story of the good Samaritan. The city was destroyed by Vespasian. The site of ancient (the first) Jericho is placed by Dr. Robinson in the immediate neighborhood of the fountain of Elisha; and that of the second (the city of the New Testament and of Josephus) at the opening of the Wady Kelt (Cherith), half an hour from the fountain. (The village identified with Jericho lies a mile and a half from the ancient site, and is called Riha. It contains probably 200 inhabitants, indolent and licentious, and about 40 houses. Dr. Olin says it is the “meanest and foulest village of Palestine”; yet the soil of the plain is of unsurpassed fertility.—Ed.)
Fountain of Elisha at Jericho.