At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the LORD is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates.” So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land. – Joshua 6:26-27
Adolph Harstad writes:
These last two verses of the chapter highlight the role of Joshua as leader of the covenant nation. Under God, he accomplishes Law and Gospel, judgment unto death and salvation unto life. In the preceding verse, Joshua was acclaimed as the one who caused Rahab and her family to live.
In 6:26 Joshua pronounces a curse upon anyone who would rebuild Jericho. Since the pagan city received its just punishment for its sin, it would be a sin to attempt to rebuild what God Himself had condemned and destroyed. … The last holy act against Jericho is Joshua’s swearing of the curse. This is the only cursing of a conquered city mentioned in the OT. The laying of the foundations would be the first step in rebuilding the city and would include the foundations for new city walls to take the place of the ones that had collapsed at the sound of the trumpets and shouting of the Israelites. The first step would cost the offender his eldest on, his firstborn, who would normally be his heir – a tremendous loss. The last step would cost eh offender his last son, his youngest. While the curse does not explicitly say that those who perish (and also the rebuilder) would be damned to hell, that is an implication of the curse, for the rebuilding would be a direct violation of the LORD’s word. … Thus Joshua’s treatment of Jericho is in harmony with that command for the punishment of a city of idolatry – the primal sin that elicited the first divine curse (Gen 3:14-19). …
The LORD evidently wanted to preserve the collapsed site as a continuing reminder of His judgment against sin and His free gift of salvation to Israel. Its function would have been similar to that of the stone monuments that memorialized Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River. After the conquest of Jericho, God’s people could live in Jericho under His protection without the curse affecting them (see Joshua 18:21; Judges 3:13). Later in Joshua the site of Jericho will come under the allotment of the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:21). However, the rebuilding of its foundations and gates set up human defenses that the LORD had torn down, and he LORD then implemented the curse.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 34
Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of, the sons of God.