Think back to our previous discussion of the akitu festival: This celebration of a city’s patron deity was held at least once a year. The ritual originated at Ur, the city of the moon-god, more than a thousand years before the Exodus. It was celebrated in spring and fall, on the first day of the first month, Nisan, and the seventh month, Tishrei.
Based on what scholars have pieced together from texts from Ur and nearby Sumerian cities like Uruk and Nippur, the akitu festival lasted for eleven days. Rituals during the first seven days of the festival took place outside the city, and the idol representing the god was carried from its temple in the city to the akitu-house outside the walls. The last three days of the festival were held at the temple inside the city.
Needless to say, this involved a lot of traveling from the city to the akitu-house and back for rituals and festivities. One of those rituals, remember, was circumambulating of the fields to raise a spiritual hedge of protection against wind demons and other evil forces that might destroy the city’s crops.
Marching in a circle around a place to earn the favor of the city’s patron god. Does that sound familiar?
You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.Joshua 6:3–5
The big difference between the ancient festival at Ur and the march around the Amorite city of the moon-god was that there was no idol representing Yahweh leading the Israelites. It was better—Joshua 5:13–15 tells us that the Angel of Yahweh, “the commander of the army of YHWH,” was there in person. That was a Christophany. The Messiah—God—was there in person to fight for Israel at Jericho.
The Israelites camped outside the walls spoiled the moon-god’s party that year. “Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.” While stopping the usual flow of goods into the city was bad enough, there was a spiritual element at work. Remember, when dates are recorded in the Bible, they’re important. The dates recorded in chapter 5 of Joshua match the dates of the akitu festival at the moon-god’s cult centers, Harran and Ur.
Now, get this: Texts about various akitu celebrations in ancient Mesopotamia suggest that a god’s triumphal return to his or her city took place on day seven of the festival.
Day seven. The day the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, and in a reversal of a festival more than a thousand years old, Yahweh symbolically entered the city of the moon-god.
Boom. Mic drop.
In the interest of accuracy, even though there are plenty of records documenting the akitu at Ur and Harran, we don’t have any direct evidence that the akitu was celebrated at Jericho. Secular scholars don’t even agree on when the city was destroyed and whether the Israelites were responsible. (For the record, we have no problem with the biblical account.)
But the evidence fits our theory: Not only did Yahweh time the attack to begin on the anniversary of Israel’s release from Egypt and immediately after the spring akitu festival, when the moon-god was supposed to be at full strength, but He also apparently directed the Israelites to reverse an ancient ritual created to honor the moon-god.
Let’s add another nugget: Think back to the story of the discovery of the stela at the temple on Mount Hermon. In addition to the stela, Sir Charles Warren discovered an ancient stone wall that forced people climbing to the summit of the mountain to pour out drink offerings to approach in a circular path with the summit always on the left—a counterclockwise circumambulation.
Again, it’s worth asking, as Warren did in his 1870 report for the Palestine Exploration Fund: Did the pagan ritual of circumambulating a place or thing to gain favor with the gods—as in the tawaf around the Kaaba in Mecca—originate on the summit of Mount Hermon?
Even those of us who didn’t really pay attention in church know that the destruction of Jericho was just the beginning of Israel’s war with the natives of Canaan. The collapse of Jericho’s walls was an unmistakable message to the moon-god and his colleagues, but the fighting was far from over.
After Israel destroyed Jericho and Ai, an Amorite coalition led by Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem marched on Gibeon to punish that city for making a treaty with Israel. With Yahweh’s help, Joshua and the Israelites routed the Amorites.
You probably remember the story from Sunday School. This is another one of the tales that’s so cool it’s become a favorite with Christian pastors and teachers. Sadly, some interpret it the wrong way, using a method of Bible study that pastor and radio broadcaster Chris Roseborough calls “narcigesis.” That’s a combination of “narcissism” and “exegesis,” a disturbing trend of Christians to read themselves into every story in the Bible.
In this case, the victory over the Amorite army was so complete that Joshua prayed and asked God to stop the sun from setting so Israel could complete the victory in daylight. “Narcigesis” would have us believe that by praying the same way Joshua prayed, God will do miraculous things—stopping the sun in the sky, as it were—so we can have everything we want. No. God is not obligated to respond to our wishes if we speak the right words in the right way. That’s the definition of witchcraft.
Interpreting Joshua’s prayer in the Valley of Aijalon as the key to personal success completely misses the point of that battle. It’s so much bigger than finding the magic words to get God to do what we want. At the Valley of Aijalon, God literally fought against the small-g gods of Israel’s pagan enemies.
At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord obeyed the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.Joshua 10:12–14
Did you catch that? The sun stopped and kept the moon(-god) out of the sky for “about a whole day.”
Just as He did at the Red Sea, God sent a message not just to the human enemies of His people, but to their gods. In Egypt, Yahweh parted the waters to humiliate the storm-god, Baal, who claimed credit for taming the chaos-god of the sea. At the Valley of Aijalon, Yahweh literally kept the moon-god out of the sky for a whole day while Israel obliterated an army of the moon-god’s followers. This was a message to the patron god of the Amorites who’d founded Babylon and dominated the Near East for four hundred years.
The prophet Habakkuk later suggested this battle was more real than we’ve been taught:
The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped, at the flash of your glittering spear.Habakkuk 3:11
Using the Hebrew for “sun” and “moon,” the first line reads, “Shemesh (the sun-god) and Yarikh stood still in their place.” “Glittering spear” is baraq chaniyth, which literally means “lightning spear”—a thunderbolt, the favorite weapon of the storm-god, Baal.
Yes, God has a sense of humor.
While the Amorites were unknown outside the Bible until about two hundred years ago, their influence on the world continues to the present day. God called them out for their wickedness; they’re responsible for the occult system of Babylon, the symbol of the end-times church of the Antichrist; and the most prominent god of their pantheon in the days of the patriarchs, the moon-god, was an early target in God’s war against the supernatural rebels who wanted to destroy His people.
The moon-god was down, but he wasn’t out. Meanwhile, another rebel god was ready to take his shot at Israel.
 Pongratz-Leisten, op. cit., 265–266.
 Joshua 6:1 (ESV).
 Cohen, op. cit., p. 405.