"And Moshe said to Chovav ben Re'uel the Midianite, Moshe's
father-in-law: We are traveling to the place of which Hashem
said, `I will give it to you'; come with us and we will do
good with you, for Hashem has spoken good concerning
"And he said to him: I will not go, but I will depart to my
own land to my kindred.
"And he said: Leave us not, I pray of you, since you know how
we are to encamp in the wilderness and you may be to us as
eyes. And it shall be if you go with us, that what good
Hashem shall do to us, the same will we do to you"
Rashi notes: What is good he did to him? When the land was
divided up, the richness of Yericho, 500 cubits by 500
cubits, was not distributed. And they said: The one in whose
portion the Beis Hamikdosh will be built shall have it. In
the meantime it was given to the descendants of Yisro, to
Yonodov ben Reichov, as it is written, "And the sons of
Keini, the father-in-law of Moshe, went up from the city of
palms" (Shofetim 1).
From here it appears that there is a connection, and there
exists a certain tradition thereof, between Yerushalayim and
Yericho. The one who relinquished his land for the site of
the Beis Hamikdosh would receive Yericho in exchange. What is
the special advantage of Yericho which claims a special
affinity to Yerushalayim, the holy, sacred city?
At the end of Gur Arye, chapter 10, verse 32, the
Maharal writes: And if you ask, what is the special advantage
of this area of five hundred cubits by five hundred cubits
(not an especially large area)? This is no question, for the
very fact that it was presented in exchange for the land
relinquished for the building of the Beis Hamikdosh speaks
for itself. And the importance of the site of the exchange
similarly indicates the importance of those who dwelled
there, who occupied it. After all, Yericho was the
exchange, the counterpart for Yerushalayim.
An additional source in the words of Chazal and the Rishonim
is brought to teach us the connection between Yericho and
In Tomid 30b we find:
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of the great gate in
the Mikdosh as it was being opened.
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of the rake.
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of Ben Arza sounding
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of the flute.
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of the crier awakening
the kohanim for their holy daily service at the
From Yericho, one could hear the grating sound of the wooden
pulley which Ben Katim devised to raise the kiyor from
the water cistern each morning (so that the water remaining
overnight would not be posul).
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of the song.
From Yericho, one could hear the sound of the shofar.
And some say, that even the sound of the Kohen godol
at the time that he pronounced the Ineffable Name on Yom
From Yericho, one could smell the aroma of the incense. Said
R' Elozor ben Diglai: My father had goats in a distant city
which would sneeze from the odor of the incense.
The explanation to this can be found in the commentary of the
Raavad, who brings something marvelous in the name of his
master, HaRav Hechossid:
"All these things that we learned could be heard from
Yericho, all of them miraculous, could only be heard in
Yericho and not in the other directions because Yericho was
similar to Yerushalayim. It was the beginning of the conquest
of Eretz Yisroel, and just like one must separate
truma from the first grain, so was Eretz Yisroel
itself thus consecrated. Because of this, Yehoshua
consecrated Yericho to be holy and therefore it is like
Yerushalayim in that all the aforementioned things were heard
so that people would feel that Yericho did, indeed, possess a
measure of sanctity like Jerusalem."
Here, then, is the secret of Yericho's significance: It was
conquered first. And as such, it was consecrated like the
truma of the grain and the vineyard. Through this
unique sanctity, it is parallel to Yerushalayim, the Holy and
Yericho's sanctity was so pronounced that in a miraculous
way, people could hear the entire service of the Beis
Hamikdash all the way to Yericho, despite the vast distance
separating them. The Raavad concludes: In Yoma it is
said that the Kohen godol was praised in that his
voice could be heard on Yom Kippur when he loudly pronounced
the Ineffable Name -- all the way to Yericho. This is praise
in the sight of man. The truth is that no man in Yericho
could have possibly heard him -- had it not been for a
miracle. The reason why this miracle was not enumerated among
the other ten miracles that occurred in the Beis Hamikdosh is
because the mishna in Pirkei Ovos only
enumerates those miracles that took place within, that is,
between the walls of the Beis Hamikdosh.
We also find that Yerushalyim was coveted by the kings of all
other nations due to its holiness and each wished to
establish some permanent connection to this city, as is very
evident from historical-archeological relics of various eras
to be found in the different neighborhoods, even as far as
names preserved to this day. On a smaller scale, this is also
true of Yericho: R' Shimon ben Yochai taught: Any king or
government that did not have some representation of rule in
the land considered himself worthless. The king of Bovel had
an ambassador living in Yericho (Bereishis Rabba 85).
This is the very king of Bovel who laid siege to Yerushalayim
and ended up destroying the Beis Hamikdosh -- he, of all
people, established his embassy in Yericho.
In the future Redemption, Yericho will also occupy a major
place. In Sifrei at the end of Devorim, it is
written: And he showed him the Negev and the plain, the
valley of Yericho -- this teaches that Hashem showed Moshe
Gog and the multitudes that are destined to fall in the
valley of Yericho.
We cannot fathom profound matters that are considered divine
esoteric secrets, but it is important for us to ascribe the
proper significance to this city in the perspective of the
Torah. And this is especially applicable in our days when a
certain process is taking place whose beginning is anchored
in the very city of Yericho.