In Joshua 6 the Jews marched around Jericho, thereby attacking it.

  • Why was Joshua allowed to break the Shabbat e.g carrying their weapons in a public domain when attacking Yericho?

  • Surely this march around Yericho began on Rosh Chodesh and lasted for 7 consecutive days- how was this allowed on Shabbat?

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Chaim22! Thanks for your interesting question. I've edited it to (a) give background info on the battle (with a link to Joshua) for those who need it and (b) make the post actually contain your question. You can edit it further to clarify why you think there's a problem with Joshua's actions. For example, have you heard that it's forbidden to wage war on Shabas? that it's forbidden to break a wall on Shabas? or what? I hope you stick around the site and enjoy it. You may particularly like our 32 preexisting questions on sefer-yehoshua.
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 13:31
  • Today Rabbah haver, shalom !
    – Chaim22
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 14:28
  • Does war not override Shabbos in general?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 1:49

2 Answers 2


Rashi indeed says that the 7th day of encircling Yericho was on Shabbos.

Rashi on Yehoshua 6:15:

"ביום השביעי" - שבת היה

This siege was permitted on Shabbos for the Sake of Milchemes Mitzva (Conquering Eretz Yisroel in the time of Yehshua) as the pasuk says "Until the city Falls"(Devarim 20:20) which means as long as it takes to subjugate the City including on Shabbos, as long as the war started before Wednesday.

Rambam Hilchos Melachim 6:11 writes:

צרין על עיירות של עכו"ם שלשה ימים קודם השבת ועושין עמהם מלחמה בכל יום ויום ואפילו בשבת. שנאמר עד רדתה ואפילו בשבת בין מלחמת מצוה בין מלחמת רשות

We may besiege a non-Jewish city (even) on Shabbos and we may make war with them even on Shabbos, as it says, “until it falls” (Deut. 20:20). We do battle on Shabbos whether it is a War of Mitzvoh or a Discretionary War.


Yehoshua was a prophet

Mishneh Torah» Sefer Madda » Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Ten

Halacha 5:

When a prophet proclaims that another individual is [also] a prophet, we accept the latter as a prophet without requiring [any further] investigation. Thus, after Moses, our teacher, proclaimed that Joshua [was a prophet], all the Jews believed in him before he performed any wonders. The same holds true for subsequent generations. ...


Mishneh Torah» Sefer Madda » Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Nine

Halacha 3


When a prophet - who has already proven himself to be a prophet - instructs us to violate one of the mitzvot of the Torah or many mitzvot, whether they be of a severe or light nature, for a limited amount of time, it is a mitzvah to listen to him.

The Sages of the early generation taught as part of the oral tradition: If a prophet tells you to violate the precepts of the Torah as Elijah did on Mount Carmel, listen to him with regard to all things except the worship of false gods. This applies when his command is temporary in nature.


If they would have asked Elijah: How can we violate the Torah's command [Deuteronomy 12:13]: "[Be careful...] lest you offer your burnt offerings everywhere"?, he would have told them: We should not say anything, but anyone who offers a sacrifice outside [the Temple premises] is liable for karet, as Moses said. [The present instance,] however, [is an exception]. I am offering a sacrifice today outside [the Temple] at God's command in order to disprove the prophets of Ba'al.

Similarly, if any [other] prophet commands us to transgress for a limited time, it is a mitzvah to listen to him. If, however, he says that the mitzvah has been nullified forever, he is liable for execution by strangulation, for the Torah has told us: "[It is] for us and our children forever."

  • 2
    As an aside, I'm not sure that this answer is correct, although not due to the lack of source for Yehoshua's prophet-hood. I believe that many times, war overrules the Shabbos, so there is no need to rely on a 'special circumstance' ruling by a prophet. This isn't a matter of a prophets' ability to permit a prohibition, but rather on the ability of war to overrule Shabbos. Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 14:17
  • Todah Rabbah friend for your answer, I am compiling these answers to hopefully give some insight/Midrash on this subject to our Facebook community.
    – Chaim22
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 15:00
  • @Chaim22 no problem, you can thank me by giving an arrow up (by my answer) and maybe even a check mark
    – hazoriz
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 15:02
  • @hazoriz Eyn Devar, shalom.
    – Chaim22
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 15:24

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