Before regeneration: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NASB).
After regeneration/maintenance period: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4: 23, NASB).
Alfred Jones, in his “Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names,” says that Jericho means “City of the moon.” He further described the root words it originated from as “to breath…to smell.” James Strong (Strong #3405), in his concordance, confirms Jones’ definition by combining the ideas of two things, a moon and fragrance (perception and getting a quick understanding is implied). Thus, city of the moon or city of the blowing out fragrant odors or city of quick discernment might all work as a definition (or nuanced definition).
The heart or spirit in man is something deeper and denser than soul (deeper and denser than mind, will, and emotion). It is the conscience and tuition and communion faculties of his being; it is that part of him which is designed to be particularly God-conscious. However, the Fall of Mankind has wreaked havoc to this innate composition and function. The blowing out fragrance and quick discernment characteristics of Jericho are the remnant faculties functioning outward from the inner recesses of a mostly dead heart or spirit; I say mostly dead because, though it is dead in an ultimate sense (until and only if regeneration occurs) it hobbles along in a broken and malfunctioning way. A conscience which either condemns or affirms behavior remains, but is now detached from God and therefore from the perfect law of conscience. Right and wrong is genuinely muddled to the unregenerate and fallen heart; nevertheless, the law of God is objective, external to this muddled man, and still obligatory upon him.
The springing up into eternal life which is the experience of those born-again, those regenerated, is the Spirit of the Lord first reattached or reconnected to man at his heart or spirit, then its expression as a fountain bubbling up from the depths of his heart. A mature Christian, and representative of God’s ideal, is a man with a thoroughly cleansed spirit, a heart thoroughly re-dug like an ancient well, a well which once overflowed its banks or its shaft with God’s perfectly clear Spirit.
Thus those poor in Spirit are those who have nothing of their own waters to gush forth; their spirits are little more than a blank shaft which is entirely dependent on God to make the water spring forth. Perhaps Rahab the harlot represents the extent of our contribution, and is like the thick outer-rind of a sick and calcified heart which has essentially died from the inside out; only because God comes back into us (after regeneration) and reanimates us from this center dead spot, does our Rahab-like outer-rind contribution have meaning as it begins to flesh out and reshape itself after its former substance and function. Man’s heart or spirit was never designed to operate without God living at its center animating the whole person as the engine or motivational thrust behind all its action or behavior.