We are going further in our story of Joshua and Jericho. Today we will watch as Israel marches around the city. We will see this through the eyes of those in that city.
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The walls of the city have been closed for nearly a month! They were shut the day Israel’s God dried up the flood waters of the Jordan and let that invading hoard through. NO ONE was getting into THIS city! Its walls had stood the test of many would be invaders. They were sturdy and thick. They also had battlement stations on top and on each corner. The gates had iron bars that were strong enough to withstand any breaching rams. Her citizens felt secure within her walls but they were also afraid.
The day after the spies left Rahab had tried to convince her family to join her in her home. They resisted every effort until the day the Jordan stopped flowing. Rahab’s father had a small farm just to the east of the city. He had a perfect view of Israel as they crossed the once flowing river. They were MORE than ready to accept Rahab’s offer of protection when Israel stood so close they could smell their campfires from the front porch. It was a good thing they came that day too because it wasn’t many hours later that the gates of the city were closed and barred.
Patience and supplies have been dwindling as the days march past. There is no trade coming or going. There is no harvest from the surrounding fields. It all sits in the field or on the vine while those who worked so hard to bring it forth are hiding behind the skirts of the city walls. Prices are rising for anything that can be eaten. What cattle and sheep that were in pens in the city are gone. They have been used to feed the people. Of course the king had to take his share first. He may even have some still in his private reserves. The soldiers were required to be fed next. After all, they are the ones protecting the inhabitants.
In the garrison the captain of the guard calls his men to attention. The fear of Israel has seeped into the hearts of every man, from the king all the way down to the lowest foot soldier. Their tasks now revolve around keeping order in the city and ensuring that the gates stay locked and the walls stay clear. “Battalion One, you are to patrol the eastern wall and report any breaches. Any sign of ropes being launched or ladders being built sound out immediately!”
In the home of Rahab there have been small squabbles such as are common when many people are forced into confinement together while under stress. Rahab looks out her window every day. She watches the people of Israel as they go about their day. It has been ordered that ALL windows be sealed but she HAS to see so she will know when to be ready. She is not afraid like the rest of the city is. She has a secret and hope.
Across town the home of Hazel is not so quiet or pleasant. Hazel’s husband, Devin, is angry. There is little for his family to eat. Devin is used to eating the delicious meals that Hazel if famous for preparing. He is an inn keeper but no travelers are coming. Many of his rooms are “rented out” but he has little to feed his guests with and their coin purses are running dry. Even if they had enough money to pay him there is nowhere for him to purchase supplies to care for them. Hazel is now becoming famous for stretching their food to the limit.
Near the once busy marked lives a young boy named Patty. He has always known hunger as he is an orphan that few notice. He used to beg for coins or do small tasks for the shop owners to earn enough to keep his stomach from aching. Now there are few shops open and no one has anything to spare for the street urchin.
The first day of the week dawns like all the others since the gates were shut. There is a sense of despair everywhere. How long can this continue!? Surely someone will do something to end this torture! Off in the distance the sound of music begins to rise. As it gets closer the sound of many feet moving in unison join in.
“Signal the commander! Israel is coming this way!” The message is relayed from the watchman on the wall to the garrison.
“Citizens to your homes!” is the shout that rings out in every street. People who had left their homes shortly before hurry back and secure their doors and windows. They know the walls will hold but they have practiced this drill so they will be out of the way if the army needs the streets.
When Rahab hears the sounds of the trumpets she opens her window instead of securing it. “It’s time!” she thinks. She will remain where she is and keep her family behind locked doors. That was her instructions from the spies whom she cared for not long ago. They will come for her and her family.
The soldiers on the wall lie flat and wait as Israel draws near the wall. Instead of taking up positions to fire arrows over the walls or bringing ladders and breaching rams Israel turns and begins marching around the city. Those on the wall watch and wonder. “Go tell the commander that they may be looking for a way in on the back side”, whispers one of the guards to his runner.
Once the message is delivered the commander sends troops to each wall to watch for where the attack will come from. He needs to know where to concentrate his forces.
The trumpets continue to sound as the column of soldiers march around the city. Their number is HUGE and imposing. The front of the column is three quarters of the way around the city and the end of the column is nowhere in sight. They seem to go on forever! The front of the column reaches the point where they started and the rear of the column is within a hands breadth in front of it. The ENTIRE city is encircled by the enemy!
The soldiers on the wall are struck mute as the see the vast numbers before them. But where are the ladders? Where is the breaching ram? Where are the archers? What are they waiting for? Other than the trumpets and sound of feet there is not another sound heard. Where are the taunts and shouts of war? Where are the orders to attack?
The front of the column peels off and begins to lead the army back the way they came. The trumpets continue to sound as they retreat. Within hours the last of the army is seen leaving. This is witnessed by the soldiers on the wall as well as Rahab.
“What just happened?” “Why did they retreat?” “Why didn’t they attack?” These questions are just a few running through the minds of the inhabitants of the city. The one on everyone’s mind though is “What is going to happen now?” Fear has a hold on every heart as they wait.
“Double the guard on the wall. Let me know the second Israel does something. Keep a sharp eye out for any small bands that might try to sneak around the back. We have no way of knowing what they found or why they left. They might have left because they found no weaknesses but I wouldn’t count on that.”
Finally evening comes and night quickly follows. The people sleep out of necessity. They believe the walls of their city will protect them but they are still on edge.
Morning dawns and the sounds that greeted the people yesterday morning have returned. “Will this be the day they attack?” Soldiers watch from the top of the wall again as Israel begins to march around the city. “What are they doing? What are they looking for?” Just as the front of the column meets with the rear the people turn again and head back the way they came. Trumpets blowing the whole time. Israel didn’t return again the rest of the day or night.
Rahab watches the second day’s activities from her vantage point. She straightens the ribbon hanging from her window. She doesn’t understand what Israel is doing either but she is still holding onto her promise of safety. She has everything packed and ready to go, waiting by the door. She went over it again last night in anticipation of what today might bring. They will only be bringing the bare essentials as she has no idea what they will be able to carry out when the fighting erupts.
The third day began the same way with the sound of the trumpets and marching feet. By now the soldiers were even more on edge. “When will they do something? Or is this going to be all they do?” Rahab was getting a little anxious too. Every day that passed was one day more that she had to maintain her secret. He family knew they were safe within her walls but they didn’t know the rest of her secret. By the time Israel returned to camp that day Rahab’s heart was sinking while the guards’ hearts were rising. “They can’t find any weaknesses. That’s why they keep leaving.”
The morning of the fourth day the soldiers no longer lay on the top of the wall. They stood tall so Israel could see them. They were feeling braver with each passing day. They were all still stuck inside the city but they were safe. Soon Israel would get tired of looking for weak spots and move on. They hadn’t been known to stay in one place for very long.
The people stopped returning to their homes by the fourth day too. They walked about in the streets with a feeling of safety. They were still hungry and frustrated but their fears had diminished.
The fifth day dawns and the trumpets begin to blow. “Not again!” thinks Hazel. She is tired from tending to all her “guests.” She wants peace and quiet. She has been stretching her stores so thin that you can practically see through her bread. “Move on down the road already” she thinks as she prepares the morning meal.
Rahab is at her window again. She longs to shout down and ask how much longer but knows it would be her death if she did. She sees an occasional glance up at her window as the soldiers pass by underneath. “Will this be the day?” No. She can see the beginning of the column begin to head back to their camp.
The sixth morning began the same way. By the time Israel had made it to the wall the soldiers were taunting them. “What’s the matter? Can’t find a way in? Waiting on an invitation? Not going to happen! Why don’t you just move on and go somewhere else!” Not a single Israelite head turned up their way or responded to them.
Rahab listened from her window as the soldiers taunted the Israelites. She knew they were still coming for her but she was getting weary of waiting. She was also afraid and ashamed for the soldiers. “They don’t realize who they are messing with. Israel’s God is not going to be pleased with them.”
On the seventh morning the sounds of the trumpets happened right as the sun’s first rays lightened the morning. “Enough already!” yells Devin from his bed. In the marketplace Patty raises his head and decides to have some fun. Yesterday he heard some of the boys from town talking about how they were going to sneak up onto the wall and throw stones at the soldiers if they marched around the city again today. After hearing the trumpets he decided he would join in with them.
Rahab was also awakened by the early morning music. “Is it time yet?” She wished she knew how to petition Israel’s God for her answers. If only she knew how much longer this was going to go on. She would go through her belongings once more today to make sure she was ready.
As Israel marches around the city the soldiers hurl insults again and small groups of children hurl rocks down on them. By some ‘miracle’ none of the rocks hit any of Israel’s soldiers. As the front of the column nears the tail of the procession the soldiers expect the front to turn towards their camp again but that’s not what happens. They continue marching as before. The entire mass continues to completely encircle the city. The only way to mark their progress is by watching the large item they are carrying.
The tension begins to grow as Israel starts its third time around the city. The rocks and insults have dwindled to nothing during the last pass and are completely stopped by now. Rahab’s excitement has done just the opposite. She is certain that something is going to happen today.
On the streets of the city the sound of marching and the trumpets are so loud that it is impossible to carry on a normal conversation. It was midday and there was no end in sight. They just kept marching.
With each hour that passed the fear level inside the city grew. By evening it was unbearable! Instead of taunts the soldiers were shouting for relief instead. “Enough! What do you want?” But there was no response beyond the sound of marching feet and blaring trumpets. Israel was on its seventh time around the city. When would it end!
Just as the item they were carrying came even with the city gates after the seventh pass the trumpets paused for a moment. Then the trumpets let out one LONG note and a voice was heard saying “Shout!” As soon as the signal was given the ENTIRE army let loose with a shout so strong that it seemed as if it could unhinge the world. At that same moment the walls began to move.
Soldiers on top of the wall were knocked off their feet and began falling as if dropped from a great height. The wall was falling away right from under their feet! The only portion of the wall that didn’t fall was the portion that contained Rahab’s home.
Rahab and her family heard the sound of the shout and felt a tremor. Rahab also saw a cloud of dust rise up as the walls fell. She had no idea what caused the thick cloud but knew it was finally time. “Hurry! Grab your bundle and tie it securely on your back. Stay AWAY from the door but be ready to go. Someone will be coming to get us.”
Screams, sounds of running, shouting, and sounds of fighting rang throughout the city. Rahab’s family can hear these sounds through the door and it takes all her strength to keep her brother from running out to join in. After no more than five minutes someone starts pounding on Rahab’s door.
“Rahab! It’s me, Michael. I’ve come to get you. Joshua said for us to bring you and your family to safety.” Rahab opens the door quickly. “Hurry! We have to leave now!” Rahab and her family quickly follow the two men she hid when they came to spy out the land. “Don’t look behind you, just follow me.”
Once outside of the city Michael slows to a walk to give Rahab’s family a little break. He is to bring them to safety in an area outside the camp. Once there they turn and look back at the city. They can see smoke beginning to rise from the rubble. As they continued watching the fires began to multiply and build. By evening Israel’s soldiers began returning to camp and the city was in full blaze. Rahab knew her life would never be the same. She only hoped this new life would offer her happiness that her old life robbed her of.
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Father God, thank You for letting me see Your story through the eyes of those in the city. I can identify with Rahab who kept looking out her window wondering “when” her deliverance was going to come. She had to have faith. Faith that the men would keep their word. Faith that You were actually going to save her from her damaged life. Faith that she would be safe in all that was happening. Without even knowing You she trusted You. She will get to know You much better though.
You knew her all along though. THAT is the most exciting part of her story. Thank You for searching me out too. I’m glad I wasn’t too hard to find. My parents helped keep me close to You by introducing us early. Thank You for bringing me back every time I started to wander too.
I’m looking forward to seeing where You take me tomorrow when we look at this story through Israel’s eyes; marching feet and all.