I realized that I had been joined by someone. I had to pull myself back to the present. I greeted the woman. “Hello. I apologize for not immediately acknowledging your presence. I was reminiscing about some wonderful people in my life.”
She said, “That’s okay. I know I just showed up without warning.”
I replied, “I’m used to that by now. What’s your name?”
She said, “Rahab.”
I thought to myself, “Of course, who else would it be? I’ve just been thinking about women who were prostitutes. Rahab’s visit makes perfect sense!” However, I said, “Welcome to the porch. I’d appreciate your sharing your story and your wisdom with me.”
She jumped right into her story.
“I don’t put up with stuff. I just do what has to be done. My family was not able to provide for all our members. Times were hard. War was all around us. The desert wanderers, who called themselves Israelites, had been attacking various cities in our country. I had to do what needed to be done to protect my relatives. Therefore, I welcomed visitors to my house. And it was my house, make no mistake about that. My house did not belong to any man. It was mine.
“I was able to get my house because it was built onto the wall that surrounded Jericho. Some people did not want houses located on the wall because they did not feel safe. Others looked with raised eyebrows at some of us who lived on the wall because wall dwellers, as they called us, had a certain reputation. Men came to see me. Often they were just looking for a bed for the night. Sometimes they wanted the comfort of a woman. I’m not bragging or confessing. I’m just telling you like it was.
“I also ran a textile business out of my home. I wove fabric out of the flax that I dried on my rooftop. Growing and preparing the flax was hard work but I had a lot of relatives who needed me. Members of my family helped me with the cloth and running our inn. We worked together in order to feel safe and to thrive. I suspect that you’d do the same thing for your family?
“One day two guys from Shittim came to my house looking for lodging. Because the king of Jericho had men who watched my house regularly to see who was coming and going, he learned that my guests were Israelite spies. I did not know that. In my line of work, I’ve learned not to ask too many questions. However, I also know to protect my guests. One of my nephews watched the king’s men who watched my house.
“My nephew slipped into the house and told me that our guests were spies sent by the desert wanderers’ leader, Joshua. I went to the two men and whispered to them to follow me. I led them to the roof and hid them among the flax that was drying there. I did not want to get into trouble with the king’s men for helping these Israelites. I also did not want to get into trouble with Joshua’s men if indeed the Israelites were planning to attack Jericho. You see, I learned the skills of self-preservation early in life.
“In the early evening, just before the city gates had been closed so that no one could come in or go out, the king’s men banged with their fists on my door. I answered their rude knocking with a questioning look on my face as if I had no idea why they were there. When they ordered me to bring out the two men who were staying with me, I put on my most innocent expression and said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them’ (Joshua 2:4–5).
“Rather than search my house, the king’s men decided it was prudent to get out of the city before the gates were closed so they could capture the Israelite spies. They left without searching my home. I took a deep breath and sat down to decide what my next steps would be. I still had the two men, whom the king’s men had confirmed as Israelite spies, on my roof. Remember, I do what I have to do to take care of my family. I meditated on my next steps. Then I had my plan.
”I went to the roof and told the men they could come out. I told them I knew they were spies sent by their leader, Joshua. I said that I’d heard about their battles and how they’d conquered other cities and killed many, if not all, of the inhabitants. I mentioned the stories some of my guests had told about the Red Sea escape and the total destruction of Sihon and Og.
“The men confirmed everything I told them. With my heart pounding, I then acknowledged that I and my family were frightened of them and what they were planning to do to us. But remember, I know how to take care of me and my family. I added, ‘The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below’ (Joshua 2:11b). Honestly, I was not sure if I believed that statement or not but I figured that it could not hurt since it seemed that the Israelites believed they were fighting a holy war to claim the land that their God had given to them. At this point, I decided to cast my future with the soon-to-be conquerors.
“Since it appeared that they understood me and I understood them, I proposed my deal to them. I said, ‘Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death’ (Joshua 2:12–13).
“Surprisingly, considering what I’d heard about the Israelites, the two men agreed. They said that since I’d spared their lives, they would spare ours when the battle came. We agreed that I’d hang a red rope from my window and gather all my family into my house. Everyone there would be spared. However, if anyone in my family was not in the house at the time of battle, then he or she would be killed along with the other citizens of Jericho.
“After we reached our understanding, I dropped a rope for them to climb down from my window on the outside of the wall. I told them to go the hill country and give the king’s men time to give up their hunt. I suggested that after about three days, they should be safe. With that, they let themselves down to the ground and slipped away.
“I went to the kitchen, sat down, and laid my head down on the cool wood of the table. My sister came in and asked if I was okay. I told her what had happened and what the plan was. She first looked shocked and then relieved that our family would be protected. She said that she would help spread the word to all our kin with strict instructions for silence about the plan. If any of the king’s men learned of my agreement with the Israelites, then we would not need to worry about Joshua and his men. We’d all be slaughtered by our own people.
“We waited for the coming battle. The next events were truly odd and frankly frightening. The Israelites camped outside the walls of Jericho. We fully expected a battle with massive bloodshed as soon as they arrived. But no, it seemed they were performing some kind of ritual of worship or something. For six days, the warriors and all the Israelite people walked around the perimeter of our city…in silence. They carried an ornate box that seemed to have some religious significance to them. The only sound we heard was rams’ horns blown by seven men whom I assumed were priests. It was eerie. Not a sound outside the city except for those irritating blasts from the trumpets and very few noises inside. For each of six days, the people and their box and their horns walked once around the perimeter of Jericho. At the end of each day, the Israelites settled into their camp for the night. Everyone was poised for battle.