Ethel's Writing's

 

 

The
Scarlet
Cord

 

Rahab’s Story

 

1st printing December 2008
2nd printing January 2009

ISBN # 978-0-9809182-0-5
Copyright © Ethel (Hiday) Wicksey
Chatham Ontario
Canada
 http://ethelswritings.yolasite.com/ 

ethel_wicksey@live.ca

Dedicated to my Daughters
Roberta, Jane, and Sandra Hiday
 


Introduction
Have you heard the story about a large group of people, who did not talk for a whole week? Did you know that when they finally opened their mouths to speak, they yelled so loud that the walls of an entire city fell down? Have you heard about enormous hailstones, bigger than baseballs, falling from heaven and killing an entire army? The Israelite soldiers stood opened-mouthed in shock, as the hail slaughtered their enemies. Not one hair on an Israelite head was touched. Can you imagine your donkey yelling at you, and telling you off for donkey abuse?
Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you about the four men, who obeyed God and stepped out into a raging flooded river. It may be hard to believe, but you can find all these stories in the Bible. You will also find them in the pages that follow. This book is full of adventure, excitement and most of all, the personal relationship between the people of Israel, and God.
     I have written this novel using stories about real people from the Bible, along with some stories that I have made up. I pray that the book, The Scarlet Cord, Rahab’s Story, will help you have a better understanding of how God works with His people, not only in the past, but today as well.
     We have all experienced fear, joy, hope, grief, and love. All these emotions have been woven into, The Scarlet Cord, Rahab’s Story. All the people written about in the Bible, woke up in the morning to a new day, ate their breakfast, and had decisions to make. Just like us, they had no way of knowing what the new day would bring, or how the choices they made every day would affect the lives of their families forever. We are important to God, and so were the people we read about in the Bible.
     My prayer is that when you read this book, The Scarlet Cord, Rahab’s Story, you will follow along in your Bible. Read about the lives of Rahab, Salmon, Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi, from the books of Joshua, and Ruth. I have added several interesting characters, and adventures to make this story into a novel.
Thank you,
Ethel (Hiday) Wicksey
 


Prologue
Pointing at all the scrolls on the wall the young boy asks, “What are all these scrolls for father?”
     “The scrolls are the personal records of our ancestors.” His father randomly pulls a scroll out of the wall, and unties the scarlet cord that secures the pouch that protects the delicate parchment scroll. Placing the scroll on a nearby table, he unrolls it. In the middle of the scroll, they find three cords braided together, one white, and two scarlet. There is a small white pouch tied to the braided cord. His father reads the title at the top of the scroll to his son.

The Scarlet Cord
Rahab’s Story

     “We have to leave now, because your mother is waiting.” He puts the scroll back into its protective skin, and tucks it back into the empty hole in the wall. While leaving the room, the boy’s father thinks about his own father and grandfather who have both died. I will try to take time and read about the lives of my ancestors to my son someday… His wife enters the room interrupting his thoughts.

~~~~~~

     Weeks pass. The son keeps approaching his father asking him, “Father, Father, when are you going to read Rahab’s Story to me?”
     His father keeps telling him, “I am a busy man, with plenty of responsibilities.”
     This goes on for several months until one day after lunch, he says to his wife and son,    “Come with me, I have a surprise for you.”
     They follow him into the big room with the wall of scrolls. The scroll with the scarlet cord is sitting on the table. The boy stands eagerly by his father’s side as he unrolls the scroll. He removes the three braided cords and the white pouch, and notices some words written on the pouch.
     “The pouch has some words written on it Father, what do they say?”
     The father reads,
Do Not Open This Pouch, Until You Have Read the Story of,
“The Scarlet Cord”
Rahab’s Story

“What is in the pouch Father?”
“I do not know. We will have to read the story first to find out. Hold the cord and pouch for me, while I read the story to you?”
The boy sits beside his mother, as his father reads from the first chapter of the sacred scroll.
 


Perfect Little Lamb

Rahab loves and trusts her Father and is willing to do anything to please him. His special nickname for her is Ray. All he had to say was, “Ray, I am on my way to weed the garden” and she would stop whatever she was doing, to accompany him. She enjoyed working outside in the fresh air with him, more than being in side the stuffy old inn helping her mother and twin sister Beth.
The laws of Jericho say that all fathers must to take their first-born daughters to the temple on their thirteenth birthday.
Because Rahab is his first-born daughter, by fifteen minutes, her father Kahn brings her to the temple as commanded. While he stands talking with some men dressed in black robes, Rahab looks around.
A creepy feeling comes over her and causes goose bumps to crawl up and down her back. A few wavering torches illuminate a dark, dismal room, which is filled with ugly looking figurines. Repulsive looking beasts are carved into the cement pillars that hold up the ceiling. She jumps, when a priest with an authoritative voice interrupted her inspection. “Follow me,” he orders.
She reluctantly follows the priest to a small room in the wall of the temple. He points at a large woman, standing by the wall. “This is Zern; she will take care of you.”
He retreats, leaving her alone with the strange looking woman.
Zern speaks shocking words to Rahab. “Remove all your clothes, and then come stand under this bright lamp! I need to examine your body, to see if you have any blemishes. We only use girls whose bodies are perfect, for temple worship.”
When Zern finishes prodding and probing Rahab’s body, with her big, ugly calloused hands, she says, “You can find your father when you are finished dressing. You will tell no one what happened to you today, if you know what is good for you. You must never talk about anything that takes place at the temple.” At last, Zern exits, leaving Rahab alone.
Rahab grabs her clothes and dresses with haste, trying to hide her shame. She runs to find her father. She stops, dead in her tracks, with her hand still on the doorknob. She cannot move! Zern is telling her father, “You must bring Rahab to live in the temple at midnight, on her fourteenth birthday. She is without a blemish. Your family is to prepare Rahab for service to the gods of Jericho. They will use her for temple worship.”
Rahab is puzzled as to why her father tells everyone he sees, “Rahab has been chosen, as a perfect virgin. She is without a blemish and is to be given to our gods at the temple. It is an honour for our family, to have her selected to go to the temple and serve our gods.”
It is difficult for Rahab to erase the memory of the day at the temple from her mind. The nightmares of what happened come back, night after night, to haunt her. Why was everyone so excited about the news? Who would want to live in a dreary old place like the temple, anyway?
The year passes quickly. Rahab and Beth turn fourteen. There is a special birthday celebration for Rahab. She does not want to attend it. If only, there was some way to run away from home and hide… but where could she go...
Her mother and her sister, spend two weeks, anointing Rahab body with, olive oil, blended with sweet crushed flowers. Beth brushed her raven black hair daily, until it shines. They dress her in a flowing white robe.
Rahab is nervous, and starts to panic. Her father enters her room. “It is time to go down for the festivities. The first stars are out. We are proud of you Ray. Try to honour your family at the temple.”
The celebration begins. Some people dance, while others eat from tables filled to overflowing, with an assortment of foods. The wine flows freely. Rahab stands there, trying to stay away from all the strangers around her. She is not ready for what lies ahead.
Just before midnight, her father gathers her into his arms for one last dance. Everyone stops to watch. “It is time to go,” he whispers. He takes her by the hand and they walk out the door, into the streets of Jericho.
The men from Jericho, who are in the streets, examine Rahab from head to toe. She feels like a heifer, at the market. They stand in small groups, whispering about how beautiful she is. The procession begins and they wind their way through the dark, dismal streets of Jericho.
Rahab clutches her father’s arm as tight as she can. She feels ill at ease, and even more afraid, as more men from the city join in the holy procession behind them.
The reflection of the moon radiates off her silky white dress and black raven hair. Her heart feels almost as dark as her raven hair, as she walks through the streets of Jericho forcing one food in front of the other.
At ten minutes to midnight, her father walks with her, up the stairs of the temple. He tells Rahab, “You are my perfect little lamb.” Several men, in long black robes, stand at the altar beside the hideous gods of Jericho.
Rahab tries to run, but there is no place for her to escape. She staggers! Her father holds her arm in a firm grip to steady her. With hesitant steps, she continues to walk, closer and closer to the altar. She panics as she sees the priest, from the year before, staring at her. His gawking eyes cause Rahab to shudder. She tries to concentrate on a stone in the far off wall, to keep from fainting.
The priest speaks to her father, “Why have you come to the temple, at this late hour?”
The man’s voice frightens Rahab, causing her body to tremble with fear.
Her father answers, “I have come in obedience to the laws of Jericho. I have brought Rahab, my first born, virgin daughter with me. I am giving her as a gift to please the gods at the temple.”
Rahab’s father whispers under his breath, “She is so beautiful.” Rahab looks up into his face and sees a tear falling down his cheek. He brushes it away, as he hands her over to the priest.
After the ceremony at the altar is over, Zern, the old, gruff looking woman, who had examined her body the year before, walks in. “Come with me,” she says. She takes Rahab to a large room in the outer wall of the temple and tells her, “This will be your home from now on.” Other young girls are lying on beds in the room.
This is Rahab’s first time to be away from home. She lies on an old, uncomfortable mat all night with her eyes wide open, trying to sleep. The echoing from mysterious sounds coming from outside, the walls causes her to quake with fear. No matter how hard she tries, Rahab cannot keep from shaking. The wavering flame, from the one solitary oil lamp, creates ghostly shadows. They bounce off the walls, of the cold, dark, dismal room. The oil in the lamp runs dry. The room becomes dark.
The next day a man enters. He tells the girls to follow him. This short, fat, funny looking man takes them to a large room at the back of the temple. Zern enters. “My name is Zern. I take care of all the girls at the temple. You will learn to obey me and do whatever I say, or your families will die.” She starts to explain why the girls are at the temple.
Rahab continues to have nightmares. The eerie walls start to creep in on her. The one oil lamp, left burning at night, is not bright enough to cut through the darkness. She is so scared that one night she shouts, “If anyone is out there, help!” It does not do any good.
The girls spend the next few weeks, whispering in corners, holding one another, trying to find a bit of comfort. Zern prepares them for their duties at the temple.
Rahab tries not to remember the day that she was sitting alone, in a small room in the wall of the temple. There was a knock at the door. A man stood there. It did not take long for her, to learn what a temple prostitute does.
Her lighthearted joy was snuffed out that day, just as someone extinguishes a candle, when daylight comes. Rahab’s heart has turned to ice. There is no more spontaneous laughter left within her. She feels violated and dirty. Her duty, of providing her body to men, is nauseating. She sits and wonders, why the gods of Jericho require young girls to do, what she had been forced to do.
After living at the temple for several years, Zern summoned Rahab to her quarters. Zern sat on a chair, her repulsive rolls of body fat hanging over the sides. She speaks with a sneer in her voice. “Rahab, you can stay at the temple, or go home and visit your family, on the days you do not work. However, if word ever gets back to me that you have said anything, to anyone about what you do here, you will never see your family again. I will send for your sister Beth, to replace you…”
She laughs out of the side of her mouth, and then sends Rahab back to her room, or should I say prison. Rahab throws herself onto her bed, in the dark, dreary room and weeps. There is no escaping her life of bondage. When the situation at the temple becomes too difficult, she dreams of an entirely new life, without ever having to go back to the temple again.
She told herself, I would never betray Beth. At least I can go home and spend time with my family. The secrets of what I do at the temple, have to be locked in my heart at all cost. My family must never find out.
Whenever she has some time off, Rahab goes home. She realizes that her father had only done what he had been commanded to do, when he gave her to the gods at the temple. This ritual had been going on for generations and generations in Jericho. It was a part of her family’s religion. The people who live in Jericho have no other choice but to obey the priest. No one had ever disobeyed the laws of Jericho and lived.
The emotional scars weigh heavily on Rahab. Regardless of how often she washes, she never feels clean. Temple prostitutes can never marry, nor have children. She tries not to envy her brother who has several children. After she has been home for a few days, some of her laughter returns. The love of her family helps to heal some of the hidden wounds in her heart.
Her Father, Kahn, owns an inn near the gates of the city. It is in part of the high wide outer protective wall of Jericho. All the outer and inner walls have businesses, and private homes built right into the wall itself.
On the days Rahab is not serving at the temple, she helps at the inn. The travelers, who came to Jericho, are served a hot meal and some stay the night. She hates it when the men from the temple recognize her. They say repulsive things to her.
It bothers her even more when they flirt with Beth. She tries to protect her sister from the disgusting men who attempt to touch her. They just persist and say, hey redhead, sit on my lap. Let me kiss your freckled nose. When this happens, Rahab grabs Beth by the arm and tells her, “Go to the kitchen and stay there until I tell you otherwise.”
Beth and her mother do all the cooking, while Rahab cleaned the rooms. She makes a bit of money weaving linen, from the flax that grows in the family’s fields. Her brother Jaron cuts the flax and puts it up on the roof to dry.
Rahab loves to work in the family gardens. She feels free, if only for a few hours. Food always tastes much better when she sits eating it, with her back resting against the trunk of the flowering magnolia. She looks forward to eating the surprises Beth has packed for her lunch. The sweet fragrance of flower blossoms, all around her brings back wonderful memories, of happier times from her past. The sight of the Jordan River, flowing down to the Dead Sea gives her hope of better days ahead.
Sometimes when, Rahab is under a lot of stress, she remembers the precious time the beautiful blue butterfly landed on her arm, resting in the warmth of the sun. Suddenly, without warning, it flew away. Rahab thought, If only I could be, free like the butterfly, and fly away from Jericho never to return.

 


The Feared Israelites

Travelers arrived with the news about the feared Israelites setting up their camp on the other side of the Jordan River, at Able-Shittim. This news set off rumours, like leaping flames of a wild fire, throughout the city of Jericho. Families trembled every time they listened to a new report.
The visitors at the temple told legends of how all the Israelites were saved forty years before. The Egyptian army had them trapped near the Red Sea… Moses, their leader, swung a big stick in the air, said a prayer and the waters of the Red Sea instantly divided in two. This left a dry path down the middle for the Israelites to walk across. When the Egyptian army followed along the dry path, they all drowned because the walls of water came crashing down on them.
Tales kept spreading of how the Israelite Army, with thousands and thousands of fierce warriors, had conquered the city of Amalek, killing their men, women, and children.
Soldiers search all the travelers who enter or leave the city of Jericho. A decree sent out from the king of Jericho states…

 

THE PENALTY
FOR HELPING AN ISRAELITE
WOULD BE DEATH

 

No one leaves home without taking some identification. Several men thought to be spies have died at a public execution. The unrest in the city causes the people to be anxious and uptight.
Rumours spread to all the surrounding towns and villages. All the roads around Jericho are empty. Most outsiders are afraid to visit the city. The shop owners close their doors. The once busy streets are empty. A plague of fear curses the city. When would the Israelites attack? Would they kill everyone? So many questions, nobody has any answers. Only time will tell.
The men have stopped coming from the surrounding cities and villages to worship at the temple. Rahab is sent home to live with her family.
It is the first week of spring. A cool refreshing breeze is blowing into the open windows of the inn, bringing with it, the sweet scent of almond blossoms. Rahab, Beth, and their Mother Meba are spending a quiet afternoon, working on their needlework, in the sewing room. Rahab’s father Kahn and her brother Jaron are up in the hills cutting firewood. The men had to go, even if it was dangerous outside the protective walls of Jericho. Their supply of firewood was running low.
The afternoon shadows are getting longer. “It appears we will eat alone again tonight.” Rahab said as she puts her needlework away. “I will start supper.”
“Let me finish these stitches first and then I will help you.” Beth said as her needle continues to form small beautiful blue stitches, in the white tapestry she is working on.
Meba, gets up from her chair, stretches her arms, and enters the kitchen. “I will get the food we need from the cellar for you.” She picks up a long thin stick and holds it in the fire until the end of it burst into flame. After lighting the oil lamp, she opens the heavy door that leads to the cellar.
The familiar worn wooden stairs creak, as she steps on them. The light from the oil lamp flickers, exposing the neat rows of clay jars filled with preserves. She picks up a basket and fills it with a clay jar of red wine, some cheese, and a dish of fresh churned butter.
They call Jericho the city of palms, because it is built beside an oasis surrounded with palm trees. Kahn’s ancestors had dug the well in the cool underground storage room, so there would always be a supply of fresh water. Meba fills a bucket with water; then has a cool refreshing sip from an old chipped cup.
Her daughters are busy making supper when she returns. After putting the heavy basket on the counter by the open fire pit, she says to them. “The days seem longer now since the travelers stopped coming to the inn. I hope your father and brothers are safe. What if the Israelites, attack Jericho while they are away? Who will protect us?”
The women continue to share their concerns, with each other. They cannot think of any answers to their problems. Beth starts to make a salad of herbs, green onions, and bright red radishes, fresh from the garden.
Rahab fills a tray with dried fruit. “I missed going on our family outings this year. We always had so much fun picking berries and making flower garlands. I hope the men think to bring some wild honey and fresh berries home with them, next week.”
“My mouth is watering, Rahab. Nothing tastes better than a handful of wild berries. We had a lot of fun when we were young girls, as we played up in the hills together. Where have all the years gone?”
“I remember the laughter the most.” Remember how we used to tease each other when we were little girls.”
“I do. We would run up the hill with our empty baskets looking for the biggest patch of berries. I would try to fill my basket before you did. The berries were so sweet and juicy. At first we ate more of the sweet black berries than we put in the baskets, then we stuck our tongues out at each other saying, my tongue is more purpler, than yours.”
“I still think about the week we spent swimming in the Dead Sea”
A loud knock at the door, interrupts the girls conversation.
 


Spies at the Inn

“Who can that be? I will get the door.” Rahab dries her hands on a clean cloth and runs to the door. Maybe father has arrived home early, with honey and fresh berries for supper.
She removes the heavy bar and opens the door. A stranger stood in front of her. The most handsome man she had ever seen in her life. She knew at once that he was one of the feared Israelites. With her heart pounding, she gazes into his eyes. Something about his eyes, mesmerize her. She is not frightened; she has a peaceful feeling. Three days growth of beard covered a long narrow face. His clothes are dusty and bits of straw cling to his short brown wavy hair.
“We need a room for the night. Do you have any rooms?”
Something caused Rahab to tremble, but not with fear. Before she could stop herself, she hears herself saying, “Yes, we do, come in.” Swinging the heavy door wide open, she motions for the two men to enter; then takes a quick glance around the neighbourhood, to see if anyone is watching them. Good, the way is clear. No one has seen the men enter the inn.
“My name is Salmon.” What an attractive young woman “This is my friend Benjamin, we just call him Ben.”
What strange names. “I am Rahab. You have time to rest and wash up, before supper. Follow me.” She hands Salmon an oil lamp, and Ben a jug of cold water. The two men follow her up the stairs and down the hall. She opens the door to a large room, with a window overlooking the city. She closes the heavy drapes. “If you need anything, pull this cord. Come downstairs when you are ready for supper.”
Salmon peeks out the window. No soldiers are in sight. He pours two cups of water and hands one to Ben. “Have a drink.”
“I will, I am so thirsty, I think I could drink the whole jug all by myself.”
The men check over the unfamiliar fixtures in the room. They were born in a tent in the wilderness, ten years after their parents left Egypt.
The two beds built into the walls, on each side of the room looked inviting. The men sat down on the soft mats to rest. It had been difficult finding a safe place to hide. They had spent several days spying around the surrounding area.
“I do not want to jeopardize the people who live here. The soldiers are everywhere. We narrowly escaped them today.”
“That was a close call we had this afternoon, Salmon. It was your quick thinking that kept us from being captured.”
“I had to think fast, because we were caught in the open street with no place to hide. I though they would capture us for sure. Lucky that cart was driving by when the platoon of soldiers started marching around the corner or they would have caught us.”
Without hesitating, the two men had jumped into the back of the cart and hid in the straw. They both jumped out of the cart when it reached the edge of the city and had hidden behind some buildings until it was safe.
“Look at us, Ben. We are a mess!”
The men combed the straw out of their hair and brushed it off their clothes. “Do you think we will be safe here, Salmon?”
“We have no other choice but to stay the night. The gates are heavily guarded. The whole city is searching for Israelites. We will try to find a way out of Jericho, tomorrow. We are trapped in the city for now.”


~~~~~~

While the men rest in their room, the three women prepare extra food. They secure the windows with heavy bars and close the scarlet drapes, to prevent people from seeing the unexpected visitors inside the inn.
Rahab places two extra plates on a small oblong table.
Beth stops in front of her sister with a bowl of fresh salad in her hands. “Are you sure you know what you are doing? Why did you invite those men to come in?”
Rahab’s mother places a platter of dried fruit on the side table. “I wish you would consider the safety of your family, before you do anything like this again Rahab. You have always been impulsive. It would be different if your father and brothers were home.”
Beth returns from the kitchen with two glasses, along with a handful of flatware. “What will the soldiers do to us if we are caught helping these men? Are you sure we can trust them? Their garments are so old. Rahab, Are you even listening to me?”
“Yes Beth, I hear you.”
Rahab’s mind keeps wandering. She thinks about the handsome man, with the short brown hair.
“We will be safe. I had a good feeling about Salmon, when I met him. His eyes are kind. He did not give me the impression that he was like the men I encounter at the temple, and if anyone in this family is an expert on men, I am. Be quiet and stop worrying. Let me do all the talking when they come down for supper!”
The three women pause to stare at their handiwork. They always felt good after they filled the tables with farm fresh foods.
Beth returns to the kitchen and fills a tureen from a big pot of homemade soup. She had put it on to cook that morning.
“Everything is ready for supper,” Rahab said. She goes over and sits in her favourite chair to rest.
Beth enters the room and points her accusing finger at her sister. “Remember what you told us when you came home from the temple. If anyone is caught hiding an Israelite, their whole family will be put to death.”
“You are scaring us Rahab! What are you doing, putting our lives in danger?” her mother asks. “You should have told the men we were closed for the night.”
“Why did you invite the Israelites to stay here?” Beth’s hands are trembling as she carries the jug of red wine to a side table. “I am frightened! I do not want to die!”
Glancing over at her sisters trembling hands, Rahab shakes her head. She cannot answer her mother, or Beth’s questions. I do not know why I invited the two men to enter the inn. The words, “yes we do, come in” just slipped out of my mouth. I sensed there was something different about Salmon and Ben. I hope to find out what it is tonight.
The women reflect on their own individual thoughts, as they pass the time waiting. Only God knew how the strangers, who entered the inn that day, would change their lives forever.


 ~~~~~~

Ben and Salmon sit on their beds resting. They are preoccupied with their own personal thoughts. Will we ever make it back to our families again?
Joshua the leader of Israel had sent them to spy out the land. They had hidden in a wagon filled with fruit to get by the guards at the gate.
After resting, Ben gets up and washes his dusty face. “How will we capture Jericho?”
Salmon joins Ben at the washbasin, “I don’t know. The double walls surrounding the city are more than fifty feet high and about twenty-five feet thick. Jericho is built on a man made mound and is well protected from any attack. There are several storehouses filled with food and underground cisterns filled with grain, enough to last several months. They have water wells everywhere.”
“Jericho is strongly fortified. It will be difficult for our army to get close enough to break through the walls.”
“I agree with you Salmon. The outer wall has several inns and homes built into it. If we get through the outer wall, it will be dangerous for our soldiers as they try to attack the inner wall. The army of Jericho will be able to hit us with all their weapons. Our soldiers will be killed before they get close enough to climb the inner wall.”
“We need to get home soon, so we can tell Joshua and Caleb everything we have learned. Be careful what you say to the women tonight, we could be in danger.”
The men head down stairs, where the interesting aromas are coming from.
“The food smells good! I wonder what they are serving for supper Salmon, it doesn’t smell like manna!”
“I am hungry! I do not know about you, but a bowl of manna would taste good right now.”

 


Delicious Food

With anxiety in her voice Beth says, “I hear the men coming.” She picks up the jug of wine and with shaking hands, starts to fill the five goblets. A big red stain appears on the white linen tablecloth.
Meba inspects the table to see if they have forgotten anything. “Please bring the soup from the kitchen, Rahab.”
The men enter the room. They see a sight, they have never seen before. Plates of colourful fruits and vegetables, a dish of roast meat, and a platter of bread sit on several side tables. The unfamiliar aromas, drifting up from the assortment of food overwhelm their senses.
Manna had been the only food the two young men had eaten since they were born. When they visited in each other’s tent, their mothers talked about all the mouth-watering foods they had eaten back in Egypt. Most of the Israelites grumbled because they had to eat manna three times a day. When the women collected their family’s portion of manna each morning, they would chant about manna.
Manna for Breakfast, Manna for Lunch, Manna for Supper. Manna, Manna, Manna. All We Eat Is Manna.
“Are you an Israelite?”
The words coming from Beth’s mouth shock Rahab and she nearly spills the tureen of soup she is carrying. She tries to get her sisters attention but Beth ignores her.
“Yes, we are,” Salmon calmly replies, as he picks up something small and round off a platter. Changing the subject, he asks, “What is this?”
Rahab puts the tureen of soup on a side table and walks across the room to see what Salmon has in his hand. She shyly glances at Salmon and sees a smile. “It is a raisin.” She says, “We dry grapes in the fall and they turn into raisins.”
“Our friends Caleb, and Joshua told us they found a bunch of grapes so large, that they had to carry it over a pole on their shoulders!”
“We pick those kinds of grapes in the fall to make wine.” Rahab starts to dish up the soup. “Would you like some hot soup, Salmon? It is made with flat brown lentils, mixed with herbs and fresh vegetables.”
“I would like to try it.”
Her hand is shaking, as she gives the bowl of soup to Salmon.
He reaches for the bowl and their fingers touch in passing.
Salmon tells her, “We have had no food to eat for a long time. Our manna went sour. As a result, we had to throw it away. The trouble with manna is that it only last for one day, then turns sour.”
“What is manna? I have not heard of it before.”
“Manna is the only food our family eats. Each morning, we go outside and pick it up off the ground. It disappears after the sun rises in the sky. We bake manna into bread or cook it in a pot of water and make porridge.”
When they sit down at the table, Salmon tells them, “I will pray and ask God to bless us and the food.”
“What do you mean by pray, Salmon,” Rahab asks.
“The Israelites pray to their one true God every day. He helps us whenever we are in danger, and provides all our needs. Our God listens and answers our prayers. He gives us an inner peace, whenever we pray.”
Salmon and Ben bow their heads. Salmon starts to say some strange words “Thank you, for this home, and bless this food. Please keep us safe from our enemies and protect the women and their family who prepared the food we are about to eat...”
The men dip their spoons into the thick soup. Their taste buds explode in their mouth when the spices touch their tongue. “This soup is delicious!” the two men say in unison.
When they are finished, Beth removes the empty soup bowls from the table.
The women bring a platter of sliced lamb, seasoned with herbs, bowls of fresh vegetables, a tray filled with bread, fresh creamy butter, and various kinds of cheeses, to the table.
Salmon and Ben are just like little children. They wonder where the people in Jericho find such a variety of food. They spend time asking questions about what the different kinds of food are as they eat the delicious supper. When the meal is finished, Rahab gets up and removes the empty plates.
Beth places a platter of dried fruit containing an assortment of nuts, along with figs, raisins, apricots, and dates, on the table in front of the men. “Help your self.”
The men try a little of everything and wonder if they have died and gone to heaven. All the wine and food, causes them to get drowsy.
The room becomes quiet, as everyone is lost in their own thoughts.
Ben pushes his chair away from the table. “The food was delicious. If I eat one more raisin, my stomach will burst!”
Salmon gets to his feet, “We will be gone early in the morning, before you are awake.”
“Wait!” Rahab stops the men. “You will need to shave and change your clothes, so you are not noticed when you try to go through the gate in the morning. Your clothes are different from the clothes men in Jericho wear. Everyone is searching for Israelites and you will stand out in a crowd. Beth, please go get some old clothes and a razor for the men?”
“That is a good idea.” Salmon said, as he sits down once more and waits for Beth to return.
Beth runs up stairs and gathers some old clothes an extra razor along with a new bar of lathering soap. When she returns she asks, “Will these clothes fit you?”
Ben reaches out and takes the clothes from her, then holds them up to his body. “I think they will fit. Thank you, for your help.”
Salmon gets to his feet once more. Turning to the three women he says, “You have been most kind to us, we will continue to pray for your family.” The two men return to their room.


 

 
The King’s Soldiers

Rahab returns to the kitchen, to start the clean up. The words Pray, and Manna, keep going through her mind. What strange words.
Beth and her mother bring the dirty dishes to the kitchen. It doesn’t take long for the three of them working together to finish.
Rahab turns to her mother and sister and says, “go up to bed, I will come up later.”
They both leave and she is left with her thoughts to keep her company. So much to think about, manna… prayer… Salmon… Benjamin...
Taking one more glance around the kitchen, she climbs the stairs. She sits on the bench by the open hall window to get some fresh air.
There is a loud noise coming from outside. She looks out the window, to see where the noise is coming from. What she sees turns her heart to stone. A platoon of soldiers is marching down the road. Some of them have entered the path, which leads to the door of the inn.
Quickly, running down the hall to her mother’s room, she shouts, “Hurry! Get Beth and go downstairs. The king’s soldiers are on their way up the path, to the front door. Put the extra heavy bar across the door to slow them down! Make sure all the drapes are pulled and lock all the shutters on the windows!”
Rahab pounds on the mens door. “Come with me at once! The king’s soldiers are outside! Come right now, and I will hide you! Bring everything with you. If they find you, we will all die! Hurry, follow me!”
Jumping out of bed, the men rush around the room grabbing all their belongings. They run after Rahab to the roof.
“Get under these stalks of flax.” She picks up several armfuls of flax and piles them on top of the men.
“Stay hidden until I let you know it is safe to come out.”
The noise from down below is getting louder… She puts the men’s belongings into an old wine barrel. Picking up a handful of dirt, she sprinkles it on top of the lid so the barrel will appear as if it has not been opened, for a while.
Rushing down the stairs, she reaches the front door, just as someone starts to pound on the door. A deep male voice shouts…“Open the door, in the name of the king!”
She takes a deep breath to calm her nerves. She removes the heavy bars before opening the door. Her knees are shaking so hard, that she is afraid the soldiers will notice.
A six-foot tall soldier, with an ugly scar down the side of his face, stands before her. Fear overwhelms her as she gazes into his dark, cold piercing eyes. With a quivering voice, she tells him, “The inn is closed for the night.”
“It is not a room we want.” Pointing his sharp sword at her throat, he demands, “Bring out the two Israelites who were seen entering your inn.”
Trying not to stammer she lies. “Two men did inquire about a room for the night, but the inn is not open. We sent them away.”
“Did you see where they went?”
“They talked about leaving the city.”
“Stand aside! We will search the inn first. If you are lying, you and your whole family will die.” The soldiers spread out. Some go down into the wine cellar, knocking over boxes of vegetables and smashing clay jars of preserves, while several other soldiers rip all the other rooms apart as they thoroughly search every nook and cranny.
One cruel soldier pushes their mother out of his way. Beth prevents her mother from falling and holds her tight.
When Rahab gets to the roof, the soldiers are tearing the flax apart. “You need to hasten if you want to catch the men. The gates will be closing soon and they will escape.”
The captain in charge ignores her and continues to have his men tear at the stacks of flax. They are only a few feet away from where the spies are hiding.
Rahab is terrified. Her whole body starts to shake with fear. What will the soldiers do to her family, when they find the Israelites?
A soldier starts to lift the cover from off the wine barrel. It is too late now! They will find the men’s belongings! ‘God, if you are real please stop them, and help us?’
“Stop!” the captain of the search party shouts. “No one is hiding here!”
Immediately the two soldiers stop searching through the bundles of flax, and the lid falls back onto the old wine barrel with a clang. The captain shouts! “Follow me!” as he runs down the stairs.
She follows the soldiers. If the soldiers had moved just one more bundle of flax, they would have found, the men. ‘Thank You, Salmon’s God, who ever You are!’
When she enters the front room, Rahab sees the captain pointing his sword towards some soldiers “Stand guard outside the door until we return. Kill anyone if they try to leave or enter the inn.”
At last, the soldiers depart and Rahab is able to shut the heavy door behind them. With her last ounce of energy, she puts the two heavy bars back into the slots. Her wobbly legs give out from under her as she faints, crumbling like a rag doll to the floor.


 


The Men Must Go Now


Meba runs over to her daughter and cradles her head on her lap. “Rahab, Rahab are you all right? Beth, bring some cold water! Your sister has fainted! If only your father and brothers were home. They would know what to do.”
Beth runs to her mother with a basin of water, spilling most of it on the floor. She squeezes the cold water from the cloth and hands it to her mother.
She wipes Rahab’s brow with the cool cloth until she regains consciousness.
“Mother, what happened?”
“You fainted, lay still until your heart stops racing.”
Rahab’s whole body continues to tremble. She listens to the thump, thump, thump, of her own heartbeat pounding in her chest.
“The soldiers were so close to finding the spies,” she whispers. “One soldier started to lift the cover off the old wine barrel where I hid the men’s sacks. After saying a quick prayer to Salmon’s God, the captain told everyone to stop. His God answered my prayer!”
It seems like an eternity goes by. Tears mingle as the three women weep in each other’s arms.
Rahab’s mother continues to hold her. The trembling in her body ceases. “Your father and brothers will not be home until next week.”
Darkness settles in, long before Rahab is able to sit up without her head feeling dizzy. Her breathing and heartbeat are starting to get back to normal.
“Soldiers are standing guard at the front door,” she takes a deep breath. “The captain said if the Israelites are not found by morning, they will return and search the inn once more.” Rahab said a silent prayer, ‘Salmon’s God, show us how to help the men escape, please help us?’
“What will we do?” Beth asks. “It will be difficult to sneak the men by the soldiers, at the front door. Every gate to the city is guarded. They have been searching every person entering or leaving Jericho. If the soldiers come back, they will find the men. There is no other place we can hide them.”
Meba stands up and helps her daughter to her feet. “Rahab must get the men, so we can plan a way for them to escape. Beth, please check all the drapes, before you light any more lamps. We must whisper, so the soldiers will not hear what we are saying. Salmon and Ben must be gone before morning!”
Rahab watches Beth as she checks the drapes. “Wait! I know what we can do! We can use the scarlet cords!”
Her mother asks her with a puzzled expression on her face “Use the scarlet cords?”
“Yes mother, my plan will work, I know it will... I have used a rope to help the boys climb out their window to go hunting, several times. The new cords from the scarlet drapes are as strong as a rope. If Beth ties them all together, they will be long enough to reach the ground. The men can climb down the scarlet cords and escape.”
“It just might work! I will gather up all the cords and take them up to our brother’s room.” Beth pulls a bench close to a window, reaches up, and removes a scarlet cord letting it drop to the floor.
The girl’s mother starts for the kitchen, “I will prepare some food for the men. They will have to hide in the hills for several days.”
“Ben and Salmon, must be wondering what is going on. I will get them.” Rahab starts up the stairs.
It takes her a while to climb them because her energy is gone. Her legs are like rubber. She sits on the bench by the open window to rest and takes a breath of fresh air. She hears the soldiers at the front door laughing and jesting below her. They are drunk with wine. The shocking words they used, to describe what they plan to do with the two young girls in the morning, cause a blush of anger to come to her face. I have met many men like those soldiers in my life. It made her skin crawl just thinking about it. I do not believe that Salmon's God wants filthy men like them to touch me. Their dirty hands will never touch me again. What kind of god would approve of men being so wicked?
‘Salmon’s God, it is as if I am in a trap with no hope of ever escaping. Death would be better! I do not want to go back to the awful men at the temple anymore, please help me.’ Rahab continues up the stairs with a heavy heart. There is no other choice but to go back, or they will take Beth. No way will I let anything happen to my sister! ‘Salmon’s God, if you are real, help me so I will not have to live like this any longer.’
She can see the moon slowly rising over the horizon. The men are still hiding in the flax. She whispers, “It is safe to come out now. The soldiers have left the inn and are guarding the front door. You must come now if you want to escape. We must whisper, or the soldiers will hear us.”
“That was close,” Ben whispers. He starts to brush the flax straw off his clothes and out of his hair. Some dust gets up his nose and he has to stifle a sneeze. “The soldiers were so close to me that I could smell their breath.”
“I know! The captain told the soldiers to stop searching, just as one of them started to lift the cover off the old wine barrel where I hid your sacks.”
Rahab removed the dusty lid from the barrel. “Your belongings are in here. Go to your room and change. You must leave right away! The soldiers are searching for you everywhere, so you cannot go back into the city.”
Salmon ask. “How will we get away?”
“We have a plan to help you escape!”
“Why would you risk your life for us?”
“I know that your God has given you the land. The terror of what your people have done has preceded you into our city. Everyone in Jericho is trembling with fear. They have heard of the powerful God of the Israelites, and talk about the battles between you and the Amorites, of how your small army destroyed them and killed, King Sihon.”
“What more have you heard about us?”
“We have been told that your God dried up the waters of the Red Sea and your people walked across it on dry ground to escape the Pharaoh of Egypt.”
“That is true…our God is powerful.”
“I prayed to your God just before the captain told the soldiers to leave. I also asked Him to show me a way to help you escape. He answered both of my prayers.” Rahab pleads with Salmon. “Please show mercy for my family and do not let us die! Swear by your God that you will spare us. Rescue my mother and father. Save my brothers and sisters and their children. Deliver our lives from death.”
“Because you have protected us, Rahab, my God will save your family. When we capture Jericho, we will take care of your entire household. Do not tell anyone but them about us, or what I have told you today, or the promise I have made with you will be broken.”
“What kind of god do you believe in Salmon? We have many gods in Jericho. We have the god of the sun, the god of the earth and the god of the harvest.”
“We have only one God. He is the God of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the Beginning and the End. He has all power. He is loving, kind, and just. He has been our protector and led us in the wilderness for forty years. He provided all our food and water. He goes before us into battles and helps us destroy all our enemies.”
“I would like Your God, to become my, God! Tell me what I need to do.”
“I will teach you all about Him, when I return to get your family. Trust in our God. Pray to Him as you did earlier. Ask Him to protect you and your family. We will pray for you also. Praying is like speaking your thoughts and concerns aloud to someone. Our God listens and answers our prayers. Trust in our God, Rahab.”
“I will try praying to your God, Salmon. You must hurry! After you pack your bags and change your clothes, come to the room with the open door at the end of the hall.”
“We will be quick.” After he reaches into the barrel, he pulls out the washbasin and jug, and hands them to Ben. He grabs the two sacks and the change of clothes. Salmon is busy whispering with Ben, and does not hear the cloth tear in one of the sacks, or the sound of a small pebble hitting the bottom of the empty barrel.
 


The Scarlet Cord

 

“The men are changing,” Rahab, tells her mother when she enters the kitchen.
Meba picks up a small basket of dried fruit and a clay jar of preserves and puts them in to a sack.
“That does it. I have finished filling the sacks. Can you help me carry one?”
“Yes.” Rahab grabs a sack. She is tired and has a hard time putting one foot in front of the other. It has been a long day. Will our family be safe? Will the soldiers return in the morning? Will they break down the door? Will the two men escape? All kinds of thoughts keep going through her mind. There is no time to worry. Trust in my God echoes through her mind… Salmon’s God…Trust!
She follows her mother into the room. She tells Beth who is sitting on the floor “Ben and Salmon are getting ready,” Rahab stares with satisfaction at the big pile of bright, scarlet red cords that clash with her sister’s bright, curly red hair. If the situation had not been so serious, it would have been laughable. Maybe if all goes well, I will be able to laugh about the whole situation some day.
The women drop the heavy sack of food onto the floor by the window. Rahab opens the wooden shutters. She pokes her head out of the window. “The crickets and frogs are chirping louder tonight. The moon has started to disappear behind a big cloud,” she whispers. “Help me tie the scarlet cord to this hook on the wall beside the window Beth.”
Her mother asks, “Do you think the hook is strong enough to hold the men?”
“It is! I helped the boys use it to sneak out the window on several occasions, while you and father slept.”
Beth picks up the pile of scarlet cords and drags them over to the bed by the window. With the cord securely tied on the hook the tired women sit on the bed and wait for the men.
The men finished shaving. A comforting calm feeling fills the men as they pray. They know their God is with them. Gathering up their belongings, they start down the hall. They pause to listen to the commotion coming in the open window. Keeping in the shadow, they can hear the drunken soldiers below. They are describing in detail, how they had tortured some Israelites, before they killed them earlier in the week. Their repulsive laughter sends a shiver up and down Salmon and Ben’s, spine.
‘God help us,’ they pray. How will we escape? The front door is heavily guarded and there are no doors on the outside walls of the inn.
The men enter the room and see the women sitting on the bed, beside a pile of red rope.
Rahab greets them, “We are ready to help you escape.” She points to the hook on the wall. “We have tied this cord to the hook. I helped my brothers climb down to the ground using a rope tied to this hook. The gates of the city did not open early enough for them to go hunting. You can climb down the cord and escape.”
Salmon tells her, “You have been busy. Do you think it will work for us, Rahab?”
“Yes, it is the only safe way for you to escape from Jericho. You must go without delay!”
Beth looks out the window, “The way is clear.”
“After you and Ben climb down this cord, go hide up in the hills for a few days. Our mother has packed some food and this goat skin of wine for you.”
“You have come up with a good idea, Rahab. We have no other choice but to give it a try.” Salmon looks out the window and down to the ground. “I want to remind you, that we shall be free from all our promises, if you let anyone except your family know that we were here.”
“I promise you, that my family will not tell anyone.”
Salmon talks over some last minute instructions, with, Rahab. “Make sure you leave this scarlet cord hanging out the window, after we are gone. Keep it there at all times! If it is not there when we attack Jericho, your whole family will die.”
Rahab tells him, “I will follow all your instructions.”
“We will rescue your family. Do not be afraid! Trust in our God. Make sure you do not leave this place. I will be back to get you, when the time is right. Trust me.”
“I do,” Rahab whispers as she lowers the scarlet cord to the ground.
Salmon helps Ben climb out the window. The cord goes slack. He pulls it back up and ties a sack of food to it, then gently lowers it out the window. They finish lowering the wine skin and the other three sacks to Ben. He turns and talks with Rahab once more, “Remember, the scarlet cord must be hanging out the window. Only you and your family, who are with you in the inn when we arrive, will be saved.”
“I give you my word that I will do everything you have asked me to do. I will trust and pray to your God. I will leave the scarlet cord hanging out of the window, until you come back and rescue us.”
“I will come back to get you.” He gazes at her once more, trying to imprint every detail about her beautiful face on his mind. He climbs through the window and down the scarlet cord, to where Ben is waiting.
Rahab watches as Salmon climbs down the scarlet cord.
Her mother interrupts her, “I will clean up the kitchen. The soldiers might be back in the morning,” she turns away and walks out of the room.
Will I ever see him again? Rahab wonders. Will someone see the cord and investigate why it is hanging out of our window? Can I trust Salmon’s God? Trust, Pray! She watches as the two men disappear out of sight.
Beth interrupts Rahab’s thoughts, “I will put the scarlet cords back.”
“No Beth, Salmon said to leave them hanging out of the window until he returns for us.” Rahab turns from the window. “I will check the roof and the men’s room to see if anything is left behind. The Soldiers might be back in the morning and search the inn again.”
“I will go help mother,”
Rahab wanted to be alone, to think about her day. My life will never be the same. Salmon, what a strange name! She climbs, with much effort, up the stairs to the roof. Her body is aching with exhaustion. When she gets to the roof, she sees that the flax is scattered everywhere. Beth and I will have to put it back into stacks in the morning or it will not dry. Everything in the inn is an absolute mess! She takes her time walking around, breathing in the cool night air.
I must put the lid back on the wine barrel. Rahab checks out the inside before she does. She sees the reflection of the moon sparkling on something at the bottom of the barrel. She turns the wine barrel upside down and hears something small fall out of it and hit the roof. Reaching down she picks up a small pebble that feels like a jewel. It must have fallen from one of the men’s sacks. Does the jewel belong to Salmon, or Ben? A chill goes through her body. She starts to shiver. Taking a small piece of cloth from her pocket, she ties the pebble in it. After sprinkling dirt on the lid of the barrel, she goes to check the men’s room.
She picks up the damp cloths and her father’s razor. The light from the oil lamp shows that nothing else is out of place. She returns to her room.
Beth is not there when Rahab arrives. She takes the pebble out of her pocket. It is a bright red ruby the same colour as the scarlet cord. It is bigger than my thumb, the largest jewel that I have ever seen in my life.
She sits for some time remembering all that had happened that day. First, the knock at the door, then Salmon and Ben come into the inn, and then the soldiers ransack the inn looking for them. What would tomorrow bring?
If only father was home. It is late and I am exhausted. She wraps the jewel in the soft cloth and puts it back into her pocket. Whose jewel is it? She tries to pray as Salmon had taught her to do. ‘Salmon’s God, will You please teach me how to pray, keep Salmon and Ben safe? I will try to trust You. Help me trust You, and help keep my family safe. Bring my father and brothers home soon.’
I will hide the jewel in my secret hiding place. Rahab pulls a rock out of the wall behind her mat and reaches into the cavity. She puts the scarlet jewel into a small cloth-lined box.
She remembers the first time she removed the rock from the wall. I had a bad chest cough and had to stay in bed for two weeks. I was bored with nothing to do. I spent hours chipping away at the mortar that held the rock in the wall. Finally, it was loose enough to come out of the wall. I hid the mortar in an old piece cloth, so no one would become suspicious. I lined the hollow space behind the rock with a soft cloth then put the rock back to hide the hole. It has been a good secret hiding place.
“Where are you, Rahab?” Beth’s whisper, from the hallway startles Rahab. She quickly puts the rock back into the wall and is sitting on her mat when Beth walks in. “I have never been so scared in my life, Rahab! Do you think Salmon and Ben will get away?”
“I pray they do,” Rahab said, as she pushes a strand of black hair off her face.
“Pray, what do you mean by pray?”
“Remember how Salmon told us about his God at supper and how he prays to Him by talking with Him and Him alone.”
“I do not understand what you are talking about? You cannot talk with a god. They do not have ears to hear, or tongues to speak.”
“Salmon’s God, is powerful. He is the only true God. He is kind and loving. Not like all the gods of Jericho. He listens to you, when you pray.”
“Stop talking like that! It makes me uncomfortable!”
“Salmon told me if we trust the God of Israel and stay here at the inn when the Israelites come to destroy Jericho, His God will save our whole family.”
Their mother enters the room, interrupting the conversation. “I thought you might need something to help you sleep, after what happened today.” She places a tray of drinks on the table between the beds. The three women sip from goblets of sweet wine.
“It is late. We will talk more in the morning,” She gets to her feet. “I will send a messenger to tell your father, that we need him at home as soon as possible. You girls need some sleep.” She closes the door quietly as she leaves the room.
The girls can hear her footsteps descending the stairs.
“Sleep, she expects us to sleep after going through what we did today?” Beth says, as she gets ready for bed.
“I still shake when I think about what happened. I can still feel the touch of the cold metal when that tall soldier, with those dark, piercing, evil eyes, touched my throat with the sharp point of his sword. I thought he was going to kill me.” Rahab reached across and blows out the lamp.
“You had us worried when you fainted. You were unconscious for a long time.” Beth tries to get comfortable on her woven mat. “I am so tired.” She, yawns, then rolls over and sleeps.
The stimulation from all the activities prevents Rahab from sleeping. Hours later, she is still tossing and turning in her bed, thinking about everything that had happened to her that day. She is exhausted, but cannot sleep.
The new words that she had heard Salmon and Ben speak run through her mind… a kind God. The only gods I ever heard about were at the temple. They were not kind. How could wood, gold, stone and silver figurines, be kind? Some of the gods at the temple were more than forty feet high. Everyone had to bow down and worship these gods. Their gods did not have any feelings. People had to give a big tax to every god that the Canaanites worshiped at the temple. Countless people went without food to pay their taxes, because they were so poor. The first-born girls from several families ended up as prostitutes, at the temple. The men visiting the temple were cruel in what they did to women in the name of their gods.
A Kind God! A Loving God! A God who listens to you… Finally, Rahab sleeps, and dreams. Salmon where are you… Are you safe? How long before you will arrive and rescue my family?
 


A New Day Is About To Begin

The rooster starts to crow. “Cock-a-doodle-do,” Time to get up, a new day is about to begin.
I just went to bed. Rahab pulls a blanket over her head, roles over and tries to sleep some more.
A sunbeam peeking through the window, dancing on Rahab’s cheek wakes her once more. Was yesterday only a dream? She sits up in bed with a start. It is morning already and it feels like I just fell asleep. She glances over at her sleeping sister.
She pulls the rock out of the wall far enough, for her slender hand to retrieve the small box. Opening the box, she sees a red jewel nestled on a piece of white cloth. No, it was not a dream. Yesterday really happen! She holds the sparkling jewel in her hands and feels the smoothness of it. A sunbeam turns bright red, when she holds it up to the light. Salmon is alive and oh so handsome. Is the ruby his? ‘Please, Salmon’s God… keep him safe!’
“I hope Salmon and Ben were able to get away.” Beth voice startles her and she almost drops the ruby. Her sister starts to unwind her long red hair. “Will we ever see them again?”
Rahab puts the small box with the ruby back into its hiding place. “They have their God protecting them. Salmon promised me that he will come back to rescue our family.” she stands up and stretches. Her muscles are stiff and tender, from the events of the day before.
The girls wash and start to get dressed for the busy day ahead.
Rahab puts on some old work clothes. “We will have to spend most of the morning, cleaning up the clutter that the soldiers left behind. The house and basement are a mess and the flax is scattered all over the roof.”
“We need to eat breakfast first.”
“Do you think you have time to brush my hair for me, Beth? It is in tangles! It feels so good when you brush my hair.”
Beth goes across to where Rahab is sitting and starts to brush her shiny raven black hair counting the strokes…
“I am not going back to the temple any more Beth. I do not feel it is what Salmon’s God would want me to do.”
“What will father say?” You are the first-born daughter in our family. It is your duty! The temple priest will arrest our whole family!”
“We will have to trust in Salmon’s God and pray about it.”
“Where did you get these strange words from? Pray, trust…what does the word, pray, mean?”
“Salmon said that he prays to his God. He said praying is the same as talking with your best friend. While praying to God last night, I felt calm and at peace, for the first time in years. I know Salmon’s God will protect our family and save us from the Israelites when they attack Jericho. Salmon promised me that we would all be safe if we stayed in the inn until he comes to get us.”
“It isn’t possible! Nobody can pray and talk with a god. There are several different gods at the temple. They cannot hear us. They are not real.”
“Salmon told me that there is only one true God. It is his God, the God of Israel.”
“Are you sure? I hope he’s right.”
Rahab starts to brush Beth’s hair. They have the same face but the colour of their hair is different. It is hard to believe that they are twins. Beth, only a few minuets younger than Rahab, has curly red hair like her mother. It is so thick, that Rahab has a hard time pulling the bristles through the tangles. “Am I hurting you, Beth?”
“I am used to it.”
A loud pounding on the door startles the girls. They ran to the hall window to see what it is. Several platoons of soldiers stand near the front of the inn. Both girls run down the stairs.
A deep, terrifying voice shouts, “Open the door!”
It is the same soldier with the ugly scar on his cheek, who put his sword to her neck the day before. Rahab recognizes his voice.
The pounding at the door gets louder. “We are looking for the Israelites you are hiding. Open the door now or we will break it down!”
“Coming,” Rahab yells. The loud pounding stops. She reaches up and removes the two heavy bars that are keeping the soldiers out.
The soldiers push the heavy door open. The captain grabs Rahab by her hair. Pressing a sharp dagger against her throat he asks, “Where have you hidden the Israelites!”
“There are no Israelites hidden here!”
“You lie. We have a witness that says he saw two Israelites entering the inn yesterday. I will deal with you and your family later. Get out of my way!” He lets go of Rahab’s hair and give her a violent shove. She loses her balance, and her forehead hits the sharp corner of a wooden table. A heavy darkness overcomes her.
The soldiers search the inn from top to bottom. They are more thorough than the day before. When they cannot find the Israelites, they grab Beth out of her mother’s arms, “Let go of her, you old bag of a woman, or we will take you to jail with your daughter,” they shout. “We will beat the truth out of her. The Israelite spies were here! We have ways to make people tell us the truth,” They sneer as they drag Beth out the front door.
“What am I to do?” Meba cries as she replaces the heavy bars. “Rahab, Rahab, wake up!” She gets a cloth and a basin of water and tries to stop the blood from flowing out of the deep gash, just above Rahab’s eye. It will not stop bleeding. She gets a needle and heavy thread from her sewing kit and takes her time stitching the flaps of skin together. The heavy bleeding stops at last. She cuts away Rahab’s blood soaked clothes and drags her unconscious daughter onto a mat, then covers her with several warm blankets.
Meba lies down on another mat beside her daughter and sobs. Exhaustion takes over and she falls into a restless sleep.
 


Help Us Escape Our Enemies


It is three days since Salmon and Ben climbed down the scarlet cord. They have taken shelter under a big bush.
The soldiers continue to hunt for the escaped Israelites. A regiment had passed by their hiding place, just before dark the day before, and had set up camp around the bend from where they were hiding.
“It must be raining up in the hills, Ben. It is causing the river to flow faster. We need to get across the river today, before it starts to flood its banks.”
“This is the narrowest and safest place to cross. How will we make it back to our camp and tell Joshua what we know if the river keeps getting higher?” Ben spreads out his cramped legs in front of him.
“Let’s pray and ask God for His wisdom.”
‘God you answered our prayers and helped us get away. We are truly grateful for all you have done. We pray for the safety of Rahab, Beth and their family. Salmon and I will need to cross the river today because by tomorrow the river will be too high. Give us wisdom so that we can think of a method on how to cross the river. Help us escape from our enemies…’ The men continue to pray. A warm, calm, peaceful feeling fills them. They are secure in Gods loving arms.
“Ben, we should separate and make our way to the river right away. If I get caught, you can still report to Joshua.”
“How will we get to the river without the soldiers seeing us?”
“I will go down the gully to the right and stay behind these yellow flowering bushes. The ravine to the left is full of bushes also. You can crawl to the other side of them and hide as you work your way down to the river. We will meet in the gap, behind the bulrushes, in front of that big rock at the point. The tall grass and bulrushes will conceal us, once we get near the water. We need to go now!”
Salmon crawls down the gully, hiding behind several fallen logs and a yellow flowering bush. This feels better… It is good to be moving. His progress is slow going as he tries to stay within the shadows. As he crawls close to a big old rotten log, he hears a strange buzzing sound coming from the middle of it. Moving closer he can see some small yellow insects flying in and out of the hollow end. He finds a long stick and dips it into the large opening. When he pulls it out, a yellow sticky substance drips from the end. He touches it, and then puts his finger into his mouth. It is sweet. It must be wild honey. He remembers Moses saying; “the Promised Land is a land flowing with milk and honey.”
He removes an empty clay pot from his sack and fills it with honey. When he puts it back into his sack, he notices a hole in the outside pocket. It is empty! The red ruby is gone! How could it be? What had happened to it? Did the ruby fall out when I snagged the pack on that branch yesterday? Will I ever find it again?
His heart is broken. His mother had worked as a slave for an Egyptian woman. She had given his mother a sack full of her personal jewels the day before his mother left Egypt. This woman feared the God of Israel. She had seen how powerful He was, because of all the plagues that had happened the week before.
As a small boy, his mother had taken the ruby out of the sack to show Salmon. He held it up to his eye and saw the sun change to a bright red. His mother gave it to him on his thirteenth birthday. Give this to your wife some day, she said. I might never get to meet your wife, Salmon, but I want you to give her something from me. I love you. His father had been dead for two years now. Too many memories… his mother had died in the wilderness a year after his father.
His heart is heavy. He wipes a few tears away, and then continues to crawl on his belly down the gully. He reaches some bulrushes that are tall enough to hide him, so he stands up to stretch his sore tired limbs. Pushing his way quietly through the bulrushes, he wades out to the rock where he planed to meet Ben. He waits for a while. Where is Ben? We need to swim to get around the rock. Have the soldiers caught him?
I know what to do… He bends down and fills his two sacks with rocks, then ties them around his waist. He breaks off a long reed and blows through it to make sure it is hollow. I will try to get closer to the soldiers. I want to hear what they are saying. He puts the reed in his mouth and starts to walk under water toward the soldier’s camp. His idea works. He is able to breathe air into his lungs through the tall reed as he walks under water.
Hiding in the bulrushes near the soldier’s camp, he listens to their conversation. Rahab and Beth are both in danger. One sister has been hurt and the other sister taken to prison. They speak nothing about finding Ben. Salmon walks back, under the water, to the meeting place.

~~~~~~

Meanwhile Ben is having a hard time working his way through the brush. The thorns keep snagging his clothes and slowing him down. He trips over a thorny branch and falls headfirst into a big thorny bush. His arms and face are badly scratched and several thorns are embedded under his skin.
The bush is covered with blackberries. He picks one and pops it into his mouth. It is sweet and juicy.
He is hungry and eats several handfuls, then fills an empty jar from his sack with them.
It is late when he gets to the bulrushes beside the big rock. Where is Salmon? ‘God please protect him.’
The water starts to move near him and he feels something brush against his leg. He jumps and stops himself from screaming.
Salmon pokes his head out of the water beside him and takes a deep breath. “Good! I made it back in time.”
Several dogs start to bark near shore! The soldiers are shouting and searching for them. One blast from a horn calls all the other soldiers in the area, to assemble at the riverbank.
Ben looks at Salmon. “What are we to do? The dogs have picked up our scent!”
“Quick, fill your sacks with rocks. Tie them around your waist and follow me.”
Salmon breaks off a long hollow reed. “Put the reed into your mouth. The sacks of rocks will hold us down, enabling us to walk on the bottom of the river. The reed sticking out of the water will allow us to breathe. The soldiers will not be able to see us as we walk under water and it will stop the dogs from following our scent. We will escape.”
The dogs start to bark louder! They begin splashing in the water. Ben and Salmon hear the soldier’s shout. “We have found the Israelites footprints! They are hiding in the bulrushes. We have them surrounded; there is no way for them to escape.” Some soldiers start following the dogs out into in the water.
The men hear a whole platoon of soldiers, marching around the bend of the river.
A soldier yells with excitement in his voice, “We have them trapped in the river. They cannot get away this time! You go to the right and I will go to the left. The rest of you spread out and find the men. The dogs will help us locate them.”
“Let me help you, Ben. We need to go right away!”
Holding on to each other’s hands, they walk under the water breathing through the long hollow reed. It is hard going, but soon they are standing on a sand bar behind the big rock. They are safe! The soldiers and dogs will not find them now.
“That was close,” Salmon whispers. The men quickly empty the rocks out of their sacks trying not to make a noise.
“I found a hollow log with honey in it.” Salmon reaches into his sack and pulls out a clay pot. “Dip your finger into the honey. It will help you gain strength until we get back to camp.”
Ben dips his finger into the pot and raises the yellow sticky substance to his lips. He starts to cough, and has to put his hand over his mouth to muffle the sound. “It is sweet.” He says when he is able to speak. “I picked some big blackberries. Try them.”
The men hide in the bulrushes eating honey and berries. It has been a long day. The water is flowing faster and the sky is getting darker.
Salmon puts the pot of honey back in his sack. “I was able to get close to the bulrushes in front of the soldier’s camp and heard them talking. One girl has been injured and her sister has been taken prisoner.”
Ben touches Salmon on the shoulder, and then puts a finger to his lips. “Listen, I hear the soldiers.”
“You have been ordered back to Jericho, to help fortify the city. Report back to Jericho immediately.”
“Do you think it is a trap to catch us Salmon, or are they really going back to Jericho?”
“I don’t know Ben. The river is flowing faster. The water has risen a foot and will be up past our waist soon.” Salmon grabs an old log that is stuck in the bulrushes. “We have to go at once, or we will be swept away by the raging river. This log is big enough to hold both of us, as we swim across to the other side.”
The men wrap their arms tightly around the log and hold on for the ride of their life. It takes all their strength to fight the strong, mighty undercurrent. The raging river sweeps the two spies a mile down river before they are able to maneuver it to the waters edge. At last, they feel their feet catch on a root from a fallen tree. They grab an overhanging branch using it to pull them up onto the slippery bank.
The men lay panting for air on the riverbank. Their clothes are torn and they have cuts and bruises on their legs from being smashed against the rocks. Ben has a deep gash in his right arm. It will not stop bleeding. Salmon takes his shirt out of his sack and rips off a piece of cloth, then wraps the wound to help slow the flow of blood.
Salmon props Ben up on a rock and looks around the area. He returns and tells him, “Let me help you move to higher ground. I have cut off some branches full of leaves to make a soft mat.” He takes Ben by the arm and helps him up the hill. “Sit down and get comfortable. We will rest tonight and walk up the path to the camp in the morning. It is dark; the path will be rocky… if we go right now we could trip over a root and fall.”
Salmon takes more branches and covers both of them. The men try to get as comfortable as possible for the night, by putting their heads on the sacks stuffed with dry leaves. They are exhausted. Soon they are fast asleep.
They wake with a start. There is a rustling in the bushes down the path. “Someone is coming Ben! Hide under the branches and do not move.”
Have the soldiers crossed the raging river? Will they find us? Is there a wild animal out there in the dark?
The two men grab their sharp daggers and wait. They hold their breath. They do not move a muscle.

 
Rahab Is In a Coma

 

Meanwhile, back at the inn Rahab is in a coma. Meba can feel where the skull, by her eye has a crack in it. The thick linen bandage still oozes some blood. Meba has never left her daughter’s side, except to get some food and water. Her daughter is burning up with a high fever now. Will Rahab die? When will someone come to help me?
What have they done to Beth? Have they killed her? The soldiers had taken Beth prisoner when they could not find the Israelites. I tried to hold on to you Beth, but they pulled you right out of my arms. They said, “Let her go, you old bag of a woman or we will take you to jail with your daughter!” I tried Beth! I tried to stop them, but they were stronger than I was. Beth, Rahab, what am I going to do? Meba falls on her mat weeping. She wakes up after a restless sleep. She cries out into the silent room. “I must get some help soon! Rahab is dying!”
Her brother-in-law, Ferris, a physician lived on the other side of Jericho. Rahab will die without him. He will know what to do. I must get him tonight.
Meba waits until evening before she goes for Ferris. She does not want anyone seeing her. Staying in the shadows, she makes her way across the city, through the darkness to his home and knocks on his door.
The door is opened, “Meba, why are you out this late?”
“Help me!” Meba crumbles in a pile on the floor.
Ferris picks her up and carries her to a mat on a bench, then calls for his wife, “Leona! Come; look after Meba while I get some medicine for her.”
Leona wraps her in a blanket. Ferris returns with a warm drink.
Meba regains consciousness. “Ferris, come quick! Rahab is dying.”
“Leona and I will go at once. Drink this tea first.” He holds her, as she sips a strong drink. It warms her inside as it goes down. “This will help you relax.”
The drink has a strong sedative in it, and before Meba can protest, she falls into a deep drug induced sleep.
Leona wakes her older daughter, “Take care of Meba, while I go with your father to check on Rahab. We will stay until she is out of danger.”
It is late the next day when Meba wakes up. How did I get to Ferris’s house? “Ferris where are you?”
Her niece enters the room. “Good Aunt Meba, you woke up, we have been worried! You slept for twenty-four hours.”
“Ferris… has Ferris come back yet?”
“No, he never came home. Mother is with him. It is late… they will not be coming home tonight.”
“I must go to, Rahab.”
“Please…no, Aunt Meba! You will not make it. The curfew has started.” The King of Jericho started a curfew today. No one but soldiers, midwives, and doctors are allowed to be out in the streets of Jericho, after dark.”
“I must go! Nothing will stop me from going. My daughter needs me!”
“Wait, take mother’s identification and midwife bag, in case you are stopped by the soldiers. It is the only protection you will have.”
Meba grabs the brown bag and her sister-in-law’s identification. She puts the bag over her shoulder, before running out the front door, into danger.
It is eerie walking on the empty streets. She pulls her shawl closer to take away the chill and tries not to attract any attention. She darts in and out of the shadows, in the dark, back streets. Only one block left before I am safe within the inn!
Suddenly, without warning, a strong arm shoots out of the shadows and grabs her arm. “Who are you? Where are you going in such a hurry? It is after curfew. Show us some identification.”
“I am Leona the midwife. Here is my Identification. I am on my way to deliver a baby,” she points to a house in the opposite direction from where she lives.
“There is a curfew and no one is allowed out at night. It is lucky you have identification, or we would haul you to prison. Go on your way at once. Be quick. Babies do not like to be kept waiting.” The soldier laughs as he hands Meba back her identification.
Walking in the opposite direction from her house, she finds a safe place to hide. After the soldiers march by, she slips out of the shadows and hurries home. Someone might be keeping an eye on our door. I do not want to draw any more attention to the inn. She keeps in the shadows as she works her way over to the window behind the shed.
Leona, her sister-in-law hears the soft tap at the window. Who can it be? Why is someone knocking at the window? She peeks out through a gap in the scarlet drapes and jumps with fright. A face is staring back at her.
“Let me in, Leona! The soldiers are down the street and might be watching.”
Leona opens the window and Meba climbs in. “You scared me. How did you get here… there is a curfew!”
“I pretended I was you.” She hands Leona her brown bag and identification.
Meba glances around the room. Leona had been busy cleaning up some of the mess left by the soldiers. Fear sweeps over her as she looks on the floor by the front door. “Rahab is gone! Where is, Rahab?”
“In her bedroom! Ferris took her up to her room yesterday.”
Meba runs up the stairs bursting into her daughter’s bedroom. Ferris is sitting by Rahab’s bed holding her limp hand. Rahab is lying there, as if she were dead.
Meba faints and joins her daughter in sleep.
She awakens a little later and finds herself lying on Beth’s bed. “Ferris, where are you?”
“I am over here.” He sits beside Meba on the bed and wraps his arms around her. “You have to stop scaring me like this.”
“What about Rahab? She seems to be worse.”
“Rahab is in critical condition. Only time will tell if she will ever wake up from the coma. Her fever has broken. You did a good job sewing up the wound on her head. There is no infection. I felt a crack in the bone just above her eye. Sit by her bed and speak to her.”
Meba goes to Rahab’s bed and feels her head. It is cooler today. Her daughter’s hands are still as limp as a rag doll. “Rahab, Rahab, can you hear me?”
“Leona will bring you some food.” He leaves the room to get his wife.
A short time later Leona arrives with a pot of tea and some supper. She holds Meba close. “I love you.”
Meba sits in the chair by the window and looks at the food in front of her. She is not hungry. It tastes like sawdust in her mouth. The warm mint tea helps revive her.
“I have started to clean the inn. The basement was the worst. I scrubbed it until you can eat off the floor. You can help me tidy up the flax tomorrow.”
“Do you think Rahab will wake up?”
“Only time will tell. Continue talking to her as if she is able to hear you. Hold her hand and caress her face. I will help you wash the blood out of her hair in the morning. Sometimes people in a coma can hear and feel. We need to stimulate all her senses. I will take your dishes down to the kitchen and bring you a jug of warm water and a nightgown from your bedroom.”
Meba picks up two hairbrushes with red and black hairs clinging to the bristles. How can twins be so different? Looking at her own reflection in the brass mirror, she notices her red hair has white streaks in it now. Her eyes have dark shadows under them.
She looks at Rahab. She has her father Kahn’s black hair… “Rahab can you here me? I love you. Please get well.”
Leona returns with the warm jug of water. “I will see you in the morning, we all need our rest.”
She washes and then puts a fresh nightgown on then sits staring at her daughter. Finally, she sleeps and wakes with her head on the bed beside Rahab. This will never do. I need to sleep.
The next morning Rahab feels someone washing her hair. “Be careful around the injury, Meba.” The two friends tenderly clean the still body, with all the love and gentleness they have. Their tears mingle with the water, as they care for Rahab. “That looks better. I will help you change her bedding.”
They work together getting Rahab comfortable. Leona picks up the bundle of wash. “You sit and talk to Rahab. I will be back.”
Holding her daughter’s lifeless hand to her cheek she says, “I love you, Rahab.”
Rahab’s head is throbbing. She can barely hear her mothers voice whispering, “wake up ~~~~~wa~~~ up ~~~~Rahab ~~~~ love you. ~~~~ can’t lose you as ~~well~~as ~~~.”
Lose you, keeps going over and over in her mind. Who is lost? She tries to speak but her mouth will not work. She tries to lift her arms, but they feel like they are encased in cement. Who is lost? Beth, Beth, where are you? The unbearable pain is getting worse. She blacks out and the agonizing throbbing stops.
The next day Rahab feels the tender loving touch of her mother’s hands and hears the whispered endearments of her words once more. She can only make out a few words.
“Rahab ~~~~ unconscious ~~~~~ days.” She hears her mother say.
Who is in the room with her mother? She tries to sit up. Nothing moves. She tries to open her eyes. They are glued shut. She ties to move her finger. They will not bend. What is happening to me? Someone please help me! She tries to cry out to her mother, but the words remain in her thoughts. Darkness overpowers her once more.
Rahab is aware of her mother’s arms, holding her. She can smell the fragrance of her hair. “What am ~~~ to do? Rahab, Rahab, ~~~~ love ~~~~.”
She remembers the evil soldier. He pulled me by the hair then put his filthy hands on my shoulders and pushed me off my feet. The stress of remembering is too much. She lies as dead and is not able to move or speak.
Rahab is unconscious most of the time. When she wakes up, she can hear her mother or someone whispering. Some of their words are clear enough to make out.
Her Uncle Ferris speaks. “Feed ~~~~liquid ~~~~~~not to move ~~~lump ~~~~head ~~~~~~ back ~~~~~ morning ~~~.”
Her mother’s voice is crying. “Why ~~~ husband ~~~ not home~~ four days.” She has a hard time trying to understand the words spoken around her.
Her uncle replies. “Sent son~~~~~~ to ge ~~~~hu~~and.”
Her aunt says, “Found scarlet cord hanging ~~~~ ~~ boys window. Untied ~~~~ hung ~~~~~back up on ~~~~~ dra.
The scarlet cord! I have to get up and put the scarlet cord back out the window! It is too much effort for her. The excruciating pain causes her head to pound. A dreamless world takes away her pain once more...


 

It Is Going To Be a Long Night

The footsteps are getting closer. Salmon and Ben hold their breath as they continue to hide under the branches. They hear some men talking, and then a shrill whistle cuts through the night air.
Salmon jumps up, “Yair, we are over here!”
Yair, his younger brother, runs over and gently takes Salmon in his arms. “We have been worried about you, are you hurt?”
“Ben has a bad gash on his arm and we have a lot of bruises and a few cuts from the rocks.”
Yair hands them both a dry change of clothes. “Get dressed, and then we will start back to camp. We will take you to Joshua and Caleb. The soldiers from Jericho are still searching for you.”
Yair helps Ben to his feet. “We saw the two of you hiding behind the rock in the bulrushes. We stood helpless and watched, as the two of you were swept down the raging river, holding on to a log. We were worried, because we saw you heading towards some giant rocks in the middle of the river and then you disappeared.”
The men hike down the crooked path to the camp. Their torches cut through the darkness showing them the rocks and tree roots. The glowing campfires in the distance encourage the men to walk faster. Soon they are warming their hands over a fire in one of the small tents.
Yair pours some water into a basin and hands them a towel and some soap.
“Let me take a good look at you, Ben.” Yair hangs his lamp on a post. “Have you been in a fight with a wildcat?” Ever so gently, he pulls some of the thorns out. “That is a nasty cut on your arm. I will have to sew it up.” He pours a clean basin of warm water. “This will hurt,” he says as he starts to sew the nasty cut shut. “You can thank my mother for teaching me how to sew a straight line,” he teases.
“Caleb and Joshua will be here soon.”
Ben struggles to keep his eyes open, and starts to doze.
Yair returns and hands Salmon a bowl of hot manna. “Let Ben rest.”
Joshua and Caleb walk into the tent. Caleb gives Salmon a bear hug. It was good to feel the arms of this Godly man once more. Caleb and his father had been best friends. He had been like an uncle to Salmon.
“What news do you have for us, Salmon?” Joshua asks. “I need your report tonight, before I depart for Able-Shittim.”
Ben wakes when he hears Joshua’s booming voice.
“We checked out Jericho, and the surrounding area. They barricade their heavy gates every night, so they can protect the city from intruders. There are several cisterns full of grain and deep water wells throughout the city. It will take the power of God, for us to capture Jericho.”
Ben inquires, “When will we be crossing the river, Joshua? We have to go soon. It has already risen several feet and will be a raging flood in a few days.”
“I have been praying. God told me that the people are to prepare themselves by praying and fasting. We will break camp at Able-Shittim tomorrow and proceed to move the entire camp to the Jordan River. We will go across the river in three days. Wait here and rest.”
Salmon and Ben are extremely tired. They fall into a deep dreamless sleep, as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Tomorrow will arrive soon enough.
 


Our Lives Will Never Be the Same

 

The sun is starting to rise when Salmon and Ben get out of bed. The medicine has helped Ben’s arms and legs feel better.
“Let me take a good look at you, Ben. Yair was right; it looks like you had a fight with a wild cat and you got the worst it?” he jokes as he applies fresh ointment to the wounds and wraps them in a clean bandage.
“Are you hungry?” Yair enters the tent and hands a bowl of hot fresh manna to the men.
Ben puts a spoonful of manna into his mouth. “A bowl of lentil soup would taste good right now. The real food we tasted in the Promised Land spoiled us. Manna will never satisfy us as it used to. I have an idea…” he reaches into his sack and pulls out the jar of berries. “Try some of these on your manna, Yair.”
Yair picks the biggest berry out of the jar and pops it into his mouth. “They are good! What are they?” He picks up another small black fruit the size of his thumb and examines it closely.
“It is a blackberry. The hills around Jericho are covered with them. The fruit is sweet, but you have to watch out for the thorns. They are worse than fighting with a wild cat.” He points to his face to make his point.
They all have a good laugh as they leave the tent.
Salmon gazes around the camp. Nothing much has changed. “Can you take us to Caleb, Yair? We need to ask him what he wants us to do today.”
“He said he would be down by the river if we needed him.”
“We could climb up into the hills. It would be interesting to look on, as some of the tribes pass by below us.”
“That sounds like a good idea Ben. We should ask Caleb first.”
Caleb is waiting for them down by the river. “I see the two of you have made a quick recovery,” he pats them on the back.
“Yes, Ben’s arm is better. We want to go up into the hills for a few hours. It would be an amazing sight, to see the tribe of Judah follow the Glory Cloud to the river.”
“Go, there is no work to be done, until your families arrive.”
After leaving the base camp behind, the three men walk down the valley and then climb up a tall hill. They stop to rest on a large cliff, overlooking a large valley. The Israelites will have to pass through it as they walk from Abel-Shittim to the Jordan River. They can see the Plains of Moab and Mount Nebo off in the distance. Moses climbed up Mount Nebo and looked across the River Jordan at the Promised Land, before he died.
“Yair, it has been an interesting week. We have tasted new foods, and met a Canaanite family. Our lives will never be the same.”
The warm sun feels good. The three men sit back with their own thoughts and wait.
Salmon remembers the first time he saw Rahab. This beautiful girl swung the door open; her hair was as black as a raven’s wing. She was stunning. She risked her family’s life by hiding us in the flax and helping us escape through the window… ‘let Rahab be safe’…
Ben analyzes his feeling for Beth. She is shy and unlike all the young girls, I know. I will always remember her sitting beside that big pile of red rope. It clashed with her red hair and freckles. I have never seen as many freckles on someone’s face before. Is she injured? Please bless her...
I would like to pray, before the Glory Cloud appears. The three men join hands and Salmon prays, “thank you, for bringing us home safe. Help Joshua with the decisions he has to make in the coming days…”
Ben gets to his feet. “I see the Glory loud coming! We have always been with our families when we followed the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.”
The men stare, as the large cloud in the distance, moves slowly towards them. The cloud is filled with electricity. The three men can feel the heat from it. The hair on their arms stands straight up.
It is breathtaking, the men feel the energy coming from The Glory loud as it moves closer, then passes above them. It is overpowering. They lie prostrate on the ground worshiping God, powerless to move. It is such a glorious experience to be in His presence! Energy radiates from the cloud the entire time it is above the men. They feel God’s awesomeness and mighty power. Their whole being reaches out in worship. When their strength returns, they sit up and watch the Glory Cloud, until it stops at the edge of the Jordan River.
The men stand up and search through the cloud at the valley below them. They see the whole tribe of Judah walking behind the cloud. The banner carriers precede the mighty warriors, who are marching in formation. Oxen and horses pull carts and covered wagons filled with tents and all the people’s belongings. The women and children follow and then the livestock. Soon, the hill where the men are standing starts to vibrate with the pounding of thousands of feet. Salmon takes a deep breath and sighs as he thinks about what is happening below. If I were there, I would be leading the mighty warriors of Judah. It takes a long time for the tribe of Judah to pass.
“We need to head back to camp now. I told Caleb that we would be back in time to help our families set up.” Salmon says as he starts down the hill.
Amiela and the rest of her family rush out and greet the men with a warm embrace.
The tribe of Judah follows the instructions given by Moses and sets up their camp, on the east side of the tabernacle. It all goes like clockwork. The people rejoice, as they go about doing their appointed jobs. They have been wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
At last, they are going to cross over the River Jordan. They will take possession of the land God has promised them.
 

The River Jordan

Salmon’s family eats a late supper that night.
His older sister Amiela is all excited. “It is good to have you home, Salmon. Can you tell us what the Promised Land is like?”
“You will love it. Everywhere you stand, you can see fruit trees! They grow on the rolling hills down by the winding river and beside the pools of water near the oasis. Most of the crops will soon be ripe and ready to harvest.”
“What was the food like?”
“There are not enough words in my vocabulary, to describe the tastes of the delicious foods they served us. Okay, how about, scrumptious, delicious, mouthwatering!”
Amiela rubs her stomach. “Just think… all kinds of new food! We will not have to eat manna any more! It has been a long time since I tasted real food. I have forgotten what it tastes like. Is it really a land flowing with milk and honey?”
“Yes!”
One loud blast from the silver trumpet interrupts their conversation.
“I have to go Amiela.” Salmon excuses himself. It was hard to leave. It felt good to be with his loving family again.
He walks towards the tabernacle. So much has happened in the past two weeks. The roaring sound of rushing water drowns out his thoughts and muffles his footsteps. How will two million people cross over the River? It will be flooding its banks in a few days. He thinks of the words that Moses had taught him. “Trust in Your God.” Trust, yes, I can trust You God! He has a peace within God is with him.
The leaders from each tribe sit with Joshua, Caleb, and the seventy elders.
Eleazar, dressed in his priestly robe, stands before the men. “Let us bow our heads in prayer. We ask You God, for wisdom and knowledge. Thank you, for being with us and protecting us at all times. Please give us direction as we move the tribes of Israel across the Jordan River. Keep us out of harms way…”
Joshua gathers the men around him. “We will be crossing the river soon.”
Salmon waits for Joshua to stop talking then asks. “How will we cross the river? It has already started to overflow its banks.”
Ben tells the men his serious concerns, “We had a hard time swimming back last night. We held onto a big log that helped keep us afloat, preventing us from being swept along the raging river to our deaths. We have no boats and there are no bridges!”
Joshua stands before the men with confidence. “God will make it clear what we are to do. Trust in Him! You are to cleanse yourselves, pray and fast. I will spend time alone praying for His direction. I need to hear God speak and understand what He wants us to do.”
There is a great deal of excitement in the camp as the people start to prepare for the crossing. They continue to sing as they work.
Early in the morning on the third day, the people hear the silver trumpet blow once. The leaders from all the tribes of Israel gather at the door of the tabernacle, to hear the final instructions. Joshua tells them what God has told him they are to do.
The Law of Moses stated, the Ark of the Covenant, could not be touched by man, or ride in a cart. In preparation for the move, Aaron and his sons remove the veil that hung before the door of the Holy of Holies. They wrapped the Ark in it, and covered it with dugong skins, and a violet cloth. They slid the bars through the slats on both sides of the ark and called, for the priestly decedents of Kohath to prepare to carry the heavy golden Ark over their shoulders, after they heard the silver trumpet.
The people busy themselves getting ready for the coming move.
The camp is ready to start. Ox carts and wagons are loaded. Baskets of manna and wineskins of water, hang from the wagons so the women are able to feed their family. The leaders spent weeks planning how they would move more than two million people, with all their livestock and belongings, across the river.
The tribe of Judah stands in line ready to depart. The other tribes will follow in order. Numerous family clans take their position up and down the river in groups. Strongmen are ready to help the women and children when needed. Everything is well thought-out. Each group in the tribe knows whom they are to follow.
Before crossing the raging flooded river, Joshua tells all the tribes of Israel, “Gather around me and listen to the spoken words of the LORD your God!”
“This is how you will know that the living God is among you. He will drive out all your enemies and never fail you, if you obey His instructions.”
Turning towards the four priests Joshua said, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant onto your shoulders and lead the Israelite Nation to the river. When you arrive at the edge of the rushing floodwaters of the Jordan River, put your feet into it. As soon as your feet touch the water, the water will stop flowing. Walk out to the middle of the river and stand there, until I instruct you to cross to the other side. The waters up river near a town called Adam will stand up in a heap, until everyone has safely crossed over to the other side.”
Everyone waits with anticipation for the signal from Joshua. When they see the priests caring the ark on their shoulders they start walking towards the rivers edge.
Twelve leaders, one from each of the tribes of Israel, stand beside Joshua near the flooding river. They watch as the priests who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant step into the muddy rushing water. Immediately, the water in the river stops flowing from the north and the priests are able to walk out into the center dry riverbed. An invisible dam, about ten miles up river stops the water from flowing down to where the men are crossing the river.
The priests stand still in the middle of the river on dry ground, holding the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders, as the Levites cross the river on dry ground.
Joshua tells the twelve men with him, “Come with me and walk across the river.” The men cross the river behind the Levites and stand on the far bank watching the mighty miracles take place in front of them.
Two million people cross the River Jordan on dry ground that day, one behind the other. The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan River with the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders, for the whole day.
Salmon stands talking to Ben. “I will always remember this day.”
When the last Israelite finished crossing the river, Joshua talks with the, twelve men. “Go into the middle of the Jordan River, to where the feet of the priest stand on dry ground. Bend down in front of the Ark of the LORD and pick up one big stone each. Carry them on your shoulders to where you will camp tonight. Place them near the front door of the tabernacle.”
They walk out to where the four priests are standing. They bend in reverence, before they pick up a large stone and put them on their shoulders. The men carry the stones back to shore.
They turn and watch Joshua walk out to where the four priests are standing. He stacks up twelve stones on top of each other, at the priests’ feet in the middle of the Jordan River, building an altar to the God of Israel. When he returns to shore, he tells the priests, “Come up out of the river.” As soon as the four priests’ feet reach the safety of the high bank, the roaring river rushes by, as if it had never stopped.
The Israelites start to set up their camp at Gilgal, near Jericho. The nine and one half tribes and the Levites have had more than enough experience setting up camp. Everyone has a job to do. The little children place the goatskins on the dirt floors of their tents for seats and beds. They run errands for their parents and help unload the ox carts and wagons.
The women, even though they are exhausted from the day’s journey, serve plates of manna bread to their hungry families.
The two silver trumpets blow once more, calling the Israelite Nation to assemble at the tabernacle for worship. When the people gather, Joshua builds an altar to the God of Israel using the twelve stones that the men have brought into the camp. He speaks.
“In the future when your children ask you what the twelve stones that are standing here mean, you can tell them, they are here to remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the priests stepped by faith, into the raging floodwater. They carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant on their shoulders. They stood in the middle of the River Jordan all day on dry ground, as we all crossed over to the other side. These stones will stand as a permanent memorial among the people of Israel.”
The whole nation of Israel celebrated and rejoiced together. The God they trusted had shown them another miracle.


Beth! You Are Alive

Meanwhile back at the inn, Rahab is still in a coma. Her colour is better and she is able to drink liquids, but is still not able to move her body or speak.
Rahab strains to hear a familiar voice. It is her father. He has come home.
“~~~~~~~ boys. I hurried back ~~~~~~~~~ the hills north of Gilgal ~~~~~~~~~~~ your message”
The words did not make sense to Rahab. What ~~ he talking ~~~~~?
She can hear her mother who is sitting on the edge of her bed asking, “Why did it take you so long?”
Her head starts to throb, as she listens to snatches of their conversation.
What does her father mean? “~~~~~ ~~~~ long detour, ~~~~~~ river ~~~~~~~ flood ~~~~~ ~~~~ Israelites crossing on dry land. ~~~~~ ~~~~~~ camped ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gilgal ~~~~~~~~~ Jordan River. Did not get ~~~~message.”
Her mother replies, “~~~~~~~~~ won~~ring why it took you so long ~~~~~~~~~ a week ~~~~~~~ five miles.”
Rahab hears no more because she loses consciousness once again.
Later in the day, she feels a gentle hand brushing across her face. Tear drops start falling on her cheeks. She hears her father singing her favourite song. She recognizes the feel of his hand as he caresses her cheek. He runs his cool fingers through her raven black hair as he used to do when she was a little girl. “Oh Ray, I love you so much.” More tear drops fall on her cheek. She hears him weeping.
Her head is not throbbing as bad. I must tell him to tie the scarlet cord ~~~~~ ~~~~her mind has blanked out again, causing her to slip into a deep, dreamless sleep.
When Rahab awakens, she hears her father’s voice. He is sitting by her bed. She feels his strong hands holding hers.
“I sent Jaron to find out where Beth is. The soldiers told him she had been taken to the king’s palace to be questioned.”
She listens, but can do nothing, as her mother cries out in anguish. “Oh what are we to do? Rahab is still unconscious and we do not know if Beth is dead or alive.”
Beth, Beth! Where is she? Rahab is alarmed. She tries to move. I have not heard Beth’s voice for a long time. She cannot move! She starts to fear. Beth. Where is Beth, what happened to her? What is her father talking about soldiers taking Beth and her brother Jaron going after her? The more she tries to move the more her head aches. She hears someone running up the stairs.
“Mother, Mother!”
Is that Beth’s voice? Rahab tries without success to move. Beth!
The familiar voice is getting closer and closer.
“Mother, father, Where are you?”
It is Beth! Beth is alive. Beth! Rahab is determined. She tries to call out to Beth. Her mind can form the words, but her mouth is shut and no words are spoken.
Her mother and father cry out in unison saying, “Beth! You are alive.”
Rahab hears the sound of relief in her parent’s voice, as they gather Beth in their arms.
“What happened to Rahab? Why is she still in bed? It is noon.”
“She hit her head on the corner of the table when she was pushed by that cruel soldier, and has been in a coma ever since.”
Rahab hears them weeping together.
“We have been worried,” Rahab hears her mother say.
“The Israelites have crossed to our side of the Jordan River. They are camped at Gilgal.”
“We know. Your father and brothers saw them cross the River, on dry ground! It has been more than a week since the soldiers ransacked the inn. Your father and brothers came home yesterday. Rahab has not moved since she hit her head. Is that a bruise on you face Beth? What happened to you?” her mother asks.
“The soldiers were brutal. They kept hitting me and asking, “Where did you hide the Israelites? How did you help them escape? Where are they now?” Beth tells her parents through her tears.
Her mother holds Beth more tightly in her arms, her daughter has returned home.
“The commanding officer told the prison guards, “let the prisoners go.” He said, “It did not make any difference now. Everyone in Jericho is going to die anyway, when the Israelites attack.” I did not tell them anything! I feel filthy! I spent the week in a jail full of prisoners. Vermin crawled everywhere. The soldiers killed several prisoners every day. I never knew if I would be next. I was glad to see Jaron when he came to bring me home.”
“Come to the bathing room with me. I will pour you a bath and bring you a clean change of clothes.” Her mother walks over to Beth’s cupboard and gets some clean nightwear for her. “You can change out of those filthy rags, then rest for a while. I will have to burn your clothes. They are ruined.”
“Have you heard from Salmon and Ben?” Beth asks as she follows her mother out of the room.
“No.” Rahab hears her mother say. “A week~~ camped near Gilgal~~~ crossed ~~ river.”
I must tell them about putting the scarlet cord back out the window. Rahab tries to speak. She is not able to move her lips.
Rahab’s family is worried like all the other people in the city.
Beth tries to calm them down by telling them, “Rahab said that Salmon and Ben will protect us. Salmon taught Rahab how to pray. We should start believing in the powerful God of Israel.”
Life goes on all around Rahab, as she lies as motionless as a rag doll. She can feel the gentle touch of her mother’s hands brushing her hair and washing her face. She tries to call out I love you Mother!
Rahab’s family take turns sitting with her. It is as if they are talking to an empty room. Rahab is not able to let them know that she can hear them. Her eyes do not even blink. Ferris had told them. “The stimulation of speaking to Rahab might help her wake up from her coma.” Nothing they tried ever worked!
Beth sits by the hour talking to her. She talks about some of the things they did as children… “Remember swimming in the Dead Sea? Remember the blackberries, we picked up in the hills?
Rahab just lies in bed listening, not able to answer. “Remember how we used to run and play, free as the wind, down by the river when we were little girls. I miss talking with you Rahab. Please wake up! I love you.”
The nights are the worst. The silence all around her seems to go on and on forever. What if Salmon and Ben return with the Israelites and the scarlet cord is not hanging out the window? Sometimes, Rahab starts to panic; she tries to talk, but her mouth will not form any words. Whenever she talks with Salmons God, she stops worrying and is calm. She prays every day.
The next morning Beth is sitting beside her on the bed. “Good morning Rahab, the sun is up and it is a beautiful morning. I wish you would answer.”
I have to warn Beth. We are running out of time. The Israelites might arrive at any moment. The scarlet cord is not hanging out of the window. God, please help me warn my family. Rahab tries to open her mouth to speak, but her lips and tongue will not move.
 


There Is No Manna

Six days have passed since the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River and set up camp at Gilgal, not far from Jericho. Everyone is sitting around resting. The priest circumcised all the men and boys thirteen years and older, on the second day after they crossed the river. It took a few days for them to heal.
It is the fourteenth day of the month and the Israelites are celebrating the second Passover since they left Egypt.
The unleavened manna bread is broken in half by Ezar, Amiela’s husband. The night passes slowly as Ezar shares the history of the Israelites with his family. “The Passover is a time that we spend remembering our blessings from the past…”
They all rejoice together as a family, with the assurance of God’s blessings in the difficult days ahead of them.
Salmon describes how Rahab saved his and Ben’s lives at the risk of her own. He asks his family to pray for Beth, and Rahab, because both girls are in trouble.
Salmon, tells about all the interesting foods they ate for supper while they were staying at the inn. “I found a hollow log full of honey up in the hills. I will take you there some day.” Removing the pot of honey from his sack, he passes it around. “Try this on your unleavened manna bread tonight.”
They all take some honey, and spread it on their bread. The new sensations in their mouths, interrupts the conversations around the table for a while.
Amiela puts the lid back on the pot. “Manna will never taste the same again.”
In the morning, Amiela runs into the tent crying, “Salmon, Salmon, there is no manna on the ground! What will we do?”
“What is causing all the commotion,” He rushes out of the tent to see what has happened. For the first time in forty years, there is no manna on the ground to feed the Israelite nation. They search everywhere. The people in the camp are afraid.
Salmon gathers the leaders of the clans around him. “Calm down! Joshua said that the mamma would stop, the day after Passover. There is enough food growing in the Promised Land, to feed us from now on. We need to trust God, to supply all the food we need today.”
Amiela sits beside her brother Salmon. “Where will we find this food?”
“The fruit is ripe on the trees. There is barley, along with other grains ready for harvest. I saw a pomegranate grove and other fruit and nut trees, growing down by the river. Most of the vegetables are ripe. The people of Jericho are hiding in their walled city afraid to leave. We can take what we need from their gardens that are ready to harvest. There will be more than enough food for us to survive. Just like God provided the manna for us to eat when we wandered in the wilderness, he will take care of us today.”
Ezar, Amiela’s husband joins the group. “Do you have any ideas of what we should do, Salmon?”
“Will you and Amiela organize the leaders of the clans? I found a wild honeybee’s nest, up in the hills, in an old log. It is full of honey. Blackberries are growing wild in the ravines. We can go there later.”
Amiela is eager to get started. “Mother showed me how to get honey when I was a young girl back in Egypt. The bees will get sleepy if you smoke the hive. I will bring a torch, so we can smoke the nest. We do not want to get stung. Someone can bring several big pots for the honey. The younger children can carry the baskets for the berries.”
Several leaders from the tribe of Judah have gathered near Salmon’s tent. He goes to talk with them. “Stay behind and help Ezar organize the workers.”
The silver trumpet blows. “Yair and I need to go. We will take you to find food when we get back.”
All the leaders assemble and have a meeting with Joshua.
He tells them, “I will go and pray. When I know God’s will, I will share it with you. Have your families all pray for victory. I have asked Salmon to take his place. He will be in command of the army of Israel.
“You all need to report to me, when the sun is high in the sky tomorrow. Spend the day bringing in provisions. Go feed your families!”


 

Get the Scarlet Cords

Rahab wakes up after a short nap. Her head is not as sore. It is frustrating not being able to communicate with my family.
Beth is sitting on her bed. “How are you today? I wish you would stop napping every time I try to talk to you. I need you to let me know if you can hear me. I find it hard talking to you. What do you think, Jaron? Do you think Rahab will ever speak or move again?”
“I do not know. It is hard watching her lay there not able to move.”
Beth grabs hold of her sister’s lifeless hand. “Rahab, Rahab! Move your hand if you can hear me.”
Rahab has heard every word. With every ounce of energy she has left, she tries to move her hand. She focuses on her hand. She can feel it move. She can move.
“Look! Jaron, I saw Rahab’s hand move!”
Jaron runs over and examine Rahab’s hands for any sign of movement. “I don’t see her hand moving, it must be your imagination”
“No Jaron, her hand did move. It was not my imagination! Keep your eye on her hand! Rahab tap your finger on my hand if you hear me.”
Rahab feels the gentle hand of her sister under her finger. She concentrates on her right finger and tries to make it move…tap…tap… tap… I can communicate! I can let my family know that I can hear them. Jaron, Beth, I love you! She tries to mouth the words but slips into unconsciousness from all the effort.
“She moved her fingers, Beth, Rahab can move! She can hear us!”
“Hurry, Jaron! Go get mother! Run fast!”
Jaron runs out of the room and returns with his mother.
Rahab moved her fingers this morning mother. I told her to tap on my hand if she could hear me. She tapped three times. She can hear!”
Meba gathers Beth and Jaron in her arms.
She returns later in the day. “Has Rahab moved any more Beth?”
“No, Mother.”
“I have brought some soup. Her colour looks better. The warm sun shining through the window is helping her. Can you help me prop her up in bed, so we can feed her?”
“Yes, mother.” She helps her sister sit up.
Holding the cup in her hand, her mother spoons some nourishing thin soup into Rahab’s mouth. “We love you Rahab...” “I wish you could talk to us.”
Rahab is able to swallow now. The soup taste good.
“Just one more spoonful Rahab and it will be all gone.” she puts the spoon between Rahab’s lips as she had been doing for the past week.
Rahab tries with everything she has to speak. “Mother” she whispers “Mother.” She opens her eyes and shuts them again.
Meba drops the spoon she is holding. “Jaron shut the drapes! Rahab is waking up from her coma! The sun is too bright for her eyes.” Her mother protects the sick girl’s eyes from the bright sun with her hand.
Jaron hurries to the window and pulls the heavy drapes shut.
Rahab sees the outline of three people standing in front of her. It takes awhile for her eyes to focus. She can see Beth, Jaron and her mother. With a shaking voice she whispers, “What happened?”
“You hit your head on the table, when the soldier pushed you out of his way. That was more than a week ago.” Rahab’s family holds her in their arms as they shed tears.
Beth gently moves a lock of raven hair away from Rahab’s face, revealing the nasty cut that is healing on her forehead. She bends over her sister and kisses her on the wet cheek, tasting the salt. Their tears mingle, as she holds Rahab in a warm embrace.
Rahab whispers. “Get the scarlet cords.” Her voice is so low, that Beth and her mother do not understand what she is trying to say.
“What are you talking about? She gives Rahab another hug and then runs out of the room shouting, “Rahab is awake! She is sitting up in bed! She has opened her eyes and is talking.”
“Beth! Beth, Come back! I must tell you about the scarlet cords!” Rahab gets so excited that her mother has to restrain her, to prevent her from harming herself.
Jaron helps her.
“Jaron go find Beth! Bring her back immediately! Rahab needs her!”
Rushing from the room Jaron calls. “Beth! Beth! Come back quick! Rahab wants you.”
Returning to her bedroom, Beth sits beside Rahab and holds her hand. She tries to comfort her. “What do you want? I am here. Speak to me.”
The excitement of the past few minutes, has taken all Rahab physical strength. She tries to talk, but slips back into a restless sleep instead.
Later in the day, Rahab wakes up to find Beth sitting beside her.
Supporting her twin sister in her arms, she helps her sip some water. “You had us worried Rahab. Now what is this about the scarlet cords? You left them hanging out of the boys’ window.”
With trembling voice, she whispers. She has to get the words out before she passes out once more. “Leona found the scarlet cords in the boys’ room and put them all back on the drapes. Get the scarlet cords and put them back out of window now, or we will die. Go. Israe~~~es ~~~ co~~ng soon!”
“I will go right now! Jaron, I need your help!” Beth runs out of the room with Jaron right behind her.
Where are you going so fast? What is the emergency?
“Follow me! There is no time to explain! I will tell you what is going on as we work.”
Entering the living room, she tells Jaron. “Come and help me remove all the scarlet cords from all the windows.”
With a puzzled look on his face, Jaron stands on a stool and unties the scarlet cords, one at a time, then hands them to Beth.
“What is this all about? What do you want me to do with the scarlet cords?”
With her arms full of scarlet cords, she tells Jaron, “Please help me carry them up to your bedroom.”
Sitting on the floor in the bedroom, Beth helps, her brother tie the scarlet cords together. “I will tell you the story. Salmon was whispering, to Rahab the day we helped him escape. Before he left, he told her. “If the Israelites come, and the scarlet cord is not hanging out of the window, everyone in the inn will die. We left the scarlet cords hanging out the window.” Nobody told me that, Leona had found the cord, when she tidied up the house and hung all the cords back on the drapes. The Israelites might come at any moment. The scarlet cord must be put back out your window now.”
The two of them had never tied knots that fast in their life. Jaron attaches the scarlet cord to the hook on the wall, while Beth opens the shutters. We made it! With a sigh of relief, Beth throws the scarlet cord back out the open window. She watches as it hits the ground. She looks across the valley at where the Israelites are camping and sees a thick haze of smoke rising.
Jaron comes over and interrupts her thoughts. He tries to shut the shutters.
“No Jaron, leave them open. Salmon and Ben said they would return to get our family. They might come at any time.”
“We need to go and talk with Rahab and find out what they told her about the Israelites.”
They both return to where Rahab is resting.
“I put the scarlet cord back out the window and left the shutters open for when Ben and Salmon come back for us Rahab,” Beth said as she sits on the bed trying to catch her breath. “I remember hearing Salmon telling you, to keep the scarlet cord hanging out of the window or we would all die. You can relax now.”
“Hi! Rahab, it is good to see you are back with us,” Jaron says as he teases his older sister.
Rahab grabs Jaron’s shirt, with her weak hands, trying to hold on to him so that he cannot leave. Her feeble voice whispers, “I have to talk to the entire family immediately. Get everyone to meet here at the inn. It is a matter of life and death. Go Jaron! Send father to me at once, hurry!”
Her father and mother, run to her bed. Her older brother Shan is right behind them.
Her father sits on the edge of her bed. “What is this all about, Rahab? Calm down!”
“Move me downstairs! I need to talk to all the men in our family at once. It is a matter of life and death!”
“I will if it will calm you down. Ferris told us, that you were not to get excited. Shan, go make up a bed for Rahab in the big room. Beth can help you. Get Jaron to help you carry her down when you are ready. Meba stay with Rahab and try to keep her calm until I return with Ferris.”
Shan and Beth leave the room together. “What is this all about? Is it safe to move Rahab?”
“We have no other choice. If we do not move her, she will get upset. She should not get upset.”
The inn is astir! Everyone is running in different directions at once, as they try to follow Rahab’s instructions.
They take some extra mats and bedding down to the family room. In no time, the bed is ready and Shan goes with Jaron to get her. They carry her down to the sitting room where she can be with her family.
Kahn returns with his brother Ferris. He checks Rahab over, and asks her, “What is all the excitement about? I will give you a sedative, to help you relax.”
“I have to talk first.” She lays her head back on the pillow. “Get all the men in our family to gather at the inn right now. Please go! She dozes of and sleeps for a few hours. When she wakes, the men have assembled in the big sitting room.
Meba and Ferris, prop Rahab up, with extra pillows to support her, so she can talk to her family. “You all need to move your families into to the inn without delay. If you wait, you will be killed, when the Israelites come to attack Jericho.” Rahab tells them everything that Salmon had told her.
Rahab’s father makes plans for his family, “Everyone will move to the inn, a few at a time in the next few hours. We do not want the neighbours, or the soldiers to suspect that anything is going on at the inn.”
Ferris checks Rahab’s head. “Your head has healed well.” It is a miracle that you did not lose your memory, or die. Let me test your reflexes. Good, you can move your legs. You will be standing soon. Drink this tea. It will help you relax. The excitement has been more than you can handle right now. You are exhausted.”
The tension has been very tiring for Rahab. The sedative helps calm her. At last, she is able to relax and stop worrying. The God of Israel has heard my prayers. My family is safe at the inn. The scarlet cord is hanging out of the window once more.
 


We Trust In His Wonderful Name

Empty Baskets and several clay jars sit beside the tent. Hot ashes smolder in a stone pot, ready to start a fire. Some oil soaked rags, are tied at the end of long poles, and lay on the ground. Amiela’s family is ready. They will start gathering the first harvest, in the Promised Land, that afternoon.
Amiela paces back and forth, wearing a path through the short grass. She is impatiently waiting. Tonight we will eat real food, honey and bread, along with fresh fruit. The anticipation keeps her on her tiptoes, searching the horizon, for her brothers.
Someone sneaks up behind her and puts his hands over her eyes, “Guess who?”
“Oh Salmon! Stop teasing and come over to our tent. Ezar is waiting for you.”
The clan leaders, from the tribe of Judah, sit as they have a counsel meeting in front of Ezar’s tent. They are planning the day’s work assignments.
Ezar gets to his feet. “Good, Salmon and Yair, you are back. We all know that God provided manna for us every day. All we had to do was get up each morning, and pick it up off the ground. That has changed! Starting this morning the manna has stopped! There will be no more manna! Our lives will be different! We will need to start planting our own crops and providing food for our families. Every clan will have to plan-ahead or they will starve.
“If the tribe of Judah is going to survive, we will have to bring home enough food, to feed about 765, thousand people every day. This will be a big undertaking for all of us. Everyone needs to cooperate and work together from now on. Our lives depend on it!”
“What plans have you made so far, Ezar?” Salmon asks.
“We have chosen leaders to organizing their clans, so they can find enough food to feed their families. Armen said he would take a few of the younger men to help him remove the five-inch thorns, growing from the date palm trunks. It will be a long, slow, dangerous job. Date thorns are poisonous! The men need to be extra careful and not prick themselves. If anyone is pricked by a thorn, spread this special poultice on the wound immediately and wrap it with a clean cloth. Be cautious! My father told me about several of his friends dying, back in Egypt, from date thorn poisoning.
“You should go home and help your families bring in the harvest today. God go with you!”

~~~~~~

They all begin to chant a joyful happy tune, as they head out to gather in their first harvest. The food is ripe all around them, ready to pick.
Holding the pot with hot coals away from her body, Amiela goes with Salmon.
She talks with her brother as they walk up the hill. She tells him, “I am the oldest woman in the camp now, and have many responsibilities. It has been hard work, manna to cook and mouths to feed! I tried to make the meals more interesting, but how many ways, can someone cook manna?”
“You always did a good job, Amiela.”
“Thank you. I remember when I was a young woman in Egypt; we had all kinds of food to eat.” She gets excited as she tells Salmon, “We ate grapes, melons, cucumbers, leaks, nuts, wheat, honey, berries, and dates… I was eighteen years old, a new mother with a three-week-old baby when my husband, Ezar, put me on a wagon with my parents. We wandered in the wilderness for forty years without real food! Food, real food with colour, texture, flavour…”
As she shares her story with Salmon, she hears the young children laughing. Laughter… Amiela had forgotten what laughter sounded like. It had been a long time, since she had heard laughter in the camp. She climbs with a lighter step and a new song of joy in her heart.
The group has climbed part way up a steep hill, when Salmon tells everyone to stop. He sent some of the women and all the children down into the ravines to pick the wild blackberries. He takes time to look around him at the other hillsides. The families from the other tribes are picking the harvest. “Come with me, Amiela.”
Salmon tells the older boys who are carrying the empty honey pots, “stay behind us, and pick up some sticks on your way up the hill.”
Stopping at the top of the hill, Salmon points to a big log, “Boys, the log is full of honey. Pile the sticks here and we will start a fire.” Taking the pot of coals from Amiela, he uses them to start a fire. The rag-covered poles burst into flame, when the boys put them into the fire. Salmon pours sand on the rags to put out the flames. He waits for them to start to smoking, then moves with caution up to the buzzing beehive and sticks the smoking poles into the hollow ends of the log. It takes a little while before the bees get sleepy and stop flying.
“Come with me, and be careful; the bees will sting if they get on you.” The nervous boys approach the hive with extreme caution. They help Salmon scoop out the honey and fill the pots.
“We need to leave some honey behind. Amiela tells them. If we do not, all the bees will die.”
When they are finished gathering the honey, they start back to camp, carrying their bounty.
Everyone joins in chanting new songs of praise. Today is a day of new beginnings for everyone. It is truly a land flowing with milk and honey, like God had promised.
The women sit, grinding wheat, using two millstones or a pestle in a rock mortar.
The men gather around Yair, to hear what he has to say. “We found several huge stone cisterns, carved into large rocks. They are filled with dried wheat, beans, lentils, and other dried grains. There is enough grain to feed us for a long time.”
The women prepare unleavened flat wheat bread with stewed berries for supper. Before Passover, the families spend a few days removing all the yeast and leavening agents from their tents. They do this so that they will remember the night when their families fled Egypt and had to eat unleavened bread.
All the people gather around the campfire that night, dancing and singing praises to their God. God has been with them and supplied them with an abundance of food.
The Israelites think about what Moses had promised them. God would help them capture the city of Jericho. They start to sing a new song praising Him.
We trust in His wonderful name.
Soon, more than two million people begin to chant in unison.
Salmon leisurely strolls to the tabernacle carrying some fresh baked bread, a pot of honey, a basket of fresh picked berries and other foods. His heart is rejoicing, along with his family and friends.
He remembers what the Lord had said to Moses. ‘When you enter the Promised Land and you eat the food, give some of it as an offering for the Lord. Bake a flat loaf from the first of your ground grain and give it as an offering from the threshing floor. The generations that come after you, are to give this offering to the Lord, from the first of your ground grain.’
He finds his cousin, Eleazar, the High Priest of the nation of Israel and gives him the first fruit offering from his family. They sit and chat for a while.
“God has been good, Salmon. He kept his promise to us. From what I have been told by all the families bringing their grain and first fruit offering is, that everyone has found enough food with lots to spare.”
“Our family has been blessed also. I will see you tomorrow.”
Instead of going back to his family, Salmon decides to climb to the top of the hill, which overlooks Jericho. He wants to be alone to pray. The voices of all the Israelites in the camp below arise with one accord, as they continued to praise. More than two million, people lift their voices in unison, praising God. Salmon will remember that afternoon for the rest of his life. We trust in His wonderful name, echoes around the valley and echoes off the hills.
Salmon climbs higher as he listens to the chant of the Israelites, echoing softly in the background.
We trust in His wonderful name.
After reaching the top of the hill, he sits on a big rock overlooking Jericho and sees the walls of the city... In the distance, he spots a window, the same window he had climbed out with Ben, a few weeks back. His thoughts go to a beautiful young girl, with raven black hair. He is too far away to see if something is hanging out of the window. He is tempted to go to see if the scarlet cord is there. He knows he has responsibilities back at the camp. It is time to go back and get some rest. It has been a long day.
Salmon turns for home, leaving the temptation behind him. He remembers some of the events that had happened in his childhood. He was born several years after his family left Egypt. As a young boy, he would sit at his father Nahshon’s feet, listening to fascinating stories of how the Israelites escaping Egypt. His father had been a slave and had to work from sunup to sunset supervising a group of about a hundred men that made bricks. The work was hard. Some of his father’s friends and relations had died from exhaustion.
It was even worse after Moses had confronted Pharaoh telling him to let the Israelites go free. Pharaoh had stopped supplying the brick makers with the straw to make the bricks. The men had to go out early in the morning and work late into the night getting enough straw to make the bricks for the next day. The Egyptian taskmasters seemed to take joy in whipping any of the people who slowed down, or fell from exhaustion. Tears would be falling off his father’s cheeks before he finished telling the stories from his past.
The wisdom of my loving father, the father who had skillfully taught me how to be a strong leader, a mighty warrior, to be gentle with people had blessed me many times. I remembered how he taught me to fight and to kill when it was necessary. I wish that he could be here with me now.
Salmon’s step is lighter as he continues on his way back to camp. Everyone is sleeping. It is tomorrow already. He lays his weary head on his mat, and falls into a deep sleep, dreaming of a girl, with raven hair blowing in the wind.
 


Fresh Baked Whole Wheat Bread

Salmon wakes up to a wonderful smell coming from the cooking area. He jumps off his mat and dresses quickly. “I am late,” he tells his sister Amiela.
She hands him some fresh soft whole-wheat flat breads, dripping with honey and topped with blackberries.
He sits eating breakfast with his family. “The homemade wheat bread, with berries and honey tastes good together. It reminds me of the food Rahab fed us at the inn. Amiela you have done an excellent job.”
“It is easier to cook with real food, Salmon, instead of manna! I am looking forward to meeting Rahab and her family soon.”
“You will before the week is over. The men are getting several tents ready for her family to live in. Yair knows where we want their camp to be set up. Rahab’s family cannot join us inside the camp, until the priests circumcise all the men from Jericho and purify their possessions. It is in the law of Moses.”
“I will ask the women to help me fix up the tents to welcome them. The extra bedding is ready to use. It will be hard moving from the inn into tents. How many people do you think will come with Rahab?”
“I have no idea. We are meeting with Joshua this morning. I will let you know after I see him.”
Salmon heads for the tabernacle.
The women continue to sing songs of praise, as they prepare more food. It will take awhile for them to learn how to cook the different foods. Amiela gives instructions to the younger women. They need to learn how to grind wheat and make bread. Laughter and joy fill every camp. They are in the Promised Land and their stomachs are full with real food. They will not have to eat any more manna!
The men greet one another, at the entrance of the tabernacle. While they wait for Joshua to arrive, they pray and worship with The High Priest, Eleazar, Caleb and the seventy elders.
When they are finished praying, Caleb gets to his feet and starts to talk, “I have asked Ezar, Salmon’s brother-in-law, to take charge of twelve men, one from each tribe. They will report to him at the farms by the Jordan River tomorrow morning. Ezar worked with his father as a farmer in Egypt, so he knows how to farm. His wife, Amiela, will start to teach several women from each tribe how to prepare the food. Ezar, do you have a report on the food situation?”
“I have selected some older men and women who worked with their parents as farmers and cooks before we crossed the Red Sea, to work with us. They will be responsible for the food. Their combined knowledge will enable us to survive in the new land. The women will work with my wife, Amiela, and the men will organize the harvest and start to plant new crops.
“All the seeds that were brought out of Egypt have been gathered. They have been stored in airtight jars all these years. We will plant them in their season.
“Most of the crops are starting to get ripe. Several kinds of fruit are hanging on the trees, just waiting to be picked. Some grain is cut and drying in the fields. All the tribes, totaling more than two million people, have found enough food for the year ahead. This is a miracle from God.”
“Several herds of milk cows, along with their new born calves, have been found in pastures around Jericho. Their owners abandoned them after we crossed the river. We will divide them amongst the nine tribes, so we can breed them with our cattle. This will make our herds stronger.
“Sheep, goats, and a few camels, have been left alone to graze up in the hills. Their shepherds ran for protection behind the walls of Jericho. The shepherds from all the tribes will split them up and graze them with their flocks. This is a land flowing with milk and honey.” Ezar sits down.
“Thank you, Ezar.” Caleb continues to instruct the people. “The seventy elders will take charge of all the personal interests of the people from their own tribes. They will report to me.
“I have asked Salmon to build four garrisons outside the camp and fill them with soldiers to protect us. These garrisons will never be empty, even when we go into battle. Soldiers will always be patrolling around Gilgal keeping us safe.”
Each man bows his head silently praying, asking God to bless Joshua and to guide and direct him. They thank Him for what He has done and for what He is about to do. The men sit waiting quietly thinking their own thoughts. When Joshua arrives, he will explain to them what they are to do. God will let him know how to capture Jericho.
Hours go by. The men start to share how God had blessed them in the past. Several men speak about the miracles, which happened at the Red Sea. Most of the men in the circle had not been born when the Red Sea parted. They depend on the memories and the fascinating stories told to them by the older men and women who were young when they left Egypt.
Caleb tells them about the battles they won, about water coming out of rocks. He tells how the bitter water turned sweet after Moses threw a branch into it. He shares stories about the glory cloud and pillar of fire they followed for forty years. Most of the men had witnessed miracles. “Our God is awesome, and keeps all His promises to his chosen people. Remember everything He has done for us, in the past.”
Salmon tells them, “My father told me that most battles were won before the conflict began, because the people took time to pray.”
When the men bow their heads again, to talk in their hearts with God, they feel His warm presence surrounding them. They have confidence that He will be with them in the days ahead. He provided for them in the wilderness. He promised to be with them in the future, as they took possession of the Promised Land. He would go ahead of them, as He had in the past. He would help them win the battles in their future.
Caleb reassures the leaders, “God will tell Joshua His plans, and we will be victorious!”
 


Boxes Are Piled Everywhere

Rahab has been out of her coma for a few days now and her energy is returning. Ferris said she would get better, but would have to learn how to stand and walk again. There is a real problem, she needs something from her bedroom but cannot climb the stairs.
Beth comes in to give her sister a much needed back rub and a cup of tea. You look better today Rahab. If there is anything more that you need, just ask.
“There is a movable stone, in the wall behind my bed. Can you put everything that is hidden behind it into this sack?”
“Yes, I will go now.”
After climbing the stairs to her bedroom, Beth looks around. She reminisces about the hours that she had spent there with her twin sister, Rahab. We shared so many secrets as we lay in bed fighting sleep... Tears began to flow down her face. We had a lot of fun when we were children.
Rahab’s joy disappeared after she came home from the temple. She changed, it was as if she had a heavy burden and could not share it with anyone. Every time I inquired about what she did at the temple, she would withdraw from me and tell me, I never want you to know
It is good to speak with Rahab again. I was worried. I thought she would die. What would I do without her; we have always been best friends.
It is hard for Beth to sit and think about the changes that are taking place all around her… ‘I do not know who you are, Salmon and Ben’s God, but I want to thank you, for rescuing me and helping Rahab recover. Will you please help our family and keep us safe?’
A few more tears mingle with the dust, as she tries to find the loose stone in the wall. Rahab has done a good job with her hiding spot. At last, she finds it and empties the cavity into the small cloth sack. She takes one last look around the room, and then returns to her sister.
Beth hands Rahab the small sack.
“Good! You found it… thanks.” Rahab puts the sack under her pillow.
All her brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles and their children had moved into the inn. Some of them waited and traveled at night, under the cover of darkness. They always keep the heavy scarlet drapes closed. Everyone whispered so the soldiers patrolling the streets of Jericho would not hear them and become suspicious.
Their belongings were stacked everywhere Shan and his family moved into Rahab and Beth’s bedroom. All the rooms in the inn were full.
Rahab’s father put a sign on the door that said…

CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

That night, the families gathered in the big room for supper. The tables were all full, and several tables were set up in the hallway, for the young children. Rahab’s mother is in her glory, because she is cooking for a crowd of people.
After supper is finished, Kahn and Jaron, share what they saw when they were on their way home from cutting firewood.
“We received the note from Ferris and were on our way home,” Jaron tells them, “When a most unusual event happened. We were camped on a high hill, above the Jordan River, near Adam, when the water in the river stopped flowing!”
Beth asks, “What do you mean, stopped flowing, how is that possible?”
“I do not know how it happened.” Her father told her, “It was as if someone put a big invisible dam in the middle of the river, to hold the water back. We could see the water in front of us. It just stood there like a wall and did not move down the river to the Dead Sea as usual. The riverbed dried up.”
“The oxen started to spook. The only way father and I could stop them from running away, was to try them to a tree, until they calmed down.”
“That’s right. Jaron and I crawled and hid behind a big log and looked down at the dry river. People began to walk across on dry ground. There were so many people, that it was impossible to count them. We will always remember the power of the God of the Israelites. None of the gods of Jericho has any power. They are all made by man.”
“Father suggested that we go back to our old camp and hide. We would try moving out after dark that night and take a different route home.”
Kahn continues, “After helping me turn the carts around, Jaron and I backtracked back to our camp. We used branches to erase our prints from the ground. Several patrols of Israelite soldiers started searching the area, looking for enemies. We abandoned the carts and let the oxen go. We hid in the bush as we made our way slowly home, arriving at Jericho the next night.
“We had a hard time getting back into the city, because they had closed the gates early. The soldiers refused to open them for us until morning.”
Jaron wipes the sweat off his forehead…just the thought of what happened caused him to shudder, “When the gates were finally opened, they tied us up and took us to prison. They accused us of being Israelite spies and told us we were both going to die later that morning. Father, begged them to send for his brother Ferris, the doctor. An older soldier knew Ferris, and at first had called father Ferris, so he went to get him for us.”
“If Ferris had not vouched for us, we would have all been put to death. This was one time that it was good to be an identical twin. It is only because Ferris and I look like the same person that I was believed.”
“I am glad you made it home to us,” Meba said. Rahab, can you tell us more about the God of the Israelites?”
“Yes, Mother. I know that Salmon’s God, is more powerful than all the gods we have here in Jericho. Every time I was afraid while I was in the coma, I talked with Him. A warm, calm, peaceful feeling always surrounded me. I know He is the God I want to follow for the rest of my life.”
The room is quiet, as Rahab’s family consider what she has told them about God. Everyone in the room responds with a sincere voice. “We want the God of Israel, to become our God. We will follow the God of Israel from this day forward.”
 


Start Walking Around Jericho

The leaders of the tribes of Israel waited patiently for Joshua to return. They sat singing songs of praise with love, thanksgiving and adoration for all that God had done for them. Caleb saw Joshua coming. His face is radiant. It looks like Moses’ face did, when he came down the mountain… after talking with God.
Joshua starts to share what had happened to him when he went to be alone and pray. “When I was praying for direction on how we could capture the fortified City of Jericho, I lifted my head and saw a man standing in front of me, with a sword in his hand. I went up and asked him, “Are you for us, or for our enemies?” He said to me, “neither, I have come as The Captain of the Armies of the Lord.” Immediately, I fell down with my face to the ground in worship. I spoke to Him and asked, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?” The Captain of the Lords Army spoke to me saying, “Take your sandals from off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” “I removed my sandals from my feet.”
“This is what Gods messenger told me, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and soldiers.””
Joshua tells the leaders of Israel gathered at the tabernacle all the instructions given to him by God’s messenger, on how they were to capture Jericho.
“Send out your messengers to tell all the people, what I have told you. They are to get ready. We will start marching for Jericho in two hours. Tell the people to gather around the tabernacle. I will pray for them and speak to each tribe, before they go.”
“All the valiant warriors from the twelve tribes of Israel will be lead by Salmon. Have them advance in formation to the entrance of the tabernacle at once. The tribe of Judah will be the first tribe to leave the camp. They are to assemble at the tabernacle immediately.”
Salmon and his nephew Armen, leave to get ready.
Joshua tells Eleazar. “Appoint four priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders, and assign seven more priests to get ready to blow the trumpets of rams’ horns.”
Joshua sits patiently, waiting for the time to pass before the soldiers and priest walk in front of the tabernacle so he can pray for them. Caleb sits beside him.
“A lot has happened in our lifetime Caleb. I spent years at Moses side as his personal aid and the two of us were there when we left Egypt and crossed over the Red Sea. We have always tried to obey God and Moses. We led the army as we fought against Amalek, and won the battle.
“I spent many an hour in the tabernacle. I heard God talking with Moses on several occasions. The presence of God was so glorious, that I stayed behind so I could remain in His presence. We stood together, as Moses climbed up Mount Sinai, and disappear into the cloud. We listened as the thunder roared. We saw the flashes of lightning as it crashed down. The mountain started smoking. We trembled with fear and hung back with the crowds.”
“I remember Joshua. We heard from Moses’ own lips, as he read the Words of God, from the Ten Commandments. Remember how the people said NO, when Moses asked them to prepare to hear God speak to them in person. Their voices echoed with one another as they told Moses, “Speak with us yourself and we will listen; but do not let God speak with us, or we will all die. All the Israelites rebelled in the wilderness when Moses was gone so long.”
“It seems like yesterday, that I went with you Caleb. We crossed the Jordan River to spy out the land, and travelled all through the land God promised us together. We found bunches of grapes so big and heavy, that we had to put them on a pole and carry them on our shoulders.”
“I remember how big and heavy they were, Joshua. I do not think the stubborn Israelites have changed much in forty years. They would not listen when we told them that God would help us capture the land. They listened to the other ten men who went with us. Those men did not have much faith. They caused the hearts of the people to become hard by telling them how big the giants were, and how strong the mighty warriors were.”
“The people believed the lies of Satan, just as they continue to do now Caleb. They did not trust that God would give them, what He promised Moses. Because of their unbelief, our wives, our friends and all our family who were more than twenty years old when they escaped Egypt, lie buried in the wilderness. I miss my wife. The nights are cold and lonely without her arms to keep me warm.”
“We are the oldest Israelites alive now, Joshua. The burden of being responsible for the safety and well-being of the Israelite Nation, sits heavy on our shoulders.”
“Caleb, will you go and see if the tribes are ready.”
Joshua stands in the entranceway of the tabernacle praying, while he waits for the tribes of Israel to make their preparations. God’s soothing presence fills him with a serene calmness. Joshua knows that God is beside him and guiding him in all he does. He will help the Nation of Israel win this impossible battle. His mighty hand will be with us this week, as He was in the past. ‘God, you gave me this responsibility. I know that everything is possible, when we believe and trust in you. Thank You, for guiding and directing me, all the days of my life.’

~~~~~~

Joshua talks with Eleazar, the High Priest. “Blow one loud blast from the silver trumpet; it is time to call the Nation of Israel to start walking around the walls of Jericho.”
Putting the silver trumpet to his lips, Eleazar blows one loud blast, calling the soldiers to start.
Salmon marches in front of all the fighting men, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. They are all dressed in full armour, with swords drawn, ready to obey, even if they have to give their lives in battle.
As each division walks in front of Joshua, he stops them, and repeats what the messenger had said to him earlier that day.
“This is the command of your God. You are to march around Jericho once each day for six days. On the seventh day, you are to march around Jericho seven times. After you hear the seven priests blow the seven trumpets of rams’ horns with a loud blast, everyone is to shout with all their might. At that time, the walls of Jericho will fall down and the fighting men will capture the city.
“Do not speak for seven days, as you walk around Jericho. You are not to take anything for your personal use. Only Rahab, along with her family will be spared. Destroy everything that lives inside the walls of Jericho. Take all the gold, silver and precious jewels that you find, to the priest at the tabernacle, to be purified. Burn everything else.”
“Let us pray.” ‘God, we give You praise and honour in all You are about to do. We glorify Your Holy Name, the name above all other names. Protect Your people and bless them this week. Keep their thoughts and hearts pure: so that they will cease to grumble, as they set out in faith, believing that You are in control. Allow the walls of Jericho to fall down, as an eternal testimony of Your power and strength. Let the Israelite Nation go with an obedient heart as they walk around Jericho...’

~~~~~~

On the day that the Israelites start marching towards the city of Jericho, Jaron and Beth are up on the roof, tying the dried flax into cloth bundles. They hear a loud noise coming from the direction of Gilgal. They run down the stairs into the big dining room. Beth is out of breath with excitement, “Everyone, come quick! The Israelites are coming!”
Her brothers carry Rahab up the stairs to Jaron’s bedroom, and position her on a chair in front of the open window, so she can watch the remarkable sight of the Israelites, marching in formation, toward them. Some of her family run up to the roof to see what is causing all the commotion. Others find a window on the outer wall to look out.
If Rahab’s family had not learned to trust in the God of Israel, they would have all been terrified. The families inside the inn with the red scarlet cord hanging from the window are calm. They all believe that, Salmon and Ben’s God will save them, just as Salmon had promised Rahab.
They see thousands and thousands of fighting men, marching in formation toward Jericho. The sight was astounding. In no time the, whole city was encircled by the soldiers.
They heard the seven rams’ horns blowing and the stomping of feet. The sound was deafening. The people in the city began to cower with fright. The ground continued to vibrate with the never-ending pounding. The noise is so loud, that Rahab stuffed a piece of cloth in each ear, to stop her head from pounding. There was no escape for the people of Jericho. The city was under siege.

~~~~~~

Salmon makes sure that everyone is out of reach of the weapons shot from the walls. When he looks up, he can see the fear on the faces of the soldiers defending the city.
The Israelites march around Jericho once a day, for six days. Tomorrow, they will march around the walls of Jericho seven times.
That night, Salmon is restless and not able to sleep. He sits on the edge of his bed remembering his father, Nahshon. His father had told him stories as a young boy, about the many battles he had fought. Nahshon had been appointed by Aaron and Moses to lead the tribe of Judah. Their God, the Mighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Israelite Nation had gone before them into battle against Amalek. When Moses stood on the hill with his rod held high in the air, their army won the battle. When Moses became tired and his arms began to fall, the army started to lose. Aaron and Hur saw what was happening, so they put a stone under Moses. He sat down on it. Then they supported his arms, one on each side so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Because of the support of Moses, friends holding up his arms, they won the battle.
A note had arrived for Salmon from Joshua the week before. “I want you to be the captain of the Israelite Army now Salmon. I am older and need someone younger to take my place. You will work directly under me following all my orders.”
What a responsibility! What would tomorrow bring He got up off his mat and started to pray, ‘God give me wisdom, strength, and the knowledge to know what to do in the morning.’
He prays some more then goes in to lie down on his mat. There was no use getting ready for bed, because it is already morning. After much prayer, Salmon feels the soothing, peaceful presence of God surround him and he is able to relax.
The sun had not yet risen when Salmon starts to prepare for battle. He puts his helmet on to protect his head and a breastplate made of several layers of dried animal skins to protect his heart. He wraps his arms with animal skins. His shield has the emblem of the tribe of Judah inscribed on it. His father had used it when he went into battle. Salmon’s sword is extra sharp. His father had removed it from a dead soldier, a few years before he had died. Salmon remembers how proud his father had been when he brought the sword home.
The Israelites would start at first light, to march around the city of Jericho. Salmon leaves the tent and goes out to inspect his strong, valiant fighting men. They are ready to march. Some men carry bronze daggers, while others carry shepherd staffs, spears or axes. They are dressed for battle. How many men will be wounded, or die this day?
One loud blast, from the silver trumpet, calls the men to start. Salmon gives the hand signal and all the soldiers follow behind him. He marches ahead of the mighty warriors of Israel in their quest for Jericho.
Tears flow, as Amiela sees her brother walk ahead of the Israelite Army. The women and children line up to watch their loved ones march out of sight. How many new orphans and widows would there be that night, after the battle?
Each tribe carried its own banner with their name embroidered on it. The men from Salmon’s tribe, the tribe of Judah, were the first tribe to start. The tribe of Issachar followed them. The last tribe would be the tribe of Naphtali. They would be followed by the rear guard.
‘Please… keep him safe.’ It is hard for Amiela not to speak, but God had granted the people sufficient strength to obey Him. They had not spoken for six days. Even the younger children had been silent. They did not utter a word of complaint. It was as if God had sent an angel to seal their lips.
Amiela remembered how her mother’s friends would come to the tent. They spent hours complaining about the food, the heat, the water. My gentle mother sat patiently listening to all their complaints. She tried to give them words of encouragement. Oh how I miss my mother.
Her older grandchildren ran and played, as the men continued to march around the city. It was getting late and the afternoon shadows provided some much-needed shade. Amiela soon lost count of how many times the army march around the city. It had been a long day. Amiela waited patiently, on the hill overlooking Jericho.
All at once, the soldiers and priest below her, stop marching. A hush comes over the crowd, as the noise from the rams’ horns cease, and the thunderous beat of millions of feet, stop marching.
 


The Walls of Jericho Fall Down

The families at the inn stand in awe, as the Israelite Army marches around the city seven times on the seventh day. The love of God sustained the people gathered at the inn. They have learned to trust in the God of Israel, so the people who are with Rahab in the inn have an inner peace.
All of a sudden, they stop moving. The silence is nerve-racking.
Rahab’s father comes to stand beside her at the window, and holds her hand, “What is happening now, Father?”
“I do not know, Rahab. The Israelites have gone around the city seven times today. We will just have to wait and see what God has planned. This is a true test of our faith.”


~~~~~~


There is a hush. The seven trumpets of rams’ horns are silent. The soldiers and priests have stopped marching. The Israelite Nation all stand in their tracks.
The silence is eerie after hearing the steady noise of seven horns blowing and two million feet pounding the ground. One loud blast from seven rams’ horns, blowing in unison and all the tribes of Israel shouting with one voice, interrupted the momentary hush that had settled around Jericho.
The ear splitting sound of two million people shouting in unison, and the shrill piercing sound coming from the blowing of the seven rams’ horns, escalates as a thunderous crashing begins. The walls of Jericho start to fall. The multitude of Israelites surrounding the city all cry out in victory, as they see the walls of Jericho caving in. The people continue to shout with joy.
Rahab’s family hears the screaming and cries of agony, coming from within the city of Jericho. They run for the protection of the basement, as the walls all around them continue falling. It is as if a giant earthquake had hit the city. Soon the rumbling of falling walls stops, but the screaming from within the city gets even louder, causing the families huddled in each other’s arms to shudder. All they can do is hold on to each other while they wait for the turmoil outside the inn to cease.
When the turbulence ends, everyone goes back up stairs. They see a miracle… Nothing has been broken. The pictures are still hanging on the walls. The bloodshed and destruction outside has not entered the inn. They are alive. The God of Salmon, kept his promise.
It takes a few hours but eventually the upheaval ends. Some men try to go up to the roof to see what is happening. Rahab warns them. “Stay inside the inn. If you go outside, you will die.” They are stubborn and go anyway.
They come right back and tell Rahab. “it is good that you warned us. We could not open the door to go out, because something has blocked it from the outside. The shutters on the inside wall facing the city, cannot be opened either. When we looked through the cracks, we saw that it was an inferno out there! The fire that is burning Jericho is hotter than a blast furnace!”
Rahab’s family all knelt in prayer, thanking God for saving their lives.
(A protective hand reached down from heaven and prevented the inn from falling down and catching fire. God had placed a gigantic shield around the inn, to protect the occupants from death that day, just as He did the night before the Israelites fled Egypt. The scarlet cord protected the people in the inn, the same way that the lamb’s blood on the doorpost had saved the Israelites forty years before. The Israelites, in obedience to God, had put the blood of a newly killed lamb on their doorpost, to keep the cloud of death from killing their first-born child.)

~~~~~~


The ear splitting noise stops. A giant cloud of dust surrounded the women standing on the hillsides around Jericho. Crying children cower beside their mothers.
After the dust settles, Amiela looks up. The hill she is standing on is in front of the only building that has not fallen down. A scarlet cord is blowing in the breeze from a window. Not one stone remained on top of another in the walls of the city, except for the walls of the inn where the scarlet cord was blowing in the breeze outside the window where Rahab and her family lived.
Amiela gathers her family around her “Fighting and killing is mens work. You need to go back to camp and prepare beds and a tent to receive any wounded. Stoke the fires when you get home and boil pots of water. The men will be tired after the battle and will want to change their bloody clothes.”
Soap and water will wash the stains of battle from their hands and clothes, but nothing will wash the scars on the heart and mind. It was never easy for the men to obey God… “Go into Jericho and kill every living thing,” echoed through her thoughts.
Every time my husband Ezar came home from battle, he immediately washed the blood off his body, and changed his clothes. Then he went up into the hills to be alone. He would stay away for hours, weeping, trying to erase the memories of what he had just done. He is a sensitive man, a farmer at heart. Killing people, especially women and children, caused him to become emotionally sick. He never wanted to burden me with his feelings or the pain and anguish he carried in his tender heart.
God, this will be the last time Ezar, my husband will have to go to war. ‘Thank you, God for answered prayer’ Joshua and Caleb asked him to be responsible for all the farming. Farming was his love. He told me that he looked forward to being able to put his hands into the warm, dark brown, fertile earth once again. It brought him joy to see the green shoots come up, as they reached for the sun. That is all Ezar had talked about. That is what attracted me to him all those years ago. Ezar, can start using the farming skills, his father and grandfather, had taught him. His hands will get dirty with soil, instead of the blood of humans.
‘God, please bring him home safe. Only you know how much I love this gentle kind man. I have tried to understand why You tell the soldiers to do what they do. It is hard on my heart, even though I know it is Your will God…’ She cries out in anguish once more, “God, when will all this bloodshed stop? When God?” Amiela holds her head in her hands as she weeps.

~~~~~~

The battle is finished! Salmon is tired. He had led his mighty army and given the hand signal to attack Jericho. It was over before it started. It never gave him pleasure to kill people. He had obeyed the commands of God. They captured the city, without much resistance. Most of the people, and all the army who were on the walls, lay dead when the fighting men entered the city. The men killed every living thing in Jericho that day, except the people living at the inn, where the scarlet cord hung out of the window.
Joshua and Caleb had given strict orders to the men before they sent them in to attack the city. “Nobody is to take anything for themselves. Take all the gold, silver and jewels, to the priest at the tabernacle. They belong to God. Smash the ungodly idols in the temple. Set fire to the city before you leave and let it burn like a giant furnace.”
For the first time in history, the Israelites obeyed God completely. They marched around the walled city of Jericho without any grumbling or complaining and in obedience to Him. They had not spoken a single word for seven days.
The constant pounding of millions of feet, along with the final echoing shout of two million voices, with the resounding blast of seven rams’ horns in obedience to Gods commands, had brought the walls tumbling down.
Salmon looks once more at the ruined city. A putrid smoke rises from the ruins all around him. He glances over his shoulder, at the only building still standing. The scarlet cord waves gently in the breeze from the open window. He turns his back on Jericho and heads for Gilgal.
 


Salmon and Ben Are Here

Joshua sent for Salmon and Ben. “Send men back to the camp and get several wagons then go and bring Rahab, and her family and all their belongings out of Jericho. Take all the men with you, that you think you need. You are to provide food and shelter for her family, outside the camp of Judah.”
Salmon talks with Ezar and Armen before he goes back to his camp and washes up. “Have some of the soldiers hook up seven wagons and meet us here.”
Amiela sees her brother and starts running, “Salmon you are safe!” Her tears flow.
They wander to the tent. She gives him a jug of cold water, along with a wet cloth to wipe his brow. She looks around and starts to be worried. “Where is Ezar?”
“He is helping a few men get some wagons ready for me, Amiela, and will be here as soon as he is finished. We will be bringing Rahab, and her family, to their camp tonight.”
“The men have put up the extra tents outside the Israelite camp, where you showed us. We are ready for them.”
“I do not know how many people will be coming with her.”
“We have extra food, water and bedding ready if we need them. Everything else can be attended too in the morning.”
“I need to wash and change my clothes before we go to get Rahab and her family.”
“Everything will be completed by the time you come back. We will go start the fires and light the torches to welcome them.”
An hour later, twenty-five men return with Salmon and Ben, to Jericho. The fires in Jericho are still smoldering. They are happy that the wind is blowing the smoke away from them, because of the stench. The scarlet cord is still hanging out of the window. Salomon tells Ezar and Armen. “Come with Ben and me.”
The four men stand where the gate used to be and find that heavy rocks from the fallen walls have blocked the road that leads to the door of the inn.
“Ezar and Armen, have the men clear a path to the door of the inn. It will take some time. Ben and I will climb up the scarlet cord to get back into the inn.”
Salmon climbs up the scarlet cord first, then calls out. “It is Salmon. I have come to rescue you, like I promised!”
A young boy is waiting in the room. He reaches out his hand to help Salmon in through the window. “My name is Jaron, Rahab and Beth’s youngest brother. You must be one of the Israelites, she has been telling us about; we have been waiting for you.”
“I am Salmon; it is good to meet you, Jaron. This is, Ben.”
The two of them help Ben crawl through the open window.
“We are here to rescue your family.”
“I will take you to them.” Jaron runs down the stairs ahead of the men shouting, “Ben and Salmon have arrived!”
The two men follow Jaron down to the big room. Sacks and boxes sit on the floor. The scarlet window coverings are in a pile by the door. Salmon sees some black hair, peeking above the edge of the table. Jaron helps Rahab to her feet. He holds her arm to support her. Rahab looks frail, as if she had been sick. There is a big jagged scar above her eye.
Meba enters the room, “Thank you, for coming back, to rescue us. I want you to meet my husband, Kahn.”
Kahn welcomes Salmon and Ben then introduces his family. “You already know Rahab and Beth.”
Rahab blushes and looks deep into Salmon’s eyes. They are the same kind gentle eyes she remembered. “I trusted you and your God to save us, Salmon. You did not let our family down. Your God will be our God. My family all trust in the God of Israel now.”
“I heard that you were hurt bad.” He reaches out to brush a piece of black hair out of the way, and then gently touches the deep red scar on her forehead.
“I was in a coma for a long time, Salmon. I am feeling better now.”
Salmon wants to just sit and look at Rahab, but knows he has work to do. It will be dark soon. “We need to help the soldiers clear a path to the gate so we can leave the city.”
Ben talks with Beth. “We heard that one of you was taken prisoner. We prayed for you and Rahab every day.”
“Your prayers have been answered. I was set free from prison last week. It is good to see you Ben.”
“The men need our help to clear away the rubble. I will see you later Beth.”
Rahab watches as Salmon goes through the front doorway… the same one that brought him into her life, only a few short weeks before. She shuts the door quickly behind the men, to keep out the smell of burning flesh, then goes to find her brother. “Jaron, I need your help.”
“What do you want me to do, Rahab?”
“I want you to help me get the scarlet cord from your bedroom.”
Jaron and his cousin, carry Rahab up the stairs. “Can you take me to my bedroom first?” Rahab looks around her familiar bedroom, so many memories from the past to think about. Will the memories disappear with time?
They take her to the boy’s room, and seat her on the bed. Jaron pulls the cord up and starts to coil it in a pile on the floor.
“Unite most of the cords, Jaron. We need to leave a portion of it, hanging out the window, to remind everyone who passes by, how great the God of Israel is!”
Rahab pulls out a sharp knife and cuts off several small sections of scarlet cord, to take with her. Jaron hangs a piece of cord out of the window and then they return to the family room.
Rahab puts the cut cords into the bag with her other personal belongings.
“The men will need our help to move the heavy boulders off the path,” Jaron said, as he goes out the door with his cousins.
The smell outside is ghastly, a mixture of burnt wood and flesh. No words exist that can describe it. The boys immediately put their hands to their noses. Large parts of the wall had fallen onto the road between them and the gate. Moving the giant blocks that have fallen from the collapsed walls all around them is a backbreaking task. The rancid smoke and smells coming from the smoldering fires cause the men to choke. They tie wet rags around their mouths and noses to keep out the horrible, disgusting odor.
The city is still burning. It is a dirty dismal day. Salmon keeps busy, trying to keep from remembering, what his hands had done just a few hours before.
“Ben and Jaron, I need you to help me move these big rocks out of the way.” Kahn comes over to help them. With all the men working together, they are able to roll the remaining blocks off the road and into the ditch, and make a path wide enough for the ox carts and wagons to reach the door.
Rahab’s family had spent the days before the walls fell down, preparing for the arrival of Salmon and Ben. After dark each night, the men had filled the wagons with heavy boxes. During the day, so as not to create any suspicion, Ferris brought his wagon packed with medical supplies and hid it in the shed by the inn. Her brother Shan, a weaver by trade, hid his wagons in a big shed beside the inn. It was loaded with all his looms and weaving equipment, made by Rahab’s great-grandfather. His family had been carpenters and maker of looms. Shan hid them so well, that curious passers by did not see them.
Everyone helped with the move.
Finally, Rahab and her family are able to leave the horrible sights and smells of Jericho behind and wind their way down the road. What changes would the morning bring?
It is after dark when they arrive at the camp. Amiela is waiting to welcome the strangers, with some food and a hot drink, when they arrive. “You must be Rahab, I can tell by your black hair… and you must be Beth. I am Amiela, Salmon’s, sister.”
“I have been looking forward to meeting you, Amiela. Salmon spoke about you.” Rahab’s head begins to spin. She is feeling feeble, after all the shocks of the past few weeks, and starts to fall.
Salmon gathers her into his arms. “Are you all right, Rahab?”
“I am weak and feel like I might pass out.”
Salmon picks her up as she starts to lose consciousness.
“Salmon follow me and carry Rahab to her tent,” Amiela said.
Beth glances at her sister. “She has fainted. I will get our Uncle Ferris. He is a physician.”
Holding Rahab close to his heart, Salmon follows his sister to a large tent.
“Is Rahab hurt?” Meba ask, as she follows behind Salmon and Amiela.
Amiela tells Salmon, “Take Rahab inside and place her on the bed I made for her.”
After laying Rahab gently on the goatskin bed, Salmon stands out of the way by the wall of the tent.
“I am Ferris, you must be, Salmon. We will need to wait outside so the women can get Rahab ready for bed. I will examine her when they call me.”
The two men leave the tent, and spend the time talking about what had taken place in the past few weeks.
After Ferris checks on Rahab, he tells, Salmon. “Rahab is worn out because of the move, and will have to spend a few more days getting her strength back. It is a miracle that she is alive.”
“Thanks for letting me know Ferris. Our family will come back tomorrow morning and help your families settle in. Rahab, along with her sister Beth, and their mother saved our lives, at the risk of their own.”
Amiela and Beth come out of the tent. “Rahab has awakened and is resting.”
“I will go in and look after Rahab. See you tomorrow.” Ferris says as he returns to the tent.
Ben takes Beth aside and talks with her alone for a few minutes.
Amiela and Salmon stroll back to their camp together.
Ferris gives Rahab a sedative, and she sleeps.

~~~~~~

A loud blast from some kind of trumpet, or horn, wakes Rahab. She is all alone. She tries to get up, but finds she cannot lift herself out of bed. She has no energy left. Thoughts keep floating around in her head.
She looks around and notices her bedding. It is made from goat’s skins. Our family never slept on goatskins before. The goatskin bedding feels soft and warm. I am accustomed to fine homespun linen sheets. Will our life ever be the same?
Her thoughts wander to Salmon. He is so handsome. She remembers how he held her close to his body when she started to faint. How did I get to bed? Was it Salmon, who carried me? He will never be interested in me, if he hears of how I had to live as a temple prostitute. I am a Scarlet Woman.
She looks around for the bag with her personal belongings. Someone had put it beside her. I will ask Salmon today if the ruby is his. She opens the bag and removes the box. She holds the ruby in her hand, and feels the cool smoothness of the stone. Taking a small piece of the scarlet cord, she unravels it, then ties the bag shut with it.
She thinks about her first meeting with Salmon’s sister Amiela. She has so much love radiating from her... I know we will become friends. ‘Thank you, God, for saving my family. You are my God, and will be the God of our family forever.’ With this prayer in her heart, Rahab lies back and waits for her sister Beth. At least I can move my arms and sit up. She remembers the dreadful days that she lay as dead, back at the inn.
Beth pokes her head through the flap of the tent; “I will get Mom and Ferris.”
Ferris enters the tent, and checks out the scar on Rahab’s head. “You must rest for the remainder of the week. I will come back later.”
Rahab’s Mother and sister are both concerned.
Amiela arrives with Salmon and Ben a short time later to help the new families settle in. Ben and Salmon go off to help the men, while the women work together, making the tent more like a home.
Rahab sits resting on a pile of goatskins. “Beth I have an idea. Bring four scarlet drapes and several cords, to our tent.”
“What are you up to now, Rahab?”
“Wait and see.”
While Beth leaves to search for the scarlet drapes, Amiela puts the girls’ hairbrushes and a washbasin with a pitcher of water with other toiletries on a small table. After putting a clay pot filled with a bouquet of fresh wild flowers on the table beside Rahab, she tells her, “I picked these flowers for the two of you this morning.”
“You are so kind, Amiela”
Beth drops the scarlet drapes and cords onto her bed. Rahab sits and gives instructions. “Beth, we can use the two smaller scarlet drapes for bedspreads. It will add colour to our tent.”
Beth and Amiela both work together, and soon the beds have scarlet bedspreads.
“What do you want us to do with the other drapes, Rahab?” Beth asks.
“Tie the scarlet cord to both of the tent posts.”
They follow all of Rahab’s instructions. Soon a bright red curtain divides, the sleeping section, from the living area.
“Beth, would you open up the wooden box for me and bring out all our flower petal necklaces? You can hang them up, all around the interior of the tent. It will add a sweet fragrance to our living quarters.”
“Amiela, the tent is looking more like home, what do you think Beth?”
“It is wonderful Rahab. We will sleep together in our own room tonight, even if it is in a tent. I am alive and you are getting better.”
Amiela turns and faces the girls, “I want to tell you my story before I leave. I know it will help you.”
“We would love to hear your story.”
The two women sit on the bed, across from Amiela eagerly waiting to hear her story…
“My first baby was just a few weeks old, the night my husband Ezar came home with the news… Moses told him to pack up all our belongings and get ready to move. The tribe of Israel will be leaving Egypt in the morning. It was not easy to leave my home behind. We traveled out into the wilderness and had to live in a tent. We have lived in tents for more than forty years now. At least we are not wandering in the wilderness any more.
“You look like you need to rest, Rahab. I will come back and tell you more of what happened to me, when you are feeling better.”
“I am tired. Thank you, for sharing your story.
“I hope you start to feel better, Rahab. I will see you tomorrow.” Amiela leaves for her own camp.
That night, the families from Jericho sit around the campfire sharing their thoughts about the past few weeks.
Everyone shakes his or her heads after Beth said, “This is like when we went camping, at the Dead Sea, every summer.”
“Oh, but that was just for a week… we always had a home to go back to.” Jared said.
Meba speaks up. “Most of our friends are dead and even some of our family died, because they would not listen. They refused to come to the shelter of inn.”
“At least we are alive,” Rahab tells them. “We have plenty to be thankful for.”
 

Sin in the Camp

One single blast called the leaders of Israel to the entranceway of the tabernacle once more.
Sitting at the gate, Joshua and Caleb talk about their plans, with Salmon, son of Nahshon, and Benjamin, son of Abidan. “We have selected you to go and spy out the land of Ai. We will be attacking it, after we hear your report.”
Salmon shares his plans with his sister. “I will have to go away this morning with Ben. We will be gone for several days.”
Two days later, Salmon tells Joshua, “We will only need 2 or 3,000 men to capture the city of Ai.”
The next day, Salmon takes about 3,000 fighting men with him to try to defeat Ai.
They bring all the injured and dead men home.
Nothing Amiela can do or say will help console, Salmon. He covers himself in ashes, and goes off to grieve the loss… Some of the men who died that day had been friends of his since childhood.
The news of the loss is hard on Joshua also. He spends time alone in prayer asking, ‘why did this happen?’
God explains the reasons to him… ‘Israel has sinned by dishonouring the promise that they made… They have taken some of the forbidden goods from Jericho, after they promised Me that they would not. They are acting like common thieves. Joshua, have the priests blow the two silver trumpets. I want all the people to assemble at the tabernacle right away.’
Joshua tells Eleazar, “Have the priests, blow the trumpet twice.”
After the people assemble at the tabernacle, Joshua tells them, “Someone has disobeyed God, and brought forbidden items out of Jericho after I commanded them that everything was to be destroyed, except what was to be taken to the tabernacle. This person has hidden the forbidden articles with his own possessions. As long as these stolen goods remain among your people, you will be defeated every time you go in to battle. That is why you were defeated at Ai today, and some of your valiant fighting men were killed and wounded.
“Eleazar and I will spend the night praying. Go home, purify yourself, pray, and come back in the morning. You will walk by us tribe by tribe, and God will show us the man who has brought a curse into the camp of Israel.”
In the morning after all the tribes had walked in front of Joshua, God shows him, ‘Achan, son of Carmi, from the tribe of Judah, took the contraband.’
Achan admits he has disobeyed and tells them where he buried the treasure. Joshua finds the treasure, and goods buried in the ground under Achan’s tent.
God tells Joshua, ‘Go out, and stone Achan and his entire family to death in the valley of Achor. Burn them, and all their belongings.’
(God did this, to teach the Israelites that they must always obey Him.)

~~~~~~

The next day God tells Joshua, ‘do not be anxious, and do not fear. Take with you all the soldiers and go up against Ai. You will win the battle.’
Salmon sends all the fighting men to Ai once more. Some wait and ambush the men of Ai, as they chase the attacking soldiers. They capture Ai and kill all the people. No one from the Israelite Army is injured. Joshua kills the King of Ai, at the gate of the city. The Israelites cover his body with rocks, and then Joshua builds an altar to the God of Israel on Mount Ebal.
The Israelites have the permission of God to confiscate all the goods and livestock from the city for their own personal use.
The men are happy and go home with carts and wagons, overflowing with the plunder taken from the city. They have camels, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, oxen, and cows. There are so many animals that the men have a hard time counting them.
The women sort through the wagons filled with bolts of cloth, pots, clay jars filled with food, weaving looms…
The Israelites clothing started to fall apart, the day after they crossed the River Jordan. The material was so worn, that it could not be patched. The women start to sew new clothes for their families.
It was another miracle from God. The Israelites had worn the same clothing and shoes for forty years without them wearing out.
 


My Pride Got In the Way

A short time after the walls of Jericho had fallen down some visitors; arrive at Gilgal to speak with the leaders, of Israel. After searching the strangers, they find that they are unarmed and have come in peace. Salmon and his soldiers take them to speak to Joshua and Caleb.
“Who are you? Where do you come from?” Joshua asks when he greets the strangers who have arrived at Gilgal.
“We are from a very distant country. We have heard of the power of your God and all that He did in Egypt. He helped you kill the two Amorite kings: King Sihon, of Heshbon and King Og, of Bashan and all the people in the cities. Our commanders and our people instructed us, “You need to prepare for a long journey. Go to meet with the people of Israel telling them, that our people want to be their servants. Ask them for peace.””
“How do we know you do not live nearby? If you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.”
“This bread was hot from our ovens when we left our country, but as you can see, it is dry and moldy now. These wineskins were new, when we filled them, but now they are old and cracked. Our clothing and sandals are worn out from our long hard trip.”
The men in charge examine the travelers’ bread, sandals, and clothes.
The leaders have a private meeting with Joshua and discuss the strangers visit, but do not take time to pray and ask God what to do. “They must be telling the truth.” The men in charge said, “We can sign a peace treaty with the strangers.” The leaders of Israel willingly agree to, and approve the binding oath, that Joshua makes with the travelers.
After the visitors leave for home, Joshua has second thoughts, and calls for Salmon and Ben. “Follow the men, and see where they really live.”
The men set out at once to investigate. They reach the towns the men came from in three days and discover that the cunning men had tricked the Israelites.
Joshua is upset, when Salmon tells him the bad news. “The names of the towns the travelers live in are: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim… a three days journey west of us.”
Joshua goes and talks to God alone. ‘Please forgive me for not asking You what we should have done. My pride got in the way. Help me to do better in the future…’
Joshua spends the whole night on his face before his Maker and is relieved when he hears a familiar voice. “I forgive you Joshua. Now go… start leading my people with a more humble heart.”
The people of Israel grumbled against their leaders, because they had signed a peace treaty. Joshua and the leaders reply, “We have sworn an oath in the presence of the LORD God of Israel. Because we made a vow to God, we cannot attack the men who lied to us. We must let them live because of our oath. God will be angry with us if we break our pledge.”
“We will let them live, but they and their families will become our servants. They will chop wood and carry water for the entire community.”
 


A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey

It is several weeks since the walls of Jericho fell down. Rahab, Beth, and Amiela visited every day.
Whenever Rahab saw Salmon in the distance, her hand would tenderly reach for the red ruby, in the special pocket she had sewn to hold it. Was it his? She wanted to speak with him and ask if the ruby was his. He was responsible for of all the soldiers, and was too involved with leading the warriors into battle to have much time to visit his family.
One afternoon Amiela calls on Rahab and Beth and asks them, “Would the families from Jericho, help show us how to use the foods that grows in this area? Some women are coming to my tent after lunch tomorrow to talk about it.”
“I will go ask my family if they will help,” Rahab tells her.
The women agreed to help, by getting together each week, to teach the Israelite women how to prepare the exciting new foods that God had provided for them.
Meba and Amiela set up a big tent in the camp and spend time there teaching groups of women the trade of making linen from dried flax. Meba’s parents and grandparents had been weavers, and she had helped in the family business, before she married Kahn. Amiela had helped her mother weave the curtains for the tabernacle. The two women have a lot in common and become close friends.
Shan taught several young men how to make looms.
Several young Israelite women sat with Beth, as she taught them how to turn the produce, they grew in the surrounding area, into soups and other nutritious meals.
Rahab teaches a group of young women how to preserve fruit and vegetables for the winter. Theses are the daughters of the families who fled Egypt, forty years before. Most of the girls had been born in the wilderness, and been fed manna all their life. They sit quietly; watching everything Rahab is doing, eager to learn, so they can go back to teach the other women how to prepare the different kinds of foods growing in the area.
“There is a basket of ripe fruit, and vegetables in front of you.” Reaching into her basket, Rahab pulls out a small round orange fruit. “This is an apricot. It is a sweet fruit. Try it. You can eat it fresh, or lay it out on clean cloths in the bright sun to dry. You will find orchards of apricot trees growing up in the hills, where it is cooler. You can preserve them in crock jars. The dried fruit can then be eaten the way it is, or soaked in water overnight, and cooked.”
The women bite into the sweet fruit.
“This is a raisin. We pick grapes in the fall and tie the stems on poles in the hot sun until the grapes dry. When they are dry, we call them raisins. Some raisins have seeds in them. You can remove the seeds and put the dried fruit in sweet breads, or just eat them by the handful. Try some.”
The women reach into their baskets and cautiously sample the raisins.
“We spread most of the fruit in the hot sun on sheets for several days to allow them to dry. We split the larger fruits in half, and removed the pits before we dry them.”
“I have put sacks with dried beans and lentils into your baskets. The lentils are small and do not take much cooking. We soak the dried beans in water all night before cooking them. When fresh vegetables are not available we use dried vegetates instead. You can dry all the vegetables that you grow, along with leeks and garlic to use in soups.”
The women sit around and make new friends. They talk about their concerns for tomorrow. They take time to learn from each other. New friendships begin as the women share what they learn.

~~~~~~

The nine tribes of Israel and the home guard are in the care of Caleb, while, Joshua, Salmon, and most of the mighty warriors are away trying to capture the cities. Amiela’s husband, Ezar takes Caleb down to the River Jordan.
“All the men brought out of Jericho were circumcised by Eleazar last week, Caleb. They did not bring any idols with them. They have moved their family to the lot bordering ours. This way we can work together. Rahab and her family have chosen to accept our God and have been adopted into the tribe of Judah.”
“What is Ferris doing?”
“Our physicians are working with him and have been sharing very important information about medicine with each other.”
They head for the River. “What are they doing here, Ezar?”
“Boys are pulling in nets full of fish down by the river. The older men are showing the younger men how to farm. New crops are being planted on the banks with the seeds we brought from Egypt. Food will be harvested all summer and late into the fall. After the flood water wets the ground, it continues to stay moist long enough for the plants to germinate and grow.”
The men wander around the hills. Caleb reaches down and picks up a handful of soil, and it falls through his fingers. “I notice that Gilgal is dry and arid.”
“Gilgal and Jericho are below sea level and get very little rainfall each year. There are several oases in the area. Kahn told me that they call Jericho the city of palms. He is helping some men and boys dig more ditches to irrigate the crops, so we can grow enough food to feed everyone.”
“You will need a large amount of food… two pounds of food a day per person; let’s see… two million people. It will take more than four million pounds of food a day to feed us! Now multiply it by three hundred and…let us not go there!” he laughed.”
“That is my department, Caleb. Let me worry about it. I worked it out and I know that God will provide all we need.”
“I am glad you have the job and not me. I never had a green thumb,” He looks up at the hills around him. “I see quite a few people working in the orchards.”
“They are being taught how to grow fruit trees. Those men are putting poles under the heavy branches full of fruit, to prevent them from breaking with the weight.” Ezar reaches up and picks a pomegranate. He breaks it open and hands it to Caleb. “Try this.”
“It is delicious. I remember eating pomegranates when I was a young boy.”
“The citrus trees are interesting. As you pick the ripe fruit, you have to watch out for honeybees pollinating the flowers beside the fruit. The trees give shelter to many animals and birds.”
Ezar picks a branch from a shrub and hands it to Caleb. “This is ‘sesban’. Kahn, Rahab’s father, told me all about it. It is an all-purpose bush. Sheep, camels, and goats will graze on the sweet leaves. We use it for firewood. The piles of sesban leaves on the ground beside us will ferment and be used as fertilizer in our gardens.”
“The palm trees prefer the moist ground around the oasis. The roots of the trees go down deep into the soil, to an underground water supply. The white sacks that are tied around the dates keep the birds and insects from eating them before they are ripe enough to pick.”
“I notice grape vines growing on the lower hills,” The two men go check out the vineyard. Caleb bends down and looks at the grapes growing under the shade of a big green leaf.
“Some of the men are being trained as vinedressers. A great deal of work still needs doing, before the grape vines will produce a healthy crop. We pick up the vines off the ground, tie them to poles so they can get the full sun, and not get mouldy. I want to show you something. Follow me.”
Ezar takes Caleb to where women sit removing pits from fresh picked dates. Their hands drip with a sticky brown substance. “Some of the fresh dates will be crushed, pressed and then strained. The thick syrup produced from the date is as sweet as honey. Here, try some.”
“It is sweet.”
Outside in the hot sun a fire heats a big clay oven. Ezar explains, “This is where we roast the date pits. When they are needed, they will be ground into small pieces then; boiled to make a hot beverage called date tea.”
“What have you done about the livestock?”
“The older boys shepherd the flocks of sheep and goats. The lush grass and sesban leaves that grow up in the hills provide all the food they need. Several herdsmen look after the cows, oxen, and camels.
“We have some experienced men training people how to turn the milk from the goats, camels and cows into cheese and butter. They add lemon juice to some of the fresh milk and then we heat it until it is warm. The next day, when it is thick, they put it into a thin cloth. They tie it to a tree and let the liquid drip out of it. This makes a hearty cheese called leban, which will not go bad or sour.”
“We will have to learn new ways to use the food we grow, if we are going to survive without manna!”
Caleb looks across the fertile valleys all around him and says, “This truly is a land flowing with milk and honey.”
 


A Whole New Life

The women who came from Jericho spend the day before the Sabbath preparing the food. They will rest with their family and spend the Sabbath worshiping in obedience to the Ten Commandments.
Amiela has taught Rahab’s family about the Sabbath Rest. She reviews the steps of what will take place once more. “Our Sabbath will start tonight, after the first star is spotted in the sky. The children have a lot of fun trying to see who can spot the first star in the sky.”
“When the family gathers around the table tonight, the mothers will start the Sabbath with a silent prayer for their children and any guest. The husband of the house will first bless his wife and then his children. We light the candles and then pour the wine. After the bread is broken, we serve the supper. It will take you awhile to memorize it. I have written the instruction on several pieces of parchment for you.”
Rahab puts the paper in her apron pocket, “Amiela is there anything more I can do to help prepare for the Sabbath.
“Yes, we have to get the room ready. The whole evening, right up to sundown tomorrow, will be a precious time of thanksgiving. The sun will set in two hours. Come with me Rahab while I put the finishing touches on the table.”
“I hope Salmon makes it home for the Sabbath. He has been gone for three weeks.”
“His last message said that he would try to make it home today, Rahab. The table is set. The firepot is nearby so we can get a flame to light the candles. Everything is ready.”
“Thank you, for taking the time to show us how to celebrate the Sabbath.”
“It is my pleasure, Rahab. You showed us how to dry the ripe fruit and vegetables. Your family has been a blessing to us. You taught us how to cook the various foods that were unfamiliar to us.”
“How are you Rahab?” Ezar ask, as he goes to the basin to wash his hands. I just finished talking with Caleb. Your family has taught us so much. We have learned from each other, and discovered new ways to grow food. We have dug more irrigation ditches. The extra water from them is helping us produce more crops. Our families are working together in harmony. We need each other.”
“Sorry to interrupting you,” Beth says, as she enters the tent. She is happy. “Ben and Salmon are home!”
“I’d better go. The first star will be out soon and I am not ready,” Rahab tells them. Her heart is racing at the thought of eating a meal with Salmon. It has been several months since I let him into the inn, then helped him and Ben escape. I have only seen him at a distance.
After entering the privacy of her tent, she reaches for the pouch with the ruby. She unties the scarlet cord and drops the cool red stone into the palm of her hand. Picking it up with her slender fingers, she holds it up to the setting sun that is shining in through the tent flap. Will she be able to talk with Salmon, tonight? Does the jewel belong to him? She puts the jewel back into the protective pouch.
She picks up her polished brass mirror and looks at her reflection. Her face is as red as the ruby. She takes a cold wet towel and uses it to remove the heat and dust from her face. Soon her colour returns to normal. After brushing her hair, she changes into her new dress. She feels more refreshed. The Shofar sounds to announce the start of the Sabbath. Rahab heads for the tent where they will eat the Sabbath meal.
Salmon is waiting outside Amiela’s tent. “How are you feeling now, Rahab? Does your head still hurt?”
“I am feeling better now; the head still throbs if I overdo it. Are you going to be home for long? I would like to talk with you tomorrow, if you can find time?”
“I have lots of time. Meet Ben and me up by the honey log after lunch tomorrow. Bring Beth along. We all have a great deal to talk about.”
“I will.” She tries not to stare at Salmon. I have to get away from him, before he hears my heart beating fast.
“I will talk with you tomorrow. The first three stars are out. It is time for the Sabbath,” Salmon said, as he enters the tent.
The Israelites adopted the families who came from Jericho, into the tribe of Judah the week before. This will be the first time that Rahab’s family will celebrate the Sabbath.
The families sit on the floor around a large low table, in the eating tent. Caleb is a guest. The tribe of Judah adopted him when he was a young man. Caleb is a descendant of Abraham, but not from the tribe of Judah.
Amiela prays a silent prayer for her children and her guest. Ezar stands up and then places his hands on his wife’s head. He prays a blessing over her, and then places his hands on his children’s heads saying a prayer for them one at a time.
Meba says a silent prayer for her immediate family and then Rahab’s father, Kahn, blesses his wife, Meba. After praying for his wife, he reaches out his hands and blesses his sons and daughters one at a time. A warm feeling spreads around the room as each parent blesses their children along with their guest.
The women light the candles. Sweet grape wine is poured into a common cup and then passed around the table. Everyone takes a sip from it. The sweet bread is passed around. Everyone breaks off a piece and sprinkle salt on it, before they eat it.
When the ceremony is finished, the women place platters of succulent meat of a young goat, cheese and bread, along with fresh vegetables, on the table. After the first course, Rahab serves her very-berry pudding. Everyone compliments her.
The men go out to the campfire to talk while the women remove the dishes and empty platters. They soak them in a special covered pot. They will wait to wash them, until after the Sabbath rest.
The older children sit for a while before bed with their grandmother and learn the laws of Moses, given to him by God.
Amiela teaches them in a way that they can understand. “These are the Ten Commandments.” She tells the children.
1 Put God first in your life
2 Worship only the God of Israel
3 Use Gods name with respect
4 Remember to rest on Gods Sabbath
5 Respect your parents.
6 Do not hurt other people
7 Be faithful in marriage
8 Do not take what does not belong to you
9 Do not lie
10 Do not want something that belongs to someone  else
“I want you to remember number one for me this week. Who knows what number one is? What is your answer, Zev?”
Her grandson Zev answers. “Put God first in your life.”
“That is right Zev! Now it is time for all of you to go to bed. I will see you in the morning.”
After the older children go to bed, the women sit around the campfire sharing stories about their history. There is talk about a woman eating forbidden fruit that God had told her not to eat, of Father Abraham and Mosses. This is their heritage, and the people become stronger as they listen and remember the stories of their history. God is good.
Later, after much talking and laughter, everyone goes to their own tent.
Rahab takes one last look at Salmon, remembering… I will talk with Salmon, after lunch tomorrow.
It is late, so Beth and Rahab go home with their family. Rahab climbs into her bed. “It has been a good night, Beth.”
“It has, Rahab.”
Rahab is excited. She turns to her sister who is resting on her mat.
“Salmon is bringing Ben to meet us at the honey log after lunch tomorrow.”
“Why don’t we pack a lunch then send a note to Salmon and Ben asking them to come eat it with us?”
“That is a good idea.”
The two girls talk in whispers most of the night. They discuss what has happened to them. “Just think! We will be seeing Salmon and Ben tomorrow,” Beth.
Holding the crimson ruby between her fingers, Rahab shows it to Beth. “I found it in the wine barrel where I hid the sacks. It belongs to either Salmon or Ben. I will ask Salmon if it is his, tomorrow.”
Rahab caresses the ruby with her fingertips. The excitement of being able to speak with Salmon, and ask him if the ruby is his, prevents her from sleeping.
 


Under The Fig Tree

Blushing at the thought of her boldness, Rahab reads the reply from Salmon once more, and then tucks it into her pocket. Jaron had just returned with the note that told her, Ben and Salmon would come for lunch. She finishes serving breakfast and prepares lunch for her family. Beth helps by packing the picnic basket.
It took a bit of bribing, but the two girls finally were able to convince Jaron to come with them as a chaperone.
When the preparations for lunch are finished, Jaron, Rahab and Beth grab the basket of food and head for the hills.
A gentle breeze is blowing as they run up the hill. All Rahab can think about is talking with Salmon, and asking him if the ruby is his.
The men stand out of sight behind some bushes, watching the two sisters and their brother as they run up the hill.
Salmon admires Rahab’s raven black hair that is blowing in the wind. What a fine young women. She would make a good wife and helpmate in my old age. It is about time that I found a wife, and started a family. I need to assert myself and talk to her soon. All the bachelors in the camp are talking about her. They might snatch her right from under my nose, if I do not do something soon.
I have been praying about Rahab, since the first day I met her. You have given me an inner Peace God. I feel you approved of my choice of Rahab for a wife. She is studying, the laws of Moses and has accepted You as her God. Joshua has discussed the situation with me several times. He thinks Rahab will make a fine wife.
He remembers the talk he had with Rahab’s father, Kahn, the day before. After asking him for his daughters hand in marriage, he talked about her past. “I delivered Rahab to the temple as a young virgin.” Kahn was so broken and had a hard time telling the rest of the story because of his weeping. “I betrayed my own daughter, my precious Ray. The priest forced her to live at the temple, against her will, and have men used her in temple worship, as a temple prostitute.”
“Our family had no choice. We had to hold fast to the customs of our society or we would be arrested and put in jail, or even worse tortured and put to death. This tradition had gone on for generations as far back as I can remember. I did not know your God back then...”
I tried to reassure Kahn I told him, “no matter what happened to Rahab before I met her, she is the woman that I want to marry. Our God will forgive you, Kahn, if you ask Him.”
We knelt together in prayer, and heaven opened as Kahn went before his God. Kahn asked, “God, please forgive me of all my sins, and help Rahab heal from all the iniquity she has felt at the hands of cruel and wicked men. I am sorry. Thank you, for bringing Salmon into our lives and rescuing my family from our sinful ways.”
I remember this grieving father putting his head in his hands as the cleansing tears washed away his remorse and set him free. At last, Kahn felt at peace. God had forgiven him from all the wrongs he has done in his past. He was set free from his heavy burden!
Kahn was lighthearted when I left, because of the heavy weight lifted off his shoulders that evening. I rejoiced and wept along with him.
He thought of how Rahab must have felt. He spent time praying for the woman he loved and his new friend Kahn… ‘Please heal this heartbroken man and help him forgive himself for what he did to his daughter Rahab. Thank you, for rescuing this Godly family from the ruins of Jericho, and bringing Rahab into my life.’
I will ask Rahab this afternoon if she will marry me. ‘God, please give me the courage.’
Ben is thinking about Beth. It is time to find a wife and start a family.
The two men step out into the open so the girls and Jaron can see them. Rahab is tired from the exertion it took to run up the hill. The injury to her head still slows her down.
“I need to sit and rest for awhile, my head is spinning,” Rahab says.
Salmon spreads the blanket on the ground, and helps her sit in the shade.
The bees are flying all around them, removing nectar from the wild flowers that poke their heads up out of the grass. A tree with flowing branches provides shade from the sun. Beth sets the basket of food, with leftover goat meat, bread, cheese, and fruit, on the ground beside Rahab.
Salmon sits down next to Rahab. “What is in the basket? I am famished!”
“Leftovers, we do not prepare food on the Sabbath,” Rahab tells him.
“Leftovers, I came all this way for leftovers!” Salmon chuckles, as Beth pours them a cool cup of wine.
Rahab passes Salmon a plate of food. The men sip the cool sweet beverage. “The wine tastes wonderful.”
“We brought it from our cellar when we left Jericho. We have been saving it for a special occasion.”
“It is a perfect day for a picnic,” Beth says, as she reaches for the plate of food from, Rahab.
Salomon takes another sip of the wine. “There isn’t a cloud in the sky, Beth. Ben and I are glad that we have a few days to rest, before we go back to fight.”
The birds continue to sing, the sun gets higher in the cloudless sky. The lambs on the hillside baa, as they run and play.
“Would you like to go for a walk with me Rahab? I saw a tree on the other side of the hill that I am interested in?”
“I will put everything away,” Jaron tells his sisters. “Maybe I will need you to chaperone me and my girl someday, he teases.”
Both Beth and Rahab try to ignore him. Their faces both turn a bright red.
Salmon reaches down to help Rahab stand up and they set off up the hill. Salmon stops at a tree. “What kind of tree is this?”
“It is a fig tree.” Rahab bends down and picks up a fig off the grass. She breaks it in half and hands it to Salmon. “Take a bite.”
The sweet sticky nectar drips down Salmon’s chin as he eats the tasty fruit… “They are sweet! I have seen these trees growing along the side of the road. I will stop and pick some to eat, when I walk through the hills.”
“This is one of the many fig groves that grow around here. If you watch the tree carefully, you will see wasps flying in and out of the flowers. The wasps pollinate the figs and lay their eggs in the part of the flower that does not grow a fig. We will start picking the first crop of figs in a few days. Fig trees produce two crops a year.”
Salmon mouth is dry. He tries to find enough courage to ask Rahab if she would become his wife.
Reaching into her pocket, Rahab pulls out the red ruby. Before she loses her nerve, she shows it to Salmon. “Is this yours? I found it in the bottom of the wine barrel after you left.”
Tears of gratitude start to flow, as Rahab places the ruby in Salmons hand. “It is the ruby I lost. I cherished it, ever since my mother gave it to me, as a young boy. She sewed a small pocket into the sack; she made me, to keep it from getting lost. While Ben and I were up in the hills, I discovered a rip in the pocket, and thought it was gone forever.”
“I am glad it is your ruby. While in the coma, I would think about you and the jewel I had hidden in the wall. What if Salmon never came back to rescue us, What if no one puts the scarlet cord back out the window! So many thoughts went through my mind. I spent hours agonizing because I could not speak or move. Where did your mother get the jewel from?”
“My Mother was a slave to a rich woman when she lived in Egypt. She had a store and sewed fine clothes for rich people. In obedience to Moses, my mother asked the woman for gold, silver, and cloth. Out of fear, the woman opened her shop then gave my mother a bag of her personal jewels, gold, silver, bolts of fine cloth, along with bags of dyed wool, the day before my mother left Egypt. My mother donated most of the jewels, wool, and fine cloth to help build the tabernacle.”
“I have noticed the blue jewel that Amiela wears around her neck. Did your mother give it to her?”
“She did.”
“What happened to your parents?”
“They both died a few years ago.
The two of them sit under the fig tree and relax. The wind stopped blowing. Salmon is exhausted from weeks of battle and falls asleep. He wakes with a start, when a bee lands on his nose and stings him. “Ouch that hurt!” He slaps at the honeybee and puts his hand to his nose. “It stings.”
With a smile on her face, Rahab picks up a ripe fig off the ground and breaks it open. After dipping her finger into the juice, she dabs it on Salmon’s nose. Her raven black hair brushes across his arm. “The juice from the fig will take the sting away.”
Taking a deep breath, Salmon reaches out and gently holds Rahab’s hand in his. He caresses her chin with his thumb and index finger. Salmon heart is in his throat, as he says, “I would like to marry you. I have never stopped thinking about you. I love you Rahab. Will you marry me?”
His question takes Rahab’s, breath away. “You want me, a scarlet woman to become your wife. I am not pure. The priests at the temple forced me to live a lifestyle that I had no control over.”
“I want you to become my wife Rahab. I love you. I will always love you no matter what your answer is. Please say yes.”
“You will have to talk with my father first.”
“I spent several hours talking with your father. He has given us his blessing. He told about how he had wronged you, the night he gave you to the Priest at Temple. Your father was a broken man. We prayed together and God forgave him. He is at peace and wants to know more about God.”
“You and your family have chosen God to become your God. Our God is bigger than anything that we have ever done wrong. He forgives all of our sins and helps us change our lives.”
“I love you, Rahab, and it will be an honour to have you as my wife. I want you to be the mother of my children, and maybe grandchildren some day. Even Caleb, who is responsible for the tribe of Judah, and Joshua approve. I have spent many hours praying about us. I know this is God’s will.”
“Yes, Salmon, I will marry you.”
Salmon and Rahab spend the rest of afternoon making plans for their future together.
“We will not be able to get married until the Israelites have conquered the Land of Canaan. I do not know how many years we will be at war.”
“I will wait for you.”
“We had better start back to camp. Help fill my apron with figs. We can eat them with supper tonight.” Rahab takes off her apron and Salmon fills it with figs.
They see Beth and Ben holding hands, sitting under a shade tree. They cannot wait to share their good news with each other. They have spent the afternoon planning their future together.
The sisters are delighted! The men they have been dreaming about will some day become their husbands.
Jaron tells his sisters with a big grin on his face, “You can have a double wedding.”
The twins start to dance in circles, just as they did as little girls. Beth holds on to Rahab’s hands while they swing each other around and around.
Rahab has to stop and rest for a while, because she is light headed. “We can start planning our ceremony when we get back to camp.”
Salmon slaps Ben on his back. “Just think two best friends, marrying twin sisters. Rahab and Beth are the most beautiful women in all of Israel…”
Salmon tells the girls about the Israelite marriage customs. “Ben and I will take turns coming to your family’s tent tonight and formally ask your father for his permission to marry you. We will offer you a goblet of wine. If you drink from it, our engagement will be official.”
The couples head back to their camp. As they stroll down the hill together, they talk about the future.
“I never expected this to happen, when I opened the door and let you two strangers come into our lives,” Rahab laughs, as she holds on to Salmons hand even tighter.
One loud blast from the silver trumpet shatters the quietness of the day.
 


We Have To Go To War

Salmon holds Rahab in a warm embrace as he says goodbye to her. “We have to go. Someone will let you know what is happening.”
The two men head to the tabernacle.
The sisters hold each other as they watch Salmon and Ben disappear, around the tents and out of sight. It will not be the last time that they comfort each other, after hearing one loud blast from the silver trumpet, as it summons the men they love. Will their hearts ever stop worrying, when their men go off to war? What if they are killed and do not return, like so many of the men in the past?
The girls sigh and help Amiela get some provisions ready, just in case the men have to leave in a hurry.
Salmon returns in a hurry. “We have to go to war. The men of Gibeon have asked Joshua to come and help them. All the Kings of the Amorites from the hill-country are at war with them. We need to go and protect them, or their enemy will kill them. Our army will depart as soon as we are ready and march all night. We will try to surprise the enemy forces, before morning. Prepare enough food for a week.”
Rahab points to the tables stacked with provisions. “We have already started to get the food ready.”
“That’s good. The drivers will stop and pick up the provisions and meet us at our camp tomorrow. Pray for us! We will be fighting the kings and armies from Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. It will take a miracle from God, for us to win this battle.”
Taking Rahab aside he talks to her in private, “I will have to wait to see your father about our engagement. I love you.” Turning his back on Rahab, he heads towards his tent.
Once more, Salmon has to prepare for battle. He starts to put his armor on. Touching his fathers sword that is on his belt, he remembers the times he had to use it. His gentle heart breaks at the idea of having to use it to kill. ‘How much longer will it be, before we will not have to shed blood, God?’
After spending some time in prayer, he talks with Rahab and his Sister Amiela, “I will send messengers to let you know how we are doing. Be ready to send more food if we need it. Set up extra tents for the wounded, in case they are needed.”
They give Salmon a sack of food, along with a small wineskin of water. It will be a long march. He embraces the women one more time, before he goes to join his fighting men.
All through the camp, families are saying goodbye. The women shed tears. Will we see our husbands again?
The men and women left in the camp run about, filling the ox carts and covered wagons with food and supplies.
The mighty fighting men gather at the meeting place. Joshua talks with the men, “Your God has told me, do not fear the Amorites; He will give them into your hands today. He is with you. The battle will be won, because God goes before His army into battle. He is your God, the God of your ancestors!”
Eleazar, the High Priest prays… “Thank You God, for protecting these men, Your mighty warriors. Keep them safe. You promised to win the battle for us. You have gone before us, and given us Your wisdom. We give You, all Praise, Honour, and Glory, for what You are about to do...”


~~~~~~

Meanwhile, life was going on as usual for the families back at Gilgal. They continue to pray for the men who left the night before.
The next evening the women feed their families then talk about what might be happening to the men who left the night before.
The younger children start to fidget so Amiela tells them, “Get ready for bed. It will be dark soon, and you need your sleep. When you are ready, come to my tent for a snack, and I will tell you an interesting story.”
Rahab tells her, “I will prepare a snack for you, and the children, Amiela. I love to sit and listen while you tell them your stories.”
All Amiela’s children and grandchildren live in the tents next to hers. She sits in her favourite spot, on a soft cushion, patiently waiting for the children to arrive. This is the best part of being a grandmother. I have so many stories to share with my grandchildren.
The cool blue Jewel at her neck reminds her of the day her mother gave it to her. Her father had the chain of gold made by his cousin Bezalel. God had filled him and other people with His Spirit, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manners of workmanship. They were given the knowledge of how to design, artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in carving wood and in cutting jewels. They helped draw up the blueprint for the tabernacle from the descriptions Moses gave them.
Feeling the softness of her cushion, Amiela remembers the hours she spent weaving the beautiful material at the looms.
She had helped her Mother and Aunt Elisheba weave the veil for the tabernacle. It was woven with blue, purple, and scarlet threads. It had pictures of cherubim and other artistic patterns woven into it. The women spent several months weaving the yards and yards of beautiful cloth.
After the Tabernacle was finished, she helped her mother weave a beautiful cloth using the leftover threads from the veil, to make the family chuppah. The future brides and grooms in her family would stand under it at their weddings.
She missed her mother. It was hard on Amiela, being the oldest women in the camp. There was not much time for her to reminisce. One of her grandchildren runs up and gives her a big hug.
“Grandma, Grandma, I love you.”
The children all come running to say their evening prayers.
“…please keep our loving fathers and our brothers safe. They have gone to fight our enemy. Please bring them all home safe...”
When they are finished praying, Amiela tells them a story. “When I was a young woman, I left the comfort of my home. Ezar, my young husband, helped me pack everything we owned into an oxcart. I sat beside my mother in my father’s cart. My mother and I would take turns, holding my baby in our arms. The sun was hot as we traveled with the other Israelites leaving Egypt. God had sent many plagues against the Egyptians before Pharaoh decided to let us go.”
“After we were gone for a week, Pharaoh changed his mind, and sent the Egyptian army to bring us back to Egypt. They caught up to us, and we had no way of escape. The Red Sea was ahead of us, and the feared Egyptian army was behind us. I glance behind our wagon over to where the Egyptian Army was and saw a big cloud, like a thick fog settle between us. They were not able to see us, and could not find their way out of the thick cloud.”
“Where is the Red Sea, Grandma?” her grandson Zeb asks.
“It is on the other side of the River Jordan, beyond the desert.”
“Is that far away?”
“It is, Zeb.” She continues, “I was in the ox cart right beside where Moses was standing. My aunt Elisheba and her husband Aaron’s oxcarts were beside ours. Moses, our leader came and talked with his older brother, Aaron. They prayed, to God and then Moses went down and stood on the bank of the Red Sea. He raised his staff, and prayed. God immediately parted the waters in front of him. I will remember that day as long as I live.”
“Moses asked my father, Nahshon, to lead the tribes of Israel across the Red Sea. The ground was dry, and a big wall of water stood on both sides of us. I could smell the salt of the sea as we walked across on dry ground. We never got wet. The oxen pulled our carts up onto a huge cliff, overlooking the Red Sea. It was such a breathtaking sight! Two walls of water were held back by God’s mighty power.”
“How did God make the path, through the Red Sea grandma?”
“God is all powerful, Zeb. He created the heavens and the earth. All He has to do is speak, and the sun and earth obey him. We will never know how He did it. I know that nothing is impossible for Him.”
“God must be aw-aw-awesome.”
“He is, Zeb. Let me tell you more about how awesome He is. We sat on the cliff beside the Red Sea for hours. We watched as two million people crossed over on dry ground. God had made a dry path right through two giant walls of water. It is a sight and sound that I will never forget. The thunderous sounds coming from the walls of water, the stomping of four million feet, along with all the animals and carts moving; what a noise! We could feel the cliff vibrate right under our feet, it was so powerful.”
“Then fear griped my young heart. The last tribe was about three quarters of the way across the Red Sea, when the Mighty Cloud of God that had prevented the Egyptians from pursuing us, vaporized… right into thin air!”
“Nothing stood between us and the Egyptian army. Immediately, they started to pursue us! They were moving so fast, that they started to catch up with the stragglers. Within a short time, the Egyptian army reached the pathway between the walls of water. They were getting so close that we could see the sun reflecting off their shiny amour. We could hear the noise from their horses’ hooves hitting the stones on the dry path below, as they pulled the chariots behind them.”
“What would we do? Our army had no weapons strong enough to defend us. We were going to be at the mercy of the cruel, mean, Egyptians once more!”
“We started to quake with fear. We watched as the feet of the last tribe climbed up the steep hill to safety. The Egyptian army was racing towards us along the dry path and had reached the middle of the Red Sea. The gap between us was closing fast. We all fell down trembling, on our face before God, praying and asking for His protection.”
“What happened, Grandma, were you all killed dead?”
Amiela chuckles to herself. “No we weren’t all killed dead Zeb. Immediately after we fell on our face in prayer, we heard a rushing sound. The waters of the Red Sea, stared to collapse in on the Egyptian army. All the soldiers drowned, along with their horses. We were safe at last, in the protection of God’s arms. It was a miracle! Only a few of us are alive today that were there…”
“Amiela!” “Rahab!” “Come quick!” “Something strange is happening!”
The two women jump to their feet. “What is wrong, Beth…? Are we under attack?”
Amiela tells the children, “Stay inside the tent until you have permission to come out!”
She follows Beth and Rahab out of the tent, into the brightness of day…
 


The Sun Has Not Set

Beth points to the sun. “Look! The sun and moon have stopped in the sky! The shadows from the trees have stopped moving! The sun has not set tonight!”
The news spreads throughout the camp. Before long, all the families gather in circles, looking up into the bright sky.
Shielding her sensitive eyes from the bright sun, Rahab asks, “What has caused the sun and moon to stop like this, Amiela?”
Amiela stares at the sun and moon. “I do not know, Rahab. Nothing like this has ever happened before! They have stopped in the sky. The shadows are not moving. Something has happened.”
Well into the night, the frightened families gather in groups, gazing at the strange phenomenon in the sky. The moon and sun had stopped. It was as sunny at three in the morning, as it had been before Amiela went to her tent to pray with her grandchildren.
The people continued to sit around, anxious with fear, gazing up at the sun and moon standing still in the sky. Rumors began to spread, from one camp to another. Was it the end of the world? All day long, people drift around the camps sharing their fears, and stirring up more and more unrest.
It was late the next day when one piercing single blast from the silver trumpet, caused Amiela and Rahab to jump. It was so loud that every tribe could hear it.
Amiela’s younger brother Yair, who is one of the leaders of his clan, sets off running to the tabernacle to find out what is going on.
“Why do the priests, blow the trumpets all the time, Amiela?”
“It is because of God instructions, Rahab. He told Moses, while we were living in the wilderness, to make two silver trumpets, for the priests to call the people of Israel to assemble, and for directing the movements of the camps.”
“When you hear the priest blow both of the trumpets at once, all the Israelites are to assemble at the entranceway of the tabernacle. If they blow only once, the leaders like Yair and Salmon are to gather there, to find out new information. We communicate this way with each other even now.”
“I wonder what has happened. I can’t wait for Yair to return.” Amiela encircles her family in her arms and prays.

~~~~~~

The young men sit while they listen to the message from Joshua. They bow down in prayer, thanking God for this victory. Their amazing God had delivered the Israelites from their enemies once again.
The men exchange letters, so they can deliver them to the people in other tribes. The Israelites had used this means to correspond with each other, for forty years.
Yair gives the message from Joshua to the hundred runners from the tribe of Judah, who are waiting for him at the appointed meeting place. Within an hour of receiving the message, every person in every tribe living at Gilgal knows what is going on.
After Yair exchanges the letters, he heads back to his own family.
He tells his family about the message from Joshua.
“We have been told not to worry, there was a fierce battle, and our enemies outnumbered the Israelites. It would have been humanly impossible for the Israelites to win the battle. God intervened by sending huge hailstones down from heaven to hit the enemy on their heads and kill them. The Israelites were protected, while Amorites all around them were being killed by the enormous hailstones.”
“Joshua prayed to God, after the hailstone incident, and asked Him to have the sun and moon stop moving, so that the Israelites could finish fighting in daylight.”
All the people began to rejoice. They started to sing and praise their mighty God. Their men are all safe and God won the battle for them. Families sit around their campfires, eating together, and celebrating. There are no idle tongues in the camps that night. The sun drops below the horizon in the evening, and the moon starts to move again. It was just as if nothing different had happened the day before.

~~~~~~

A few days later, most of the men come home. No soldiers were killed. The constant battles and killing has taken a toll on their emotions. The men know that they have many more battles to fight before the struggle will be finished. After the miracles of the hailstone, and the sun and moon stopping in the sky, they are reassured that their God will go ahead of them into battle.
Salmon sent a letter to Amiela and Rahab two days later.

Dear Rahab,
I will have to stay behind, with some of the soldiers, until we find and destroy all the Amorites who are hiding up in the hills. Keep praying for our protection. God has worked some awe-inspiring miracles in the last few days. I will come and talk with you and your Father when I get home.
I love you, Rahab.
I have no more time to write.
Love, Salmon

The first night Salmon is home, he visits Rahab at her father’s tent. “Your father has given me permission to ask for your hand in marriage. I hand you this cup of wine, Rahab. If you drink from the cup, we will be engaged and you promise to become my wife. We will say our wedding vows when the time is right.”
Salmon hands the cup of wine to Rahab. She drinks from it, and then hands it back to him. He drinks from it. Her father takes the empty cup, holds it up, and announces. “This is the custom of the Israelites. I congratulate you, Rahab and Salmon! The two of you are betrothed. You will celebrate the wedding ceremony, after Salmon is set free from his duty of serving in the army. May the God of Israel bless this union, and may it be fruitful, is my prayer.”
“We will see you up at the log later, Ben,” Salmon says, as they pass him. He is on his way to talk to Beth and her father.
Salmon takes Rahab for a walk up to their favourite log on the edge of the camp, and they wait for Beth and Ben to join them.
Rahab pulls out a piece of scarlet cord from her pocket, and gives one end to Salmon to hold. “This piece of scarlet cord is to remind us of God’s blessings in our lives together. Keep this scarlet cord with you always. When we are miles apart, pull out your section of the scarlet cord, and pray. Remember I will be holding mine in my hand every night as I pray for your safety. Salmon, can you take your sharp knife and cut the scarlet cord in half for me please.”
Salmon is filled, to overflowing, with the love he feels for Rahab. The woman that he cherishes, his future wife, is sitting across from him. He is unable to speak. He removes his knife from its sheaf, and cuts the cord in half and hands one to Rahab. They tie a knot at each end to hold the threads together and symbolically pray that God will hold their relationship together with a secure knot of love, no mater what the future brings...
Rahab continues with tears flowing down her cheek, “This scarlet cord will be our personal connection, on the days we are apart. When we are able to say our wedding vows, we will braid the two scarlet cords with this white cord. The white cord will represent God’s love for us. Once the three cords are braided together, it will become even stronger, as our love grows…”
Salmon holds Rahab, and they weep together…
“I promise that I will always love you, Rahab,” Tears fall onto Rahab’s raven hair… “I dream of the day that you will become my wife and we will not be separated.”
The families celebrate the twin’s engagements to Ben and Salmon by throwing a big get-together.
A few days later, a loud blast from the silver trumpet interrupts them once more.
Miles separate, Rahab and Salmon for most of the year. They feel their love for each other as they hold the special piece of scarlet cord in their hands, when they pray.

~~~~~~

Four years later, Ben comes home to take charge of the home guard defending Gilgal. Ben and Beth have a quiet wedding.
The guests assemble at Ben’s camp in front of his tent, for the wedding ceremony. Rahab is Beth’s bridesmaid while Salmon stands beside Ben as his groomsman, under the Chuppah that Amiela and her mother had woven for such an occasion.
Rahab is able to spend a lot of time with Salmon during the winter. They celebrate the Sabbath together.
Rahab’s cousin moved into the tent with her, after Beth and Ben married. The laws did not allow single women to live alone. She finds it lonely without her sister, Beth.
She tries to visit Beth as often as she can, but the years seemed to move ahead slowly.
There never seems to be and end to the fighting. The men cannot get home as often now, because they are camped so far away.
Not a night goes by, that Rahab does not pray for Salmon. ‘God please keep him safe and bring him home to stay soon. You know how much we love each other…’ Most mornings, after a restless sleep she wakes up, with the damp scarlet cord, clutched in her hands.

~~~~~~

God told the people to move the tabernacle to Shiloh to become the central place of worship for all of Israel. Workers from every tribe spent months, removing, and burning all the idols, cleaning and purifying the city and repairing all the outer walls. They also cleaned, and restore all the homes, so they would be spotless before the people arrived.
All the Israelites at Gilgal come to watch, as the whole tribe of Ephraim starts the long slow journey to Shiloh and the surrounding towns and cities. The procession slowly winds its way up the steep hill. Ben leads the tribe of Benjamin as a banner carrier. Salmon leads all the fighting warriors.
Two priests precede them blowing the trumpets.
When Ben and Salmon reach Shiloh they stand on a far off hill, and watch as the priests and Levites set up the tabernacle. After celebrating with their friends for a week, they returned to Gilgal.
 


The Trumpet Blows

Six years have passed since the night the sun and moon stood still in the sky. It is early spring.
Rahab sits waiting on the log overlooking the camp, with a picnic basket beside her. We can spend the whole day together. Amiela and Ezar join her on the bench, and sit watching as Salmon approaches.
They all start up the hill, laughing, and having so much fun.
Rahab is excited, a whole day to spend with Salmon… One loud blast from the silver trumpet spoils their plans for the day.
“I must go to Caleb at once.” Salmon holds Rahab and brushes the tears from her cheeks. He is disappointed. “I will be back as soon as possible. Go with Amiela and Ezar for the picnic and I will meet you under the fig tree. I love you, Rahab.”
Salmon lets her go then sets off down the hill.
When he arrives, Caleb tells the leaders.
“Joshua sent a message to me.” He starts to read.
“All the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, along with the seventy elders, are to travel with you to Shiloh immediately.”

“Put your affairs in order. We will start for Shiloh, first thing tomorrow morning.”
Salmon finds everyone waiting, under the fig tree for him. They sit and eat the picnic lunch together.
“All the leaders of Israel, the seventy elders and Caleb, have been summoned to travel to Shiloh tomorrow morning, to talk with Joshua. We do not have to go to war. I will likely be gone for a month or more.”

~~~~~~

The goodbyes are said and Salmon is gone out of her life once more.
Salmon left me this morning. I am left again with only my memories to keep me company. It was an enjoyable day we had up by the honey log. Rahab reaches for her stack of dog-eared letters, and holds them to her bosom as she weeps. She pulls out her favorite letter to read once more before she blows out her light for the night. Holding her piece of scarlet cord in her hands, she twists it around her fingers. It comforts her. The scarlet cord is the only connection she has with Salmon. No one can break it. ‘How much longer are you going to keep us apart God? How long…’ She sleeps with the piece of scarlet cord clasped tightly in her hands.

~~~~~~

Joshua sits in the tent of meeting in the tabernacle at Shiloh as he prays, asking God for wisdom. He reminisces about his life, ‘I have spent my whole life serving You. You are an amazing God, and have always kept your promises. You helped us win all our battles even when we were outnumbered. You were always there when the Israelite Army fought our enemies. Help us make the right decisions today God.’
When the men arrive, they sit in front of The High Priest Eleazar, Caleb and Joshua.
Eleazar stands to his feet, “Let us pray,” “We humbly come to You, our Almighty God, the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We trust in your wisdom, and ask You to bless us in all we do…”
The men feel the loving presence of their God and continue to worship Him with praise and prayer. “Thank you, God, for blessing the Israelites, by bringing us into Your Promised Land and providing for us…”
When they are finished praying, Joshua tells them. “Much of the southern and central half of the Promised Land is secure. The three men from every tribe I sent to check out the land have returned. We have spent several days praying and asking God to show us His will on how to divide the land. The families from the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh are already living in the land east of the Jordan River as far south as Aroer. The fighting men will go back to their families, once all the other tribes have seized possession of their territory. Eleazar will cast lots to divide the seven remaining portions of the Promised Land.”
“The tribe of Judah has already been given the southern territory around the cities of Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. The tribe of Simeon will move to the land allotted them within the territory of Judah.”
“Caleb and Salmon are to organize the movement of the people to their new towns, villages, and cities. They are to fast and pray as they study the land asking God to help them divide it wisely among the tribes of Judah and Simeon... They will send groups of workers and soldiers ahead into all the towns, villages, and cities that God has given to them, and take possession. They will purify the homes, and rebuild the walls, so they will be clean and safe to live in for their families.
“The men are to destroy and burn all the idols, and anything unclean they find. The priests will go through all the cities, to pray for the homes and buildings. When everything is purified, the people from the tribe of Judah, and Simeon along with Caleb and his family will move to their new homes.”
Eleazar cast lots, to divide the last seven portions of land. Each tribe has a map plainly showing the different boundaries of the land, given to them by God. The tribe of Benjamin was to settle in the city of Jerusalem and all the land north to Bethel. Part of their inheritance was Gilgal and the ruined city of Jericho near where most of the tribes still lived.
The tribe of Judah will start to move into their towns and cities when they are ready. Salmon will not have to go into battle any more.
Salmon and the other men spend a few months traveling through the countryside, looking the situation over. The weather and lack of habitation has caused severe damage to some of the homes and walls. Bethlehem is the last town they visit.
I will live here. Salmon picks out a choice parcel of land, on the east edge of the town. The homes will need some repairs because they have been empty for quite a few years. The foundations and walls of all the buildings are sound. There is a deep, clean well in the courtyard, for everyone to use. A gentle brook flows through one corner of the property. Several trees surround the house and will provide shade and help keep everyone cool in the heat of summer.
“It will be wonderful home when the repairs are finished.” I agree with you Salmon. “It is a good fertile piece of property, and will provide for all your needs in the years ahead.
After months of wandering around the promise land, the tired, weary travelers, head for home.


 

Good News

Rahab, her mother Meba, and Salmon’s sister, Amiela, spend the afternoon working in the shade under a tree. Meba tells the women that are with her, “The sun is low in the sky. I will start supper.”
Rahab tells her, “I will come and help you, after I finish grinding this bowl of wheat.” She sits and thinks about what had happened in the past few years. Ben and Beth had been married for a few years now and had boy and girl twins. Ben was responsible for the garrison guarding the camp at Gilgal so; he did not have to go into battle any more.
Salmon told me a long time ago, “I do not know how long we will have to wait before I can marry you.” He explained the Laws of Moses to me. “If a man gets married, he is not to go into battle for one year. He is to stay home and take care of his wife. Because I am the leader of the Israelite Army, directly under Joshua, I cannot take a year off to get married.”
It has been hard waiting for a letter from Salmon. Four months is a long time without any news. Was he lying hurt somewhere, or was he dead. Her friend, Eveta’s husband, Shir, died in a battle the year before. Salmon told me that Shir had saved his life. Not every battle was like the one, where the sun did not set, and the hail came down. War is hard on the wives and mothers, left behind at the camp. They shed many tears while they wait to hear news about their loved ones.
I have lost track of how many times the silver trumpet has blown, and Salmon had to say a goodbye to me and go off to fight the enemy. He refused to talk to me about what happened while he was away. His heart is always heavy with the burdens of what God has directed the armies to do. It was not easy being a leader in command. The killing of the children, women, and babies broke his heart the most.
Rahab finishes grinding the wheat then goes to help her mother and Amiela prepare supper.
She is just about at the tent, when Salmon steps in front of her, sweeping her off her feet.
“I have wonderful news Rahab! I will clean up first then tell you everything.”
“Oh Salmon, I have missed you so much! Let me look at you. You are safe! We have been worried. Where have you been? Why did you not write to us? We were nervous that something might have happened…
He puts his finger to her lips to silence her. “I wanted to be with you Rahab! We had no way to send runners. I have so much to tell you.”
Salmon glances around the encampment searching for someone. “Have you seen Jaron and Yair today? Caleb and I need to talk with them.”
“Jaron is down by the river, helping my father with the new irrigation ditch. I will send someone to get him. Yair will be at his tent with his wife and new baby boy.”
Amiela runs over and Salmon gathers his older sister in his arms. “It is good to have you home. You had us frightened this time. We will make something special for your supper tonight.”
“I am looking forward to it, Amiela. We have been traveling for months, and have a lot of good news. We will sit and talk about it, at supper. I need to deliver some important letters first. Love you.” He heads to his tent to clean up.
Salmon hears Caleb talking with Yair when arrives.
“Congratulations on the birth of your first son, Yair. I pray that he will grow into a, strong soldier, like his father and uncle Salmon.”
“I missed you while I was away. You have a good looking son.” Salmon gathers his brother in his arms. “I need to talk with you. I have a message from Joshua.” He pulls a sealed letter out of his pocket and hands it to Yair. “Meet me by the log, after you read your letter. I pray God will be with you.”
Yair slowly climbs the hill to be alone. He finds a comfortable spot on his favorite log, and checks out the busy camp. Not much has changed over the years, he thinks, before he opens his letter from Joshua.

Yair
You will be replacing your brother Salmon, as the leader in command of the Israelite Army. Salmon, has trained you well, with all the skills you will need, to take on this responsibility.
You will move, with your family, to Bethlehem, and be ready to go to Shiloh when I call you. Salmon will give you more instructions when you talk with him. Amiela and Salmon will take care of your family at your new home, while you are away… ‘May the God of Israel always bless and protect you.’
Joshua

Salmon joins his brother, Yair
“Aborah let me hold, your son. Some day I hope to have a son for Yoel to play with.”
“You can marry Rahab, now that I am taking your place.”
“I am going to talk with Rahab about our wedding plans after supper.”
“We will be moving to Bethlehem in a few days.”
“Joshua told me. I will be going with you to Bethlehem.”
Salmon takes his father’s sword off his belt, along with his father’s staff, the one given to his father by Moses when he became the leader of the tribe of Judah, and hands them to Yair. “I want you to have our father’s sword, his staff, and my shield. Carry them well. Honour God and our family with them. I am proud to have you as my brother, Yair! If you are ever in need, just get the word to me, and I will come running. I love you.”
The brothers sit and talk until they hear the women calling them for supper.
After supper, Salmon tells everyone the good news. “I have been released from my duty as captain of the army of Israel. Yair will be taking my place.”
Caleb shares the other good news. “God has told the tribes of Judah and Simeon, along with my family, that we can start making preparations to move into the land that He has provided for us. Your family will be moving to Bethlehem!”
Amiela gets up to fill their cups. “Where is Bethlehem?”
“It is about a day’s journey away from here, as the crow flies. It is a town, surrounded by hills, just a few miles south of Jerusalem. The first day of the trip, will be uphill. Our livestock will go with us. It will take about five days to travel to Bethlehem. Other families will travel to various towns and cities in Judea.”
“Some of your families will leave in five days. The rest will stay here in Gilgal until after the harvest. The people who stay behind will need to keep only what they need to use for a few months, until we return to get them.”
“Most of the younger men and women will go with us to the towns and villages to get them ready to live in. The houses and walls will need repairs and the priest needs to purify the towns. They have been sitting empty all these years.”
Salmon tells them, “Once we move into our towns and cities, we will still need to conquer the rest of the country. Yair will lead regiments of soldiers from all the tribes of Israel to capture the land. The cities and towns of Judah and Simeon will have their own regiments of soldiers to protect them. Some of the Levites will move into the cities of refuge, set up by Joshua and Eleazar.”
Everyone is excited! The plans for the relocation have to be finished, and the families told what they needed to do.
Salmon takes Rahab for a walk up the hill and they sit under a tree just outside the encampment. “I will go to Bethlehem and get the house ready for our wedding. We will be married seven days after you arrive in Bethlehem. Nobody knows how long it will take us to clean up the town. Runners will be traveling back and forth weekly, so we can send letters. I will come back to get you as soon as our house is ready to live in.”
“I will wait for you Salmon. I have already waited over six years.”
“In a few months I will return to take you to our new home in Bethlehem. We will be the married there. Yair and his wife and son will move with us this week, so he will be ready to report to Joshua at any time. Your mother and father will be coming with us also, to help prepare our home and arrange the wedding plans.”
“Amiela, and her family, will stay behind in Gilgal. Pack your belongings, keeping only what you need for a few months. You will be moving in with Amiela until I take you back with me to Bethlehem.”
“Everything is ready for you to take with you Salmon. Most of my belongings are still packed in the covered wagons.”
“That is good. Amiela’s husband will be responsible for the harvest at Gilgal. He will gather all the plants, seeds and trees needed, to take to Bethlehem. I had a talk with him today. Amiela will take good care of you until I return.”
“What is our new home like, Salmon?”
“There are flowering trees all around the house. It has big open windows, with shutters to keep out the rain. The kitchen is big, with a lot of room. The spacious house was constructed using brick, covered with clay, so it will be cool during the hot summer. It has a flat roof, so you will have a place to dry your fruit and flax. There is a workroom big enough to hold all your weaving looms. A large double door opens from it, to the privacy of the courtyard.”
“You thought of everything.”
“I tried to. Our families will live in their homes next to ours. All the doors open up onto the common courtyard. We have more land to build homes as needed. The small children will have a safe place to play, while the women work together under the shade of trees. There is a kitchen garden big enough for everyone to use, just outside the fenced-in courtyard. A high rock wall, to keep wild animals and intruders out, surrounds the property. I forgot the best part. A quiet brook runs through the corner of the property. It is deep enough to swim in and even has some fish so the children can go fishing. I will have some men dig it out, and dam it up so there will be a small lake some day. This will provide us with extra water in the years we do not get enough rain.”
“It is like a dream, Salmon. I cannot wait to see it for myself. Is the land fertile, Salmon?”
“Yes, it is. Your father and brothers can grow all the fruits and vegetables we need for our families. There are gentle slopes with vineyards already growing behind the house. The grape vines and fruit trees will need plenty of care to help them produce healthy fruit.”
“I can’t wait! Just think, our own home, with a garden. What else is in Bethlehem?”
“There are green pastures for the sheep, up in the hills. We will have our own honey. The well in the courtyard is extra deep. We will never run out of water. God is faithful.”
“I am overjoyed. It is wonderful news. We will have a house of our own.”
“Ben and Beth will eventually move a few miles north of us to Bethel, with their family. We will be able to visit back and forth.”
“That is good news. I do not know what I will do when miles separate us. We are so close. Remember she named her daughter, “Rahab” after me.”
“What about Rahab’s twin brother, “Salmon,” He is special to me especially with his dark, curly black hair that reminds me of you.”
“Someday we will have our own children, Salmon. I keep thinking of names, Nahshon if it is a boy, and Oliveta if it is a girl.”
“I have been thinking the same thoughts. I do not want to, but I have to go.” Salmon helps Rahab to her feet. “I keep thinking about our future. Everyone will have a lot of work to do before we can marry. I hate to leave you. A few people will be meeting with me tonight so we can start making plans for the move.”
“I wish I could go with you now Salmon, but you know what is best for us. I do love you.”
“I will be leaving in five days and will not have much time to see you before I go. I love you, Rahab.” Salmon holds Rahab close, his heart bursting with his love for her. He strokes her hair. “I have to go.” If only I could take her with me. No. I must have a home that is clean, and worthy, before I can return for my bride.
They stroll slowly down the hill, talking about their future together.
“I love you, Salmon,” Rahab said as she kisses him on the cheek.
Rahab shared the news with her mother and father, before turning in for the night.
The next morning, Salmon’s family and the tribe of Judah, start to take their tents down. Everyone helps pack the ox carts and covered wagons. It is about twenty miles to Bethlehem as the crow flies, but it will take a few days to get there, due to the steep inclines. The valley where they lived for the last six years is below sea level. The Town of Bethlehem is up in the high hill country. They will have to travel through a dry wilderness, and will need a large amount of drinking water, for the livestock and people. The animals will slow them down. Sheep do not move fast, especially uphill.
The days go by fast. It is fun to watch as the children chase after the hens and roosters. When they catch them, they put them into the bulrush cages that the girls had woven.
In a few weeks, some of the people will live in their own homes! The Nation of Israel had lived in tents for forty-six years. Most of the people had been born in the wilderness. They do not know anything about living in houses. Everything will be new to them.
The God of Israel had gone ahead of them. He helped them win battles, cross raging flooded rivers, provided water, and manna. Their shoes and clothing had not worn out.
Holding the scarlet and white cord in her hands, Rahab dreams about her future. Salmon and I are going to be married. We will braid our two scarlet cords with this white one, which represents the pure love of God… Maybe some day I will have Salmon’s child. We will pull out the braided cord, and sit under our shade trees, telling our children about how God brought us together. I will do all my weaving in the sewing room, and spend my days, watching our children as they play in the courtyard with their cousins. The songbirds will be singing a sweet melody. Oh, how much I love you, Salmon. She continues to dream of her future with Salmon. It is well into the night before Rahab is able to sleep. 


The Ruby Necklace

Salmon will be leaving for Bethlehem in the morning. It is a beautiful evening. Salmon takes Rahab’s hand, as they climb up the hill with Amiela and Ezar.
“I have to go over to the other the hill and check the pomegranate trees,” Ezar says with a wink. Amiela and Ezar excuse themselves, to allow Rahab and Salmon to spend a little time together. He remembers his courtship with Amiela sixty years before.
Rahab and Salmon stroll up to their favourite spot by the honey log. “Do you want some honey, to eat with your bread, Rahab?”
“How can I resist? The thought of eating fresh honey and bread is causing my mouth to water. I have some pots for you.” She hands Salmon the pots. “You can take some honey with you when you leave in the morning.”
Reaching into the log with the giant wooden spoon he had carved, Salmon fills the pots with honey. “We had better get out of here, before the bees try to get their honey back,” he tells Rahab with a twinkle in his eye.
They run down to the fig tree where Salmon had asked her to become his wife. Rahab carefully puts a blanket on the ground and opens her picnic basket. She puts some of the honey on the fresh bread that she had baked that morning. “I will always remember this special place,” Rahab tells Salmon. “I will miss it.”
“We will have to go exploring when you get to Bethlehem. We need to find another special place there.”
“It will never be the same. Maybe we will bring our children back here to visit and have a dip in the Dead Sea.”
“I have something for you to remember me by.” Reaching into a pouch, he pulls out a silver necklace with a ruby on it. He holds the ruby up to the setting sun, allowing the reflection from it to fall on Rahab’s face. He puts the silver necklace around her neck, and kisses her on her cheek. “I want you to wear it every day, so you will be reminded that I will always love you, and will return for you. I promise you that you will become my wife soon.”
Rahab sheds a few tears as she holds the familiar jewel between her fingers. It seemed like only yesterday, when I tipped the barrel over, and heard the stone fall to the roof.
“I will wear it always. I will never take it off. I love you Salmon.”
“We need to get back. There is lot of work that has to be finished, before I can leave in the morning. I will try to write as often as I can.”
They find Amiela and Ezar and walk down the hill together.

~~~~~~

Everyone is up early the next morning. The tribe of Judah had not moved their camp for over six years. The oxen pull the carts and covered wagons up the steep incline. The shepherds try to keep the flocks of sheep moving. The men drive the herds of cows, so that they will not stray. Chickens squawk from cages, tied to the ox carts. An old rooster tries to crow, but it comes out as a croak instead. The rooster is upset because he was in a cage for the first time in his life.
The younger children ride in the covered wagons with their mothers. The older boys follow behind the goats and sheep, helping the shepherds keep them from straying. It is going be a long slow trip. Sheep have only one speed. “Slow!”
Everyone waves goodbye. For some, this would be goodbye forever. The relations, who are staying behind, line the side of the road. It is hard for Rahab and Beth, as they watch their mother and father depart for Bethlehem.

~~~~~~

The weeks go by slowly. Rahab tried to keep herself busy. She hikes over to her sister Beth’s camp, so she could spend a few days with her and her children.
Travelers bring letters from Bethlehem. Friends sit around the campfires, excited to share the news after it arrives.
Salmon always sends Rahab a heart-warming letter. She keeps them in a special box beside her bed. She has to get herself a bigger box to put then in, because the pile of letters has grown over the years. She spends time reading them in the quiet of the evening. They bring her comfort. She uses pieces of the unravelled scarlet cord, to tie them together in bundles.
She eagerly waits for a spare moment that afternoon. She wants to go to her favourite log, and read the letters that had arrived that morning, from Salmon and her mother. After lunch when the dishes were, done Rahab sat on the special log under a tree. She opens the letter from her mother first.

Dear Rahab
You will love Bethlehem with its green grass and rolling hills. Your house is charming. I know you will love some of the surprises we have for you. I am longing to see you. Give Beth and my grandchildren hugs for me.
Love you,
Mother

Rahab sits and holds the letter from her mother to her heart, then looks down at the one from Salmon. She misses Salmon, and her mother. A few tears drop on to the pages of Salmon’s letter as she begins to read it.

Rahab, My Beloved
I miss you. I will always love you. I went out exploring the hills around Bethlehem last week and found such a beautiful spot. I am looking forward to taking you there. I wish you could be with me now. I will keep it as a surprise and take you there, after we are married. I know it will become a special spot for the two of us. It is a wonderful place. That is all I will tell you about it for now. I know it will become our secret hideaway and you will want to spend a lot of time there, with me.
The cleanup of the town is just about finished. The houses are spotless. You will love our house. We will be able to sit and watch, as the sun, sets behind the rolling hills, from our bedroom window. All the looms are waiting, for your gentle fingers to start weaving material. We have some special surprises for you. I will be coming to get you at the end of next week. Please be ready. We will be married the week after we arrive in Bethlehem. Just think, in a few weeks you will be my cherished wife!
I am counting the days until I see you again.
With everlasting love,
Salmon

The camp at Gilgal is busy. Ox carts and covered wagons, filled with supplies, have made several trips to the new communities. They will be leaving the camp of Judah, at Gilgal and moving to their permanent homes within a few days. The people have a lighter heart, as they sing a new song.
Carts full of wheat wait near the threshing floor, on a hill above Gilgal. Rahab bends over the last sack of wheat and sews the top shut. The harvest was finished at last, and the only remaining bag of wheat, was loaded on the wagon. Rahab gathers up her thread and needles and heads back to the tent she shares with Amiela. The harvest celebration will begin the following morning.
Amiela watches, as Rahab walks down the hill. “I have poured you a hot bath.”
“I need one Amiela, I am so itchy,” she scratches at her skin, to get the point across. “I cannot wait to jump into the large tub of water that is waiting for me.”
Rahab runs to the tent, closes the flap, and quickly removes all of her dirty clothing, not caring that they fall to the floor in a heap. I will burn them myself, after I am free from this itch! Harvesting wheat is a dirty job! She washes her hair, and then relaxes in the tub of warm, soapy water, washing the dusty, itchy, chaff from her tired body. She lays her head back to rest and plan what she will do the next day. I can start to pack now. Salmon is on his way.
Rahab reaches for her favorite dress and pulls it over her damp hair. She looks at her reflection in the brass mirror. I feel clean and rested. She takes time to comb the tangles out of her hair. As has been her habit for the past few months, she reaches up to feel the coolness of the ruby, between her fingertips. It is gone! The chain must have broken! Her ruby necklace is missing!
 


The Lost Ruby

What will I tell Salmon? The ruby, he gave me before he left for Bethlehem is gone. It meant so much to him. The special red ruby, given to me as a gift from Salmon has disappeared. Rahab threw herself onto her bed and wept.
Amiela hears Rahab weeping, and comes into the tent. “Why are you crying Rahab? What is wrong?” Amiela reaches out with love and encloses Rahab in her arms. The tension has built up and Rahab cannot stop crying.
When she is able to get herself under control, she tells Amiela, “Salmon gave me a ruby necklace before he left for Bethlehem, and I can’t find it. The necklace was on my neck this morning when I left the tent.”
“I will help you look for it. We can go now.”
The two women retrace Rahab’s steps looking everywhere for it. The missing ruby is nowhere to be found. They end up where Rahab and the other women sewed the bags of wheat. The boys are sweeping the ground clean. They stopped the boys, and looked thought the chaff… nothing. “For all I know, it could be in the wagon that is going up the hill right now,” Rahab says.
Rahab has a heavy heart. “It is hopeless! We will never find the ruby! It will have to be a miracle from God.”
The two women return to their tent, feeling miserable.
It is one of the longest evenings of Rahab’s life. Her tears keep falling. Salmon will be coming back soon. What will I tell him? I promised Salmon, that I would wear the ruby he gave me always. The ruby Salmon gave me is gone; lost forever!
Rahab is not hungry. After supper, she goes to her side of the tent, to rest and think.
Amiela tries to comfort her, but Rahab is still distressed.
Amiela brings a damp cloth and hands it to Rahab. “Wash your face; I have a story that might help you. Salmon told me this fascinating story, the week after we crossed the River Jordan.”
Between sniffles Rahab asked, “What is the story about?”
“A Lost Ruby”
“I know the ruby is lost. I lost it.”
“No, not the time you lost it. I am talking about the time Salmon lost his ruby. I had never seen Salmon so upset. He showed me the sack that Mother sewed for him. It had a rip in it, where he kept the red ruby. Our mother had given the ruby to him when he tuned thirteen. At the age of thirteen, Israelite boys become men. It is a special time in their lives and we have a big celebration.”
Rahab wipes her face with the cloth and speaks. “Salmon told me how sad he was when he lost the ruby. It meant a great deal to him. He cried when I returned it to him.”
“I know, he told me that he intended to give it to the woman he chose to be his wife. Salmon was heartbroken when the ruby was lost. We prayed together several times. God gave us a calm feeling. I will always remember the day that he asked you to become his wife. Salmon was excited. He took me aside and showed me his red ruby that you had found and returned to him. You blessed him when you gave it back to him, Rahab.”
“I would have returned it sooner, but never had an opportunity to talk with Salmon.”
Amiela stood up and grabbed Rahab by the hand. “We need to take time to ask God for His help in finding the lost ruby. God is good and answers our prayers.”
The women both kneel and pray. “Dear God you know how much the ruby means to Rahab and Salmon. Please God; help us find the ruby…”
“I feel better now.” Rahab washes her face. “Even if I never find the ruby, I know that God loves me. He kept Salmon safe all the years he went into battle. What does a piece of red rock mean, in comparison to having a man like Salmon to love and have you as my special friend? I love you Amiela, and I wouldn’t trade our friendship for any jewel, no matter how much it is worth.”
“You are right, God has blessed us. Morning will be here soon. We need to go to bed, and wait on the Lord and continue to ask Him to answer our prayer. Goodnight.” Amiela goes through the curtains to join her husband.
Rahab climbs into bed, and then starts to pray again, holding the scarlet cord. The feel of it reassures her of Salmon’s love. I know that he will still love me, even though I lost the ruby. ‘God help me find the ruby before Salmon arrives…’ a feeling of peace fills her heart.

~~~~~~

Amiela tells Rahab, after she enters the tent, “Everyone is preparing for the move. The men will be taking our tents down today. We will sleep in the wagons tonight, after the harvest celebration, so we can get an early start tomorrow.” Amiela helps Rahab pack her few belongings.
“My wedding to your brother, Salmon, is going to take place in a few weeks. Salmon will become my husband. We will be sisters-in-law.”
“I consider you my sister already, Rahab. Salmon wrote me and said they have finished all the repairs to the houses. We will live beside each other. Your parents and Yair have settled into their homes, and are anxiously waiting for us.”
Rahab stands to her feet, and exits through the door in the tent, for the last time. She looks at the beckoning hills in front of her. “The area around Jericho has been my home all my life Amiela. It is heartbreaking for me to leave. I want to go up to the log, where the honeybees are, one last time. Our family went up that hill every spring, to gather honey and pick blackberries. I will be back in time for the harvest celebration. I have asked your two grandchildren to accompany me.”
The young children run ahead of her up to the old honey log. “Stay back, the bees can sting.” Rahab puts the special long stick into the hive and shares some sweet honey with the children. They laugh as she tells them, “A bee stung your Uncle Salmon on the nose once. He thought I was joking when I put fig juice on his nose, to take away the sting. He even had the nerve to ask my uncle Ferris about it. It became our family joke after that.”
The children run off to play as Rahab puts everything back in the basket. Was it only a few months ago that Salmon had brought me here with his sister? It has been a long time since we were together.
She looked around the valley of Jericho. This might be the last time I will sit under this fig tree. She spreads her blanket on the ground. The children play on the hill below. I have lots of time to rest, before I go back down and help Amiela with supper. The bees hummed, the birds sang, Rahab slept.
“Rahab, Rahab, wake up, I am here. Rahab I love you! Rahab, I have come to get my bride, and take her back with me to Bethlehem, Rahab.”
Rahab wakes with a start. Am I dreaming? It is the same feeling I had when I was in the coma. No, I am not dreaming. I can move my hands. She opens her eyes and sees the smiling face of Salmon looking at her.
“The children, where are the children?”
“They are with Beth and Ben, on the other side of the hill.”
“You startled me! I was having such a good dream.”
“I hope it was about me. I have been sitting here for over an hour, watching you sleep.”
Rahab starts to feel anxious, what can I say to Salmon about the ruby? She is concerned! Reaching up to her throat where the ruby had nestled for the last few months, she feels the ruby with her fingertips. How did it get there?
Salmon just sits, with a smile on his face. He is having a hard time, trying not to laugh.
“What are you smiling about, Salmon? What is causing that twinkle in your eye?”
“I noticed when I saw you sleeping, that you were not wearing our ruby. I thought you promised to wear it for the rest of your life, to show me how much you love me.”
“I lost it yesterday when I was sewing the grain sacks together. I looked everywhere for it. How did you find it?”
“It is a long story.”
“I have time.”
“We were a few miles from Gilgal earlier today when I had to pull over and let some wagons pass. One of the wagons wheel, hit a pothole, and fell off. The wagon tipped on to it side, causing several sacks of grain to fall on the ground. They split open when they hit the road. What a mess, piles of loose grain scattered all across the road!”
“What did you do?”
“I stopped to help the men pick up the grain. We had to remove it, because it was in the way. Every wagon that passed that way would have trouble with their animals. They would stop and try and eat the grain on the road.”
“It must have taken you quite a bit of time.”
“It did. While some of the men fixed the broken wheel, we picked up handfuls of grain and put it into new sacks. Lo and behold, when I was filling the second sack, I felt a rock. I was going to throw it over the cliff, but it felt familiar. I looked down and your ruby was sitting in my hand.”
Rahab reached up, and caressed the familiar stone with her fingers. “I am glad you didn’t throw it away.”
“So am I. The men and I went through all the grain on the ground until we found your silver necklace. It was the funniest sight I have ever seen, five grown men down on their hands and knees looking for a silver necklace in a pile of grain.”
“I would love to have seen it.”
“One of the men found the necklace, before the last bag of grain was filled.”
“Amiela and I prayed, asking God to help us find the lost ruby.”
“The clasp was bent and had come open.”
“I will be more careful and not wear it when I am working.”
“You will not have to worry about it any more. I put a stronger silver chain on it for you.” Salmon kneels down beside her, and holds her in his arms.
“The ruby is special to me, Salmon, but not as precious as having you safe and sound, sitting here embracing me.”
Salmon wipes away her tears, and starts to pray. “Thank You, God, for helping me find the ruby, in the grain. Rahab and I will be moving to Bethlehem. I pray that you will bless all that we do. Help it glorify Your name…”
When he is finished praying, Rahab joins her voice with his. “God, You do listen to us and answer our prayers. Sometimes it is in a most miraculous way. You brought Salmon safely back to me…”
“I have missed you. We need to talk later.” He holds her even tighter. “I never want to let you go. Beth and Ben are waiting for us. We are leaving for Bethlehem in the morning.”
“I am ready to go. All my belongings are in the cart.”
“Our home is prepared… Your mother and father send their love. They missed you and Beth. I have brought you a gift from your mother.” He hands her a small sack of light brown nuts with a crack in them. “These are pistachio nuts that have been roasted and salted, try some. Split them open at the crack, and eat the sweet nut.”
“They are salty but they taste good.”
“We have an orchard of almond, and pistachio trees on our property. There is also an olive grove, up in the hills. We need to go.”
They wander down to where Ben and Beth are waiting with the children. Beth is thrilled about the trip to see her mother, and the upcoming wedding.
“You would think the twins had not seen each other for years, Ben, the way they carry on whenever they are together.”
“They love each other. After your wedding, miles will separate them from each other.”
Laughter echoes across the hills, as Rahab tells Beth about the lost ruby. That is what sisters do; they love, with a forever love. They also share God’s blessings with each other.
The young children run on ahead, as they set off down the hill. The move and separation will be hard but the sisters have a calm feeling, and know they are in Gods will. A new life awaits Rahab, in the weeks ahead. She will be free like the butterfly that landed on her at Jericho, all those years ago. She is going to spread her wings and fly.


 


The Long Journey

The women pile the tables high with food. Jugs of wine and other cool drinks are set out to quench the thirst of the crowd. Everyone is celebrating their final harvest at Gilgal. The rejoicing continues, well into the night, as they spend time praying and singing. Salmon tells the people, about their new land. Everyone is excited. They will all start the move to their new homes, in the morning.
“It is getting late, Salmon. I need to go to bed. Are you coming Beth?”
Rahab and Beth enter the small wagon and start to prepare for bed.
“Can I brush your hair, Rahab?”
Rahab hands Beth her hairbrush.
Beth starts to count, “five, six…”
Rahab sits relaxing while Beth continues to count.
“Here you are, married to Ben, and you have your own family now.”
“I am blessed with a wonderful new family. Ben’s older sister is kind. I know she will take good care of the twins, while we are away.”
Rahab gives her precious sister a warm embrace, “I will miss you and your children after we move. We will live too far away to visit anymore.”
“I will miss you also, Rahab. It was hard enough when mother and father moved to Bethlehem. When I come back home with Ben, none of our family will live in Gilgal with me.”
The sisters sit, and whisper the night away.

~~~~~~

The next morning, the wagons are packed, and everyone is ready to leave Gilgal for the long journey to their new homes.
Salmon prays before they start. “Our most Heavenly Father, we give thanks, for everything that You have provided for us. You have gone before us and helped us win the wars against our enemies. We now leave our camp in Gilgal, to settle into the new towns, and villages, that You have given to us. I pray that Your people will willingly follow You, all the days of their lives. I pray that You, the God of our ancestors, will go with us, as we move to our new homes.
Amen”

~~~~~~

The hardest part of the journey is about to begin. Jericho is about 850 feet below sea level, and Bethlehem is over 2500 feet above seal level. That means the journey will be mostly uphill.
Rahab and Beth take turns riding in the ox cart with Amiela. It is a hot sunny day. A makeshift tarp on the carts and wagons helps provide some shade. Jars of water are within easy reach when thirst is too much.
It is late in the day when Rahab takes her turn riding in the cart. “My foot is sore.” She removes her sandal. “Look, Amiela a small pebble is wedged into the seam of my sandal. It has caused a big white blister on the bottom of my foot.” She removes the pebble and checks the other sandal for stones.
“I will get the ointment Ferris sent.” Amiela reaches into the medical pouch that is inside the cart, and pulls out a clay jar of ointment. “Put this on your blister, and I will tie a piece sheep skin around your foot to protect it.”
The steep incline slowed the travelers down the first day. The camp was set up well before dusk at the top of the hill. Food had been prepared ahead so that they would not have to do much cooking.
“I need to help my grandchildren settle in for the night. I will tell them a story after they have washed and are ready for bed.”
“I will get a plate of treats for them…” Rahab limps over to the food wagon.
“I will help you, Amiela,” Beth said… “You can always use extra hands, when it comes to children.”
After they look after the children, the women gather in groups around the campfires. They talk about their fears and anxiety. So much uncertainty lies ahead of them. Most of them had lived in tents, all of their life. What would it be like to have a real house?
The men sit around the fires together, planning what crops they will plant when they arrive at their destination. They talk about their concerns of growing new crops in a new land. When it was time to go to bed, the men climb into their bedrolls, out in the open, under the stars.
Morning arrives early. Rahab gets up first and goes out to prepare breakfast. She returned to the wagon calling, “Amiela, Beth, come quick! Hurry!”
They stick their heads out, from under the protective cover of the tarp, “Oh, how wonderful!”
The news spreads like wildfire throughout the camp. Soon whole clusters of families stand on the ridge overlooking the Jordan River.
A rainbow of colour fills the whole sky. The sun has started to rise over the Jordan River and the valley below. They look out at the most spectacular sunrise that they had ever seen before. They stand there, unable to move as they watch God paint the sky above them with a rainbow of colours.
Rahab takes a deep breath of fresh air. “This is breathtaking.”
The River Jordan looks like a tiny ribbon as it winds its way through the valley below. Jericho looks like a pile of rocks. The people at Gilgal look like ants.”
Beth taps Rahab on her shoulder. “Look how far we traveled already.”
Rahab points to a part of the wall that is still standing. “I can see the wall of Jericho, where our home used to be.”

~~~~~~

They travel for two days through a rocky barren wilderness. There is no water source in the region and they have to depend on the water they brought with them. Rahab has to ride in the wagon because of the blister on her foot. The hot sun beats down on them for most of the day. They are thankful for the slightest breeze, and use wet rags to cool their brows and wrap around their necks.
About noon on the forth day, they climb up a steep hill overlooking the town of Jerusalem.
“This is where we part company,” Salmon tells them. “Those going south to Bethlehem will stay in our caravan until we get to Bethlehem. Those who are going west will follow the leader of their group to their destination.”
The people embrace, as cousins say goodbye to one another. Salmon takes his group south to Bethlehem, staying away from Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem are friendly enough, but do not allow caravans to travel near their city.
Salmon’s property is on the southeast corner of Bethlehem. To get to it, they will go in through the north gate, then head south through the town.
When they get closer, a trumpet blows sounding their arrival. The soldiers open the gate of Bethlehem and several people run up the hill to welcome their loved ones.
“Rahab, Beth!” their mother cries, as she smothers the girls in her arms. Meba holds her twin daughters tight, as they cry together. “We are together at last!”
“I have been watching the horizon all day, waiting for you to arrive, Amiela.” Yair holds her close. She had been like a mother to him since his mother’s death.
Rahab’s father shakes Salmon’s hand. “You need to say your goodbyes to Rahab. I get to keep her for one more week and then she is yours to love for the rest of your life.”
Rahab and Salmon talk. “We will not be able to see each other until I come to get you for the wedding. I love you!” He looks deep into Rahab’s eyes, and gives her a loving embrace. It is hard to let her go.
Meba takes her girls’ arms, “Come with me, we have to get ready for a wedding.”
Rahab and Beth, walk arm in arm with their mother and father through the streets of Bethlehem.
New construction is going on all around the town. Rahab’s father points to interesting places along the way. Our home is in the south part of the town, about ten minutes from here.”
They continue until they come to a gate in the wall of a large fenced-in property. “This is the gate to our property. A man opens the gate for them. “Moshe, I want you to meet my two daughters.”
“Moshe will show you where you can store the wagons after they are unloaded. The corrals for the animals are over there. His men will help you.”
Rahab stands amazed. The property is everything Salmon said it would be and more.
The branches of the shade trees are blowing in the wind. The birds are flying around singing, welcoming the travelers to their new home. A rainbow of flowers in full bloom, surround the houses.
Beth taps Rahab on her shoulder, “Look, Rahab, someone has built two large chair swings in a tree.”
“What a wonderful idea, Mother. They are big enough to hold two people.”
“It was Salmon’s idea. I love to swing with my grandchildren sitting beside me, in the cool of the evening. The white house, across the courtyard, will be you new home, Rahab.”
“It is so big, Mother, I will get lost in it!”
“Not for long. Salmon and you will fill it with children some day. By the way, where is Salmon staying?”
“He is staying with his cousin, Elimelech, on the other side of Bethlehem, until the evening of our wedding. It will give me freedom to move about, without seeing him for the week.”
“That is a good idea. Come into the house girls, you can look around later. The servants have a hot bath ready for you. A soft, comfortable bed is waiting.”
After the refreshing bath, their mother brings them a tray of food to eat. “Have an early night. We can talk more in the morning.”
Meba comes in later to check on her daughters and covers them with a light linen blanket. Smiling, she thinks, it is good to have the girls under my roof again, even if it is only for a week.

~~~~~~

The smell of fresh baked bread wakes Rahab and Beth the next morning. Their mother pokes her head in the door and puts two dresses on the chair beside the bed. “I made a new dress for both of you, the yellow one is for you, Rahab, and the blue one is for you, Beth. Put them on. Breakfast will be served shortly.”
The girls take turns brushing each other’s hair. They think about all the fun they had together, in the past. Their, life will not be the same when we have to part.
“The new dresses are a perfect fit, Beth. Can I help you with your buttons? What a pretty colour. I see mother has not lost her touch. The dresses are gorgeous and the material is ever so soft. I wonder what flowers she used to make the dyes. Remind me to ask her later.”
“I will. The aroma coming from the kitchen is making me hungry for breakfast.”
The girls enter the large dining room and see their mother setting the table.
“You look wonderful, girls! The yellow stands out with your Black hair, Rahab. The blue has always been your colour, Beth.”
A servant enters the room with a tray of food. “This is Bella. She helps me with the cleaning and cooking. Her husband, Moshe, is our woodcutter. They are Gibeonites.”
“It is nice to meet you, Bella. We met your husband Moshe, at the gate yesterday,” Rahab tells her. She walks to a table and rubs her hand across the familiar piece of furniture.
They send for the men and everyone eats breakfast.
After breakfast, the girls’ mother wants to show them everything. She does not know where to begin. “Come with me to the sewing room. I want you to see something.” Several looms, some for making woolen garments and others to make fine linen cloth, fill the sewing room. “We can sit and weave all winter. We will visit with Aborah and Yair this morning.”
The girls spend the morning visiting with Aborah and Yair. Yoel is starting to crawl.
They explore the fenced-in property after lunch. Meba tells the girls, “Close your eyes, and give me your hands.” She leads them to a brook at the edge of the forest. Sit down and open your eyes. They sit on a big rock with enough room to seat about six people. Part of the rock extends out into the water. “It is wonderful!” The girls remove their shoes, and let their feet dangle in the running water. Tiny minnows nibble on their toes.
The gurgling of water bubbling across the rocks, and the singing of the birds help Rahab relax, and feel at home, my home at last!
“This will be a perfect place to be alone and worship God mother.”
“I like to come here in the afternoon, and relax, Rahab. Sit by the brook and rest, while I go into help Bella cook supper.” Meba leaves her daughters and returns to her house.
The girls look all around. They can see where the brook flows from the high hills on the other side of the outer wall. Tall trees grow on the hillside. The sky is a perfect blue, with fluffy white clouds floating above them. They lie back on the rock as they used to, as little girls. “I see a baby lamb, Beth. Look it is over there.”
Beth sits up and looks all around. “I don’t see it.”
“Silly Beth, I mean up in the sky. Look at that big fluffy white cloud, by that tall tree; it looks like a baby lamb.”
“I see it, Rahab! You have not lost your imagination.”
After a refreshing afternoon listing to the bleating of lambs up in the hills, and feeling the tickling, nibble of minnows trying to groom their toes, the dinner bell rings. The girls reluctantly leave their quiet resting place by the brook and head for their mother’s home.
The whole family has gathered for supper. Twenty-four people sit around the old walnut table that night, celebrating their family’s reunion. The side tables are filled with an abundance of food, just like in the old days, before the walls of Jericho fell. They spend time singing praises, and thanking God for their safe journey. Rahab’s father says a special blessing for Rahab, asking God to bless her forthcoming marriage. It is late at night before everyone starts for home.
The sister’s talk about the plans they have made for the coming week. It is after midnight before Rahab and Beth fall asleep.
Rahab thinks, in six days, Salmon will come with Ben, to take me to his home, for the wedding celebration.
 


The Couple Stand Under the Chuppah

Beth and Rahab stand by the open window, looking out over the streets of Bethlehem for any sign of the approaching wedding procession. At last, they can hear the trumpets blowing, and see the specks of glowing torches off in the distance, as the wedding party starts to snake its way through the streets of Bethlehem.
He is really coming, after all these years! Salmon is coming! Rahab takes a deep breath to calm her nerves.
The citizens of Bethlehem are up on their rooftops and leaning out of windows straining their necks to get a glimpse of their hero, Salmon, the mighty warrior of the tribe of Judah.
The people in the whole city shout from one housetop to another, “Salmon and his groomsmen are coming!”
A multitude of stars, sparkle in the heavens, waiting for the special moment that they can shine down on the wedding ceremony. This is first wedding to take place in Bethlehem and there is much rejoicing.
The sounds from trumpets blowing, and people singing, increase, as hundreds of brightly lit torches, held in the hands of friends and relatives, light the night sky. The wedding procession enters the gate.
Rahab’s father stands beside her at the window and whispers in her ear, “It is time.” He reaches up and takes the light yellow veil between his fingers, and covers Rahab’s hair, concealing the radiant face of a woman in love. Rahab gathers up the hem of her elegant wedding dress, as her father escorts her down the stairs.
It seems like hours, but it is only minutes before they hear the knock.
Rahab remembers the first time she saw Salmon. He knocked at my door over six years ago. I ran to open the door, and looked deep into his eyes… the eyes of a stranger. I felt peace. Little did I know then that this stranger would one day be knocking at my door, to take me home to become his wife.
Rahab’s father opens the door. “Who is there? Why have you come this late at night?”
“I am Salmon, son of Nahshon, from the tribe of Judah. I have come to take Rahab, my betrothed, to my home so we can celebrate our wedding ceremony. My groomsmen have come with our guests, to celebrate with us.”
“I will bring Rahab to your house with my family. We will rejoice with you and Rahab at your wedding.” Rahab holds the arm of her father as he escorts her into the courtyard in front of Salmon’s house where the wedding guests are waiting.
Their friends have come from miles around to witness the wedding of Rahab and Salmon. Eleazar, Salmon’s cousin, has come from Shiloh, to perform the ceremony. A hush comes over the crowd as Eleazar, the High Priest, stands up in front of the Chuppah.
The crowd is so quiet, that the people standing near him can hear the ringing of the little golden bells as they hit the little pomegranates, sewn onto the hem of his priestly robes… The sacred diadem of pure gold with the inscription…, “~Holy to the Lord~” crowns his dark black hair.
The guests all watch as Salmon stands in front of Eleazar, under the “Chuppah,” (the sacred wedding canopy.)
Kahn takes his daughter Rahab by the arm, and proudly walks beside her as they proceed slowly to the Chuppah. He places Rahab’s hand in Salmon’s, and then he lifts the veil from around her face, revealing his radiantly beautiful daughter. His mind goes back to another night that haunts his memory. The night he gave his beautiful virgin daughter as a gift to his gods back at Jericho, to become a temple prostitute. ‘God, please forgive me for this sin. Thank you, for setting our family free from that lifestyle, and for the friendship of Salmon, this Godly man.’
Eleazar looks at the couple in front of him. “Who has prepared this woman to become the wife of Salmon?”
“I have,” Rahab’s father said.
Eleazar starts the sacred ceremony. “God has brought you here today, Salmon and Rahab, to join you as husband and wife. Do you, Salmon, take Rahab to love, respect, cherish and protect…?”
“Yes, I will love, respect, cherish, and protect Rahab all my life. I will lay down my own life for Rahab, if necessary. I pledge this before God, and these witnesses.”
“Do you, Rahab, take Salmon, to love, to respect, and to cherish?”
“Yes, I will love, respect and cherish Salmon all my life. I pledge this before God, and these witnesses.”
“Ben, do you have the rings?”
“I do,” Ben hands Eleazar the wedding rings.
“Salmon, you may speak your vows.”
Salmon looks into the beautiful face of his beloved; he places the gold band on her finger and recites the marriage vow. “Be sanctified to me, Rahab, with this ring, in accordance with the law of Moses, and of Israel.”
Rahab, with indescribable emotions flowing though her body looks up at Salmon, as she puts the gold band on his finger and said, “Be sanctified to me Salmon, with this ring, in accordance with the law of Moses, and of Israel.”
Eleazar tells the couple: “The exchange of your wedding rings is the heart of your wedding ceremony, the point at which you are considered to be married by God. By the authority granted to me, by Almighty God, I now bless you as husband and wife.”
“Let us pray. God, as we gather here today, to witness the marriage of Rahab and Salmon, under the Chuppah we need to be reminded that the Chuppah has no furniture, and is open on all four sides. Let Rahab and Salmon remember that a home represents people, not possessions, and let their doors and hearts always be open to the needs of the men and women around them. Let their union of love bring forth many descendants, Godly men, and women. I pray that their love for each other will grow stronger every day.”
Rahab and Salmon greet their wedding guests.
They sit under the covering of the Chuppah, as they eat their wedding supper; then spend the night dancing and celebrating with their family and friends.
Joshua prays a special blessing for, Salmon and Rahab, before they depart to the privacy of their new home. For the first time in their lives, Salmon and Rahab are alone with each other.
They both sit by the fireplace. Salmon and Rahab take out their scarlet cords. Rahab hands the white and scarlet cord to Salmon. “Untie the knots at the ends of the cords so we can braid them together.” She takes a thin piece of unraveled cord and ties the three cords together at one end. Salmon holds the three cords in his hand, as she braids them tightly together; making the three, cords become one. She secures the end with another thin piece of cord making a loop in the end of it.
“Rahab, my wife… I like the sound of those words “my wife”. I will put a hook up by the door, to hang the scarlet cord on, so we will see it every time we leave our room. We can call it ‘Our Cord of Memories.’”
“That is an appropriate name for it, Salmon my husband. Our Cord of Memories is good. We prayed every day for the last six years, while we held our individual pieces of scarlet cord in our hands. Now it is braided together, with the white one representing God, never to be unraveled again.”
Salmon and Rahab kneel in prayer, to seal their marriage vows, “Thank You, God, for bringing us together. Help us always live Godly lives as we intertwine these three cords together… the white cord representing You and the scarlet cords representing us. We ask that the three of our lives will be intertwined forever. We ask you God to bless us. Help us find special moments every day, to be together with You...”
Sometimes prayer is private just like when a married couple come together to express their love for each other in a physical way. The marriage bed is intimate. It is to be between them and God alone.
Salmon wipes away their mingling tears with a soft white cloth. When they are through talking, he takes ‘The Cord of Memories,’ and puts it on the back of a chair near the doorway.
The Chuppah is set up in the bridal chamber over their bed, as is the custom of the Israelites. Salmon takes Rahab, his wife, into his arms, in the quiet of their bedroom. They express their unconditional love for one another in a loving special way.
Salmon promised Rahab before he sleeps, “I will love you with an everlasting love.”
Rahab gazes lovingly at Salmon. He is like no man that I have ever known. He has so much love, kindness, and gentleness. I will always love him.
 


Our Special Place

The month has ended before they know it. Beth’s father has loaded Beth and Ben’s Ox cart, with cuttings from different plants and some of the harvest they had gathered. Beth and Rahab say a tearful goodbye, as the wedding guests set out for home. A rugged wilderness will separate them.
Yair, Salmon’s younger brother, left the same day to travel north to Shiloh, with Joshua and Eleazar. Yair was in command, under Joshua, of the Israelite army now. He will not get home very often to see his young son, Yoel, as he grows up.
Salmon and Rahab relax on the rock by the quite brook and have time to just sit and enjoy each other.
Eveta, Rahab’s friend, had moved in with them the week before. Eveta helped Rahab around the house with the chores and cooking. She will be company for her when Salmon has to be away. They had become close friends, back in Gilgal. Eveta husband, Shir, had been one of Salmon’s most trusted soldiers, and had died in battle the year before. He had saved Salmon’s life on several occasions. Neither, Shir, or Eveta, had any close family, to take care of her, in her widowhood.
Salmon talked with Rahab after lunch, “Ask Eveta to help you pack a picnic lunch for tomorrow. I want to take you to the special place I found for us. We will leave early in the morning after breakfast and spend the whole day together. I have a special surprise waiting for you. Do not worry, no silver trumpet can be heard, from where I am taking you,” he teases.
Rahab helps Eveta prepare the picnic lunch for the next day. Both women are so excited about tomorrow.
“It was kind of you and Salmon to take me in, after Shir died, Rahab. I had nowhere else to go. I never told you this. I was not born into the tribe of Judah either. I am a Midianite. The Israelites killed my whole family when they attacked my small village, a few years before they crossed the River Jordan.
“I was taken captive by the soldiers. The only reason I did not die, is because I was a virgin. I lost all my family that day. The soldiers killed my mother, father, sisters, grandparents and even two baby brothers. I have been able to block out some of the memories with the help of my new God, the God of Israel. It was not easy to love the man who had killed my family. I know Shir was only following the command of his God, but that did not make it any easier.
“I was all alone in the world after that. Shir rescued me and married me. His family disowned him because I was not an Israelite and he had disgraced their family, so we had to move to a new clan. Shir was a soldier under Salmons command so Salmon arranged for us to live here with his clan.”
“I know some of what you feel Eveta. Most of my family and friends were killed when the walls of Jericho fell. Some of our family was spared and we were adopted into the tribe of Judah. God has a plan. I am glad he sent you to me. It has been good having you join our family, Eveta.”

~~~~~~

The sun has been up for an hour and Rahab is still asleep, when Eveta knocks on her door. The excitement of the past few weeks has exhausted her. She jumps out of the bed, and gets dressed. She runs down the stairs, and finds Salmon waiting by the front door, with a big grin on his face.
“If you had slept any later, it would be tomorrow before you woke,” he teased her. “Come out to the patio and eat breakfast. After that, we will leave for our outing.”
Eveta serves them a light breakfast of wheat bread with fruit.
While they relax eating their breakfast, Eveta gets the food basket from the cool cellar.
Salmon picked up the picnic basket, along with a blanket for them to sit on. They hike hand in hand on a twisting path through a dark valley for about a mile. “We call this the valley of the shadow of death.” Salmon tells her, “The cliffs on each side of the valley are so tall, that the sun does not penetrate down to the ground, except at noon, for a little while every day. The shepherds have to be on their guard at all times, going through this valley. Danger lies in wait, behind every stone. Bears, wolves and mountain lions lurk in the shadows, waiting for their lunch of a baby lamb.”
Rahab’s grip tightens on Salmon’s hand. She peers all around her into the grayness… The noon light has not yet penetrated to the depths of the valley and it is dark. Moving shadows are all around her. The wind howls through the valley making an eerie sound. She is relieved when they start climbing up a steep incline.
“This is the winding path, which the shepherds use to take the sheep to the green pastures in the spring.”
They climb up the path, talking about their future. Salmon spots a fallen log. “Let’s sit and rest for a while.” They are getting near the top of the crooked path that goes through a dense forest. They can see God’s handiwork all around them. A mother deer, with two baby fawns, pops out of the brush right beside them, causing Rahab to jump with fright. The tree branches sway in the gentle breeze. The humming of insects and singing of birds adds to her mounting excitement.
After resting, Salmon pulls a scarf out of his pocket. “From this moment onward you will need to trust me with your life. Your newly appointed husband has planed something special for you. I need to blindfold you. Trust me and follow the instructions I give you carefully. When I say stop, please stop. I want this to be a wonderful surprise.”
He leads her up a steep slope. “Watch your footing here. There is a fallen log in our path.” He takes his time, and carefully helps her climb over a few fallen logs, and around several large boulders in their path.
“I can hear running water.” Rahab tells Salmon. She is tempted to peek.
“Sit on this old log.”
Rahab sits down. Her heart is beating fast, not only from the exertion but also from the excitement. What view will I see, when Salmon removes the scarf?
“Let me help you take the scarf off.” Rahab feels Salmon’s gentle hands untying the knot. “Open your eyes.”
She blinks with the light. The panorama before her astounds her. She is looking down over a green fertile valley. A gentle brook cascades its way down the hill. Tall trees are swaying in the gentle breeze. She can hear the sheep bleating, as they graze in the green pastures all around her. When she stands up, she can see the little town of Bethlehem below her. “It is beautiful! I would love to live here, on the side of this hill.”
“It is dangerous to live outside the protection of the walls of Bethlehem. I will build a small shelter for the shepherds here. I will add a room for us, and we can stay here for a few days each year.”
Salmon spreads the blanket on the ground and opens the picnic basket. “What is this?” He hands Rahab a bouquet of fresh cut flowers.
“Eveta is full of surprises. She must have put the flowers in the basket this morning”
Salmon takes out plates filled with fresh bread, vegetables, and cooked lamb wrapped in damp cloths to keep them cool. They sat eating fresh fruit, and drinking wine. When Salmon puts the plates back in the basket, he finds a small package hidden in the corner. He removes it and hands it to Rahab. “What is this?”
“Eveta must have put it there for us. She opens the cloth and shows Salmon the sweet treats. “I am full. We can save them for later.”
“I want to take you exploring. I have another surprise for you, Rahab.”
After they gather up the blanket and picnic basket, they start down the hill.
Salmon helps Rahab climb down the hill. Fallen logs and small boulders are in the path, making it more difficult for them. “I will have some men come up next week, to make a real path that will be safer for you, and for the sheep.”
“Come in here.” Rahab holds on to his hand as they scramble through a narrow crack in a giant rock structure. A waterfall tumbles down the side of the hill, into a lake, made by a natural rockslide that dammed up the brook. There is a sandy beach along one side of the lake. “I discovered this place when I went hiking up in the hills before you came. This is the special spot, I wrote about in my letter to you. No one knows it is here. This will be our special place. Let me help you take your shoes off, so we can get our feet wet.”
Rahab steps out into the water with Salmon. “I will bring a change of clothes with me in the future, so I can get all wet.”
“Good idea. If you stand still, and don’t move, you will see some fish swimming in the water.”
Salmon and Rahab stand still in the lake for a few minutes looking down at their feet.
“The baby fish are nibbling on my toes, Salmon. It tickles! How big will a mother and father fish grow?” No sooner were the words out of her mouth, than there was a big splash right beside her. It frightened her! She jumped with fear, losing her footing and fell flat on her back into the water, making an even bigger splash.
Salmon caused the first splash, as he scooped down with his bare hands and caught a big fish. He took the fish, which was as long as his arm, to shore, leaving his wife floundering in the water. After he put a heavy rock on the fish, so that it would not go for another swim, he returns to rescue his wife.
“We can have fresh fish for supper tomorrow, Rahab.” Salmon stands laughing at Rahab, who is trying to get to her feet, but keeps losing her footing. “Let me help you up.” He reaches out his hand. She grabs on to it and pulls him playfully into the water with a big splash. “Stop doing that, you will scare all the fish away.” He laughs. The spectacle of the two of them soaking wet in the water is too much…
“That will teach you to take care of your fish, before your wife! I could have drowned!”
Salmon encircles Rahab in his arms. “I am sorry!” he tells her with a twinkle in his eye. “I had already caught you. I did not want my other fish to get away. They sat in the water, laughing so hard that Rahab’s sides started to hurt.
Salmon picks her up in his arms, and carries her to shore. Handing her the blanket he tells her, “Remove your wet clothes and lie down on the blanket. The sun will help dry you.” He takes her wet clothes and spreads them out on a bush in the sun.
He strips his wet clothes off and joins her on the blanket. They lie there, holding each other. Words need not be said to describe how they expressed their love for one another that afternoon.
They fall asleep in each other arms. Salmon wakes up and spends some time admiring his beautiful wife. Trying not to disturb her, he gets to his feet, and wades out into the water to try his luck at fishing once more.
Rahab wakes and sits still on the blanket watching Salmon’s skillful hands catch several big fish. The pile of fish grows bigger and covers the sandy beach. She looks around her. The sky is a bright blue with just a few clouds. The sun is starting to set behind a steep cliff. The songbirds are singing. The love she has for her husband Salmon is bursting forth from her heart. She is overcome with emotion. The man she loves is with her. They have their whole lives ahead of them.
Rahab dresses and runs her fingers through her hair. She starts to pick up the slippery fish and pile them in the middle of the blanket. A few slip out of her hands. “I believe you have caught enough fish, Salmon. Save some for another time.” She steps to the edge of the water and washes the slime off her hands. “This has been wonderful… I will always remember the day we spent in this our special place.”
Salmon dries his feet on the corner of the blanket, and reaches for his sandals. “We have enough fish to feed an army.”
“Mom and dad love fish, I know Amiela and Yair’s wife will like some also,” Rahab says as she puts her sandals on.
It is late when Salmon and Rahab arrive home. Their family is sitting out under the stars, in the open courtyard. They look over the fish. Salmon picks up his biggest fish and passes it around. He tells them how he caught them with his bare hands. The men want to know where he caught them, but he tells them with a chuckle, “Good fishermen never share where they catch their fish.”
As usual, Rahab and the other women clean the fish, while the men continue to stretch their own stories.
Life is good. Rahab and Salmon have started a new life together as husband and wife. The farm is producing abundantly. They are living in the Promised Land.
 


Yair is Wounded

The first grape harvest in Bethlehem is in full swing. They have to hold on to each other’s arms, to keep from falling into the vat of slippery grapes. Rahab, and her friends, laugh and giggle, as they crush the grapes with their bare, purple feet. Their legs start to cramp and ache. To take away the boredom, they tell funny stories. The younger children bring refreshments to the workers at noon. The weary women rest while they drink jars of cool refreshing mint tea, and eat the cold meats, cheeses, and flat breads.
Each vineyard had its own wine vat, carved out of a large bolder with a drain. The fresh juice runs out of the drain, into new wine skins.
During the winter, trained workers, take specially prepared goatskins, which have been peeled from the goat carcass by cutting the skin around the neck tail and legs. They sew the holes together in such a way that the wine skins do not leak. When they fill the goatskins with juice, it ferments into wine. Only new wineskins are used for new wine, or the seams will burst and the cellars will be a mess. Big deep cool cellars had been dug to hold the wine and preserves. Some of the juice is also poured into large clay jars.
The vinedressers had spent the previous winter cutting away all the dead vines and suckers. They had tied the healthy vines to runners, so the grapes could produce an excellent crop. The men checked the vines every month to make sure that all the vines were still tied to the runners, so they would get enough light.
Crews are up in the hills picking the ripe olives so they can be pressed into olive oil, for cooking, and burning in the oil lamps. The mash that is left after crushing the grapes and olives will be fed to the animals as fodder. Nothing is wasted.
Nut harvesters work up in the surrounding hills picking the almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. They are put into burlap sacks to dry in the sun. The pistachio nuts will be roasted, and salted to eat as a handy snack. The children love to sit around the campfire at night, throwing the pistachio shells into the fire.
After the fall harvest is finished, the men plant the barley and flax seeds, so they will be ready to harvest in the spring.
The older women help dry the fruits and vegetable for the winter months. They look after the younger children and prepare the meals. Everyone has to work together, so there will be enough food stored for the winter.
On Friday at noon, the men and women stopped working and leave for home, so they will be ready for the Sabbath that starts at sundown. The Israelites spend time with their family, from sunset to sunset, worshiping God, and resting. The fathers in each home read from the laws of Moses.
After lunch, the mothers and grandmothers recited God’s Ten Commandments to the children, so they will have them written on their hearts.
The rest of the day, is spent telling stories. Stories of quail landing in the wilderness by the bushel full, of people bitten by serpents, so many stories to tell.
Salmon and Rahab do not have any children, so they celebrate the Sabbath with family. Today they are visiting Amiela and Ezar in their home, relaxing around the table, drinking date tea. It is after the Sabbath meal on Saturday night. The women light the twisted candles, made of bees wax. It is getting dark out and it is time to close the Sabbath day.
Ezar stands to his feet, to close the Sabbath with a prayer. “We give thanks to You our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We remember back, to how you brought us out of Egypt. We Thank You, for the Sabbath rest we had this day. We Thank You, for this land, and the abundance of food You have provided for us. Keep our soldiers safe from their enemies, as they go into battle. Bless and protect Yair, our younger brother. Keep him safe and give him…”
“Dad, is Salmon here?” Armen, their son stands in the doorway.
“He is... come in.”
Armen catches his breath. He is ready to fall. His father and Salmon rush to his side to steady him. Exhaustion has overtaken him, because he has ridden his horse steady for three days, stopping only long enough to get a few hours rest.
Catching his breath he says, “Yair has been seriously wounded! He might not live! Our camp is up north in the land of Asher, near Mount Carmel. Yair is hurt badly and cannot be moved. He is asking for you, Salmon.”
The women all start to weep.
“I will take my stallion and ride to Yair, immediately.”
Salmon, whispers to his brother-in-law, Ezar, “Have my men get my black stallion ready and have a garrison of soldiers prepare to accompany us. We will meet them, at the north gate in one hour… It will take several days to ride to Mount Carmel. We will be riding through enemy territory. It will be dangerous.”
“Armen, go get cleaned up! Change your clothes and rest, while we prepare to go. Your father will saddle up a fresh horse for you. I know you are exhausted, but it will save us time if you can take us to the camp at Mount Carmel, yourself.”
Rahab follows Salmon home so he can pack what he needs to take for the journey.
He holds her in his arms, and caresses her hair. “I love you, Rahab. Pray for God’s protection as we travel in enemy territory!”
“I will miss you. We have not been apart since we were married.”
“Amiela and Eveta will look after you. We will need food for the journey. Please go and have the women get what we need.”
“Amiela has already taken care of it. The women are packing right now.”
“I will be leaving as soon as I am ready.” He holds her a little tighter. “I love you Rahab, my precious companion.”
“I will pray that God will protect you, I love you, Salmon.”
Salmon thinks about the years he spent, training his younger brother to take his place. I promised Yair that I would come to him, if he ever needed me. Salmon runs up to his room to pack. ‘God, please let Yair live. I love him so much.’
While Salmon is packing, there is a knock at the door. It is Ferris. “How are you feeling, Rahab? Where is Salmon?”
“I am fine Ferris, Salmon is upstairs packing.”
Ferris whispers in her ear. “Have you told Salmon yet?”
“No, I was waiting until after the harvest. I will wait until Salmon gets home to tell him, I do not want him to worry about me.”
“That is not a good idea, Rahab. You should tell him now, in case anything happens to him. Do not take his joy away.”
Salmon enters the room. “Why are you two whispering?”
“I will tell you before you leave,” Rahab replies.
“I will be coming with you, Salmon. Yair will need all the help he can get. I have my medical bag packed, and ready to go.”
“Yair will have a better chance to survive with your medical skills, Ferris.”
“Rahab has something she needs to tell you, before you go. I will be waiting by the north gate. See you when I get back, Rahab. I will do all I can to save Yair’s, life.”
Salmon holds Rahab in his arm and looks deeply into her eyes. He strokes her hair. “What is this you need to tell me my dear, wife?”
“I went to see my aunt Leona last week. She is a midwife. She confirmed what I thought. You are going to become a father in the spring, Salmon.”
“I am going to be a father? You are having a baby?”
“Yes, Salmon, we are going to be parents. … I was planning to share the good news with you next week, when we go up to our special place, by the lake.
“I love you with all my heart Rahab my beloved. I wish I did not have to go. I would rather be with you, but Yair needs me. I promised Yair last year, if he ever sent for me, I would come running. Please take care of yourself, and our baby. I will send messengers to let you know what is happening.” He gives her one last kiss, and moves toward the door.
“Wait, I have something for you to take with you.” With tears falling down her face, Rahab removes a braided cord from her sewing basket. “I made this cord especially for you, in case you had to go away without me. It is made of three cords woven together, two red and one white. I will hold the one from our bedroom in my hands every night as I pray for you. You can do the same with this Cord of Memories. I love you, Salmon.”
Salmon held Rahab in his arms once more, before he mounts his black stallion, and waves goodbye to his family and friends. He rides to join the soldiers at the north gate.
Tears flow down Rahab’s face, as she watches her husband ride out of sight.
Aborah stands holding her young son, Yoel, in her arms. Her grief is heavy. Will her husband, Yair, live? Her friends surround her and they weep together. ‘God, keep our men safe we pray. Do not let Yair die…’
Rahab enters her kitchen, “I am so thankful that you live with us, Eveta. You will be company while Salmon is away. I need to go to my room and rest.”
“I will bring you a cup of mint tea later. Just ring when you want me.”
Rahab takes the Cord of Memories from the hook and looks at it. ‘This is the first time in a long time that I have been alone to pray my evening prayers to You, God.’ Clutching the Cord of Memories in her hands, she runs over and falls into her chair by the fireplace, and sobs.

~~~~~~

The men ride their horses at a steady pace, stopping only long enough to rest the animals.
Ferris told the men earlier in the day. “I have brought herbal medicines with me that might save Yair’s life, but time is essential.”
Armen motioned for the riders to stop. “We have to be careful now. The enemy is encamped just around the next ridge. We will take a shortcut through the bush. Get off your horses and be quiet.”
They follow him to a secret path that the Israelite Army had prepared. Armen retraces their steps, and erases the evidence of their hoof prints by dragging a broken piece of bush behind him. The men mount their horses once more. He tells some of the other soldiers. “Tie a bush behind your horses before entering the path and drag it behind you to erase all evidence that we have been here.”
It is hard going, because of the low hanging branches, and obstacles. They arrive at the base camp near Mount Carmel at sunset on the third day.
Salmon and Ferris followed Armen into a tent as soon as they arrive.
“This is Salmon, Yair’s brother, and I am Ferris a physician.”
“Thank God you are here! I hope you are not too late. I am Phelps, the medic. We are glad to see you!”
Ferris shakes his hand.
“We have done everything we can to save Yair’s life. I am preparing to remove Yair’s leg. We have no other choice left to us. He is burning up with a high fever, and delirious. The infection in his leg is beyond my skills to treat.”
“I want to look at the infected leg first.” Ferris turns to look at Yair, who is near death, and delirious with fever. “Remove all his clothes immediately. Bring in buckets of cold water.”
The men obey.
Pointing to a young man standing by the bed he said, “You there, what is your name?”
“I am Reual!”
“Reual, get some blankets and wet them with the cold water. Wring them out and cover Yair’s body with them. We have to bring down his fever fast. I need some men to hold Yair to stop him from shaking, while I examine him.”
“Phelps, can you unwrap the bandages while I get my surgical equipment ready? Salmon please bring that small table closer and find me a bright lamp to hang above the bed.”
The men scurried around the room, as Ferris continued to give them instructions. They wrap Yair in cold, wet, blankets. The bright lamp is set up above the bed.
Yairs festering, pus filled leg, is exposed. Salmon had seen many bad things in his life, but the exposed wound just about turned his stomach. The stench was awful. The wound had turned black, and a white puss oozed out of the nasty wound.
Ferris opens his bag, removes everything he would need for the surgery, and puts it on the table beside him. “We need to pray and ask God to help us. It will be a miracle if Yair lives.”
All the men stop and pray. “God, guide our hands as we try to save Yair’s life. We entrust him into Your, loving care…”
Salmon prays to himself, ‘Dear God, he is my younger brother…’ His prayer never ends, as he follows the detailed instructions given by Ferris.
“Salmon get me a pot of boiling water, and other containers to pour it into. Let some cool, so we can use it later to clean the raw wound.”
Salmon returns with the pot of water, and several clay bowls.
“We need to wash our hands and rinse them with wine, before we start.” The men all wash their hands.
Ferris turns to Phelps. “I will cut the leg open. When I do, help me remove the puss. I will cut away all the dead flesh from around the wound. Salmon hold the lamp high so we can see what we are doing. Reual, hold the garbage pan for us and hand us clean wet rags when we ask for them.”
The men operate on Yair’s leg, working together as a team. When they are finished, the wound has been cleaned of the puss and the putrid dead rotten flesh. A sizable open wound runs down the side of the injured leg.
Ferris talks to the men. “We need you to help us remove the dirty bedding under Yair.” The men lift him carefully off the table, and some other men put new bedding under him.
“Reual, take the bedding and the pottery basin and all the rags outside the camp and burn them. By doing this you will destroy the infection. Wash your hands when you are finished and have someone pour strong wine over them.”
“We also need to wash our hands well and rinse them with wine.”
The men all wash their hands. “Phelps, come with me, and I will show you how to make a poultice.”
“I will take a handful of dried powdered figs, some paste from the mallow plant, along with these various herbs, and mix them with warm water. The dried fig powder will draw out the poison and the paste from the mallow plant will stop the flesh from dying.” Ferris stirs the mixture together, and then spreads it on the clean boiled linen bandages. “I will teach you about the other herbs I am using later, Phelps, when we have more time.” Ferris packs the wound with the warm fig poultice. “Help me wrap the leg, Phelps.”
“I have never seen this done before, Ferris.”
“I learned it from a doctor in Bethel, whom I trained with, when I was a young man. This kind of wound needs to heal from the inside. We will not let it form a scab. Everyone please wash your hands well with soap and water, before leaving or entering the tent. This will keep you from getting sick. I have some herbs that I will make into a tea. Yair will need to have several spoonfuls given to him every hour, starting tomorrow morning.”
“I need two men on each side of the bed at all times. If Yair moves, hold him down. He must not move his leg. Call us, if there is any change. We need to get some sleep.”
The sun is shining brightly, when Salmon and Ferris finally go to their tent to get some much-needed rest.
Each morning, Ferris teaches Phelps how to clean Yair’s wound and repack it with a clean cloths filled with the fig, marsh mallow paste. After two days of touch and go, Yair’s fever breaks.
Ferris spent hours teaching the young medic new ways to take care of wounded soldiers. He gave Phelps several pouches of medicine out of his medical bag. He takes his time, explaining how to use them.
One afternoon, Ferris takes Phelps down by the marsh to look for plants that he uses to make medicine. “This is the marsh mallow plant. It grows wild. I squeeze the gummy syrup out of the stems, and then pour it into small clay jars. I always carry some with me. If someone is sick to their stomach, or has a cough, mix some of the syrup in water, and give it to them to drink. My wife uses the plant to make a sweet candy. She pours boiling honey into the marsh mallow syrup, and beats it until it turns white and fluffy. The children love it, and it is good for them.”
The next day Ferris and Phelps hike up into the hills. “This is hyssop, a member of the mint lavender and oregano herb family. It can be used it in a tea, to help ease congestion. Add some when you make a poultice. The women use it when they make soap, to give it a sweet scent and to kill germs.”
Ferris stopped in front of a fig tree. “I take figs, when they are fully ripe, and dry them in the sun. When they are dry, I grind them into a fine powder. It is good for making poultices. It will draw out the poison. If you have no fig powder, just take ripe figs, grind them up, and make a paste with it.”
“Fig paste is good for healing boils. First, lance the boil and then put a warm fig paste on it until all the infection is gone.”
“A paste made with marsh mallow powder and figs, is used to draw thorns and slivers out of wounds. If someone gets a date thorn in their leg, or any part of their body, it is important to put a poultice made with this paste on the puncture immediately, or they might die from the poison in the thorn.”
A soldier rides up with two horses. “You are needed back at the camp immediately. A message just arrived telling us that soldiers are returning with their wounded.”
The two men ride as fast as they can, to the camp and prepare the medical tent.
Ferris, Phelps, and Salmon, work late into the night with the aid of Reual trying to save lives.
“You have lots of skills, Phelps. With the proper training, you will become a good physician. I will talk to Yair when he is well. I want you to come to Bethlehem for further training. I will teach you all that I know.”
“I hope to be able to come, Ferris. I’ve always wanted to be a physician.”

~~~~~~

A week has passed since Salmon and Ferris arrived at Mount Carmel. Yair awakes and tries to sit up in bed. “Where am I? What happened? Who are you?”
“Try not to move. I am Phelps, your medic. You are at Mount Carmel. I will send for your brother, Salmon. He will tell you everything.”
Salmon runs into the tent. “You had me worried, Yair! It is good to hear your voice.”
“What happened to me? Why am I in bed? Why does my leg hurt so much? Oh no, the last thing I remember hearing is that they were going to cut my leg off!” Yair tries to get up.
Salmon holds on to him. “Lay back down Yair. Ferris saved your leg.”
Ferris arrives. “You have been sick, Yair. Try not to move your leg. How are you feeling today?”
“I am sore all over and hungry! I feel like I haven’t eaten in days.”
“You haven’t. From what I gather, you have been unconscious for a long time. We fed you clear broth to keep you alive.”
Ferris removed the bandage to check on how the wound was progressing. “I have good news Yair. You will not lose you leg. It is healing. You must stay here for a few months. If you are careful, and follow my instructions, you will walk again, but you will always have a limp.”
“At least I will have two legs under me! I am starving when can I eat?”
“Salmon will bring you a bowl of thin soup. You will have to eat soft food for a few days.”
Salmon ladled up a bowl of soup from the big pot by the fire. “I will have to feed you, Yair, just like I did when you were a baby Back then, it was manna soup. At least this soup has some flavour.” He sits beside his younger brother, feeding him soup. Tears of joy runs down his face, ‘Thank You, God...’
That afternoon, Salmon writes a heart-warming letter to Rahab. When he is finished, he goes in to check on Yair. “I will write a letter to Aborah for you. What do you want to say to her? Nothing personal, you don’t want to see your big brother blush.” He sits down and writes what Yair dictates to him. “I will send the letters with our nephew, Armen. If anyone can get through to Bethlehem with them, he can.”
He sends for Armen, his most trusted soldier. “Take these letters to Bethlehem for us. Be careful. Travel only at night. We will pray for your protection. Come back after you are well rested.”
Armen gets his supplies ready and says goodbye to Yair, then goes out to where his horse is waiting for him.
“God go with you, Armen. Be careful.”
“I will, Uncle Salmon.” The men embrace before Armen mounts his horse, and rides off into danger, once more.
 


No News

It has been three weeks, since Salmon left to go help his brother Yair. There has been no news.
The harvest is finished, so the women do not have to work as hard. They still have to dry the fresh fruit, grind the wheat, prepare the meals, weave the cloth, and do the washing. It seems that a women’s work is never finished. Everyone stops working on the Sabbath but the women still have to look after the children, put the food on the table and clean up.
Rahab and Amiela are finding that the days just drag by.
“Amiela, how long do you expect it will take, before we hear from Salmon?”
“It will likely be a few more days before we hear from him. They are in enemy territory. It is dangerous every time they send us a message.”
“It is hard waiting.”
“In times like these, the unknown is the hardest. Most of us will go through all kinds of emotions.”
“It is not easy having the person we love leave us, not knowing if we will ever see him again. Now that I am married to Salmon, it is even more difficult.”
“I know how you feel. My sisters and I waited for my father, my husband, and my brothers, for weeks when they went off to fight the people in the City of Amalek. Nobody knew if the men would live or die. After weeks of worrying, our loving mother sat us down and tenderly spoke with us She taught us that we needed to put our faith and trust in God. Try to keep busy she said and pray for Gods peace. He always calmed my emotions, and I never lost another night sleep worrying.”
“Could you help me pray for Salmon and Yair? It is harder now that I am carrying Salmon’s baby. I want our son or daughter to grow up knowing his loving father. The ‘what if’s,’ have been going through my mind again. What if he is harmed, what if he falls off his horse, what if…?”
“You need to pray. Ask God to be with you, Rahab. Ask Him to stop your emotions from running wild so you can relax and be calm while Salmon is away.”
The two women hold hands as they pray. Prayer is personal. The windows of heaven opened that day. A soothing calmness soothes the women as they reach out to God with their petition in faith.
They had no sooner finished praying for their loved ones, when the trumpet sounds one short blast. A spotter has seen a rider. Everyone gathers in the courtyard with anticipation, waiting for the news. Was Yair dead, or alive?
Amiela’s son Armen is the rider. He rides his tired horse to the barn and dismounts. His father gathers him in his arms and asks, “how is Yair?”
“He is alive! Ferris saved his life!”
Ezar instructs the workers. “Take Armen’s worn-out horse into the barn and rub it down. Look after all its needs.”
The men start for the house. Armen’s mother runs across the yard to embrace him. “Mother!” he said, before he is enfolded in her arms. “I have good news for you, Mother. Uncle Yair will live! He is very sick and cannot travel. Our God, and the medical skills of Ferris, saved his life. He will have to give up being a soldier. Salmon will bring him home as soon as he is well enough to travel. I have letters for you and Rahab. Someone, run and tell Aborah the good news.”
Armen, hands Rahab a bundle of letters.
“Thank you, Armen.”
“I will rest for three days, then return by the cover of night to Mount Carmel. The hills are filled with our enemies. Get your letters ready so that I can take them with me. Where is Leona? Ferris needs some more medicines.”
“You can get them tomorrow, Armen.” She fusses over Armen, like the mother hen she is. “You must be hungry. Come have some food. Our servants have already started to pour you a hot bath. Your bed is waiting for you… It looks like you need some sleep...”
Rahab smiles with amusement. Will I do the same with my son, when he is a grown man? She feels her baby growing within her as she enters her home. She wants to be alone and read the letters from Salmon.
Eveta, her special friend, greets her at the door.
“Eveta, we have good news, Yair will live!” The two women embrace, as tears of joy flow down their face. Salmon is alive and Yair will live.
“Eveta, I would like something cold to drink and a slice of the nut cake you made yesterday. It was so good. I will be resting in my sitting room.”
“I will bring it to you.”
“What would I have done without your love, and help, Eveta?”
Rahab sits in her favourite chair by the open window, and begins to fidget with the stacks of letters.
Eveta arrives with her snack. “I will be weeding the garden. Ring if you need me.”
“I will, I will sit and read my letters from Salmon, then take Aborah her letter.” She opens letter number three first.

My Beloved wife Rahab
You will have heard from Armen that Yair will live.
Oh how I miss holding you, and looking into your eyes. My arms long to cradle you and hold you tight. I pray that you are taking care of yourself, and our baby, that grows within you.
I do not have much time to write this letter because Armen my nephew is leaving right away to take this message to you.
Ferris said that it would take about three months, before Yair is well enough to travel. I will bring him home, when he is stronger. Ferris and I arrived here just in time. If it had not been for Ferris, Yair would have lost his leg, or even his life. His leg was badly infected, and they were making plans to cut it off, just before we arrived.
I will always remember our special afternoon up at the lake. When I return, and after our baby is born, we will go back to our special place. I will hold you in my arms, and reassure you of my everlasting love for you…
Rahab, I will always love you.
With all my love and affection,
Your husband,
Salmon

Rahab holds Salmon’s letters to her heart on her way up to her room to put them away.
She walks across the courtyard to give Aborah the letter from Yair. “I will take your son, Yoel for awhile so you can be alone.”
She holds Yoel in her arms and carries him to the swing. They swing back and forth, back and forth until Yoel falls to sleep. Will I hold my son like this some day? Will he fall asleep in my arms?
Ezar comes and talks with her. “I will carry Yoel back to his mother for you.”
Rahab returns to her home, and goes up to the privacy of her bedroom to write another letter to Salmon. It will join the pile of letters sitting on her table, ready to send with Armen. She takes the special Cord of Memories off the hook. ‘Father God, Thank You that Yair will live. Please keep him and all the other men safe. Please bring Salmon home soon…’
A few more tears fall on the Cord of Memories, that day. Rahab sits at her desk and writes to Salmon, with the Cord of Memories on her lap to remind her, that God loves her.

Dear Salmon
I went to see Aborah, today. I spent some time with Yoel while she read her letter. Yoel is walking now, and into all kinds of mischief. I held him in my arms on the swing and he fell asleep. Soon I will hold our baby. Only a few more months and we will have our first child. I miss you. It is harder to be apart from you now, that your child is growing under my heart.
I escape up to our bedroom every afternoon to take a nap. I feel so lost in the feather bed all by my self. I catch myself reaching out to hold you, but I end up with an armful of blankets instead. Our baby kicked for the first time this week. I wish you were here, so you could feel our baby kick.
Eveta, our faithful friend, takes very good care of me. She has been a wonderful companion. She spoils me. She is like a mother hen… “Do not over do it… sit and rest… are you eating enough…”
I do not know what I would have done without her company in the evenings. The house is so empty without you. I have a whole shelf of baby clothes sewn and knitted, ready for the arrival of our baby. I have started to weave you a special comforter for your big chair in our bedroom. It will be ready for you on you return. I just finished one for myself. I will be sending a letter to Gilgal with a caravan tomorrow morning. I told Beth and Ben about me expecting a baby and about Yair being injure. I miss Beth so much.
I have more to say, but words are not enough to tell you how much I love you. Our Cord of Memories sits on my lap, as I write to you. If I am not careful, the scarlet dye will start to run into the white cord because of my many tears.
I will always remember the afternoon we spent together, splashing in the water. In the future, I will bring a change of clothes to swim in and then relax in your arms on the warm blanket in the sun…
Keep yourself safe. I have a warm spot near my heart waiting for you. I wear your crimson ruby. When I see the sun reflecting through it, I remember how much you love me…
With all my love,
Rahab

Rahab hangs the cord back on the hook on her way out the door. She wanders down to the brook and sits on the comfortable bench that Ezar had built for her. She was having a hard time getting up from her favourite rock the month before, and slipped into the cold water. Ezar had seen Rahab slip and came to her rescue. The women had given her a warm bath, and put her to bed, for two days, in case she had harmed herself or the baby.
The next time she went to the brook, a bench with a soft cushion, had been put under the tree near the rock. She sat on it, listening to the singing of the birds and the gurgling of the water flowing over the rocks. It helped sooth her emotions while Salmon was away.
Salmon hurry home… I miss you so much. Her baby kicks under her heart, tears begin flowing once more.
 


Oh How I Missed You

The town of Bethlehem is all astir. It is time for the spring planting. Winter had been colder for the people, because they lived up in the hill country. They had lived in a hot desert for all their life. Each home had several open fireplaces built into the walls, to help take away the chill. Rahab had a hard time getting warm, so she wrapped several blankets around herself and sat by the open fire whenever she could.
For the past few months, the children stayed inside playing in the big room near the fireplace. Amiela is talking with Rahab as they sew new clothes for the men. “Salmon and Yair should be home soon. Salmon has been gone all winter.” Amiela gets up and scoots one of her grandchildren out the door.
“I received a letter from Salmon last week.” Rahab pulls the dog-eared letter from her pocket then scans it.
“We will travel as soon as it gets warmer. It is extremely dangerous to travel in the winter. A flash flood can turn a small creek, into a raging river in minutes.”
Rahab shudders at the thought of it. “Salmon goes on to tell me about flash floods. He tells about…hmm… let me see,” she opens her letter once more.
“When it rains up in the mountains, the only place for the water to go is down and nothing can stop it. Everyone should avoid traveling in the winter and early spring whenever possible.”
“We need to keep praying for the protection of our family and friends. The women stop what they were doing, hold hands, and pray. ‘God, please bless Salmon, Armen, Yair, and Ferris as they return to us…’ It feels so much better after the women spend time praying for their loved ones.
“The men will be shearing the sheep in a few days.” Rahab tells her. “A lot of extra baby lambs were born this spring. Most yews had twins, and a few of them even had triplets.”
“How are you feeling? Your baby will be here before you know it.”
“Leona said the baby should arrive in four weeks. I hope Salmon makes it home before that. It has been a long winter without him. I am getting tired, so I will go home and rest for a few hours. See you tomorrow. I am weary all the time now.” Rahab gets up with much effort and leaves for home.
In the afternoons, Rahab sits in her sitting room by the window resting. Her sewing basket with an unfinished baby blanket lies untouched. Fabric made from the whitest, softest linen that Rahab had ever made, sits on the table by her chair, waiting for her to sew it into baby clothes.
Eveta enters the room. “I have brought us a warm drink and some bread with honey.” She puts the tray on the low table beside Rahab, and pours a hot drink.
“I have good news Rahab. Salmon arranged for Rashi, the cousin of Shir to help me settle Shir’s affairs after he died. We have been corresponding with each other ever since. Rashi has arranged through our local Priest for me to marry him. We will be married in the summer when his tour of duty in the army is complete.”
“I am so happy for you Eveta. I will help you with the wedding.”
The two women sit and talk about Eveta’s wedding.
Rahab finishes her drink. “I am drowsy. I will go up and lie down. Wake me before supper.” She climbs the stairs to her bedroom. The warm sunbeams coming in the west window help her relax. She soon falls to sleep. She dreams that someone is kissing her. She feels warm kisses on her lips and the gentle hand of someone caressing her body. She awakens with a start. It is not a dream; Salmon is holding her in his arms. He has the biggest smile on his face.
“How is my sleeping beauty? If I didn’t know better, I think you would sleep the day away.” He holds the crimson ruby between his fingers until it catches a sunbeam. He moves it around so the red sunbeam is able to bounce around the room. “The last time I left you, I had to put the red ruby back on your neck. I see you did not lose it this time,” he said with a chuckle.
Salmon’s hand strokes Rahab’s swollen body, and for the first time feels his baby kick. A few tears drop on Rahab’s raven black hair, as he caresses the wonderment of his and Rahab’s love.
He lies beside her, holding her, whispering endearments into her ear, kissing her, trying to make up for the weeks that had been stolen from them, precious weeks, needed to bond the two of them together. He has no desire to get up and eat, but knows that Rahab needs nourishment for the baby that grows within her. Now he understands why God had given the law… no soldiers were allowed to go to war, until a year after they are married.
“I have told Eveta that we will be down for a late supper. Oh, how I missed you!” He holds her in his arms, and never wants to let her go.
Later that evening, they go down to have a quiet meal, in the dining room. The small table is set with the best linens, and a refreshing drink of cool grape juice is in front of each plate. Eveta had set out a romantic supper for two.
“I have made you a fresh garden salad to start your meal. Ring for me when you are finished eating it.” She sets a small hand bell in front of Salmon.
The delicate lettuce with crisp baby green onions, grated carrots, goat’s cheese, topped with a dressing made with olive oil, crushed garlic, and fresh squeezed lemon juice is place in front of them.
“This food is really good.” Salmon rings the bell for Eveta to remove their plates.
Eveta arrives with two bowls of fresh cold leak soup, with a scoop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of finely chopped mint leaves. She follows with a tray of fresh cheese, and an assortment of fresh baked breads.
“We are being spoiled, Salmon, this is fun.”
He pats his stomach, “I do not mind,” He smiles. When they are through with supper, Salmon rings the little bell once more. “Eveta, you are spoiling us.”
“I know I am. I missed being able to spoil you with my cooking while you were away. Do not expect this kind of service every day, Salmon.” She laughs and takes the dirty dishes to the kitchen. She returns with a dessert made with sliced figs, broken cookies, on a cream pudding, topped with mounds of fresh whipped cream. Eveta is so happy to have Salmon home with Rahab.
Eveta excuses herself, after she finishes cleaning up the kitchen. “The two of you will want to be alone. Ring for me if you need anything.”
Salmon and Rahab go up to their bedroom. The flames in the fireplace reflect off the walls, causing a warm glow in the room.
“I have something special for you.” Rahab gets up and pulls out two warm comforters from the old wooden trunk that her father had made. The wraps are the same except for their size. “This one is for you and this one is for me. We will match, when we sit together by the fireplace.”
“They will keep us warm on cool nights. Salmon goes to the door and gently removes the cord of memory from the hook. He brings it back to Rahab and the two of them spend some time praying.
“How many weeks, before you have our baby?”
“If all goes well, we will be parents in four weeks.”
They spend the evening making plans for the baby that is coming soon. This is the first time they have been together and able talk about their first baby.
The sun has set, and the fire in the fireplace has burnt out, before they move. The room is chilly. “I will put some more wood on the fire, while you get ready for bed.” Salmon bends over and blows on the coals. He adds some sesban kindling. Soon a warm fire is glowing in the fireplace.
Tender words are shared, as they hold each other. Salmon lies watching the reflection from the fire bouncing around the room, dancing on the ceiling. It is late before he falls to sleep.

~~~~~~

Ezar, Amiela’s husband, and Kahn, Rahab’s father, take Salmon on a tour of the farm the next morning. Rahab is still in bed asleep.
“Kahn and I split the work up while you were away. He is responsible for the farming and I am in charge of the orchards, grape vines, and bees.”
“That was a good idea,” Salmon tells them, as they walk up the hill to the vineyards.
Salmon asks. “What is planted on this hill?”
“They are the vine cuttings we brought from Gilgal. They will not produce a harvest of grapes for a few years. They have grown a good root system this year. The men went through last week, and cut off all the grapes that were setting. We will prune the vines for several years before we let a crop of grapes set on them. They are a different variety of grape than what we found growing in Bethlehem,” Ezar tells him.
“I see you have some new beehives, Ezar.”
“We do, I trained several men to work with the bees. The women sewed special clothing, with a net that covers the face, for the men to wear. This will help keep them from being stung. We have started several honeybee apiaries on the hills around Bethlehem, with the beehives we brought from Gilgal. The men have been busy building new hives. We put a new queen bee in each of them to start new hives.”
“How are the crops doing, Kahn? Are you finished planting yet?”
“All the crops have been planted that need to be planted this time of year. The land is fertile, and everything is growing well. There will be more than enough food to feed everyone.”
“That is good. I wanted to help with the farming, but did not get home in time.”
“The shepherds are up in the hills with the sheep and goats. The grazing is excellent. There were more lambs born this year than last. The wool from the sheep is stored in special buildings. The women spend time in the winter months combing it to remove the dirt and burs. The women use it to weave it into blankets and cloth for clothing.”
“We have built fences around lush pastures for the milk cows and milk goats near our new dairy. We have men and women making leban, a sort of yogurt, various kinds of cheeses and butter.”
“The two of you have done a good job organizing everything, while I was away. Thanks’ for your support. It is good to see families working together in the fields. They seem to be happy.”
“Everyone is happy because they are using new skills. That was a good idea you had last year, about asking the men what they liked doing, or had been trained to do. We found work for them, doing what they liked best. Some of the men love to farm. We found a few men who are good at working with wood, so they have become our carpenters. Their older sons are working with them, so they will learn a trade. It has been a good winter.”
“I have to get back to Rahab. She will wake soon. I will see you later.”
Salmon starts down the hill towards the town gate.

~~~~~~

A few weeks later, Salmon is sitting with Rahab in their bedroom.
“I love having you home with me, Salmon. I am going to rest now.” She gets up and Salmon helps her over to her special chair by the window.
He kneels down and caresses where the baby is. The baby jumps and Rahab laughs.
Salmon embraces Rahab. “I have to check on the farm today. Send someone; if you need me, I love you.”
“We will be parents any day now. Will you send Eveta up to sit with me?”
Salmon goes down to the kitchen and talks with Eveta. “I have to go out for a while. Rahab wants you to go up and sit with her, while I am gone.”
Rahab sits by her bedroom window watching Salmon ride his black stallion down to the gate. He is so handsome. He will make a good father. He has so much love.
She is sewing another little outfit for her baby, when Eveta enters the bedroom. She has a pot of tea and a plate of sweet date and walnut pastries.
“Salmon told me you were hungry. Are you sure you are not having twins,” she laughs, as she sits the tray down on the table.
“No, I am not having twins. I am just hungry all the time. I need to lay down now.”
Eveta helps Rahab to her bed. “Ring this bell if you need me. Do you want me to pull the drapes so you can rest?”
“That would help, Eveta. You have been most kind.”
Eveta, pulls the scarlet drapes, then takes the dirty dishes down to the kitchen.
That night, Eveta serves Salmon and Rahab fresh hot soup, made with fresh vegetables from the kitchen garden.
Rahab goes to bed early because she is weary. Salmon sits and keep an eye on his wife as she sleeps. ‘Thank You, God, for giving me Rahab to be my wife. I love her so much. Please be with her as she gives birth to our baby.’ He is tired so he joins Rahab in bed.
He awakens from a deep sleep, when his wife cries out in pain, “Salmon it is time! Get Eveta, I need her!”
He, jumps out of bed puts his clothing on, and runs out the door shouting. “Eveta, Eveta, it is time. We need you!” He runs out the door and across the courtyard to his sister Amiela’s house. “Amiela, send someone to get Leona! It is time. The birthing pains have started.”
“You stay here, and I will send one of the servants.”
“I can’t stay, Rahab will need me.” He rushes out the door and across the courtyard to his house. Eveta is in the kitchen, pouring boiling water into a bowl.
“Carry this up to the bedroom then come back to the kitchen and wait.”
Fifteen minutes go by, before Rahab’s aunt Leona arrives. She has brought her husband with her.
“I sense you might need company while you wait, Salmon. This is women’s work. Someone will summon you when you are needed.”
Ferris forcefully removes Salmon from his house.
Salmon looks up into the heavens. “Every star in heaven must be out tonight, while I wait for the birth of my child.”
Ferris hands Salmon a wineskin. “Take a good drink.” They pass the wineskin around as a few more men arrive, to share in the joy of the birth of Salmon’s first child. The men spend hours, talking about the fears, and joys they had, when each of their babies was born.
The sun is just starting to bud over the horizon, when they hear the cry of a newborn baby. Twenty minutes later, Eveta is at the door and calls out, “Salmon, it is a boy! You have a son!”
Salmon rushes to his house. “A son, I have a son! We have a little boy,” he calls out as he goes through his doorway.
Everyone rejoices with him.
Salmon runs up the stairs. Eveta meets him at the door. “Give us a few more minutes to finish then you can come in and see you family.” He paces the hallway. Time seems to stand still. Finally, Leona calls him.
She hands Salmon his son. “The three of you need to get acquainted.” The new father gazes at his son then at his wife who looks very tired. “Rahab, we have a son… We shall call him, Boaz. He will grow up to be a farmer like me.” He hands his wife the baby and she puts him to her breast. This is a special moment in Rahab and Salmon’s, life.
He kneels on the floor beside the bed and prays. “Thank You, our most gracious God, for giving us a healthy son. We dedicate him to you. Will you help us raise him up to honour and fear You God? May his descendants be Godly men…?”
The new parents spend precious time getting to know their son. They count his little fingers, and comment on how he has Rahab’s black hair, and Salmon’s green eyes…
The next week, every one in the family rejoices. Nahshon’s son, Salmon has given him a grandson to carry on the family name. The community visits and celebrates the new birth.
They take little Boaz to the priests on the eighth day to be circumcised. They are obeying the laws given by God to the Nation of Israel. You are to take your baby boy, when he is eight days old, to the house of the Lord to be circumcised. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant between God and you.
Rahab and Salmon are happy. Boaz their first-born son will carry on the family name.
Rahab spends many hours, rocking her new baby boy on the garden swing. Most hot afternoons you can find her down by the brook, sitting on the bench under the shade tree. She sits with little Boaz in her arms, watching the water flow by. One day, a beautiful butterfly lands on the rock beside her. She remembers the precious day that the beautiful butterfly landed on her arm. It did not move for nearly an hour. All of a sudden, without warning, it flew away. She remembers what she thought that day. Some day I will be free like the butterfly and leave Jericho never to return. ‘Thank you, God, for setting me free, from my prison, of being a temple prostitute. Thank you, God, for Salmon, my loving husband, and our baby Boaz’. The black curly hair of her newborn son gets wet from her tears of joy, while she sits and watches the beautiful butterfly. Without warning, it takes flight.
 


Boaz Is a Born Farmer

Time passed quickly in the town of Bethlehem. The crops were good. The city has expanded.
Meba and her husband Ezar have just returned after being away for six months. They had moved to Bethel, to help Beth and Ben settle into their new home.
“Grandma, you are home! I missed you.” Boaz runs into his grandmother’s arms. Her tears flowed as she encircles her grandson with her arms. “I am not your little boy anymore, Grandma; I am nine years old now.”
“Oh, my, you have grown taller. You are up to your grandmother’s chin now. Come sit on the swing beside me and tell me what you have been doing for the last six months.”
Boaz climbs up beside her on the swing. His father built it for his mother, and it is hanging from a large branch of a flowering magnolia tree.
He tells her about the new vegetable garden he has planted. “There will be watermelons, leaks, garlic and all kinds of new vegetables. Grandpa gave me a whole bag of new seeds to plant this morning,” he jumps off the moving swing and retrieves his sack from the ground.
Meba gets up and examines the little cloth pouches of seeds. “What is in this pouch?”
“They are watermelon seeds… I will plant them in my garden and they will grow into big green watermelons. I have to go plow the garden… the weeds are getting big.” Boaz picks up his sack and goes to the garden that his grandfather Kahn had made for him. He starts to push his small plow up and down the long rows of vegetables.
Rahab follows her daughters, out to the courtyard and embraces her mother. “Good morning, Mother, it is good to have you home. We missed you. I see you have been talking with our busy farmer.”
“I have. Boaz taught me all about watermelons.”
“Come to Grandma.” Rahab’s daughters, Oliveta and Hadash run into their grandmother’s arms “you girls are getting so big! I missed you while I was away.”
“I wuv you grama, can we have a wing.”
Hadash climbs up onto her grandmother’s lap while Oliveta sits beside her on the swing.”
They swing back and forth back and forth. It is so good to have grama home.
“Girls, run off and play with your cousins, your Mother and I need to talk.”
Oliveta, who is seven, and Hadash who is three, run off to play.
“Boaz is a born farmer, Mother. Look how he pushes his little plow. Salmon made it for his ninth birthday. Not one weed is allowed to grow in his garden.”
“I heard that he supplies our kitchens with vegetables and has extra food to give away.”
“He does mother, he is a hard worker. I have good news. You will be having a new grandchild in the spring. I told Salmon about the baby.” She gets up and joins her mother on the swing.
“You will have your hands full.”
“I know I will. Spring will arrive soon enough.” She reaches down to feel where the new life is growing in side of her.
“I will help you all I can.”
“Thank you, mother, you do so much for me already. Salmon wants us to go with him to Shiloh this year. The Feast of Atonement will be on the tenth and The Feast of Tabernacles will start on the fifteenth and will last for seven days.”
“I am glad you will have the chance to go.”
“Would you take care of Hadash for us, when we are gone? She is too young to travel that far. Boaz and Oliveta are old enough to enjoy the trip and will come with us. We will be gone for more than a month. I need to go this year, before the baby is born. If not, I will have to stay home for several more years, until our new baby gets bigger.”
“I will be happy to look after Hadash for you. You know how her grandfather and I love to spoil her; he missed her while we were gone. Our servants will help us. I will have one of them; bring two of their older daughters to stay with me until you return.”
“Thank you, Mother. Beth and Ben are coming with their twins. I haven’t seen Beth, since our wedding.”
“It has been a long time for you to be apart, the trip will be good for you. Ten years is a long time. Beth misses you also. It will be good for the two of you to be together again. I will pack some extra food for you to take to Beth.”
“I need to go home and start packing. We will be leaving in seven days.”
“I will keep an eye on the girls for you.”
“That will be a big help.”
Rahab goes to the kitchen and tells her servants what her plans are, and heads for her bedroom. She looks out the window at her husband riding his black stallion. Holding the crimson ruby up to the sun, she speaks to the walls, “Where has all the time gone? It seems like it was just yesterday that I opened the door and let Salmon come into my life. Seventeen years, what will the next seventeen years be like?” She reaches for the scarlet cord on the window drapes and thinks about her past. I have so little time now that I am a mother; I had better start to pack. She goes over to her trunk and starts to remove what she needs to take with her on the long trip to Shiloh.

~~~~~~

Seven days later, Rahab watches her husband Salmon and his brother, Yair riding with their sons.
Her husband rides his black stallion and stops by the wagon to see how she is doing. “We should be in Bethel by noon.”
“Look at me mother, I am riding a horse! Next year I will ride my own donkey all the way to Shiloh just like my cousin Yoel.”
“Are you tired, Boaz?”
“No mother, I love to ride on the horse behind father. He said I could ride behind him all the way to Bethel.”
Her husband’s brother, Yair, rides a brown horse with white patches covering its body. Salmon had helped him make a special saddle lined with sheep’s wool, to protect his injured leg. His son, Yoel, rides beside his father on a small grey donkey.
Rahab holds her sleeping daughter Oliveta in her arms. Her body aches and she exhausted after several hours of riding in a wagon.
Elimelech, Salmon’s cousin is driving the covered wagon for her.
“Hold the reigns for me, while I put Oliveta into the back of the wagon. She must be getting heavy.”
“She is heavy, my back is hurting.”
He hands her the reins and picks up the sleeping child. After putting her on the mat, he sees a soft pillow. Handing it to Rahab, he said, “Maybe this will help?”
“Thank you, for being so thoughtful. Salmon said you are farming on your own now. What do you grow?”
“I grow barley and wheat.”
“How was your crop this year?”
“We had a good crop. The farm is doing well. The ground is not as good as your farm, but with all the rain we have had in the last few years it has produced good crops.”
“Your aunt Amiela told me you are engaged and will be getting married soon.”
“Naomi and I will be married after I get back from Shiloh.”
“I haven’t met Naomi. Where is she, from?”
“She is from a village just south of Bethlehem. I met her when we were children back in Gilgal.”
“I will be looking forward to meeting her.”
The cart she is riding in is so full; it is ready to burst at the seams. Boaz had put in several boxes filled with fresh vegetables from his garden. It also carried several boxes filled with Etrog, or citron. The people use the Etrog for the Feast of Tabernacles Ceremony, when the families lived in the booths for a week.
It also contained bedding, clothes, several boxes of food and wineskins. There had to be enough food to supply their families for the trip to Shiloh and back, plus enough food for the week they would be living and eating in the booths. A young heifer tied behind the ox cart, pulls at her ropes trying to break free. The heifer will be taken to the tabernacle for the priest to sacrifice.
Yair’s wife, Aborah, rides in an ox cart filled with bags of seed grain for Ben, along with cuttings from several kinds of grape vines, and seedlings from different fruit trees.
The harvest had been extra good for the ten years that they had lived in Bethlehem. A flock of sheep and goats follow the carts and wagons, filled with the grain offering.
Everyone is excited. They will be spending several weeks, celebrating in Shiloh, and renewing friendships with their family and friends, whom they have not seen for several years.
All the women, and children, have to walk, so the oxen and horses can pull the heavy carts up a steep hill.
Rahab and Aborah stop after reaching the top of the hill, and look down at the town of Bethel. They have traveled about twenty miles and looked forward to a hot bath and some well-needed rest.
The women decided to walk the rest of the distance down the hill. The harsh jarring, from the wooden wheels hitting rocks and potholes, left their backbones numb with pain. Even the sheepskin padding did little to stop their backs from hurting.
Rahab takes a good look at the people running up the hill towards her. Is that Beth? It is Beth! She looks older. “Beth, Beth!” Rahab cries, as she runs into her sister’s outstretched arms.
Their tears mingle with joy, as they hold each other tight. They stroll down the hill arm in arm, catching up on everything that has happened since they had last been together.
Ben reaches up and helps Boaz off the horse. “So you are my nephew Boaz. It is good to meet you. I am you Uncle Ben.”
“My father talks about you all the time, Uncle Ben. I am pleased to meet you.”
Salmon dismounts and clasps his brother-in-law Ben’s hand. “I see the sisters are together again. We won’t be getting any sleep tonight,” he says as he greets his best friend.
Salmon goes with Yair and Ben to help look after the livestock.
Ben tells the men. “There are two enclosures to put the animals in. Fresh water and food are ready for them. Follow me. You can pull the carts and wagons over by the barn before you put the oxen and horses in the corral.”
Beth stops outside the gates of Bethany and talks with the women from the caravan. “Some families from Bethel have opened their homes for you and your children.
The women go with the people they are staying with, to rest and relax in a hot bath.
When Beth is finished organizing the women, she invites Rahab, and her children to follow her home.
Little Rahab and Salmon, the twins are at the door anxiously waiting for their cousins.
“I wouldn’t recognize the two of you. The last time I saw you, you were getting in to everything. Your father built a fence to keep you safe.” Rahab reaches down and receives two big kisses, one on each cheek
“Are you our aunt Rahab? You look like our mother but your hair is black and her hair is red.”
“I am your aunt Rahab. I remember the day you were born. The midwife came out and said it is a boy and then she came out and said it was a girl. We still laugh about it. Beth and Ben had twins. They named you after your Uncle Salomon and me. That is why your nick names are Sam and Ray.”
“Who are these children?”
“They are my children, your cousins, Boaz and Oliveta. Hadash, their younger sister is at home with your grandpa and grandma. This is Yoel, Your Uncle Yairs son.”
“Mother, can we take our cousins out to play,” the twins ask.
“That sounds like a good idea, Run along while your aunt and I visit.”
The sisters take some time looking at each other.
“I believe we are getting older, Beth. We are looking more and more like mother.”
“You are right, our parents have changed. I noticed it when I moved to Bethel. They had done a lot of extra work on the house, and property getting it ready for our arrival. How are you? I see motherhood has been good to you.”
“My life is so different from when we lived at the inn. Salmon is everything a woman would want in a husband, and more.”
“The servants have just finished pouring you a hot bath. The children and men will be back soon enough. You look tired and need to relax.”
The sisters go to the bathing room and shut the door behind them. Beth hands Rahab a big towel. “Put this piece of wood through the slat, and you will not be disturbed. A hot cup of mint tea will be waiting for you in my kitchen.”
Rahab relaxes her tired bones in the warm, sweet smelling bath. It is so good to see Beth. We have both changed so much. The relaxing water causes her to doze. The laughter of children outside the door wakes her.
When she enters the front room, she sees, the cousins playing a competitive game on the floor, near an open window.
Rahab enters the big farm kitchen. “Can I help you, Beth?”
“Everything is ready.”
“Mother and father have sent you several boxes. The men will unpack them tomorrow.”
Boaz runs into the kitchen all wound up. “Look what Uncle Ben made for me, mother!” He pulls out a large knife from a sheath attached to his hip. “He made one for Yoel, also.”
“Did your father say you can have that knife?”
“He said I could keep it, if I am careful and try not to cut myself.”
“I know you will be careful with the knife. Did you thank Your Uncle?”
“I did. It is fun having cousins my own age. Sam let me ride his donkey. He said we can take turns riding it to Shiloh.”
“If your father thinks you can handle a donkey, he will buy one for you, when we reach Shiloh.”
The next morning, Ben takes Yair and Salmon on a tour of his property.
Salmon teaches some men, “plant the tree shoots in narrow nursery rows under the shade trees until they mature and grow large enough to plant in the new orchards. Put the grape vines into buckets of fresh water, until they root. They should be planted in the early fall up in the hills around Bethel.”
Beth and Rahab show off the fine linens that they have been weaving. The twins are so excited. “We have so much to talk about, Beth Ten years is a long time to be apart, especially when we are twins.”
“We can visit with each other more often Rahab, now that I live in Bethel.”
 


Boaz Is Hurt

Rahab, Beth and the younger children ride together for the two-day trip to Shiloh.
“Where will we stay once we get to Shiloh, Rahab?”
“We will be staying with Salmon’s cousin, Eleazar. You remember him. He performed the wedding ceremony when Salmon and I were married.”
“I remember him. He seemed like a kind man.”
“He is our High Priest, the son of Aaron. He has a big house with quite a bit of property right near the tabernacle. We will have a place to build our sukkah's, (booths) to live in for The Feast of Tabernacles.”
“I will be having another baby in late spring, Beth.”
“Salmon must be happy.”
“Salmon is. He is so good with the children. Boaz has become his shadow. He has his own garden now.”
The glaring sun is hot. The women take a drink of water, and pour some on a cloth to wipe their brows.
Salmon rides up to the wagon and helps Boaz dismount. “It is time for you to help the older boys drive the sheep and goats for a while.”
Rahab hands Salmon a wineskin of water.
He takes a drink. “Thanks for the water. We will be setting up camp, at the bottom of the next hill.” Some men are riding ahead with the soldiers to check out the road. Bandits have been ambushing traveling caravans in this area.
“Be careful dear.”
Rahab tells her son, “Boaz, please take this wineskin of water along with this bag of sweet treats, back to the boys. They must be getting thirsty. I know they love cookies.”
Boaz joins the boys at the end of the caravan. They have to keep pushing the sheep and goats, to keep them from grazing along the road. It is a hot dusty job, but the boys do not mind. Boaz calls to the boys, “I have brought some water and cookies.”
About twelve boys come running. They are hot and tired after a long day’s journey. They stand, in the shade of a large tree beside the road, keeping an eye on the straggling sheep.
Boaz is talking with his cousins. “This has been a real adve…
All of a sudden, three men, on fast riding horses swoop down on the boys. Leaning out of their saddles, they grab three boys by their arm, putting them on the horse in front of them and ride away.
Boaz, the quick thinker he is, uses his free hand to grab his knife out of its sheath, then jabs it hard into the side of the man’s horse. The horse bucks, Boaz screams at the top of his lungs, “HELP!” as he soars through the air. He lands flat on his back unable to move gasping for air, because the wind is knocked out of him.
The bandit circles back, but cannot reach him from his horse, so he rides away empty handed.
The boys run over to see if Boaz is injured. Rahab pushes them aside, “Boaz! Boaz! Can you hear me?”
He cannot speak, so nods his head.
Yair gets there. “I will carry him to your cart, Rahab. Some soldiers have gone to get help.” Looking around he asked the boys that are standing there, “Where are Yoel and Sam?”
“They were taken by the bandits.”
When Salmon arrives back, he checks Boaz’s body over to see if there are any broken bones, “He will be OK in a few hours. Yair, take the caravan over to that steep cliff at the end of the valley. It will give you some protection from the bandits if they decide to attack. We will return, as soon as we find the boys.”
Salmon and Ben head off with some of the soldiers. They ride for about a half hour, but cannot find any sign of the bandits.
Salmon stops the men. “Suppose it is a trap. Why would they take our boys? They know we would ride out after them and leave the camp unprotected. We need to circle back, and hide in the bush near the cliff to see what happens.”
The men ride their horses as fast as they can to the bush. They dismount and guide the horses through the trees. After leaving a soldier to care for the horses, they take cover behind some fallen trees, close to the camp.
Salmon whispers to Ben, “I will crawl through the brush by the cliff, and get into the camp to tell the soldiers that you are hiding here in the trees. Have someone climb up that tall tree and signal with this white cloth to warn us when he sees the bandits coming. Wait until they get past you, and then ambush them from behind. We will attack them from the front.”
He hands the white cloth to Ben, and they say a prayer, before he starts crawling through the heavy brush.
Salmon uses his sharp knife, to cut away at the shrubs that are blocking his progress. It is slow going. He does the bird whistle that his brother Yair knows so well. Yair appears, “Did you find the boys?”
“No, how is Boaz?”
“He only has a few bruises where his behind hit the ground.”
The men in the camp gather around Salmon with all kinds of questions. He answers them, and then tells them, “Get some of the men to take all the children and women, through the path I just cut. Do not make a sound. Ben and the soldiers will hide them in the trees, so they will be out of harm’s way. I will stay here and get the men ready to fight. We will want to surprise the bandits, when they attack.”
The women and children evacuate the camp, crawling one at a time through the heavy brush to safety.
Salmon organizes the men. They anxiously wait for the attack. Just before it gets dark, the lookout in the tree waves the white cloth. The bandits are coming.
They attack the camp, assuming that most of the men are gone. Ben and his men ambush them from behind, when they are within ten feet of the camp. The fighting is over, before it began. The bandits did not know what hit them.
Salmon captures one bandit alive. “Where are the boys?”
“They are back at our camp.”
“Tie him up and put a gag in his mouth. If you want to live, take us back to your camp and we will spare your life.”
Salomon speaks with the soldiers, “Remove the outer clothing from three of the dead Bandits. Drag all their bodies away from the camp and then clean up the mess. When you are finished getting the camp in order, bring the women and children back. Ben, Yair, come with me, I will help you rescue your sons.”
The three men put the dead bandits clothing on. The soldiers help the bandit climb onto his horse, and then tie his hands together so he cannot escape.
“Do not try any tricks if you want to see the sun rise tomorrow,” Salmon warns him.
The three friends mount up and follow behind the bandit. It is dark when they reach a rocky hillside overlooking his camp. Two men sit beside a fire with their backs to them. The boys are alive and tied to a tree.
Ben and Salmon help the bandit dismount his horse, and tie him to a tree. Because of the darkness, they can ride into the camp, without the guards recognizing them.
A bandit asks the riders as they approach, “Is that you Zohar?”
Before they answer, Ben and Salmon jump off their horses and knock the bandits to the ground. The bandits lay dead by the campfire. Salmon covers their bodies with a blanket.
Yair rides his horse to where the boys are and dismounts. “Are you hurt?” he asks, as he cuts the cords that bind their hands and feet. He holds them in his arms, thankful that they are both alive
“We were not harmed father.”
“I knew you would rescue us, “Uncle Yair.”
Ben helps his son to his feet. “Let me check you over Sam.”
“We are both okay.”
Salmon ties the four horses to a branch and joins them. “I am glad to see you boys. It has been a long day. We will separate, and go through the camp, Look for weapons and anything else we can use. Pile everything under this tree! We will take what we can back to camp with us.”
The boys search the camp gathering up all the weapons, and piling them in a big pile by the campfire.
“Yoel, come and see what I found!”
Yoel runs to where Sam is, jumping up and down. “What did you find?”
“Follow me.”
Sam follows him to where an old wooden chest sits hidden behind a big bush.
“Sam, can you help me move it to where the weapons are piled?”
The two boys try to move the chest, but it is so heavy that it will not budge.
“What do you think is in it Yoel?”
Yoel gets a stick and pries the lid open. The heavy trunk is full of gold, silver and rainbows of coloured jewels.
The two excited boys reach into the chest, and fill their hands with the treasure, then run to find their fathers.
Yoel, shouts, “Come and see what Sam found.”
The three men drop what they are doing, and run, assuming a bandit had returned, and the boys were in danger.
“What is wrong? Salmon asks, as he reaches the boys.”
Yoel hands him a fist full of gold, “There is a whole trunk filled with treasure behind that bush.”
“It must be some of the treasures the bandits robbed from the caravans. Ben, bring over the wagon you found.”
Ben puts the harnesses on the oxen, and pulls the wagon up beside the trunk. It is too heavy, for the three men to pick up.
Yair throws the boys two blankets. “Empty some of the treasure onto the blankets, and then we will be able to load the chest.” The men heave the empty chest onto the cart. The boys hand the jewels and gold to the men. They follow Yair as he drives the wagon to get the rest of the plunder.
Salmon returns with fourteen horses, two oxen, two camels and five young donkeys, tethered together.
The boys climb into the cart with Yair, while Salmon and Ben lead the string of animals.
When they pass the bandit tied to the tree, they toss him a sharp piece of pottery, to cut his ropes.
Ben tells him, “By the time you are free, we will be long gone. Never let me see your face again, or you will end up dead, like your friends.”
The sun is rising, when they arrive back at camp. Beth and Aborah are waiting for their sons. They smother them in their arms, and send them to get some rest in the back of a cart.
The men check out the new animals and find them to be well fed and healthy. They tie them along side the ten horses that the bandits were riding.
Salmon tells the people in the caravan, “We will not travel far today. There is a large stream about five miles away. The men will need to wash their clothes after shedding blood last night. The animals need fresh water. The women will want to freshen up, before we leave for Shiloh tomorrow.”
They arrive at the stream before noon.
The women find a private area, away from the men, and take turns bathing. They wash all the soiled clothing in the stream, and hang it across some brush in the hot sun to dry.
The three cousins head off with some guards to fish. They want to talk about the day’s adventures. The boys have just as much success fishing as they did in finding hidden treasure and bring back enough fish to feed everyone.
Salmon checks out the fish, “Good catch Boaz,” he returns his knife to him. “Someone found it for you. Go off and wash, then find me, I have something for you.”
“Thank you, father, I thought I had lost my knife for good.” He puts the knife back in its sheath, on his belt then joins the men and boys swimming in the water.
After the refreshing swim, he finds his father resting in the shade of a tree, talking with the soldiers.
“Follow me Boaz, I have something for you.”
They head over to the fence where the animals are tied. “You were really brave yesterday son. The men want you to have your very own donkey. He is just the right size for you.” Salmon unties the smallest donkey and hands the reigns to Boaz.
“Do you mean it, I get to keep him?”
“He will be your donkey, if no one claims him when we get to Shiloh. If we find the owner, I will buy you a new donkey. You will be responsible for his care. You can teach him how to pull a small plow. I know your grandfather will help you make it when we get home.”
They travel back to camp with a new bond of love.
After supper, everyone gathers around the campfire to talk about the day’s events.
Boaz tells them, “It happened so fast, I was just about ready to put the wineskin of water to my mouth, when a bandit snatched me by the arm and put me on his horse in front of him. I did not have time to think; I just grabbed my knife out of the sheath and stuck it into the side of the horse. It bucked, and I fell off. You know the rest.”
Yoel tells his side of the story. “After we were kidnapped, the bandits rode with us to where some other bandits were hiding in the trees. They brushed away their tracks. We saw you ride by looking for us, but the gag in our mouth prevented us from screaming for help.”
Sam continues, “The bandits talked about ambushing the camp, while the men were out looking for us. They said it had worked for them in the past. Two of the bandits took us back to their camp, and tied us to a tree.”
Yoel tells them, “We tried to escape to warn you. Dad, Ben and Salmon were so brave when they rescued us. Ben and Salmon jumped off their horses and killed the bandits.”
Salmon gets up, “The boys have something to show you, at the bandits’ cart”
 Everyone follows the two boys. Yoel and Sam open the heavy lid of the large wooden chest together. They are astonished, as they watch the boys pick up handfuls of gold, silver and jewels from the trunk.
Yoel tells them, “We found this treasure chest at the bandits’ camp. It will be hard to find the owners.”
Ben tells the people, “The boys have suggested we give everything to Eleazar, the High Priest, when we get to his home in Shiloh. He can try and find out who the owners are and if he cannot, he can use it to bless people who are in need.”
The people all agree that the boys’ decision is right. They would want the same thing done if it was their property. The travelers spend the remainder of the evening, singing praises to God and thanking Him for protecting them from the outlaws.
“We need to start traveling early in the morning, if we want to be in Shiloh before noon. My prayer is that God will go with us as we celebrate “The Feast of Tabernacles.”
Salmon and Rahab return to their wagon “It has been a very exciting day. I thought that all my adventures would be over, after what happened at Jericho,” Rahab said, “but I was wrong.”
“Our son, Boaz takes after his mother,” Salmon chuckles, as he holds Rahab in his arms and caresses the scar above her eye. “They can knock the two of you off your feet, but you both get up fighting.”
 


Boaz Rides His New Donkey

The caravan eventually climbs the last hill and stops as everyone looks down at the city of Shiloh. Salmon tells all the travelers. “We will meet by that tree, two days after the Feast of Tabernacles.” The different families depart to go to their own destinations within the city.
Salmon takes the wagons and stops beside the man at the gate. “I have brought Eleazar the red heifer, so she can be bred. She is without a blemish.”
The man opens a stall for the red heifer. “Put her in here.”
“I cannot touch her because I am unclean. Will you untie her from the wagon and take her for me?”
The man gets the red heifer and gently leads her to the stall set aside for her. He examines her from head to tail. “Not a single blemish, never seen such a beautiful red heifer before.”
Salmon drops the cattle off at the corrals put together for them out side the city. The man in charge puts a tag with the number eighty-six on all Salmon’s animals. He counts the sheep and goats then puts a tag with the number eighty-six on them also.
The animals are marked with a different number for each family so they can find their own animals when they need them. There is number 86.
During the weeks ahead, their family will take the animals to sacrifices at the temple, and use them for food.
They go up to the gates of the city and are asked by the Guards, “Where are you from, what tribe do you represent, how many people are with you?”
After passing through the gates, they travel into Shiloh.
Boaz rides his new donkey, beside his father.
“Have you named your donkey yet?”
“I call him Buffy. It means God’s promise. I love him.”
“I am glad you like him. You have done a good job riding him today. We will be turning in here. Before you run off and play, we will need your to help us unpack the wagons.”
“I will help you, father.”
Eleazar, his family is waiting to greet them after they enter the front gate. They introduce the families to each other...
Eleazar gives some instructions, “The women and young children can go with my wife Reba, to freshen up. My servants will feed and water your animals and put them out to graze.”
“Thank you,” Salmon nods.
“Take a seat in the courtyard out of the hot sun and have some refreshments before you unpack. We will have our servants take you to your rooms after you are rested.”
The men sit in the shade of a grape arbor. They visit with several of their friends, whom they have not seen in years.
After the men introduce their sons, Salmon tells Eleazar. “Yair, Ben and I along with all the men who came with us, will need to be purified before we can go to the tent of meetings, at the tabernacle or partake of the Sabbath meal. Some bandits attacked us, so we had to kill them. We are unclean because we touched dead bodies, and will not enter your house or touch you until we are clean. We will sleep in our wagons until the allotted time of purification is complete, so no one in your household will be defiled. We washed our cloths and bathed in the river yesterday, as is required by the law.”
“I will have my son, Phinehas, arrange for the washing ceremony tomorrow. I am sorry you will miss celebrating the Sabbath with our family this Friday and Saturday, but you will be clean in time for the Atonement Ceremony.”
They all take turns telling about the adventures they had with the bandits.
Eleazar tells them, “Several caravans have been robbed by bandits in the past few weeks, in the same place that you were attacked. The road between Shiloh and Bethel will be safer now. The treasures and animals you recovered might belong to the survivors of these attacks. Our servants will send for their families. We will try to find the rightful owners, and return everything.”
Meanwhile, the women introduced them selves to each other.
“Reba, this is my sister, Beth. I believe you met her at our wedding. You know Aborah, Yair’s wife. This is my daughter Oliveta and Beth’s daughter Rahab. We call her ‘Ray.’ Thank you, for inviting our families to stay with you.”
“I have been looking forward to having you visit. Your husband, Salmon is just a few years younger than Eleazar. They were like brothers when they were growing up. It will be good for them to spend some time together. The Day of Atonement will not be starting for ten days.”

~~~~~~

The next day Boaz, Sam, and Yoel, go with the men from the caravan to see the purification ceremony.
Phinehas reads the Law of Moses. “He, who touches a dead body, shall be unclean for seven days. A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in water then sprinkle it on all the properties, of the people who touched the dead person…”
The ceremony goes on for a while and the boy’s loose interest in all the mumble jumble of words.
Eleazar, the High Priest, fills a golden bowl with water. “I will sprinkle some ashes from the Red Heifer sacrifice in the water. Phinehas and I cannot defile ourselves by doing the ceremony, or we will be unclean and not able to enter the tent of meetings at the tabernacle.” He hands the golden bowl to one of the Levites.
He sprinkles the water over the men, the animals, and all that is within the wagons. He prays for them, and tells the men “meet back here in three days to finish the purification ceremony.”
On the way back to the house, Phinehas ask the three boys, “Would you like to visit the tent of meetings at the tabernacle with me today?”
“Yes, we have been looking forward to visiting the tabernacle,” they answer.
“I will be going after lunch. Run along and see if there is anything your parents want you to do before we go.”
In obedience, the boys find their mothers.
Boaz tells the women, “We are going with Phinehas to the tabernacle after lunch. Is their anything you want us to do for you, before we go?”
“Could the three of you, bring our sewing chest from the wagons?”
Boaz returns with his mothers sewing box.
“Thank you, Boaz; you boys should go wash for lunch. Put clean clothes on before you go to the tabernacle.”
The boys run into the house and wash extra carefully to make sure they are extra clean. They do not want to go into the house of their God with an unclean body, especially after what they had heard earlier that day.
The boys sit eagerly waiting after lunch. Beth tells them. “Stop fidgeting and go wait by the gate. Listen to Phinehas, and do not touch anything without asking for his permission first.”
The boys wait for Phinehas at the front gate. They are excited to see him. They all speak at once.
“One at a time,” he tells them.
The first thing the boys see as they round the corner, is a big tent… the tabernacle is a big tent. They set out across the road and stop in front a gate with a big wide-open curtain.
“This is the only entrance to the courtyard which encloses the tabernacle. As we enter through this barrier-curtain, I want you to remember that our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all your forefathers, had us build this tabernacle so we would have a gathering place to worship Him.”
Boaz asks, “Why are there three colours in the curtain?”
“The blue in the curtain is the colour of the sky. Moses talks about blue being the colour which speaks of the Heavens, and the Divine. It is the colour which directs our thoughts to God Himself.”
“Why is part of the curtain red,” Yoel ask?”
“The colour red, we call it ‘Scarlet’ represents humans, Adam, flesh and blood.”
“Why is the colour purple between the red and blue,” Sam asks.
“When we mix the colour blue and red together, we get purple. Whenever we enter through this gate, the curtains remind us of all the scarlet blood which flows to the earth each day when the animals are sacrificed. This is done so that we can be right with God who is in heaven,” He tells the boys.
The boys stand in awe, as they see everything in the outer court. “I want you to wait here in the tent of meeting. Please do not wander. Some places inside the tabernacle are holy. Only Levites and Priest are allowed to go there.”
The boys watch as a sheep moves behind a man up to a shiny altar. A big container has flames coming from the top of it. They can smell meat roasting. Phinehas enters a smaller tent structure near the back wall. The walls of the enclosure are pure white. The white walls remind the boys of the white tablecloths their mothers used for the Passover and Sabbath meals.
Phinehas returns after a short time. “What do you think of the inner court?”
“It is exciting! We have so many questions to ask you.”
“I will bring you back another day. I have some work to do. Can you find your own way home?”

~~~~~~

The next morning, Phinehas sends one of his servants with a written message.

Salmon,
The servants returned after talking with the families that the bandits had attacked. They will come and check over the contents of the carts and see the animals on the Tuesday after the Sabbath. We will meet then, to sort out what we can. If possible, we will return everything to the rightful owners.
Thank you,
Phinehas

“Father, will I have to return Buffy if someone claims him?”
“What do you think, Boaz? How would you feel, if someone found Buffy and did not return him to you? I know it will be hard to give Buffy back.”
“Is it all right if I go up to the pasture and ride Buffy?”
“You can, but only if you go with the older boys.”
The boys head for the pasture. There is a man working there who is as old as Eleazar.
“Boaz tells him, I am Boaz, and we want to ride our donkeys.”
“My name is Jerome. I look after the tabernacle animals. I will help you catch them.”
Boaz catches Buffy, “Your have been a big help, Jerome.”
The boys ride for most of the morning.
When they return, Jerome tells them, “Brush and feed your donkeys and then we will have something cold to drink. I have a story to tell you.”
The boys sip the cold lemonade, as they listen to the story.
“I want to tell you about a donkey.”
King Balak kept sending his messengers to ask, this not-so-good prophet named Balaam, to come and see him. They had come twice. They persisted and pestered asking him to come with them. He kept saying NO, to them. King Balak wanted him to curse the Israelites for him because they outnumbered him. He was afraid of them and thought they would kill him.
God told Balaam to go with the men, if they came back the third time.
Balaam was not happy but obeyed God, and followed the men. His donkey was getting old! The road was hot like a desert! His donkey was not in a hurry. The donkey started to walk slower and slower. “Hurry up, you old donkey! The men are leaving us behind! Can’t you move a little faster?” Balaam hit his donkey several times. They had not gone far, when the donkey stops in its tracks.
“Hey! What are you doing?” (The donkey had seen the Angel of the Lord, standing in the way, but Balaam could not see the Angel!) Balaam is very angry because the donkey had crushed his foot against the wall. The donkey would not move and she lay down under him. Balaam struck the donkey with his stick again. To Balaam’s astonishment, the donkey began talking to him. He heard a voice that nobody had ever heard before or since. The Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and she spoke!
“What have I done to you, that you have hit me three times?”
“I hit you because you behaved badly. If I had a sword, I would kill you right now.”
“Kill me, why? I have been a good donkey to you. You have ridden me ever since you were a young boy. Have I ever harmed you before?”
Suddenly the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, so he could see what his donkey has seen. The angel of the Lord stood in front of him on the road blocking the path.
Later, when Balaam went in to see King Balak, he tells the king, “I will not curse the Israelites for you. I can only speak the words that God puts into my mouth.”
Boys, it is important to be kind to your donkeys at all times. Run along now, it is time for lunch. Come back and see me tomorrow. I have more stories from God’s Word.”
“That was an interesting story, Jerome. We will be back tomorrow.” Boaz runs to catch up with his friends.
 


Two Date Swirls

When the boys return after riding their donkeys, they find the courtyard is crowded with more people. They must have arrived in Shiloh that morning.
The men, women and children gather around the large courtyard in family groups, eating their lunch of cheese, flat breads, vegetables, nuts and fruits, washed down with a wineskin of juice for the children and wine for the adults.
Afterwards, the men and women sip a hot drink as everyone sits in the shade to rest. The boys are getting impatient and are about to run off and ride their donkeys again when Ben stops his son, “Where are you off to Sam?”
“We are going to ride our donkeys, Father.”
“You boys need to go help your mothers first. There is food to prepare for the Sabbath meal.”
“We will.”
“The boys find their mothers hard at work, kneading mounds of bread dough on large wooden tables in the cooking room.
Yoel approaches his mother, whose hands are buried in a pile of dough. “What would you like us to do?”
“Go outside to where Abira and the other children are and help them snap beans for supper.”
“Who is coming for supper, Abira,” Boaz teases, as he sits on the ground beside the biggest basket of green beans he had ever seen in his life.
“The whole city,” Abira said with a laugh. “Thanks for helping us. It will take us forever to finish.” He hands Boaz an empty bowl to fill.
We will be here for a whole week snapping beans, Boaz thinks as he reaches for his first bean.
The older children sitting in the circle try to figure out how they are related to each other.
“Phinehas’ daughter introduces herself to the newcomers. My name is Varda, and this is my older brother, Abira… Let’s see, Boaz and Yoel, if your fathers and our grandfather are cousins, what does that make us?”
“Cousins, I do not know about you, but how about forgetting this relative thing, and just be friends. Let us forget about who is related to whom. It is adult stuff anyway.”
The children agree.
Yoel asks everyone, “Go around the circle and give your name, and tell where you are from.
“I will start. my name is Yoel. These are my cousins, Boaz and his sister Oliveta, and we live in Bethlehem.”
“I am Salmon; everyone calls me Sam for short. This is my sister, Rahab, and we call her Ray. We are from Bethel.”
In no time at all, the baskets of beans are empty. The children carry the filled bowls into the kitchen and give them to the cook who is looking after the big pots of boiling water.
“Wash your hands and then go help your mothers,” the cook tells the children.
The cousins find their mothers making flat breads, from giant piles of sour dough on the table. This is one of Boaz’s favourite tasks. They stand watching, as their mother’s hands form small round flat breads.
Rahab tells the children, “Go wash your hands well, then grab a handful of dough. Shape it into flat breads then poke holes into it. Some of you older boys can carry the filled trays out to the baker.”
The children have so much fun. When a big platter of flat bread is ready, the boys carry it out to where the ovens are. A bald headed baker puts the flat breads on a wooden paddle and slides them into a large clay oven. The oven is like a blast furnace. The baker’s eyebrows are singed. A big, grimy, wet towel hangs over his shoulder. Sweat is pouring off his baldhead and trickling down his nose… Every so often, the baker pauses, grabs the soiled, sopping wet towel, and wipes his brow to prevent the sweat from dripping off his nose onto the freshly baked flatbreads.
The boys snicker when they get a break.
“I wonder if his towel was dry when he started out this morning, Boaz.”
“I don’t know. I have an idea,” Boaz whispers into the boys’ ears.
Boaz fills a big jug with cold water.
Sam gets a clean towel off the washstand, and soaks it in cold water. He rings it out.
The boys go to where the baker is working and Boaz asks him, “Would you like a drink of cold water?”
“Can you boys read minds? I have been ready for a drink of water for a long time.” He reaches out his hand and drinks the pitcher of water down in one gulp.
Sam smiles as he hands the wet towel to the baker. “Will this help you cool off?”
“Why thank you, Boys! This is the first time someone has blessed me like this.” He reaches into a box behind him, and pulls out three date swirls. He gives them to the boys, and then turns back to the hot ovens to pull out hot, baked flat breads.
With all the hands helping, the mounds of bread dough disappear from the tables. Aborah, Yoel’s mother speaks with the children. “Thanks for all your help. Go play until we call you for supper.”
On their way out to play, the boys retrieve the empty jug and fill it with cold water. They hand the jug and another wet towel to the baker.
“The water and wet rags have really helped cool me off, boys. No more cookies for you today, they will spoil your supper. Come back and see me tomorrow, I will have another cookie for you.”
This starts a friendship between the baker and the boys. Whenever the boys go by the water pitcher, they wet a clean towel fill a jug with cold water and give it to the baker.
Abira sees the boys, “follow me.” He tells them, “We can have fun.” They chase him as he runs to the playing field where some other boys are throwing something. They have a small baby goatskin stuffed with feathers. The boys spend most of the afternoon running around a big field. The object of the game was to stop the other team from throwing the goatskin across a piece of rope. The girls sat on the sidelines, cheering for their new friends.
Two hours later, they hear their mothers calling them. “Get ready for the Sabbath supper. The sun is setting in the west and all fun activities will have to cease, until after sundown tomorrow.”
Boaz’s father stops him on the way into the house. “Eleazar wants Yair’s family, and our family, to go to his study next Friday morning at ten o’clock. There is something very special he wants to share with us. Some of it is about a gift to his father, Aaron, from my mother, your grandmother. This gets complicated, but your grandfather, Nahshon my father, and Eleazar’s mother Elisheba, were brother and sister.”
The men are still unclean and cannot participate with their families, as they gather for the Sabbath that night. The women and children spend a quiet time, resting and relaxing. The twenty-four hours of the Sabbath rest is one of God’s Ten Commandments.
The parents sit with their children after lunch and teach them the commandments of God in a language they can understand.
“Remember the Sabbath day, and let it be a holy day of rest. Do all your work and play in six days. Give God the seventh day. No one in your house should do any work or play on the Sabbath.”
 


Buffy the Donkey

After having to be extra quiet for the Sabbath, the boys are eager to go out and play. Boaz talks with his father after breakfast about his donkey Buffy. “I am getting better at riding Buffy. I really love him. He is so special.”
“I will find out if we can ride up into the hills for an overnight camping trip?” You can ride Buffy and spend time with him, in case you have to give him away on Tuesday. I will go ask Phinehas about it.”
“It will be hard to give Buffy away. I would like to ride up in the hills with Buffy Father,” Boaz tries to hide the tears that are choking up inside him, as he sits in a corner to wait. He hears the boys playing goatskin toss, so decides to join them while he waits for his father.
About an hour later, his father finds him playing with his new friends. “Do any of you boys who have a donkey or pony, want to ride up in the hills for an overnight camping trip? If so, you will need to ask your parents’ for permission. Bring a change of clothes and a blanket if your parents will let you go. Meet us at the stables in one hour.”
Boaz runs to his father. He is thrilled, “You mean we can go!”
“We are going; your mother is packing for us.”
The boys are at the stables ready to go before the hour is up. They follow their guide, Jerome, along a twisting path up into the hills. A few hours later, Jerome stops his horse, dismounts, and tells them, “it is time for lunch.”
The boys help themselves to freshly baked flat breads, stuffed with cheese, crushed spiced chickpeas and greens. A bowl full of fruit soon follows. When their friend, the baker, heard about the trip, he packed a few bags of date swirls and other treats. They drink from a wineskin full of fresh squeezed lemonade, to quench their thirst.
“We will follow Abira to the top of the hill,” Jerome tells everyone, “He has a surprise for you, so listen to Abira’s instructions.”
Abira tells the boys, “The path we will be riding on is dangerous. You will have to dismount and walk in front of your horse part of the time.”
They follow Abira in single file, because there is a steep cliff to the left that drops into a deep ravine. They have to move even slower as they get closer to the summit. When they crest the hill, they look down into a most breathtaking basin. There nestled between the hills is a small turquoise lake. The water is so clear that they can see the bottom.
The descent into the basin is easy. The boys ride their mounts down to a sandy beach by the lake.
“We can all go for a swim, but first we must set up camp.” Salmon helps the boys remove several bags, full of supplies from the back of a pack mule. They dig a fire pit, and put rocks in it. Several boys run over to where there is a bush, and drag big pieces of firewood back to the camp. In no time, the campsite is set up.
Jerome takes a small goat and wraps it in several palm leaves. When the fire burns down and there is a big pile of coals, he puts the goat on top of it and covers it with more palm leaves. The boys carry several pails of sand and cover the wet palm leaves. Jerome tells them that this will make an oven and keep the heat in the fire pit.
The boys have fun splashing in the pure, clear water. When they swim under water with their eyes open, they can see big fish swimming in the lake.
They spend the afternoon learning important survival skills.
Their most favorite one is walking under water with a reed in their mouth. Ben and Salmon tell the boys how they used the reed trick to escape the soldiers from Jericho. After resting in the warm sun, Ben asks the boys, “do you want to take a hike with me, while Salmon and Jerome finish cooking supper?”
When they get back from their hike, the supper is ready.
The next morning, Salmon asks the boys. “Do you want to go fishing?”
Salmon cuts several willow poles and ties some heavy linen thread on them with a hook and a dough ball. When all the rods are ready, he hands a rod to each boy. “Put your line in the water near the lily pads.”
Boaz is the first boy to catch a fish. Soon the youngest boy catches a big one and then all the boys start to pull in fish. Ben takes the fish off the hooks, and puts them into sacks.
“We have more than enough fish for lunch, with lots left to take back with us.”
After lunch, the boys pack up to leave. They are in high spirits.
“Wait until we get home and show everyone the fish we caught,” Boaz said.
The sun is just beginning to set, when the adventures arrive at the stables. “You boys should help brush down your mounts before going in for supper.”
Boaz had not forgotten about the people who were coming to look over the animals in the morning. He takes extra special care of Buffy and gives him some fruit from the barrel by the door. “Buffy, this might be the last time I ever get to ride you. I want you to know I will always remember you. You have been such a good donkey. I hope I can keep you, but I know you might belong to someone else who loves you.” He pats Buffy on the neck and follows the boys to the courtyard, where their parents sit talking.
The boys open the sacks. Yoel calls out. “Everyone, come see what we caught. Their families are excited about all the fish they have caught and talk about the size of the biggest fish.
Rahab inspects the fish, “We will have a feast of fish to eat tomorrow boys. It is time for you to go up to your rooms and get ready for supper. It will be served soon.”
During supper, the boys tell the adults about their adventures. They feel all grown up.
The cook personally thanks the boys for the fresh fish. “I will cook them for supper tomorrow.” He tells them.

~~~~~~

The next morning after a restless night, Boaz goes to the stables with his father. Priests guard the tables piled high with gold, silver, jewels, cloth and an assortment of tools. The boys inspect the horses, oxen, camels, and donkeys tied to the fence.
Several families arrived early, and are looking over the contents on the table.
Salmon puts his hand on his son’s shoulder. “It is lunch time.”
“What about Buffy, Father? I want to be here if his owner comes.”
His mother approaches with two plates of food. “How are you doing, Boaz? I thought you might be getting hungry.” She puts two plates of food on the top of an old barrel in front of them. “I will eat my lunch with you.”
“All the donkeys are gone except Buffy and the one with the big black spot on his face. What will I do without Buffy?”
“Your father will buy you a new donkey.”
“I know, but no other donkey can replace Buffy.”
“Eat your lunch, and we will see what happens this afternoon.”
They are sitting eating lunch, when another group arrives to retrieve their lost items. One young boy runs over to the fence where the donkeys are. He is happy, and puts his arms around Buffy. “Gomer, Gomer! Dad, they found Gomer!”
Boaz chokes on the piece of bread he is swallowing. His mother reaches over and pats his back, then gives him some juice to drink.
“I will say goodbye to Buffy.” He sets off to talk to the boy.
“Is this your donkey?” Boaz asks.
“Yes, it is my donkey. The bandits took him. His name is Gomer.”
“I am glad you found him, he is a good donkey. I have been looking after him for you. I called him Buffy. What is your name?”
“I am Stinson, from the tribe of Benjamin.”
“I am Boaz, from the tribe of Judah. My uncle is Ben, from the tribe of Benjamin. Do you know him?”
“Yes, he is my uncle.”
“Stay here, I will get him for you!”
“Father, Uncle Ben, come quick! Stinson is here to get Buffy.”
“What is all the excitement about?”
“Stinson is here to get Buffy, Uncle Ben. Your nephew, Stinson, owns Buffy.”
The two men follow Boaz to where Stinson is feeding Buffy some fruit.
Stinson gets all excited when he sees his Uncle Ben. “We, didn’t know you were coming, Uncle Ben.”
“Where is your father?”
“He is looking through the jewels and gold.”
Ben searches the crowd and locates his younger brother, Chaim. Their father was Abidan, the captain of the tribe of Benjamin.
“What are you doing here, Ben?”
“I came with Salmon and his family. We are staying here. I didn’t know you were coming this year, Chaim.”
“Stinson came with me. My wife could not come, as we have a new baby.”
“You can ride home with us in our caravan, Chaim. Salmon brought me some grape cuttings and grain. I have enough to share with you.”
“I would like to see your place. We will ride home with you.”
Chaim and Stinson stay for supper. Eleazar invited them to set up their booth beside Bens the following week. After supper, they get ready to go back to the inn.
Stinson tells Boaz. “I have a real problem. After the bandits took Gomer, my father bought me a new donkey. I do not need two donkeys. I can only ride one at a time. You can keep Buffy.”
“Are you sure?”
“I talked with my father before supper about it, Buffy is yours.”
The two boys jump up and down with excitement.
“Thank you! I will see you next week.” Boaz runs to tell his parents about Buffy.
“Mother, Father, Buffy belongs to me now! Stinson gave him to me.”
 


Are You a King

Boaz impatiently waits for his parents to take him to Eleazar’s study. His sister Oliveta and his cousin Yair are sitting at the table with him and have already finished their breakfast. Boaz gets up and approaches his father. “Are you ready to go now, Father?”
“No, give us a few more minutes!” His father and mother do not like to be rushed when they sip their favourite hot drink, made with ground-roasted date pits, sweetened with date honey.
Ten minutes later, Boaz finds himself walking down a brightly lit hallway, with paintings of scenic landscapes, hanging on both sides of the wall. Soon, they approach the door in front of Eleazar’s study. His family stops before a magnificent door, carved with angels and inlayed with pure gold. A servant greets his family.
“Welcome, go right in, Eleazar and his wife, are expecting you.”
Eleazar stands in front of him, dressed in his High Priest robes.
Boaz’s mouth drops open.
His mother whispers in Boaz ear. “Do not be rude.”
Eleazar looks different. His clothes are amazing. Several jewels that are on a breast piece, on his chest, are the same size as the red one his mother wears around her neck. Every time he moves, the little gold bells sewn onto the hem of his robe jingle.
“Are you a King?”
“No Boaz, I am a High Priest.”
Yoel stands beside Boaz; in front of Eleazar, so he can get a better view the unusual garments.
Eleazar greets his cousins, Salmon, and Yair, and then ask them to bring their sons to his study.
Reba approaches the women, “come with me to the tea room, while the men talk.”
Meanwhile, Boaz and Yoel explore the room with their eyes. A soft, light, brown wood, panels three of the walls. Picturesque woven tapestries hang from the ceiling. One wall has little cubicles built into it that hold thousands of scrolls.
Eleazar stands in front of a wall with over a hundred cubicles and pulls out two scrolls. “This is a record of our family history.” He sets them on a long table and starts to unroll one of them. “This will be overwhelming for you, boys. You might not know what we are talking about now, but it is important to know your genealogy and keep a record of your families. Genealogy means records of your families’ marriages and births. He reads from the scroll.
“Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah. Judah was the father of Perez. Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab.”
He holds up the other scroll. “Yoel, your scroll is the same as Salmon’s, only the father at the end is Yair instead of Salmon, and you are Yoel, Yair's son.
“Are our names really written on the scrolls?” The boys ask in unison.
“They are! Do you want to see them? Look, this scroll has your name Boaz.” He points to some words on the scroll. Boaz reads his name. He unrolls the other scroll and points to Yoel’s name.
“I will show you how we can trace our genealogy right back to the tribe of Judah, then back to Noah and then to Adam.”
It takes some explaining, but Boaz and Yoel soon learn the value of studying the life and history of their ancestors.
“Now let me explain how we are related. This gets a little complicated, but as you can see, the name of your grandfather, Nahshon’s father, was Amminadab. My mother Elisheba was Nahshon’s sister. My father was Aaron, the brother of Moses.”
“You are related to Moses?”
“Yes Yoel, he was my uncle.”
“I want you to take this scroll home with you, Salmon. Pass it on to Boaz when he is older. Boaz, when you get married, you need to have a scribe write on the scroll. Have him put the name of your wife and first-born son. Your oldest son is to continue the record. This scroll is to be passed down through the generations.”
“I have this one for you also, Yair. Give it to Yoel when he gets married.”
Eleazar, rolls the scrolls up, and puts them is a special pouch. He secures them with a cord and hands them to Salmon and Yair.
“Thank you, Eleazar… we will keep it in a safe place and do as you instruct.”
Boaz thinks it is funny talking about marriage. He is only nine years old. Out of respect for his father and mother, he also says, “I will follow your instructions.”
Yoel said, “It was kind of you to have the scrolls made for us, Eleazar.”
“That is not the only reason you are here. I have something very special to show you. Let’s go and join the women.”
The men and boys sit and are served, a cup of tea and some treats.
When they are finished, Eleazar stands up and talks to them. “I want to tell you about the clothing I am wearing. It was woven by, my mother, Elisheba and Salmon’s, and Yair’s mother, who was your grandmother. They worked under the supervision of Oholiab and Bezalel, the head artisans appointed by God and Moses to make everything for the tabernacle.
“My mother and your grandmother were not only sisters-in-law, but best friends. Just look at the fine workmanship woven into the cloth. As you can see, they were also skilled weavers. The cloth is scarlet, blue and purple, just like the curtain in the temple. Can you see anything unusual about the cloth? Come and feel it; check it over closely.”
Boaz and Yoel approach Eleazar. They feel the texture of the interesting cloth.
“It has real gold threads woven into it. You have real gold in you clothing!”
“I do, Yoel.” Now feel the breastplate, count the jewels on it. How many jewels do you see on the breastplate Boaz?”
“There are twelve, and everyone is a different colour.”
“Take a good look at the jewels… what do you see, Yoel?”
“Names, I see the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.”
“You are right, Yoel. Your grandmother gave my father, Aaron several of the Jewels that are mounted on the breastplate and the two jewels on my shoulders.”
“I did not know that,” Yoel tells him.
“Your grandmother worked for a rich Egyptian woman who had a shop where she weaved fine cloth. When your grandmother left, Egypt, this woman gave her a bag of jewels. I wanted you and your family to see the beautiful work, you grandmother did for God. I know you are young. When you go with your fathers and read from the sacred scrolls, try to remember what you learned this day.”
“It was good of you to take the time to show us the workmanship of our mother, Eleazar. We will treasure the memory of our visit with you today, for the rest of our lives,” Salmon tells him.
“Mother always talked of how God gave her the ability to make the garments you are wearing. I never imagined how beautiful they were. I have never seen them up close before,” Yair said.
I wanted you to have a good look at them today so that you could see and remember how wonderful a person your mother was. She was a special aunt to me and I remember her fondly.”
The time has gone so fast. Reba rings a bell. A servant enters the room. “We will eat our lunch on the patio.”
The patio is in a courtyard and has a high wall surrounding it for privacy. There are several kinds of trees to provide shade. A bathing pool built into the corner by the wall, has a small waterfall flowing into it. A terraced flowering rock garden has a pond at the bottom with water lilies floating on the top of the water.
Eleazar motions to the children. “Follow me. I want to show you my pets,”
They follow him down the slate steps, to the pond, and onto a little bridge that crosses over the water. The adults keep an eye on their children from a distance, as they interact with Eleazar.
“Stand beside me in the shade of this tree. Try not to move. If you are careful, you might see my pet fish.”
The children stand, gazing into the depths of the pond waiting with anticipation. They are not disappointed for long. Big gold and silver fish swim beneath the bridge they are standing on.
“I have some food.” Eleazar gives the three children a bowl of fish food.
“Throw it into the water.”
The children toss a handful of fish food into the water and some big carp rise to the surface, gobbling up the food. One carp is so hungry, that he jumps right out of the water in front of the children, making a big splash and getting Oliveta and the boys wet.
Oliveta is scared, and she runs and hides her face in her mother’s skirt.
“I had this pond built six years ago. I needed a place that was quiet, where I could meditate and be near God when I am in Shiloh. I am not getting any younger, so I have Phinehas, my son, doing most of my duties at the tabernacle now. This is the perfect place for Reba and our family to relax without being disturbed, after a busy day entertaining our guests.”
Reba calls them for lunch. They climb up the stairs. “The wash basin and towels are over there,” she tells them.
Two servants stand beside a small table on the patio ready to serve the food.
“We will start with cucumber soup,” Reba tells the children.
“Your mothers told me last week, that cucumber soup is your favourite.”
“It is,” Boaz replied.
The servants put a bowl of cold soup in front of everyone. Platters of various kinds of bread, cheese and spreads sit on the table.
“Would you like to pray for the food, Salmon?”
“Thank you, God, for this day and all we have learned. Bless this food…”
Boaz dips his spoon into the soup and tries not to slurp or spill any. Soup is always hard to eat in front of strangers. “This tastes really good,” he tells Reba.
“It was my grandmother’s recipe. She brought it with her from Egypt and gave it to me before she died.”
“It is unlike any other cucumber soup I have tasted before, Reba. What makes it so different?” Aborah asks.
“I remove the seeds from the cucumbers and let them sit in salt water with a little wine over night. The next morning, I drain the cucumbers and then chop them fine, adding a little garlic and enough leban to make it creamy. I will give you the recipe before you leave. We will have our dessert and a cool drink in the tearoom. It is getting warm outside.”
A plate with fancy finger desserts and fresh fruit sits on the table in front of the guests. The servants serve them a choice of hot tea or fresh juice. Oliveta has a hard time staying awake, and just about spills the dark purple juice.
“It looks like you are ready for a nap, Oliveta.” Reba gets a blanket and hands it to Rahab, “you can put Oliveta on the couch by the wall for her afternoon nap.”
“I will not have time to visit with you again, until after the Day of Atonement,” Eleazar tells them. “I will retire to my room and private gardens and spend time alone with God, fasting and praying for the whole tribe of Israel. I carry a heavy burden on my shoulders. I have to be pure before God, before I enter the Holy of Holies next week. Phinehas and my wife will tale care of your needs”
Boaz asks. “What is the day of Atonement for?”
Eleazar gets up from the table. He pulls out a scroll from the wall.
“We celebrate The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. Moses recorded what to do on this scroll.”
He opens the Scroll and reads from it. “Let Aaron come into the holy place in this way: with an ox for a sin offering and a male sheep for a burnt offering. This is too long; I will try to explain it in my own words so you boys can understand it. The Day of Atonement is a Sabbath day of rest for Israel.”
“Because I am the High Priest, I will wash my body in water, and dress myself in my holy white clothing. The Levites will sacrifice several animals. After the sacrifices, I will go inside the veil, into the Holy of Holies. While I am there, I will make atonement for you in order to cleanse you, so that you may be clean from all your sins before God. I will stand directly in the presence of God at the mercy seat. Atonement means to ask God to forgive all your transgressions. I will make atonement for myself, the nation of Israel, and for the tabernacle.”
“Your fathers will teach you more about the Atonement and all the other laws that God gave to Moses, when you get older. It is a special Sabbath for you and you are to keep yourselves from pleasure for the day, it is an order from God.”
The boys had so many questions. Eleazar takes his time answering them.
It is late afternoon before they leave.
Aborah tells them. “We have been richly blessed, by our visit with you.”
“We will keep you in our prayers,” Salmon says, as he says goodbye to, Eleazar and Reba.
Salmon and Rahab return to their room with their family.
Salmon tells Boaz and Oliveta. “I am proud of the way you acted today. Go change your clothes, and then find Yoel and Sam. Remember it is the Sabbath. Do not disturb anyone, or leave the courtyard.”
Rahab puts a play dress on Oliveta. “Be good, and do not get dirty, when you go out to play with your friends.”
“Salmon, I wish I had been able to meet your mother, I know I would have loved her.”
“She would have loved you, Rahab,” Salmon takes her in his arms and the two of them stand holding each other, talking about all the things that have taken place in the past. “Seventeen years. Where has all the time gone?” He places his hand on Rahab and feels the life of their child, growing within her. “I love you, Rahab.”
 


The Feast of Tabernacles

Salmon, Yair, and Ben have a quiet supper with their family.
Boaz asks his father, “Can you tell us more about The Feast of Tabernacles?”
“Yes, Boaz, I will. God told Moses to have all the people, live in booths for seven days, once a year after they crossed the Jordan River. They were to do this after they moved into their cities. The families will prepare all their meals over an open fire and eat them in their booths. We do this to remind us that our ancestors lived in the wilderness, for forty years. The Feast of Tabernacles means, Divine Presence and Remembrance.”
“That sounds like fun!” Sam said. “When will we be going up into the hills to cut branches for our booths?”
“All the men and boys will leave at first light tomorrow morning. You boys had better call it a night, because morning will be here before you know it.”
The two boys go to their rooms, while the men decide where they will build their booths.

~~~~~~

The next morning, Boaz wakes up thrilled about the coming day. Salmon says their family’s morning prayers, then ends by saying, “this is a week of celebrations!”
The boys eat their breakfast, as fast as they can, and run to the stables.
Stinson and Chaim are waiting for them.
Boaz starts to brush his donkey. “The baker sent a treat for you. How are you today, Buffy?”
Stinson greets the boys, “Can I help you get your donkeys ready for the outing?”
“No, we are finished now.” Boaz tells him.
The men hook the oxen up to three wagons. Salmon tells everyone, “We have brought the choicest etrog (a lemon-like citrus fruit) with us from Bethlehem, so you will not have to buy any from the farm venders set up along the side of the road. We will divide into groups and go to three different places to get what we need to build the booths and for the Lulav.”
Boaz and his cousins all ride their donkeys, following the wagons out the city gate.
After going through the gates, some families follow the road to the palm groves, to cut the green date fronds.
Others drive their wagons to the side of the streams, to cut armfuls of swaying willows branches.
Boaz, Stinson, and Sam follow their family’s wagon up the winding road into the hills. The wagon stops and the boys tie their donkeys to a tree.
Salmon takes time to organize the men and boys. “The men will be cutting boughs of myrtle, and other leafy branches. The boys will pile them on these tarps and drag them down the hill to be put into the wagon.”
Boaz drags a big tarp up to where his father is cutting branches. “What is myrtle used for, Father?”
“We tie the myrtle, the willow, and the palm leaves together to make what we call the Lulav. We will talk more about it later as we build our booth. We have branches to gather first.”
When the wagons are full, they drive them to a big field set apart behind Eleazar’s home, where they will be building their sukkah booths.
As they work, Salmon teaches Boaz about the special feast they will be celebrating for a week. They spend the afternoon building their booth together. “The Booth doesn’t have to be big Boaz, only the four of us will be sleeping in it. We need to have room for our wooden table. Can you hand me the tent pole?”
Boaz hands his father the tent pole. “We will use the canvas of the tents for the sides of the booth, and roll the canvas up during the day, and put it down at night for warmth and privacy.”
They weave the branches together, to make several sturdy mats. “We will use some of them for the top of the booth and others to sit on.”
Salmon cuts some pieces of rope and puts them around his neck. He stands on a bench at the end of the booth. “Hand me the mats one at a time Boaz, so I can tie them on top of the booth to keep the hot sun off. We have to leave a space between them, so we can see the stars at night through the branches.
“God told Moses, that after we settled in our homes in the Promised Land, we were to live in booths once a year for seven days. We do this each year after we bring in the fall harvest. We will spend the whole week rejoicing before the Lord our God. Can you hand me some more mats Boaz?”
Boaz hands his father several mats.
Salmon reaches for the mats and continues. “All our meals will be cooked over an open fire. This is to remind us of how we lived in the wilderness for forty years. We will entertain our guests, feast, celebrate, and relax. After a busy day, we will sleep in our temporary shelter.”
Boaz learned more about the special feast, while he helped his father set up the booth.
Rahab covers the sleeping mats with blankets. “Everything is ready,” she tells them.
Salmon motions for Boaz to come to the fire pit, which he had dug the day before. “You can start the fire, Boaz. It will be your responsibility to see that the fire does not burn out.” His mother has brought a pot of hot ashes from the kitchen fire and it is waiting on the ground by the fire pit. Boaz uses his sharp knife to make some kindling and soon has a hot fire burning.
Salmon ties some heavy poles together, with a long metal pole across the top, to hold the big pots. When the fire dies down, Rahab puts an extra big pot on the pole hanging it from a big hook She fills it with dried lentils, garlic, leeks, vegetables, a piece of lamb and water. It will simmer slowly all night and well into the next day for their lunch.
There is quite a bit of commotion as the families start to gather around the boxes filled with Etrog. Rahab picks out the first fruit she sees and puts it in a special pouch she had sewn, to prevent it from bruising. She stands beside, Aborah, and Beth watching the festivities.
“I don’t see what all the fuss is about Aborah, the people are taking a long time to pick out a fruit that looks, and smells like a big lemon.”
“This is our family tradition. We have done it ever since we crossed the River Jordan. It is exciting!” The people will spend a lot of time examining the yellow citron fruit so they can find a perfectly shaped Etrog. It cannot have a blemish. They do not want to bring anything to God in worship with a blemish. They want everything they give Him to be pleasing in his sight.”
When they are finished picking out their perfect Etrog, the families go back to their booths to start making the Lulav. They bind a palm branch, three-myrtle twigs, and two willow branches together.
Salmon tells them as they work, “The Lulav and Etrog represent the four species. They are symbols of the harvest season and of God’s abundant blessings. With them, we fulfill the command God gave us, to take the fruit of the pleasant trees, palm branches, thick leafy boughs, and willows of the brook, and to rejoice with them. At sundown tonight, it will be like the Sabbath and we will rest for twenty-four hours.”
The first stars are coming out just as they are finished. Salmon’s family, gather to eat the flat breads and other food that was prepared while the men were up in the hills.
In obedience, everyone spends the evening and next day singing praises to God.
Boaz’s family picks up the Lulav and Etrog before leaving their booth every morning. They wave them like this. They hold the Lulav in their right hand and the Etrog in their left hand. They start by holding their hands apart while saying a special blessing in unison.
“Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to take the Lulav.”
Then everyone brings their hands together so that the Etrog touches the Lulav bundle and points and gently shakes the Four Species three times in each of the four directions, as well as up and down.
Salmon tells his family. “This prayer ceremony is the way we a pray for adequate rainfall for all the vegetation of the earth in the coming year.”
Boaz joins his family and friends as they travel in a special procession around the tabernacle each day. Some days, his father takes him to the tent of meeting at the tabernacle with a lamb and some grain.
These ceremonies bring the people closer to their God and to each other.
 


Joshua Pays a Visit

On the third day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Joshua visits with Salmon and his family at their booth. “Joshua, this is my son Boaz, and my daughter Oliveta. It is so good to see you. When did you arrive in Bethlehem?”
“I arrived last week and I am staying with my daughter.”
“Good… we will have time to visit with each other.”
Rahab serves everyone a hot drink. The news soon spreads that Joshua is there and a crowd begins to gather.
Joshua takes a sip of his drink. “This is good Rahab. I have never tried it before. What is it?”
“We call it date tea.” She offers a tray of sweet breads, cheese and fruit to Joshua. “Would you tell us about Moses and your life with him? We have heard so much about Moses. How were you chosen to be responsible for the Nation of Israel, Joshua?”
“My name is not really Joshua. I was born Hoshea, the son of Nun. Moses changed my name to Joshua, when I came back with Caleb, from spying out the Promised Land. It was hard at first. He would call, Joshua, I need you, and I would look around to see who he wanted.”
Salmon sits down beside Rahab, and tells Joshua. “I did not know about your name change. You had a large amount of responsibility put on your shoulders after Moses died, It must have been hard.”
“It was hard. I was a young man when my family crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground. Moses God’s prophet was my mentor as we spent forty years wandering in the wilderness together. I was Moses official go-for. Go for this and Go for that.”
Everyone chuckles, as Joshua gets his second wind.
“Working for Moses did have its benefits. I always walked up front beside Moses when the multitudes trudged through the wilderness. God, directed us like a faithful, Father, and was always with us.”
“I never had to eat dust. Can you imagine how dirty the two-millionth person from the tribe of Naphtali must have felt when we stopped at the end of a hot and dirty day? I visited with several of my friends from the tribe of Naphtali after a long trek through the wilderness; dust covered their family from head to toe. You cannot move two million people through a wilderness without causing dust. Some times the people didn’t pay attention to where they stepped, and had to find a way to get you-know-what off their sandals.”
The men and women all laugh. It feels so good to laugh again.
“I tried to do whatever Moses asked me to do.”
“Did Moses have patience?” Boaz asks.
“Patience, yes Boaz, he had lots of patience. I have to admit, I have been this close to blowing it on several occasions in the last few years. Moses would just go into his tent, and speak with God. When he came out, there was a radiant glow on his face.”
“I remember hearing Moses talking with God, for the whole night when there was rebellion in the camp. I would hear him pray, they are complaining about not having meat again, God! They want watermelons. They are sick of manna. The women want new sandals, they are sick of wearing the same dress year after year… God, what am I to do? Nothing You do satisfies them. God, they grumble from morning till night.”
“How did God provide for you in the wilderness, Joshua?”
“God sent us fresh manna every morning, Sam. Not one Israelite died for lack of food, and water, They died from disobeying God, but not lack of provisions. That is because He faithfully took care of us. He kept our clothes and our sandals from falling apart! God did take care of all our needs by extending the lifespan of the possessions we already had.”
“How did you know where to go, and when to stop?”
“God would show us Stinson. The priest blew the silver trumpet to tell the people to get ready to break camp. God accompanied us as we wandered through wilderness day and night. He was in the pillar of cloud we followed by day that gave us shade when we stopped and rested. He was in the pillar of fire we followed in the evening. It gave us warmth and light. God always directed us.”
“How did two million people get along? What about when two people had a disagreement… what did Moses do then?”
“Good question, Ben. At first, people would line up from sunup to sunset to speak with Moses. They wanted him to solve their problems. Some times, I would catch Moses nodding off, and I had to poke him. He would listen to everyone. They would complain about silly things like, “His tent is too close to my tent; he borrowed my knife and never gave it back…” most of it was just petty arguments among neighbours. That is before his father-in-law Jethro talked to him. “Get some righteous men to help you,” he told Moses. “If you do not listen to me Moses, you will not last the year.”
“Moses listened to him, and called seventy righteous men to administrate the affairs of Israel. It did take a few months to organizing them, but finally the people stopped lining up for hours, to have an audience with Moses. He only heard the important cases after that. It would be OK to do it all yourself if you were the leader of a few hundred people, but Moses had about two million people to look after.”
Chaim, Ben’s younger brother commented, “I can’t figure out, how you can communicate with two million people.”
“It took some time for Moses to work that one out. God told Moses to divide all the divisions of people into smaller groups, with a leader responsible for each group. He then instructed the people what to do when they heard the priest blow the silver trumpet. One blast meant all the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, should assemble, at the tabernacle. A message could be sent from Moses, and within an hour, all the Israelites would hear it.”
“Two million people, is that a lot of people?” Sam asks.
“It is Sam. I saw two million people all at one time. I was standing on the hill by the Red Sea, looking down in awe, as the people crossed over on dry ground. That is another story. I must not let my mind wander.”
“It must be hard to look after that many people.” Rahab said as she passes around a plate of cheese and fruit. “Do you want some more tea, Joshua?”
“Yes, my mouth is getting dry. My daughter always says, “You talk too much father!””
Rahab chuckles while she fills his cup. Joshua takes a slice of cheese and some fruit. The conversation stops for a while as people get more refreshments, and the mothers go and put their young children to bed. Joshua sips his tea. “This is good, Rahab.”
The people sit around Joshua once more. A hush comes over the crowd as they wait with anticipation for Joshua to continue his story.
“Now where was I? I remember! It is not easy being the leader of the Israelite Nation. You think you have had a hard life.
“Everything was going along just fine for me, when Moses my mentor and friend disobeys God, and ends up dead on a mountain, on the wrong side of the Jordan River… no promised land for him!”
“Before Moses left to go up the mountain and die, he told me, The job is all yours now, Joshua. I hope you have better luck than I did, at trying to change the hearts of this ungrateful Israelite Nation. I pray that God will help, the Israelite Nation too obey and follow all His commandments. The thankless job of leading the rebellious nation of Israel is all yours. It is easier to lead a flock of sheep.”
“Moses did not use those exact words, but I could see it in his eyes. Do not get me wrong, he loved the Israelite people. I miss his wisdom. There will never be another man like him. His shoes have been hard to fill.”
“The Israelites have always been a strong willed people-a hard group to shepherd. Moses tried to have them follow him on solid ground, but they would dig their feet into the soft sand and say, “we will not trust in your God.”” Joshua pauses to take another sip of his tea.
“One time, when Moses was up in the mountain talking with God, some of the people were upset with Moses, and God. The rebellious Israelites made a statue of a calf out of gold and started to dance around it and worship it. I tried to stop them, but they had to have it there own way. “Who are you to tell us what to do?” they said. “You are just a young man.””
“When they asked me for some gold, to help build the calf, I told them, it was a waste of good gold. They just got mad at me and I had to hide for a few days, it seemed like they had a lot of gold to burn.”
Salmon asked, “How did Moses handle all the pressure?”
“Not to well. I noticed that Moses’ beard was thin on the left side. Some nights, he would be so frustrated with God’s, so-called chosen people, that without knowing it, he would pluck a few grey whiskers out by the roots.
“Are you kidding us?” Boaz asks.”
“Yes” Boaz, when Moses was disturbed or frustrated with the Israelites, he went and pleaded with God to help him.”
“Here I am off track again. Can you blame me, with all the responsibilities God and Moses gave me? The worst part is that the job came with no manual, or job description. I know I have had the best training, but I was not ready for such a big responsibility.”
“These are the words of wisdom told to me by Moses, the day he passed on to me, this overwhelming responsibility.” Joshua pulls out a worn list from his pocket.
1. Before making any decisions, ask God.
2. Trust God.
3. Talk it over with God.
4. If all of the above fail, pray again, and ask
    God for more wisdom.
“He anointed my head with oil, prayed over me then told all the people, “Joshua is in charge now.”
Neither God nor Moses gave me a chance to say no. Just like that, without any warning, I have this responsibility dumped on me! I know I am using strong words, but that is how I feel sometimes.”
Salmon tells him, “You have done a good job so far, Joshua. Do not be so hard on yourself.”
“I survived my first few months. The Israelites crossed the River Jordan on dry ground, and kept their mouths shut long enough for the walls of Jericho to fall down. I was sure we would lose that one. God told me tell the people do not speak for seven days. ‘Seven days!’ I can’t get my daughters to be quiet for ten minutes, let alone seven days!”
Everyone chuckles.
“I was burning the candle at both ends that week. I was on my knees and actually wore a hole in my robe. Miracles of miracles, God must have had his angel’s flying overhead with a special mouth-shut powder. Not one word of complaint… no, not one word was spoken for seven days.” He shakes his head. “I do not know how God did it.”
“I will always remember the moment the quiet was broken, when the seven priests blew the trumpets made of rams’ horns. Everyone opened their mouths, and shouted out with all they had. The noise was deafening. Then it became even louder as the walls fell down.
“I sent Salmon and Ben to rescue you, and your family, Rahab. I saw a certain gleam in Salmon’s eye the day I sent him to get you.”
“It went so smoothly. Everyone obeyed God and brought all the treasure to the tabernacle, so the priest could purify it.
“So far, so good, or so I thought. There was only one glitch.
“I sent Salmon, with some of his men into battle to capture a small city with a small name; I think it was called Ai. The army of Ai killed several of our soldiers. This battle was supposed to be a sure thing. I went and asked God, “Why did we lose this battle?””
Stinson ask him, “Why did you lose the battle?”
“Someone in the camp stole from God’s treasury at Jericho.” God said, “I am angry, I will let you know who he is, and he and his entire family will be put to death.””
“Stealing and disobedience are contagious, so God said He would set an example by destroying the man’s entire family. It was a messy job, and I do not want to talk about it. It is always so sad, when greed turns people away from God. The Israelites had won all the other battles they fought. We went back and captured the city of Ai the next week. God was with us. We won, and no Israelite was injured.
“Salmon, do you want to tell us about what happened when we went to protect the people of Gibeon?”
“God worked some mighty miracles that day. Our soldiers were fighting against our enemies. We were outnumbered three to one. God sent hailstones from heaven hitting our enemies on their heads. We stood in fear and trembling, watching as the hail fell all around us. It was as if our feet stood in a big pot of pitch, or a gooey substance. Our feet could not move one inch. I remember looking at Ben. He stood with his mouth wide open, in shock at what was taking place. It was so dreadful. The sight of all those men, killed by hail, was so terrible that I had to close my eyes and pray. I asked God for an inner peace. All our enemies were lying dead on the ground all around us.”
“When the hail stopped falling, we saw all our men standing. Not one of our men was hurt… not even a cut finger or stubbed toe. It was amazing, with all the falling hunks of ice! I picked one up to see how big it was. It was bigger than a melon. It was so big that my hand could not fit around it. We saw some real miracles of God that day. We all prayed, thanking God, the protector of Israel…”
Joshua continues. “That was a real day of miracles. I asked God to stop the sun from setting and we had light for an extra day until the fighting was finished and we won the battle. I did not stop to think about what would happen to the world when God stopped the sun from setting. I just opened my mouth, and the words came out. “SUN STAND STILL…” or something like that. I don’t even remember thinking the words before I spoke them. They just came out of my mouth. The God that holds the whole world in his hands stopped anything bad from happening.”
Rahab shares, “I remember that day. Amiela was sitting telling an interesting story to her grandchildren, when Beth came running into the tent all keyed up about something. We ran outside, and the sun had not set. The sun stood still in the sky all day. We were all scared.”
“You weren’t the only family who was scared. I received a real scolding from my daughter Ada, when I arrived home… my ears still burn when I think of it. All the women were upset when I arrived home, and God didn’t send any of that shut-the-mouth-glue he used before the walls of Jericho fell, to keep them quiet.”
Everyone breaks out laughing. It is a few minutes before Joshua is able to continue.
“The plunder that arrived the next day from the cities we captured, stopped my daughter’s from grumbling. Fine bolts of cloth, pots, and pans, weaving looms, dishes, jars of food, everything you could ever need, or want was loaded onto the returning ox carts.”
Joshua continues. “My daughter Ada sewed me a new robe from the cloth we brought home after that battle. I removed my old robe and let it fall to the floor as usual. When my daughter bent down to pick it up she shouted, “JOSHUA!” I knew I was in trouble again. My daughter only called me Joshua when she was upset. Joshua, pick up your robe and put it were it belongs. Those words are well etched in my mind. Instead, she shows me my old robe in her hands. It had crumbled. It was just a big pile of threads! Another gift from God, my old robe had lasted for over sixty years.
“I was given a new pair of sandals that week also. My feet felt so much better. Forty-five years is a long time to wear the same sandals. I have to say though, when I get home after walking all day, it is good to slip those old familiar sandals back onto my feet. That reminds me I have to go it is getting late and I have some work to do before I retire to my bed. I have my nightly appointment with God, and He does not like to be kept waiting.”
Rahab hands Joshua a bag. “I have some date tea for you to take to Ada. Come back and visit any time.”
“I will. The date tea sure smells good. I know Ada will love it.”

~~~~~~

Joshua finds his oldest Daughter, Ada waiting for him when he arrives at her house.
He tells her, “I am going to my quiet place to spend some time alone with God.”
He closes the door, and hears a voice calling.
“Joshua, this is My time.”
“I know, God. I was just resting. It has been a long day.”
“You have been mumbling again, Joshua.”
“I know, God. I am mumbling again. I will try to do better. It is just that these people, that you call precious, sure have a way of getting under my skin some times. I never asked for this job.”
“JOSHUA”
“Sorry God”
 


Rahab Remembers

Twenty years have passed since Salmon and Rahab visited Shiloh. Rahab sits at her open window in her bedroom eating her breakfast. Without thinking, she reaches down to her lap and twists The Cord of Memories between her fingers. The feel of it always reminds her of God, and His special love for her family.
‘God, You have been with me all my life. When I was a young woman, You rescued me from a life worse than hell. You set my family free from a lifestyle of sin. We all worship You. Please take away the loneliness I feel. In addition, God, please help Boaz find a wife soon, so I can hold his children in my arms.’
It is late spring, her most favourite time of year. The barley harvest is in full swing. The flowering magnolia trees just outside her windows are blooming. The berries are ripe in the ravines. Her servant girl had brought her a big bowl of them for breakfast. As Rahab picks up a big ripe berry and puts it into her mouth, she remembers how much fun she had with Beth; we picked berries and made flower necklaces, as young girls. My tongue is more-purple than your tongue, we would tease, as we ate our fill of big, sweet, juicy blackberries. She smiles. She closes her eyes; I can feel the sting from the lemonade that hit me in my eye, when Jaron squirted me in the face with the wineskin full of lemonade that day. I never did get him back.
I love to listen to honeybees buzzing in the flowers. It reminds me of the hollow honey log near Gilgal. Salmon took us all back to Jericho and Gilgal with our children several years ago. We had so much fun as we told the children some of our stories while we spent an afternoon up in the hills, eating lunch from a picnic basket. Several angry bees stung Salmon as he filled a large pot with honey. The juices from the ripe figs did remove most of the sting, but he had a red nose for a few days.
I was thankful for Salmon and Boaz’s help, as we climbed the hill that day. I was too old to run up the hill with my raven hair blowing in the wind, as I used to do as a girl.
We spent time investigating the walls of Jericho. Our home was still standing in the wall. A small faded piece of scarlet cord still swayed from the windowsill outside Jaron’s room. I remember how I asked him to leave it behind as a permanent reminder of how the God of Israel had rescued our family from the awful disaster at Jericho.
Only wild animals roamed the crumbling city of Jericho now. I took my family up to my old bedroom. I moved the rock so they could see the hole in the wall, where I hid the ruby. They stood at the window, looking down over the fallen city. I showed my family, the path I saw the soldiers come up. The stairs that led to the roof were rotten, so we could not see where Salmon and Ben hid under the flax. We walked down to the well in the basement. It was still full of fresh cold water, just the way we left it.
Salmon took time once again, to share with his children, the fascinating story of how the shouts of Gods’ people brought the walls down. Our God is an amazing God. The five of us spent a week camping by the Dead Sea before returning home.
So many memories… ‘It is thirty-seven years since you rescued me, God. Thank you, for saving my whole family!’
Salmon, I miss you so much. You have been dead for two years now. Everywhere I look, I see reminders of our love. My heart aches, with the love I have for you. If only you could hold me in your arms once more.
Her shaking hand moves to her neck and feels the crimson ruby once more. It is so reassuring to feel the soothing stone. She holds it up to the sun to let a sunbeam shine through it. My days are so lonely without you, Salmon.
‘I pray that Boaz will find a wife, God. He is getting so old. It would be a comfort to have another woman living in the house with me besides the servants. I need someone to talk with, to love, and to share my days. I want to hold another grandchild in my arms.’
The warm sun, shining through the window, and the constant buzzing of the honeybees, lulls Rahab to sleep. She is awakened with a start, when someone gives her a tender kiss on her salt and pepper hair. “Boaz, you startled me. What are you doing home so early?”
“A worker was injured, so I had to transport him home to be cared for by his wife.”
“Was he badly hurt?”
“Yes, he is. He was to close to one of the other workers, and his leg was cut wide open by a sickle. We stopped the bleeding. Your cousin, Tabez, Ferris’s son stitched the cut shut. Tabez is as good a doctor, as his father was.”
“Can you stay for lunch?”
“No, I have to return to supervise the barley harvest. A cold drink and some of Tina’s date swirls sound good.”
Rahab rings the little bell, on the table beside her.
Tina comes up to her bedroom. “May I help you, Rahab?”
“I would like you to bring some milk, and a plate of your date swirls out to the patio. Boaz can only stay for tea. Please pack him a package of food to take back with him.”
“It will take a few minutes,” Tina leaves the room carrying the empty breakfast tray.
“I will go change,” Boaz embraces his mother on the way out of the room.
Rahab goes down and sits at the garden table, while she waits for Boaz to join her. She starts to pray… ‘He is such a kind loving son, God. He reminds me of his gentle father. I pray that you will find him a good…’ Tina interrupts her prayer as she puts a tray filled with food on the table.
“I will come back with your drinks.”
“No need to go back to the kitchen Tina, I brought the refreshments.”
Boaz hands his mother a tall cup of milk. He bites into a date swirl, “This is so good. I miss Tina’s cooking and your company, Mother.”
“I miss you also. I have been so lonely without your father.”
“It has never been the same without him. I miss him also. Do you remember father’s cousin, Elimelech and his wife, Naomi?”
“I remember them. Elimelech drove our wagon to Shiloh when you were nine. I missed Naomi when she moved away.”
“She has moved back to Bethlehem. The men at the city gate have been talking about how Elimelech and his two sons died while they live in the land of Moab.”
“I hadn’t heard. It is hard losing your husband. She must be distressed without the support of her sons in her old age. Oh, what am I saying? She is younger than I am!”
“Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth lives with her.”
“That is good. I will visit Naomi and Ruth this week. Where is she living?”
“She is living back in her old home. I hear that Elimelech owed a large amount of money. Naomi might lose everything.”
“Is there any way we can help her?”
“I am looking into it. I have to go. There is work to do.”
Rahab rings for Tina.
Tina enters, with a big basket filled with some of Boaz’s favourite foods. She hands the package to Boaz.
“You spoil us, Tina. What would we do without you?”
“Someone has to look after you,” she smiles, “Don’t you think it is time you found a wife?” With that bold remark, she turns her back on him and sets off for her kitchen.
“She is right you know, Boaz. You are not getting any younger. You will be twenty-nine next year. This house would be a lot less lonely for me, with the laughter of children.”
“I am looking. I have prayed, but the right woman has not come along yet. I want someone kind and loving like you, Mom. She has to be special. I will know when I meet her.”
 


Naomi and Ruth

Ruth and Naomi have been in Bethlehem for a week now. Friends and neighbours had come to visit, leaving lots of unwanted advice behind.
Naomi is upset with all the burdens she carried on her shoulders. She has no husband or children to support her in her old age. Her husband had made wrong choices. The people that he owed money too, have been knocking at her door, demanding payment. She will have to sell all her property, and the house, to pay them off. If it is not enough money, Ruth her daughter-in-law, will have to become a bondservant in some ones house…
Who will rescue them?
‘God my heart is heavy with the burden that is on my shoulders. I will not go by the name Naomi, (which means pleasant) any more. I will have my friend’s call me Mara (which means bitter). You have given me a bitter burden to carry. How can an Israelite woman, ever be called pleasant, without a son to hold in her arms? From now on, my name will be Mara.’
Her so-called friends continue to come at her from all directions. One cruel woman said, when she dropped off a basket of food, “we warned you… do not to go with your husband. You didn’t listen to us and now look how God has punished you.”
‘Is it not in the Law of Moses that a wife is to obey her husband? I tried to stop Elimelech, God, but he would not listen to me?’
Some of the women came to visit so they could see Ruth. She was stunning, with an olive complexion and silky brown hair. She stood out in a crowd.
The gathering of elders, who sat around the city gates every morning, had noticed Ruth. The men and elders had been saying, “Not one young woman, in Bethlehem, is as beautiful as Ruth…”
‘They have never met her God... never experienced her inward beauty as I have... the kind of beauty that You look for in a woman. I remember the day I started to walk back to Bethlehem she begged me to let her come with me. I tried to send her back to her parents, but she told me she loved me, that my God would be her God from now on. I could not stop her! I tried. Since then I have found that Ruth would do anything for me. Thank you, God, for giving me such a loving, daughter-in law.’ As Mara is praying and thinking these thoughts, she sees that Ruth is coming home. She had been visiting with some of the girls her own age that live down the road.
‘Thank you, for giving Ruth friends, I had better go and wash my face. I do not want Ruth to see my tears. It is good that You take the time to listen to me. You are the only one who understands how my heart is suffering.’ Mara hurries to the washbasin and washes the evidence of tears from her face. She goes to the table and scoops out two bowls of thin soup. ‘God, the food is all gone! What will I use to feed Ruth tomorrow?’

~~~~~~

Ruth thought about what the girls had told her that afternoon as she heads for home. “We will be gleaning in the fields during harvest. This is how we provide the food we need, to feed our families. Do you want to come with us tomorrow?”
She had told them, “I will need to ask Naomi, I mean Mara first.” It was hard to remember to call Naomi, Mara, but Mara would be upset if she forgot. Ruth tried to do the best she could. This might be a way to help feed Mara and herself in the coming months.
When Ruth enters the house, she washes then joins Mara at the table to eat their meager supper. “I want to talk to you, Mara.”
“What is it, Ruth?”
“Please let me go to the fields and glean some barley with my new friends tomorrow.”
“You can go, Ruth. We will need all the food you can bring home to help us survive the winter. The bill collectors were here again today. If I were any younger, I would join you in the fields, but my old bones won’t let me work any more.”
Early the next morning, Ruth heads out with her new friends. “We will be gleaning in the fields of, Boaz.” The girls tell her what to say to the man in charge.
When she arrived at the field, she asks the man responsible for the reapers, “Please let me glean after the reapers in this field.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Ruth, the daughter-in-law of, Naomi.”
“You may come, and glean all you want.”
She starts to glean in the fields. At first, she is slow. Her friends show her what to do. Walk beside us after the reapers as they gather in the harvest. Gleaners are allowed to pick up any barley that they drop or miss.
She had been working along side several of her friends, since sunup, and was hot and thirsty. It was hard working with the hot sun beating down on her. Back home where I came from my parents had many servants and I never had to work.
Ruth is so intent on her work, that she does not hear the man on the horse ride into the field. It is the whispers of girls that caused her to look up. Who is that man?
He sits on his black stallion, talking with the man she had spoken to in the morning.
Will he tell me to leave his property? He is coming closer and he is looking at me. Ruth watches as the man rides his horse over to her, and dismounts in front of her. He is standing in front of me; he is looking at me. Not able to take the intensity of his stare any longer, and out of respect, Ruth falls on her knees before the man.
“Get up from the ground.” He reaches down and takes her hand in his. He gently pulls Ruth to her feet. “My name is Boaz. You can stay and glean in my fields for the harvest, Ruth. Remain close by my young women so you will be safe. I will command all my men to protect you. When you are thirsty, go take a drink from the pails of cold water that the young men have drawn.”
She asked Boaz, “Why are you helping me, since I am a foreigner in your land?”
Boaz answers, “I have heard about how you have looked after your mother-in-law, Naomi. You left your friends and family and came to her home after the sudden death of your husband. Now you are gleaning food under the hot sun and providing food for her.”
“I do it because I love her, and believe in your God, the God of Israel.”
“Let the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take shelter, bless you.”
“Thank you, my lord. You have reassured me of the goodness of your God. You have been kind to me, a foreigner.”
“At meal-time, go up to where my men are and take some of the bread. Dip your bread into the wine, so you will be refreshed. Take the girls with you, so that you will be protected.”
“You are most kind, my lord.”
Boaz mounts his black stallion and looks back over his shoulder at the beautiful woman. “Ruth…” he whispers, as he rides down to check out another field of barley.
Ruth stands transfixed to the spot. Who is Boaz? What does he want with me? The girls get her attention. She finally takes her gaze off the man riding away in the distance.
The morning goes fast. Unusual feelings are racing through Ruth’s mind. She is so deep in her thoughts that she does not hear the girls call her. One of the girls taps her on the shoulder. “Ruth, it is time for lunch.”
Ruth and the girls take their seat among the grain-cutters. Boaz gives Ruth and the girls some bread. Ruth dips it into the wine. I am not used to eating much. The cupboards at home are empty. The food she had been give to eat by Boaz was more than enough for her. She puts some of it into her apron pocket. I will share this with Naomi tonight at supper. Forgive me, Naomi, but I cannot call you Mara. You will always be Naomi to me. I love you.
Boaz gives his young men orders… “Let some extra heads of grain fall to the ground from now on, so Ruth will have extra grain to glean. Be careful how you speak to her.”
After lunch, Ruth gleans in the barley field once more. Something has changed. My row contains more barley now, than it did in the morning. After about three hours, she stops and crushes out the grain from her pile of barley stalks, then pours it into her cart. It so full, that she has a hard time pushing it home.
When Mara sees all the barley, she asks, “Where did you glean today? In whose field did you glean? I pray that the person, who blessed you today, will be blessed by the God of Israel.”
“The name of the man whose field I gleaned is, Boaz.”
“Boaz is a close family relative. His father was a cousin of my husband.”
“Boaz told me to glean in his fields until the harvest is finished.”
“It is better for you to go and glean in his fields, with his servant-girls. His men and women will protect you. He is an honourable and a well-respected leader in our community. His fathers name was Salmon, the leader of the tribe of Judah. Someone told me that, Boaz has taken the place as our leader, after the death of his father.”
“He is very kind. Why do the poor people get to glean here in Bethlehem? Back in my country, if you do not have money you starve.”
“It is a law given to Moses by, God. He told the farmers, you are not to go back across the land and pick up what you miss when you gather the crops. Do not go into the corners of the field. Leave it there, for the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows.
This is one of God’s ways of providing for the poor. He does not give them a free hand out. That would not be good for the people. They have to work behind the harvesters, and are allowed to keep what they gather at the end of the day, to feed their families.”
“I am glad that you are teaching me how to believe in a God who cares for me, Mara. He is a personal God.”
“He is Ruth.”
Ruth continues to live with Mara, and goes to glean with her friends. Some days she comes home with her cart filled with nuts. Another day it contains fruit and vegetables. Naomi dried the extra fruit and vegetables for the winter months. Ruth’s cart is so full at the end of the day that she gives the extra food to her friends. She continues gleaning until the wheat harvest is finished in the fall. There is enough food stored away to feed the two women throughout the winter months.
Rahab comes to visit her friend, Naomi. On her first visit, she told Naomi, “I will not call you, Mara. You will always be my friend… and Naomi is your God given name. You are Naomi to me.” She holds Naomi in her arms as she weeps away some of the bitterness.
“I always feel better after your visit, Rahab. You never condemn me for my mistakes, but always help me to look forward to a bright new day. I love you and always will. You are my special friend.”
“I love you also, Naomi. I pray some day that you will be able to call yourself Naomi once more. I will be back next week. Remember, I am praying for you.”
Whenever Rahab visited Naomi, Ruth would come home to a meal with, meat and a sweet dessert.
Rahab loved the walk home from Naomi’s, house. It took her through the town of Bethlehem. Some times her heart was so heavy for Naomi that she stopped on a hill overlooking the city to pray. “It is hard for me to see my friend Naomi in such distress. I will continue praying for her and always think of her as Naomi, which means pleasant in our language. Bless her, and find a way, to turn her name back to Naomi, the Naomi I used to know.’ A peace would surround her every time she prayed. She had confidence that God would answer her prayer for Naomi, in His way and in His time.

~~~~~~

“Ruth, I want to talk with you.”
“Coming, give me a minute”
“You are finished gleaning the wheat. The harvest is over. I need to find you a husband to protect you, Ruth. Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been gleaning all summer, is our kinsman.”
“He is, Mara.”
“Tonight he will be at the threshing floor, separating the wheat from the chaff. Wash, and anoint yourself with sweet oils. Put on this dress that I have sewn for you and go down to the threshing floor. When you get there, stay hidden until Boaz has finished eating and drinking. See where he lies down. Go there when he is asleep. Lift the cover off his feet and lie down at his feet. He will tell you what to do. Put on this heavy robe, to protect yourself from getting a chill”
“I will go and do what you ask me to do, Mara.”
Ruth nervously sets out for the threshing floor and hides behind some stacks of grain. Her heart is beating fast. What will I say if someone catches me? They will call me a loose woman.
After Boaz has eaten his supper and had some wine to drink, he spreads out his bedroll by a pile of grain. After he has fallen asleep, Ruth, with shaking legs, creeps up to him and uncovers his feet, lying down next to them. She does not sleep. She can hear his even breathing. He is so close. Ruth has to stop herself from getting up and running away, but she has to obey her mother-in-law, and stay. She feels Boaz’s feet start to move. He is sitting up. She can see his face with the light from the full harvest moon. His eyes make contact with hers.
A surge of apprehension flows through her body when he startles her by asking, “Who are you?”
“I am your servant, Ruth. If you please, take me, as your wife, for you are a close relative.”
“I pray the Lord will bless you, Ruth. This shows how kind you are to your family. You did not go after a younger man, either rich or poor, but you came to me an older man instead. Fear not, I will see what I can do for you. The whole town has been talking about you, saying you are a woman of excellence because you love and take care of your mother-in-law, Naomi.”
“I love Naomi, the same way I love my own dear mother who gave birth to me. Naomi is my mother-in-love.”
“It is true, Ruth. I am one of the relatives who is supposed to take care of you. However, I have found a relative of Naomi’s husband who is a closer relative than I. Remain here this night and when morning comes, I will find out if he will redeem you… If, he does not want to, I promise by the living God, I will become your husband. Lie down and sleep until morning.”
Sleep, he wants me to sleep. How can I sleep when the foot of the man who might become my husband, is touching me. Ruth remained at Boaz feet until morning but is not able to rest.
Boaz wakes and tells her, “Go home before anyone wakes up and sees you. Hold your robe open. I will not send you home to Naomi, empty handed.”
Ruth takes off the heavy robe and holds it open.
Boaz pours six scoops of grain into it. He helps her put it on her shoulder, so it would be easier for her to carry.
Ruth returns home with a lighter step, Boaz said he would marry me if the other man would not. Someone will take care of Naomi and me.
Mara is at the window anxiously waiting for, Ruth. When she sees her coming down the road with a heavy burden on her shoulders, she opens the door. Ruth drops her heavy robe, filled with grain, to the floor.
Mara rushes over and wraps Ruth in her arms. “You are cold, Ruth. There is a chill in the air. Let me wrap you in this warm blanket, and then I will pour you a hot drink.”
Ruth sits drinking from the clay mug while Mara fusses over her. She feels warm and cozy in the loving home of Mara.
“What happened last night?”
Ruth takes another sip of her hot drink. “I did everything you asked me to do. Boaz said there is a closer relative. He told me not to worry, that he would look after all the details this morning. He gave me six measures of grain. He said, “Do not go back to your mother-in-law Naomi, with nothing in your hands.””
Mara re-assures Ruth. “Wait my daughter, until you see what will come of this. Boaz will do everything he can to settle this matter today. He is truly a man of honour. Now you need to rest.”
Ruth goes to her room, but is unable to rest. She tosses and turns with uncertainties. What have I done? What will happen to me? Boaz is handsome! Will he become my husband? ‘God, please be with me!’
 


What Will My Mother Say

At daybreak, Boaz, true to his word, goes up to the town gates, and watches as the men start to gather. He sees the close relative, he had told Ruth about, approaching. Boaz stops him. “Tirzah, come sit down at the gate with me. I need to speak with you.”
“I will join you.”
Boaz takes him to where the elders are having their morning dialogue. “We need ten elders from the town, to witness a transaction. Can we sit with you?”
The elders motion for Boaz and Tirzah to sit.
A crowd of curious men gathers around the elders, so they can hear everything.
Boaz addresses the ten elders with respect. “I have a business transaction to discuss with my cousin Tirzah, and I need you to be my witnesses.
Boaz tells Tirzah, “Naomi has come back from the land of Moab, and is selling a parcel of land which belonged to her husband, Elimelech. I am telling you because you are her deceased husband’s family redeemer. You have the right to redeem the property. Buy it before the men that stand here, and before the elders of Bethlehem. If you will not buy the property, tell everyone who is gathered here as a witness, so that I may redeem it myself.”
Tirzah tells Boaz. “I will redeem it.”
“Do you know that when you buy the property from Naomi, you must also marry her daughter-in-law, Ruth, the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon? If she has a son by you, the property that you buy from Naomi today, will go back to the son and stay in the family of Ruth’s first husband, Elimelech.”
Tirzah tells the assembly and Boaz, “I cannot redeem the property for myself and marry Ruth. It might put my own inheritance in danger. I have already made plans to marry another woman. Buy it for yourself, Boaz.” Tirzah removes his sandal and hands it to Boaz.
In Israel, to buy or sell property or do a business transaction, the men involved gather in front of the elders and witnesses at the city gate. When the transaction is complete, the men exchanged sandals with each other in front of the witnesses and elders to make the transaction final.
Boaz tells the elders and all the men gathered at the gate, “You are all witnesses that I have bought from Naomi, all that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. I will ask Ruth the widow of Mahlon to become my wife. Our first-born son will keep the family name alive so that we will remember the name of Elimelech in Bethlehem forever. Do you agree to be my witness to this transaction?”
All the men who had gathered at the gate and the ten elders said, “We are your witnesses. We pray that the LORD will make Ruth, the woman you plan to marry, live a life like Rachel and Leah. Those two women built up the house of Israel. Boaz we pray that you will become wealthy and famous in Bethlehem.”
After the transactions were completed, Boaz sat and talked with Tirzah. “Thank you, for sitting at the gate with me. I will go this afternoon to Naomi’s house, and ask Ruth to become my wife. Because you are Naomi’s closest relative, I ask you to be there for her, representing her husband, when I ask Ruth to marry me.”
“I will go this morning and speak with Naomi and Ruth for you, Boaz.”
“I will see you after lunch.”
Boaz sets out for home with a lighter step. What will Mother say? Within a month, I will bring Ruth home for our wedding ceremony. I will not tell mother until I know Ruth’s answer.

 
~~~~~~

Mara, Ruth, and Tirzah are waiting for Boaz to arrive.
Mara wraps her arms around Ruth to reassure her. “Take a deep breath. Have a sip of water. Everything is as God has planned it to be.”
“I know Mara, but I am still nervous.”
“All girls get nervous when they know a man is on his way to her house, to ask for her hand in marriage.”
Ruth sits in her chair, looking out the window in the direction Boaz will come from. In the distance, she sees him. He is coming! He wants to marry me… a stranger in his land. I will be moving into his big house and share my life with this stranger. He is at the door!
Mara opens the door, “You must be Boaz. I watched you when you were a boy, as you plowed your gardens. You came to visit me several times with your mother, and brought me baskets of fresh vegetables that you had grown yourself.”
“I remember visiting you, Naomi.”
“Please call me Mara. I changed my name to Mara after my husband and two sons died. Come in and sit at the table with us. You have met Ruth, and you know Tirzah.”
Tirzah welcomes Boaz.
After Boaz takes care of all the formalities, he addresses Ruth. “Ruth, will you marry me? If so, take this cup from me and drink from it.” He hands Ruth a cup of wine, as is the Israelite custom.
Ruth tells Boaz, “Yes, I will marry you.” She takes a sip of wine, and then hands the cup back to Boaz, who takes a sip.
Tirzah tells Boaz and Ruth, “As is the custom in Israel the two of you are engaged.”
Tirzah gets up and congratulates Boaz and Ruth. He prays for them. “Ruth, I will be here on the night of your wedding. I will accompany you to Boaz’s house.”
Boaz and Ruth have so many plans to make. The wedding will take place in two weeks.
Boaz takes Mara aside, and hands her some money. “Buy anything you need for yourself and Ruth. Do not spare any expense. If you need anything, let me know. I will be sending several of my servants to help you prepare for the wedding.”

~~~~~~

When Boaz gets home, he asks, “Tina, do you know where my mother is?”
“She is sitting on her favourite rock down by the brook, with her feet dangling in the water. I have a tray of refreshments ready to take to her.”
“I will save you the trip,” Boaz picks up the tray, carries it down to the brook, and sets it on the little stool beside his mother.
“Good afternoon Boaz, what brings you home so early?”
“I have some news for you.” He calmly sits on the rock beside her and removes his sandals, letting his feet dangle in the cool water. “Mother, you will need to prepare the house! I am getting married! I will be bringing Ruth here for our wedding ceremony, in two weeks.”
Boaz reaches out his hand to keep his mother from falling into the brook, when she hears the good news. “Can you repeat yourself? Did I hear you right? You are getting married!”
“Yes, I am, Mother. Ruth has said yes. We will be getting married in two weeks.”
“Two weeks! It will be impossible to prepare a wedding in two weeks!” Rahab jumps up forgetting her age, and starts running to the house, leaving her sandals behind. She stops part way there and returns to hold Boaz in a warm embrace. Putting on her sandals, she stammers “two weeks!” then turns back to share the news with Tina. “Boaz is getting married!” Rahab shouts all excited, as she runs into the kitchen.
I believe mother is acting ten years younger. Boaz sits down with a lighter heart. Why not, he reaches across the tray and picks up one of his favourite date swirls. He bites into it, savoring every morsel.
He can hear his mother’s excitement echoing across the courtyard. “Prepare for a wedding, Tina! Go out and get all the help you need! Boaz is getting married!”
Boaz realizes at that moment, my quiet home will never be the same.
His mother returns to ask him an important question, “What is the day of your wedding?”
“Two weeks from today Mother, on Monday night.”
“Two weeks, that is impossible,” she says, as runs across the courtyard to share the exciting news with his sisters.
 


Boaz Escapes the Chaos

Boaz wakes up to find his whole house in turmoil. Men have started to remove the carpets so that they can clean or replace them. The drapes have all mysteriously disappeared from the windows. There is no privacy left. He is not able to sit, or move, without someone saying, “Please move, you are in my way.” I know what I will do. I will pack my bags and leave home.
He approaches Tina, who is in the kitchen and tells her about the plan he has made to solve his problem. “I am moving out for a week, I need to get away from all the commotion in my house. Mother is driving all of us crazy with her preparations for the wedding. Will you help me escape the chaos, by having the servants pack enough food for seven people, for seven days? I will be taking my six nephews with me, so pack extra food.”
“That is a good idea, I don’t blame you. If you have room, maybe you could take me with you. Ha! Ha! My whole kitchen is a mess. It is fortunate that I baked some of your favourite treats yesterday, before you turned the house upside down with your good news… It will take a few hours for the servants to prepare everything you need.”
“I will be back later with the pack animals. You are the best, Tina. He gives her head an affectionate pat and sets out to talk with his sisters.
“Is it ok if I borrow your two sons for a week Oliveta? I need to escape Mother.”
“It is OK with me. Now look what you have done Boaz,” Oliveta laughs as she lovingly teases her older brother. “I know what you mean about Mother. She has been waiting for the news of you getting married for years, and you give her only two weeks to prepare. Boaz, it took her more than a year to prepare for my wedding. I do not blame you. Take the boys and run away from all the commotion. Are you sure you can handle my sons?”
“They will be no problem at all for me to handle, remember I was in charge of the whole Israelite army at one time.”
“I will pack their bags. The boys are out in the pasture playing with their cousins. Ask them if they want to go.”
“I will after I speak to our sister, Hadash.”
“Hadash, I want to take my nephews up into the hills for a week. I need to get out of the house. There is no place to sit anymore. People are working everywhere. I was sitting, eating breakfast this morning, when some men came in and demanded I move out of their way. They removed the table and rug right out from under me. They wanted to clean, and paint the room.”
“You can have them, if you think you can cope with them. They are a handful. It will give me a much-needed break. I will pack their bags.”
“Thanks, I will be back to get them later.”
Boaz finds the boys playing. “I want to ask you something. Do you want to go on a camping trip with me for a few days?”
“We do!” The six boys jump up and down with excitement.
“Get your donkeys ready, and take them to your house. Fill your saddlebags with everything your mother has packed for you. I will get two pack mules to carry the rest of the gear.”
Later in the day, the boys and Boaz start up to the shepherd’s cabin that his father had built.
They have many fun adventures together, the kind you talk about, around the campfire with your friends and family.
“One night Boaz asks the boys “would you like to hear a story?”
They all answer at once, “Yes.”
“My father Salmon and I almost drowned once. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. The sun was shining and the creaks were as dry as a bone. We were on our way home from visiting our relatives, at Bethel. You must be wondering how we nearly drowned, in a dry creak bed. I will tell you later and maybe you can figure out the answer for yourself.”
“Let me start at the beginning of the story. One year my Father and Uncle Ben exchanged stallions hoping to start a stronger bloodline of horses. The following year one of Uncle Ben’s mares had a black colt. My cousin Sam, his son, helped raises him for my father. I did the same with a light brown colt that belonged to my uncle. My father helped me gentle the colt. He turned out to become a beautiful golden stallion. I named him Zach, which means, God Has Remembered. I rode the stallion to Bethel and Ben gave his son, the golden stallion. Little did I know my father had arranged for Sam to raise the black stallion, as a gift for me. He named him Jade, witch means God Has Heard. Jade could run like the wind. We had a good visit then headed for home.”
“Now back to the near drowning on dry ground incident! How many of you boys have traveled outside Bethlehem?”
Three of the older boys, raised their hands.
“We had started home and it was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky. We were a few miles north of Jerusalem crossing this dry creak, when my father shouted to me and pointed up into the hills. A wall of water was rushing down the mountain towards us through a narrow ravine. We were caught in a gully with insurmountable walls on both sides. The only way of escape was to ride down the creak bed and up a steep slope.”
“The speed of our well-trained stallions saved our lives. As we galloped at full speed down the gully, we could feel and hear the power of the rushing water behind us. We just made it to the safety of a steep hill, when the thunderous waters roared by us. The stallions were winded, so we stopped for the night and slept out under the stars, so they could rest.”
“Wow that was close,” one of his nephews said.
“My father spent the evening telling me of other times this happen to him and his soldiers. Some times whole platoons drowned.”
“When you are out riding, you need to be aware of everything around you. Never set up camp near a dry creak or riverbed. Always set up your camp on high ground. Be aware of the weather conditions and be on your guard especially if you have to travel in the winter and early spring. We live in a hilly area, so be alert. It can rain up in the hills while you sleep and the waters will come rushing down in a flash flood later in the day.”
“What a story. Do you have any more stories you can tell us?”
“Yes boys, but the most important thing I can teach you is that you need to pray always and obey God. Listen to his instructions and pay attention when you hear God’s word.”
Boaz spends the week sharing interesting stories with the boys. He teaches them life saving skills, of how to snare quail and catch fish in the special lake, concealed behind the rocks, down the hill.
The boys tie sacks of rocks around their waist. They break off reeds, and learn how to walk under water, breathing through the reeds. Boaz ties a big rope to a tree limb that is hanging above a deep hole at the edge of the lake. They spend lazy afternoons swinging from the rope, and splashing into the refreshing cool water. They cook fresh fish and quail over an open fire, making new memories.
As the boys explore in the hills above Bethlehem, they find several caves hidden in the hillside. When they take a torch and enter a cave, they find some pieces of broken pottery, and several stone, spearheads.
The week slips by quickly. On the last day, they are climbing beside some huge boulders, when the youngest boy slips and falls into a deep crevice. He gets wedged between two rocks. The boys help Boaz rescue him. Boaz stops the bleeding and carries the injured boy down to the cabin. “I am glad my sister is not watching me today,” he tells his nephew, as he takes out a needle and thread and stitches up the nasty jagged wound, on the boy’s leg.
The busy week is over, and they pack up their gear and head for home. Some day I hope to have just as much fun with my own children. I wonder what is waiting for me back at home. I hope mother does not overdo it. What is Ruth doing? Next week Ruth will become my wife.

~~~~~~

Meanwhile back at Boaz’s house, Rahab has been having the time of her life. Skilled tradesmen and women worked for the week and changed everything. New carpets covered the floor, new window coverings, hung from most of the windows. All the walls and floors were spotless. Rahab walked around the house inspecting all the rooms. Everything is so fresh and clean. I wonder what Boaz will think? He might not be too happy. It will take him a while to get used to it. I hope I have not overdone it.
All of Boaz’s possessions are in my bedroom now… the room he was born in… the room I shared with his father for thirty years. It is a room built for a married couple, and since I am a widow, Boaz’s smaller room will be better for me. An assortment of, newly woven rugs, cover the freshly polished maple floors. Logs and kindling are waiting in the fireplace for some hot coals to ignite a cozy fire.
“MOTHER, what have you done?” Her daughters, Oliveta and Hadash stand in the doorway, staring with disbelief, at the changes made to the room.
“I love it.” Oliveta walks across the room and feels the bedspread. “Tina said you were in your bedroom, so we came up. Mother, the room is beautiful! Hadash, come feel this material.”
“Where did you get the blue cloth from, Mother? It is so soft.” Hadash examines the curtains prepared with the same soft blue material.
“Tina and I made the curtains and bedspread last winter. I wanted to change the scarlet drapes. They were getting old. What do you think? Will Ruth like it? I wanted something special for her, because she has gone through so much.”
“Ruth will love it,” Oliveta said. “This room is everything a woman could ever dream of, and more.”
“I love the way you have set up the room.” Hadash sits in the small chair by the fireplace. “This chair is the right size, for a woman with a small frame, like Ruth. It is so comfortable.”
“I am glad you girls are pleased. Keep it a secret from Boaz.”
Oliveta joins her sister at the fireplace and sits in the other chair. It swallows up her petite body. “Boaz will love this chair.”
“I am expecting Boaz and the boys back in time for lunch; your freedom will soon be over. The two of you had a lot of spare time this week. It must have been quiet without your six sons.” She chuckles, “they are a handful. I wonder how Boaz made out with them, for seven days.”
Oliveta reluctantly gets up out of the comfortable chair, “I am sure he made out fine, Mother…”
“It has been peaceful and quiet without our boys constantly underfoot,” Hadash said, as she followed her mother out the door.
Rahab stops at the bottom of the stairs, “I will go and ask Tina to bring us some tea, while we wait on the patio for our sons to return.”
The women are sitting enjoying their tea, when they hear a commotion at the barn.
Rahab rings for Tina. “They are back; please bring us some juice, and lots of food. We have seven hungry boys to feed.”
“Everything is ready for them, Rahab!”
Seven dirty boys, run up, to their mothers.
“You are all filthy! Go and wash before lunch and that includes you, Boaz. A basin of water with plenty of soap is on the washstand.”
Boaz gets up and starts to move toward the house. “I will change my clothes first, Mother.”
“Oh no you, don’t!” Rahab blocks the doorway. “You can not come in! This house is out of bounds! You will have to stay with Oliveta and her family until the night of your wedding. I have a bag packed for you, with everything you will need. If anything is missing, you can send for it.”
“What is this all about, Mother?” Boaz asks, with a chuckle. “You are kicking me out of my own house?”
“Yes, I am. I have a surprise for you and Ruth. If you go inside the house, it will spoil my fun. I love you. I hired extra servants to help Tina with all the preparations.
“You need a bath Boaz! No proper wife would want to come within a hundred feet of you, and you will have to burn your clothes!” she, exclaims.
“I will, as soon as I eat some real food Mother. I am starving!”
Tina and some of the servants bring out trays filled with an assortment of foods. A feast had been prepared for the return of the boys and Boaz. The boys help themselves to the food.
“Real food at last… You need to learn to cook like this before our next camping trip Boaz,” his young nephew cries, before he crams a piece of roast lamb into his mouth.
The boys talk about the adventures they had, they show off the artifacts they found.
The youngest boy points to the bandage on his leg and tells them about how everyone had to rescue him. He starts to tell how Boaz had to sew him up, but his grandmother stopped him.
“We do not talk about things like that at the dinner table,” she reminds him.
After lunch, the boys head for home. His sister sends a servant for the doctor, so he can look at her sons cut leg.
Boaz sits and talks with his mother. He can feel her love for him, as he looks deep into her eyes. Grey strands, streak through her raven black hair giving it a salt and pepper look. “I love you Mother. You have been most kind in all you have done to welcome Ruth. I need to change out of these dirty clothes. I will take your advice and burn them. As you so kindly informed me, no respectable wife would want to be seen with a man dressed in the filthy rags that I am wearing.”
Rahab laughs. “I see you have not lost your sense of humor, Boaz. Some things never change. I love you, my dear son. I have had tea with Naomi and Ruth several times this week. I already love Ruth as a daughter. You have done well in your choice of a wife. I pray that God will bless you in this union. I wish your father; Salmon could have lived long enough to meet Ruth, I know he would have loved her.”
“Have a good rest, Mother. The wedding is on Monday.”
Boaz picks up his package of clothes. He thinks about what will happen in the next few days. ‘God you blessed me with Godly parents.’ I miss you, my Father, why did you have to die. He thinks about Ruth, the woman who will soon become his wife. Tears of joy mingle with the dust on his cheeks, as he walks towards his sister’s house.
 


The Couple Stands Under the Chuppah

Rahab has the men set up the Chuppah in front of Boaz’s house. The wedding guests start to arrive. The procession, with Boaz and his groomsmen, will leave to get Ruth, as soon as it is dark. Torches are stuck in a pot of sand, waiting for the fire to ignite them. The wine and food are ready. The musicians are tuning their instruments.
Boaz sits and visits with his cousin, Abira, the son of Phinehas, who has come to perform the wedding. They talk about the many visits they had as children in Shiloh. “The baker’s son sent me with several platters of date swirls to serve at your wedding. The baker never stops talking about, how kind you were to him, all those years ago.”
“It seems like it was only yesterday, when I rode Buffy, my new donkey into Shiloh.”
“The sun has set; it is time to start,” Abira tells the guest.
He prays for Boaz and Ruth. ‘I pray that our God will follow you all through the streets of Bethlehem, as you go for Ruth. Bring her home to love, and to cherish. My prayer is that all your descendants, will follow in God’s ways, and may the world be blessed by them.’
Abira lights the first torch and hands it to Boaz. The guests, visiting from far away places, pass in front of Boaz, and light their torches from his torch. Soon, the streets are filled with light, as the procession wanders through the town of Bethlehem. The invited wedding guests come out from their homes and light their torches from the one Boaz holds, before joining in the festivities. The procession gets longer and louder as it snakes its way through the night.
As Boaz leads the procession, he thinks about what his mother had told him. “You will be expected to entertain, and have houseguests once you are married, Boaz. You are the leader of the tribe of Judah now. Your father, Salmon is dead.” She is right. I have been slacking off in my duties as leader of the tribe of Judah. I would prefer to have my hands in the soil, than deal with people’s soiled problems…
Ruth’s bridesmaids, the girls she had gleaned in the field with, and Mara, have pampered her for two weeks. Her body, oiled with sweet perfume, is soft and glistens, as the sun shines through the open window. Her manicured hands reach down and feel the soft material of her wedding dress.
Mara fusses with Ruth’s hair. Light brown ringlets, bounce off her shoulders. “I love you, dear-daughter-o-mine. May your womb be blessed many times with, children?” She wipes a tear from Ruth’s cheek, as she holds her in a warm embrace.
Ruth’s three friends are wearing cream-coloured dress befitting any princess. They do not look like the same girls who walked the fields and gleaned with Ruth all summer.
Boaz told them the week before, “The two older girls will go live at Ruth’s house after the wedding, so they could help Tina with the extra housework. The younger girl will stay at Mara’s house to help her with her chores.” The bridesmaids stand fidgeting with anticipation, waiting for Boaz to arrive.
Mara gently takes Ruth’s hand, “It is time to go. Boaz will be here in a few minutes.”
The women enter the front room. Ruth introduces Tirzah.
He bows, “The three of you are most kind for all you have done for Ruth. She is a stranger in this land, and you have become her special friends.”
Mara tenderly covers Ruth’s radiant face with a veil. “He is here!” she whispers. “I will always love you.”
Tirzah reassures Ruth. “Boaz will be an excellent husband. He has always been an honourable man. I would have become your Kinsman Redeemer myself, but Yaffa and I are getting married, in a few months. You will meet her today at your wedding.
There is a knock at the door.
Tirzah opens the door and ask, “Who is it?”
“It is Boaz, son of Salmon, grandson of Nahshon. My groomsmen and I have come to take Ruth to my home, for our wedding ceremony.”
 “Ruth and her bridesmaids are ready.”
Tirzah takes Ruth’s arm and walks with her beside Boaz. The groomsmen take the arms of the bridesmaids, and walk before Ruth and Boaz in a procession, holding bright oil lamps in front of them to cut through the darkness, as Boaz and Ruth walk behind them down the road toward his house.
Boaz stands under the Chuppah, made by his aunt and grandmother all those years ago in the wilderness. A tear comes to his eye as he remembers his father.
Abira starts the wedding ceremony. “Who gives this woman to become the wife of this man?”
Tirzah takes Ruth by the arm, and walks with her to Boaz’s side. “I Tirzah, Ruth’s closest relative, give Ruth to Boaz, to become his wife.” He lifts Ruth’s veil and asks Boaz, “Will you accept Ruth to be your wife?”
Boaz beholds the most radiant beautiful face he had ever seen in his life. It takes him a second to catch his breath. His emotions are going wild. “Yes, I will take Ruth to become my wife.” Boaz takes Ruth’s warm hand in his.
Abira goes through the wedding ceremony, and before Boaz knows it, he is a married man.
Everyone is happy for the couple. They celebrate, as they eat from the plates of mouth-watering food, and drink the wine. It is late at night before Boaz whispers in Ruth’s ear, causing her to blush, “It is time to go to our wedding chamber.”
Rahab draws near and embraces Ruth, then takes, Boaz aside, and whispers in his ear, “Take Ruth up to my bedroom. It is your bridal chamber. I love you. I will move in with Olivet for a while…”
He takes his wife’s hand and enters his home. “Everything in the house is different.” When they enter his parent’s bedroom, their bedroom now, they feel the warmth from a fire glowing in the fireplace. The Chuppah hangs from the ceiling above the bed. Fresh new carpets are on the floor. Soft blue curtains sway in the breeze blowing through the open window. The bedspread is a beautiful sky blue.
“Come and sit by the fire with me Ruth.” He leads her to the new chairs in front of the fireplace. “Would you like something to drink, or eat?”
“Some juice would be refreshing. I am thirsty.”
A side table is set with an assortment of food and drinks. Boaz fills a plate of light finger foods for Ruth and places it on a small table beside her. He returns with two tall goblets of juice. As he gives Ruth the juice, he shakes his head. “What has my mother done to our house?”
“What do you mean, Boaz?”
“The last time I was in this room Ruth, the curtains and bedspread were a bright scarlet red. There was a table and two uncomfortable hardback chairs in front of the fireplace.”
“The drapes do not look red, or scarlet to me.” Ruth walks across to the window to take a closer look at them. “They are lovely… I have never felt such soft linen.”
Boaz joins her at the window. The moonbeams expose the surrounding hills. The cool breeze feels refreshing. “I have something for you Ruth. It is a wedding gift from my mother.”
He reaches around Ruth’s neck and she feels the caressing touch of her husband’s fingers as he closes a clasp on a silver chain.
“Take a look.” He hands his wife a mirror, made with polished brass.
Something cool is hanging from a chain on her neck.
“Come closer to the fire and I will light an oil lamp.” Boaz takes her hand and guides her over to the fireplace. He lights the lamp. He reaches his hand up to Ruth’s throat, and holds the jewel between his fingers. The light from the oil lamp shines through a bright red ruby.
Ruth holds the mirror in front of her neck. She catches her breath when she sees the jewel shining back at her, “It is beautiful, Boaz!”
“My father’s mother gave this ruby to him when he was a small boy. Salmon gave it to Rahab before they were married. She wants you to have it.”
“It is so beautiful, Boaz!” she, exclaims softly. Are you sure, you want to give it to me?”
“Yes, you should ask Rahab about the ruby some day, it is a beautiful story.
“I have something else for you. He reaches into his belt and pulls out three cords that have been woven together… two red, and one white. Mother gave this braided cord to us as a wedding gift. I remember how my Mother held one just like it in her hands. She cried out to God, in anguish after my father died. She said that they had prayed together, holding their cord in their hands every night after they were married. They wove it together on their wedding night. It is a long story. Mother will tell you about it if you ask her. They called it, their Cord of Memories. This is the one she made for my father to take with him, whenever he traveled away from home.”
“I will treasure the Cord of Memories all my life and I will thank Rahab for it, the ruby, this beautiful room and most of all for you. I have grown to love your mother, Boaz. She has been so gentle and kind to me, ever since I met her.”
“I hope you can learn to love Rahab’s son, also.”
Ruth hesitates, “We do not even know each other.”
“Well let me introduce myself,” Boaz teases. He gently places his hands on Ruth’s shoulders and smiles down at her. “I am Boaz, the husband of the most kind, loving and don’t forget beautiful, woman I have ever met.”
Ruth laughs and carries on with the fantasy. “I am Ruth, the wife of the most kind, caring, handsome, man I have ever met.”
Boaz gathers Ruth in his arms and gently takes her back to his overstuffed chair. He sits down holding her in his arms until the fire dies. “We had better get some sleep.”
Ruth goes behind the screen and dresses in a pale pink nightgown. It is so soft.
Boaz is in the bed waiting for her. He pulls Ruth into his arms and holds his wife, the special jewel that God provided for him. “I will always love you Ruth. You are the answer to my prayers. I will be there for you at all times. I am honoured to be your Kinsmen Redeemer as well as your husband.”
 


Keep it a Secret

Ruth and Boaz have been married for a year. Fall has arrived and the harvest is over again for the year.
 Boaz’s nieces and nephews play and laugh in the courtyard.
“Aunt Ruth, can you come out and play?”
“Let me get my hat first,” Jewel.
Every afternoon, Ruth has tea with Rahab and her family.
Never again would she have to glean in the barley harvest. To fill her time she spent the warm afternoons working in the kitchen garden, with her new nieces.
Her two friends who were her bridesmaids, and now are her servants, cannot do enough for her. They race to see who will get to her first, whenever Ruth rings the bell. Her other friend still works for Mara.
Rahab spends many afternoons teaching Ruth, and her two daughters, the secret of making soft linen. “Take the linen cloth after it is woven, and pound it gently, between two pieces of hard wood, until the fibers become soft.”
They all practice pounding the cloth.
“The next step is harder. The lilac saffron crocuses we use to make dye are ready. They only bloom in the fall.” Rahab takes the women up the hill. “Pick several baskets of these small lilac flowers.” It takes them days to pick the small delicate lilac crocus. “Now remove the yellow centers from each flower. We will dry and use them in our cooking. It will turn our food a light yellow.”
“Let the flowers dry in the hot sun. That is the easy part.”
A few days later, the women gather around Rahab in the courtyard. The water, in the big pot where they wash their clothes, is boiling. “Today we will turn our bright white piece of cloth into a soft lilac. Who wants to be first?”
Ruth volunteers, “I do!”
Rahab hands Ruth the jar of dried lilac flowers. “Take two scoops of the dried flowers and put them into this small pot of boiling water. Boil them about five minutes.” The water turns a dark purple.
“Add two scoops of this powdered lime, from kiln burned limestone, and stir it into the boiling water. This is to help set the colour and stop it from running.”
“Strain the purple dye, through a piece of cloth, into this big pot of boiling water.” The pot of water turns a dark purple.
“Add several pieces of the linen to the pot. Stir the cloth for a more even colour and let it soak until it becomes the right shade. It is important to dye everything you are using, in one outfit, at the same time, or you will have several different shades. It will not look right.
“Take the cloth out and hang it on the line. When it is dry, rinse it several times in cold water, until the water is clear, and then let it dry in the hot sun.”
The women spend the afternoon making lilac cloth. They add more dried flowers to the small pot of water to make more dye.
Two days later, the women gather to press the cloth.
Rahab covers a big table, with a blanket, and then she places the cloth that Ruth dyed on it. She covers it with a damp white cloth, to protect it from the hot iron and starts to smooth out the wrinkles. “Make sure the metal is not too hot.
Ruth’s lilac cloth is as soft as the curtains in her bedroom. “Rahab the cloth is wonderful,” she holds it up to face and feels the softness. Thank you, for teaching me how to make this cloth.”
“It has been a privilege for me, to pass on the skills that my grandmother and my mother taught me. I wish you could have met my, Mother. I know you would have loved each other.”
Ruth folds the cloth, “My stomach is a bit upset. I will go sit by the brook and rest for a while.”
She wanders down to the brook. Boaz arrives soon after and sits beside her. He removes his sandals, and reaches for her hand. Their feet dangle in the cool running water. “Do I have to make an appointment to see my wife? I have looked everywhere for you.”
“Your mother taught us how to make soft lilac cloth this week. I am tired and needed some peace and quiet… so I came here. My stomach is not feeling well.”
“Are you all right?”
“I will feel better in about six months. I went to see Leona yesterday. She told me, that I would be having a baby in the spring! We will be parents, Boaz!”
Boaz is tongue-tied. “We are going to have a baby? We will be parents?”
“Yes Boaz, God is good!”
“Have you told anyone yet?”
“No, I wanted to tell you first.”
“We are going on a trip Rahab and Mara will be joining us. Do you think you should travel in your condition?”
“Having a baby will not stop me, if the trip is soon.”
“We will start for Bethel in two days, to visit with Aunt Beth. Keep it a secret.”
“I will start packing. Could you stop by Mara’s and ask her to join us for tea today? Tell her that I have a piece of lilac cloth for her.”
“Keep quiet and do not say anything to Mother.”
Boaz puts his sandals on, and pulls his wife to her feet. He holds her, ever so gently in his arms, as he places his hand on her stomach. “Our son or daughter is growing inside of you. I love you, my dear wife, and soon to be mother of our first child. You are special, and will make a wonderful mother.”
His heart is lighter as he takes Mara some fresh, churned cheese. The door is ajar, “Are you home?”
Mara opens the door welcoming Boaz into her home. “What brings you to this side of town?”
“I was checking out the dairy just down the road, so I brought you some cheese.”
Accepting the gift of cheese, she inquires, “How are Rahab and Ruth?”
“They are both fine. Ruth wants you to come for tea, at two this afternoon… something about a lilac piece of cloth she dyed for you.”
 


Start Making Baby Clothes

Mara, Ruth, and Rahab are in the sunroom talking, when Boaz enters.
“Good, you make it for tea,”
Boaz gives each of the women a kiss on the cheek, ending with his wife. He pats her stomach and gives her a big hug. “How are my three most favourite women this afternoon?”
“We are all fine,” Ruth smiles shyly, as Boaz sits in the chair next to hers.
Ruth rings the little bronze bell, and Tina comes into the sunroom.
Boaz rises to welcome Tina home. “I am glad you are back from visiting your family, Tina. We missed your cooking. Did you have a good rest?” He winks at her.
“Yes, Boaz it was good to have a rest. I have spent the whole morning baking.” She has to pretend she has a cough, to stifle the laughter that is welling up inside her. Boaz shared a secret with her that she cannot reveal.
“We are ready for our afternoon tea Tina; it is good to have you home.” Ruth removes her sewing from the table.
Tina and Ruth’s two friends, enter the room, carrying a pot of hot tea and several plates of fresh baked delicacies.
Ruth starts to pour the tea.
Boaz takes a fresh baked date swirl, “My favourite!” He savors his first bite of the sweet date cookie in his mouth. “As good as they get. Tina is the greatest cook we ever had.”
“Ruth and I missed Tina’s baking, the past few weeks. No one can bake like her. We were happy to have her come home yesterday.” They sit and enjoy their afternoon tea together.
Boaz gets to his feet and stands in front of his mother and Mara. “Ruth and I have two things to tell you; first we will be leaving in two days to go on a surprise trip. You need to pack enough for two weeks. Next you will need to start making baby clothes when we get home, because Ruth is having a baby.”
The two older women did not catch the meaning of the last sentence right away, because they started asking Boaz more information about the trip.
Then it dawned on Rahab, “What did you just say? Ruth is pregnant!” She jumps up and almost spills her hot tea into her lap.
“Yes Mother, Ruth will be giving you and Mara a grandchild in the spring. I will be a father.”
The women forget the news about the trip, and embrace Ruth and Boaz. The questions start to flow. Women talk… the kind not meant for mens ears.
“I will come back later. Thank you, for the tea.” Boaz quietly slips out of the room to let the women chat. They do not even hear him go. I have a few tings to accomplish this afternoon, if the surprise I have planned, for later in the day, will be a success.
The women spend the whole afternoon planning the arrival of the baby, and questioning whether Ruth should travel in her delicate condition.
The sun is making a long shadow before Mara gets up to leave. “It is time for me to go home, I have been here for hours, and it is getting late.”
Boaz enters the room and stops Mara from leaving, “Wait Mara, I have another surprise waiting, and the surprise is for you!” He reaches up and ties a blindfold, around her eyes. “Do not peek.”
Boaz feels that the look of bewilderment on the faces of his mother and Ruth is worth every cent he spent on the surprise. He takes Mara’s hand then motions for Rahab and Ruth to follow him. Boaz leads Mara across the courtyard and stands in front of the new house. He takes the blindfold from around her eyes. “What do you see Mara?”
“I see the new house. The one you have been building for the pasts few months.”
“You mean, YOUR new house, Mara!”
“My new house?”
“It is all yours Mara; I had my men build this house, especially for you. It is your new home now. I want you to feel more a part of our family. You live on the other side of town and do not have the energy, to come and visit with us, as often as you want to. You will not have as far to walk to see us now. Boaz opens the front door. Everyone come inside and look around.” He chuckles when he sees their shocked expressions. He tells them. “While you talked the men and I moved all of Mara’s possessions into her new home. The timing of the birth announcement could not have been better. I planed on the news of the trip to distract the three of you for the whole afternoon, but the news of becoming a father, is even better. Come and look at the dining room.”
Ruth’s servants have the table set for supper.
Tina, Oliveta, and Hadash, come out of the kitchen, with big smiles on their faces, to join them.
“Tina, Oliveta, and Hadash organized the interior for me. You all assumed Tina was away, but she was here all the time. She sneaked across to Oliveta’s house every night to sleep, and came back early in the morning before you were up.”
“You are not the only one who can pull off a surprise, Mother. Tina will be leaving next week, while we are away, for a well deserved vacation.”
Tina, Oliveta, and Hadash take the women on a tour of the house. It is simple, yet charming. There is a fireplace in Mara’s bedroom to remove the chill in the evening. New woven carpets are on the floors to keep the home warm. They had thought of everything. The house will be comfortable for Ruth’s, mother-in-law.
Both, Oliveta and Hadash’s, husbands enter the house. They helped do most of the fine woodworking. “Are we too early for supper?”
“No, the women are exploring the house. Can I pour you some wine?” Boaz stands by the sideboard, and pours three goblets of wine.
The women return to the dining room. Ruth puts her arms around her husband. “This is the best gift you could ever give me.” They pass dry cloths around… not to wipe dirty hands, but to catch the tears that are falling.
Boaz’s mother, Rahab puts her hands on his shoulders and looks deep into his eyes, “and I never thought you could keep a secret. I was thinking about having you move Mara into our home, but this is better. I love you, son of mine.”
“I love you, Mother.”
He tells his sisters, “I have one more announcement to make. Oliveta and Hadash, you are going to be aunts again. Ruth is expecting.”
All during supper and well into the evening the families rejoice together.

~~~~~~

The trip to Bethel did not take long. The roads had improved with travel, and they had no livestock to slow them down.
Beth is delighted when she sees her sister, Rahab. “You both look just like your mother,” Ben teased.
Rahab introduces Mara and Ruth. They tell her about the coming baby.
The five women spent lazy afternoons drinking mint tea, and watching all the children play. Ruth rubs her stomach and feels her baby kick for the first time. Soon, you will grow up and have fun, playing with your cousins.
Boaz shows the men how to work with the new plows he had made for them. He had melted some old swords and turned the swords into plowshares.
Boaz was always thinking up new ways to make farming easier, and more productive.
They walked around the farms. They shared ideas of how to do things differently, to make the work more efficient, and easier.
The women spend many afternoons sharing some of the interesting stories, from their past.
“Remember when you answered the door of the inn, Rahab? You let those two fierce Israelites into our inn. Our lives have not been the same since.”
One of the twins would say Remember when and then they would tell a new story.
“Remember when the soldiers started to search the inn for Salmon and Ben? God intervened, and the soldiers left empty handed.”
“Remember when you fell and hit your head Rahab? We never thought you would ever wake up.”
“Remember when you sat on the floor, tying all those knots in the scarlet cords, Beth? They sure clashed with your red hair.”
“Remember when I was taken prisoner by the soldiers, Rahab? I still have nightmares of what they did to me. It was so bad that I never told any one. Not even Ben has heard about what they did, when they tortured me.”
“Remember when I found the ruby and gave it back to Salmon, its rightful owner; only to have him give it to me as a gift the day before he left for Bethlehem? Then I lost it and Salmon found it in a pile of wheat. It took several hours, of laughter and tears, to explain that story.”
“Remember when the bandits came and took Sam, Boaz, and Yair captive? How Boaz jabbed his knife into the horse, causing it to buck, sending him flying like a bird through the air.”
Ruth and Mara spent time, sharing some of their own stories with Beth and Rahab.
The four women became closer as they shared their memories. God had been with them and blessed them all through their life.
Mara, told them, “After my husband became sick and died, my two sons supported me. Ten years later they both died leaving me stranded, a penniless widow, in a foreign land. My daughter- in-law Ruth refused to return to her rich parent’s home and leave me alone. Instead, she insisted on traveling with me to Bethlehem, to care for me.
“She went out into the hot sun and gleaned in the fields of Boaz, to provide food when there was none left in the house. She loved me, a bitter old woman even after I changed my name from Naomi, to Mara, which means bitter.”
Ruth told them with tears streaming down her cheeks. “I miss my family. We lived on the fertile Plains of Moab on the east side of the Jordan River across from Jericho. Father was a rich farmer with many livestock. We lived in a big house with lots of servants.
“I met Mahlon, when Naomi’s husband, Elimelech and their sons came to work for my father. We had only been married a few years, when he died.
“It was hard to leave my mother, father and all my brothers and sisters, but Naomi was all alone in the world. She needed me! We love each other.”
It is heartbreaking for Rahab and Beth the day they have to part. The two weeks had gone before they knew it, and miles would separate the sisters and friends again. Good-byes are never easy.
 


Naomi Has a Son

Sitting her aching body into her husband’s extra big chair, Ruth tries to relax.
Because the fall planting is in full swing, her husband Boaz has to leave before sunrise to check on the farm workers. Rahab misses having him with her. He makes sure to stoke the fire before he leaves, so the bedroom is warm and cozy with the heat radiating from the glowing fireplace. How long would Boaz be gone this time?
A light blue bedspread covered the new-feathered bed. It looked so inviting. With a thankful heart, she looks affectionately at Rahab, her mother-in-law. ‘God, you have truly blessed me with the love of Rahab my kind loving mother-in-law.’ Not wanting to disturb Rahab, she tries to get more comfortable in the over stuffed chair. It is hard to do when you are nine months pregnant. I guess Boaz will not make it home tonight.
Rahab, Mara, Tina and Leona, are taking turns sitting with Ruth around the clock, whenever Boaz is away.
Rahab stretches and gets up from her chair, “How long have I been asleep?”
“Not long Mother. I am ready to go to bed now.”
“I will ring for Tina and Leona… they will help you.”
Leona and Tina come running. “Is it time?”
“No, Ruth is tired, and wants to lie down.”
They help Ruth get ready for bed.
The feather-filled bed, felt so good. Ruth could finally relax and stretch out her tired limbs. I hope the baby comes soon.
After fluffing, the pillows to make her more comfortable, Tina and Rahab start towards the door. “Leona will sit with you, while we get a bite to eat,” Rahab told her.
Leona takes this opportunity to examine Ruth. “The baby will likely be born tonight. I am glad I moved in with you until the baby is born. More babies are born in the middle of the night, when everyone should be sleeping. I have lost about three years of sleep, delivering babies. I was here the night Boaz was born.”
About an hour later, there is a commotion at the door. Mara enters the room, “I have brought you a tray of food and something to drink, in case you get hungry in the middle of the night.” Most of Ruth meals had gone back to the kitchen, untouched, for the past week.
“That was thoughtful of you, Mara, you are most kind.”
Leona sits down in the chair by the bed. “I will stay with Ruth, while the three of you go and get some much needed rest. I will call you when you are needed.”
Mara bends down and kisses Ruth on the cheek, “See you in the morning. I love you.”
It is awkward for Ruth to find a comfortable spot in the bead. Sleeping is impossible. She thinks back, to the first time she saw Boaz. He looked so big and strong as he sat on his black stallion. I will always remember the night he covered me with his blanket. He told me to stay until morning. I fell in love with him then. It is late before she is able to sleep.
Shortly after midnight, the caressing touch of her husband’s fingers awakens her. The firewood has burned to ashes, and the room has a slight chill.
“How are you feeling, my love? Sorry, I dozed, and let the fire die down.” He gets up from the uncomfortable chair and gives her a kiss. “I will go stir up the ashes and start another fire.” He bends down and stirs the embers back to life. He puts some small branches on the burning embers, and the fire roars in the fireplace once more. Soon there is the sweet smell of burning sesban in the bedroom. Ruth and Boaz sit and talk for a while. “Do you want anything, Ruth?”
“No I am fine, Boaz. Just having you home is enough. Leona told me the baby might be born tonight.”
“I am glad I made it home. I want to be with you when our baby is born. The fall planting is being supervised by Yoel, so I can stay with you, until after our baby is born.”
“It is hard to get comfortable, Boaz. Will you rub my back?”
Boaz rubs Ruth’s back. “Is this better?”
“No, it doesn’t help.”
“I will go find Leona. I sent her to bed when I arrived home. She looked tired.”
“Something is not right.” All of a sudden, Ruth feels a sharp pain. “I need Leona now, the baby is coming!”
Boaz runs out the door. “Leona, Mother, the baby is coming!”
Leona runs into the room, followed by Rahab and Tina.
“The baby is coming! Ruth cries,” as a contraction grips her, and she feels the first pains of childbirth.
“We are here to help you.” Rahab tells her, as she places a cool cloth on Ruth’s head.
Leona starts to unpack her birthing bag, and places everything she needs for the birthing at her fingertips. “Boaz, go get Mara. Tina, bring a basin of hot water from the fireplace. Rahab help me make the bed.”
Everything speeds up, and within a few hours, Ruth is holding her baby boy in her arms.
Leona, wraps him in a pale blue swaddling cloth, and hands him to Rahab. “Rahab and Mara, you have a grandson.”
Leona and Tina work together to remove all the evidence of the birth, while the two grandmother’s fuss over the new little baby.
Leona picks up the basin, and tells them on her way out of the room, “I will get Boaz.”
Boaz comes running into the room, “Is Ruth all right?”
“Your wife has had a baby boy. You are a father. Ruth is tired and will need to rest.”
Rahab hands Boaz, his newborn son. “Go and sit by the fire and get acquainted.”
Boaz sits in the chair by the fireplace, enamored with his first-born son, while Ruth sleeps.
The grandmothers watch him with the baby. He counts every tiny finger and examines all the wrinkles on his newborn sons face. They try to stay awake, but it has been a long night.
Rahab rises tentatively and moves her arms and legs trying to get the circulation going. She is not as young as she used to be. “Ruth will sleep until morning, Boaz. Mara and I need some sleep. We will see you in the morning. Call me if you need anything. I will take the baby with me, so he does not wake Ruth.”
Rahab takes her grandson to her bedroom, and sits rocking the baby in her arms for a while. ‘God, You have blesses me with this special little grandson.’ She puts the sleeping baby in the cradle by her bed, the same one used by all her grandchildren.
I will give the cradle to Ruth and Boaz in the morning. Salmon spent hours making it for me. He brought it up to our bedroom, the night Boaz was born.
Rahab caresses the Cord of Memories by the door with her fingers. I gave Ruth and Boaz, Salmon’s Cord of Memories on their wedding night; the one he carried with him whenever he traveled away from home. I wanted them to carry on our family tradition of praying together, as husband and wife.
She tenderly removes her cord from the hook by the door. After we were married, Salmon and I prayed every evening, before we went to bed. We held, the Cord of Memories in our hands, and thanked God for the special day. We always asked God to be with us, and our family. She takes the cord and sits in her favourite chair by the open window.
Rahab sees the sunrise. It is a new day. A warm breeze is causing the scarlet drapes to flutter. She reaches out and holds the scarlet cord in her hand. The feel of it reassures her of God’s love. I watched Salmon and Ben climb down the scarlet cord all those years ago.
She picks up the Cord of Memories once more. As she remembers each experience from her past, she is reminded that God had been with her, all of her life. She thinks back to all the tears she had wept, while holding the cord of memories in her hands; both sad and happy memories. ‘Many mornings I have woken up with it, clutched in my hands God. The Cord of Memories never had a chance to dry out, the month after Salmon died. It was a freak accident two years ago, that took the only man I have ever loved, away from me.’
Rahab gets drowsy and falls to sleep, still holding the Cord clutched to her heart. A noise in the room startles her. It is the crying of her grandson. Holding him in her arms, she sings him a love song. He continues to cry. “Do you need your mother… what is you name, little fellow?”
She changes his diaper then returns him to Ruth’s room. “Your son is hungry,” she hands him to, his mother to nurse. The big chair by the fireplace looks so inviting, so she wraps herself in a warm comforter, and talks with Mara, about all the excitement, that has been taking place in their lives.
When the baby is finished nursing, Ruth calls for the two women to join her. She gently passes her newborn son to Mara.
“Mara, as is the custom of the Israelites, I give you my first born son, to nurture and raise as your own, to carry on your deceased husband, Elimelech’s name, so his name will not be lost forever, from the records in Bethlehem.”
“You have given my joy back to me once more, Ruth. You are my blessed daughter-in-love.” Holding her new little son to her bosom Mara tells everyone in the room, “From this day forward, my name will be Naomi once again. God has given me a son, and restored my joy! No more will people have to call me Mara, which means bitter! How can any woman in Israel, that holds her son in her arms, be called bitter? I am Naomi once again, which means pleasant!”
“My neighbours told me yesterday that, “my daughter-in-law Ruth, is more blessed to me, than seven sons,” and they are right.” Tears fall on the black curly hair of Naomi’s little son, as she rocks him in her arms.
Boaz sits holding his loving wife Ruth’s hand, with his mother Rahab sitting beside him. The three of them wipe away their tears, as they watch Naomi cuddle her son.
All the friends of Naomi rejoice with her that afternoon, as they announce in Bethlehem. “Naomi has a son.”
On the eighth day, Naomi accompanies Ruth, Boaz and Rahab, to see the priest. He will circumcise, the baby boy, as is the custom in Israel.
The priest speaks. “Boaz, what is the name you have chosen for your son?”
Boaz looks at Ruth, Naomi and Rahab, with a startled look on his face. They had forgotten to talk about a name for the baby.
Naomi’s friends save the day. They shout out, “Obed” and the Priest gives Boaz’s son, the name, “Obed.”
When they get home, Ruth is tired. She sits in her comfortable chair by the fire, and nurses Obed, then hands him back to Naomi to hold.
Rahab sits by the fireplace in Ruth’s bedroom, watching Naomi rocking Obed, her son.
Rahab snuggles into a warm comforter, “The evenings are getting cooler now.”
Boaz joins them by the fire. “Do you want some tea?”
Rahab takes a sip of tea. “That feels better. How was you visit with your friends today, Naomi? What did they think of Obed?”
“My friends are so happy for me. They said to me, “We praise the Lord for you today, Naomi. He has provided a family protector for you. We pray that Obed will become famous all over Israel, like his grandfather Salmon. We thank God that you are no longer bitter. We rejoice that you are pleasant once more. Obed will make your life new again, Naomi. He will take care of you when you are old. He is the son of your very own daughter-in-law, Ruth.” “I agreed with what they said. I told them how much I love them, and in my heart, I have forgiven them for all the cruel words they said to me. Ruth, I love you as if you were my own daughter. I thank God for the blessings of the special daughter-in-love He gave to me.”
“What a lovely thing to say to me, Naomi. I do love you as a mother.”
“I love you also, Rahab. You have been so good to me. You took me into your home, and provided so much for me, a stranger here in Bethlehem.”
Naomi starts to weep with joy. Rahab and Ruth embrace both Naomi and Obed. “Now our lives are complete.” The tears of the three women combine, as they fall on Obed’s raven black hair.
 


Epilogue

A month later, the father reads the last paragraph from the scroll to his wife and son.
…Naomi starts to weep with joy. Rahab and Ruth embrace both Naomi and Obed. “Now our lives are complete.” The tears of the three women combine, as they fall on Obed’s raven black hair.
“You can open the pouch now, Solomon. I think I know what is inside…”
Solomon picks up the pouch and unties the braided cord. He pulls out a red ruby on a silver chain. Tied to the necklace is a note. He hands it to his father to read.
King David reads the note to his son and wife.
Some day one of my ancestors will take the time to read, “The Scarlet Cord, Rahab’s Story.” When you do, I want you to give this red ruby to a special woman in your life, your mother, your daughter, or your wife. Please ask her to pass it on to the next generation. Do this in memory of your ancestors, who lived the story you just read. They were Rahab, Salmon, Ruth, Boaz, Naomi, and baby Obed.
Ruth
“Father, can we give the red ruby to mother. She is special.”
“That is the choice I would make, she is very special. David takes the red ruby from Solomon’s hands, reaches around his wife, Bathsheba’s neck, and fastens the clasp of the silver chain. The red ruby sparkles, when a sunbeam shines on it. David holds his wife in his arms, as he wipes her tears away.
Solomon tenderly embraces his mother and shows her The Scarlet Cord. Touching the ruby that is on her neck with his fingers he says, “Mother, this ruby is from my great, great, great grandmother, Rahab and her husband Salmon. Their daughter in law Ruth wants you to wear it, so you will remember their story.”
“The ruby is beautiful, Solomon. I will wear it always.” Bathsheba enfolds Solomon in her arms. Tears fall on Solomon’s hair, just as Ruth’s, Rahab’s, and Naomi’s tears fell on Obed’s hair, all those years ago.
 


Acknowledgments

 

I want to thank Mimi Wagstaff, a friend from church. She painstakingly spent hours reading this book, word by word. Mimi took time from her busy schedule to give the book a final edit. I believe God sent her into my life to help me.
I want to give special thanks to my friend Linda Thomason from Brewster, Washington because she corrected my first draft.
I cannot forget my sister Barbara Kernohan, as she supported me from beginning to end. She was only a phone call or e-mail away when I needed a sounding block.
Family and friends have helped by never giving up on my dream and encouraging me. I want to give thanks to my two precious daughters, Jane and Sandra who put up with a messy house, because I was so busy typing that I forgot there was housework to do.
God inspired me to write this book. I kept thinking to myself, He doesn’t know what He is doing, yet I felt called to write this story, plus many others over the years. To this day, I still struggle with witting, spelling and grammar. This is why it was so important for me to have help from others with editing.
While I was working at a camp for children several years ago, the camp director came up to me and asked me if I was a school teacher. I told him, “No, I was a grade nine drop out.” On Friday evening, he came up to me and said you do have a degree after all. He told me that I have the MASTER’S degree because I was working for Jesus.
When we go out and serve Jesus, we all have the MASTER’S degree. He equips us with skills to do His work and sends others to help us.
Ethel (Hiday) Wicksey
Please let me know what you think of the book and if you want a hard copy let me know at

ethel_wicksey@live.ca

They are $21.00 plus shiping and handling

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