15. Salmon ben Nahshon
Joshua 2; Matthew 1:5
My commander, Joshua ben Nun, ordered me to keep an account of our actions as Israel begins to occupy this new land. Three days ago, I returned from a reconnaissance mission with a man from the Second Sling Group of the Benjamite division. Joshua wanted detailed information about Jericho and the surrounding territory.
We entered the market there unnoticed, because a camel caravan bolted down the aisle of fig seller’s stalls, creating havoc. The city is rich, and its citizens display their prosperity in gold and silver jewelry and imported Babylonian garments.
We moved steadily through the streets, taking note of gates and guard towers, and the armaments of the fighting men. Their king must be paranoid—his palace guards were many and obvious. By the ninth hour, we’d explored much of the city and were on the upper level of the walls. My partner grew edgy. He grabbed my shoulder and muttered in my ear. I shrugged him off. He struck my upper arm, and nodded in the direction of a pair of soldiers. We’d been noticed. One of them dashed away.
“In here,” I said, and ducked through a doorway. Three men at a table gnawed the bones of a roasted fowl.
“Rahab,” one called, “More wine.”
The woman who brought the pitcher wore fine linen, and a great deal of kohl and henna. Her hand lingered on the customer’s shoulders long enough to make me sure I’d never tell my brother’s family anything about this part of my adventure. My partner stared, flatfooted. I elbowed him in the ribs, then wished I hadn’t, since my action caught her attention.
She set the pitcher on the table, and approached us. She appraised us, head to foot, and beckoned. When I hesitated, the Benjamite gave me a shove. Through another room where a loom stood, and up a flight of stairs, Rahab led us to her roof. It stunk up there. Without saying a word, she made it clear that we were to burrow under the heaps of rotten flax.
My pounding heart made shallow breaths difficult, but it was the only way not to gag. I tried to leave a good-sized gap in the covering, in hope of a breeze, but she kicked more flax between my face and the sunlight. Through the common room, up the stairwell, came the sound of a spear butt thudding against the door. Rahab rushed down the steps.
When her voice rose to my ears, I pushed aside more of the slimy flax and drew a few deep lungfuls of fresher air. Downstairs, she was combining smooth lies with vivid descriptions of the plagues that had forced the Egyptians to set our ancestors free. I held my breath and eased into a different position. My robes were soaked and increasingly stained. After the soldiers left, the woman’s usual customers returned. I rehearsed the day’s events, organizing the report I’d present to Joshua. Sweat trickled along my nose while the afternoon heat built to a stewing intensity.
When the setting sun slid to the top of the wall and shone directly in my eyes, I squeezed them shut. Eventually the wall blocked the light, and my spying partner dared to stir. Then Rahab returned and crushed the flax stalks on the far end of the heap with her hackle. “Come out, Israelites.” She led us into her weaving room. “Spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.”
“Our lives for your lives,” I said. Then she tied a red rope to her heavy loom, and we climbed down from the window and hid in the hills, before returning to Joshua ben Nun.
Now, I sprint through dusty air, toward the one segment of wall still standing. I look up, while wiping my watery eyes. The red cord, the signal of our covenant with the woman, swings from her windowsill. I clamber over the rubble to her door. My Benjamite spying partner follows.
“Rahab,” I shout, “It’s Salmon ben Nahshon. It’s safe to come out.” She steps out, followed by her extended family. I lead them away from the battle.
My tent is on the eastern perimeter of our camp, and I’ll settle this woman and her relatives just outside the picket line, because she has professed that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
Heidi Dru Kortman DTM
God's gifts and call are irrevocable.
Heidi Dru Kortman,
a CWG Apprentice graduate, ACFW member since 2004, and Word Weaver member has published devotionals in various newsletters, and a collected volume of devotionals. Her poetry, flash fiction, and short stories have appeared in small magazines, and a website. She is applying herself to the task of writing smoothly polished fiction.