The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison. Before Rahab laid them under stalks of flax in order to hide them from the soldiers of the King, she said, “I know that Hashem has given you the Land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the Land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
“When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for Hashem your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by Hashem, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, especially our little children, and deliver our lives from death.”
So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the Land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you. We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the Land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father, and your mother, and your brothers, and the little children, and all your father’s household.”
“It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.”
She said, “According to your words, so be it.”
So the men hid upon Rahab’s roof under the flax until the city gates were shut and they would be free of pursuers. Then she prepared let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.
She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.”
So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
And so it was after Israel had crossed the Jordan, and after the circumcision of all the males of Israel, and after the armies of Hashem had circled the city of Jericho for seven days with the Priests carrying the Ark of Hashem, and seven Priests blew seven trumpets of ram’s horns, that the walls of the city fell and the Israelite army invaded.
Joel and Josiah saw that there was a scarlet thread suspended from the window of the household of Rahab the harlot, and Joel spread the word, “Let no harm come to anyone in the household of Rahab, for we have spared her and everyone in her father’s household, even the little children, of any harm due to the kindness she showed us when we spied out the city.”
Israel assented and entered the city, and by the edge of the sword, Hashem’s army began to utterly destroy everyone they encountered, man and woman, young and old, even the ox, and sheep, and donkey were slain in the carnage.
Saraia was only five years old when the walls fell, and her mother Rahab had told her all about the Children of Israel, of their God Hashem, God of the Hebrews, and especially of the pretty golden Ark carried by the Priests, and the voice of Hashem who spoke from between the wings of angels.
Everyone was very afraid, and they huddled together in the upper rooms high in the city walls, those which had not fallen, but she was not afraid. The two men told Mama that as long as she hung the red string out of their window, they wouldn’t hurt anyone in their family.
She really, really wanted to see the pretty golden angels on top of the Ark.
So Saraia crept down the stairs with only a candle to light her way. No one would be able to hear her because the fighting outside was so loud. Then she opened the door facing inside the city and peeked out. The fighting had already passed by this way.
“Where is everyone? Where are the Priests with the Ark?”
The little girl opened the door and darted outside, looking for the Israelites. Asholam, an Israelite, had circled back and slain a man of Jericho who had broken ranks and attempted to flee the city. He ran into the child, knocking her to the ground.
They had killed almost everyone, from the most elderly in the city, to the tiniest babe. In a wave of rage and justice, he raised his bloody sword over the terrified girl, but before he could bring it down, his right wrist was seized, and a man loudly shouted, “Stop!”
It was Josiah, one of the spies.
“She’s just one more. What are you doing?”
“I know her. She is of Rahab’s household.”
“She is outside of your promise of protection. The fault is her’s.” Asholam struggled to free his wrist so he could execute a killing stroke and end the life of one more inhabitant of Jericho.
“No. It must stop with this one child. I gave her mother my word. Does Hashem make war on children?”
“The order came from His Prophet and our commander Joshua, so yes.”
“If you do this, the blood will be on my hands. If your lust for death is so great, then slay me.” Josiah released Asholam, stepped back three paces and held his arms at his side. “I will not defend myself.”
Asholam looked at his comrade and then back down at Saraia, who was so terrified, she could only lie in the dirt trembling. Her face was dirty, and her tears cut pathways for the tiniest rivulets across her cheeks.
Then he sheathed his sword. “You are right, brother. Let mercy begin with sparing a single child.”
Josiah ran to Saraia and picked her up, and whispering in her ear said, “Remember me?”
Saraia looked into his eyes and then buried her face in his shoulder and hysterically wept.
Then both Josiah and Joel, who had just arrived, wondering what had become of his friend, went in and brought out Rahab and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives, and particularly all of the little children, including Saraia, and placed them outside the camp of Israel.
They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Hashem. However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she lived in the midst of Israel for many years, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
And as the armies of Hashem left the burning city, at their head were the Priests, and at the head of the Priests was carried the Ark of Hashem. Saraia’s terror fled her, and was replaced with awe and wonder at the sight of the Ark, and along with her mother and her mother’s mother and father, and all of their household, sojourned among Israel, and their God was her God, forever and for all time.
Saraia grew to fine womanhood devoted to Hashem the God of Israel, and married and raised her own children among the Israelite people.
I wrote this for First Line Friday: June 22nd, 2018 hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Today, anyone wishing to participate should use the sentence, The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison as the first line in a short story, a poem, or some other creative work.
I swear, the first thing I thought about was Rahab and the two Israelite spies on the rooftop of her home in Jericho as related in Joshua 2. I decided to use that content, as well as the narrative found in Joshua 6 as the basis for my tale.
But this story has already been told. Why tell it again?
Since there is still a lot of confusion regarding the children who were separated from their parents as they attempted to enter the US from Mexico as far as how to reunite them, I thought I’d use the theme of children in peril here.
I did a fair amount of copying and pasting from Joshua 2 and 6, and as you have read, no one except Rahab’s family was spared, not the oldest men and women, and not the children.
It’s hard to read and even harder to fathom.
So I played fast and loose with the Biblical narrative and created a situation where a child had to be spared, even though during the invasion of Jericho, she most likely would have been killed.
Oh, except for Rahab and Joshua, I made up the names of the other characters, since the names of the spies or the members of Rahab household were not related in scripture. Hashem in Hebrew literally means “the Name,” and is a circumlocution for the sacred name of God.