Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

The Walls of Jericho

Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, was succeeded by Joshua, the great captain, whose mission it was to conquer the promised land for God’s people.

Joshua was already eighty years of age, but he had shown his skill as captain in the beginning of his career by winning a victory over the Amalekites, and lately by conquering the land east of the Jordan. As he had always obeyed, and had never murmured, and as he had been faithful when all the rest were faithless, he was allowed to enter the promised land, and was well fitted to be the leader of the people.

As soon as the thirty days of mourning for Moses were ended, God appeared to Joshua, and bade him lead the people over the Jordan, into the land where spies had already been sent to see how the land lay. These scouts went to the walled city of Jericho, and entered the house of a woman named Rahab. Their strange looks excited the suspicions of the people, who hastily closed the gates of the city so that they could not escape, and began to search for them in order to put them to death.

But Rahab hid the spies so cleverly that no one could find them, and sent the pursuers off on a false track. When they had gone, and all danger was over, she lowered the Israelites in a basket from one of the windows of her house, which was built in the thick walls of the city.

The spies were so grateful to Rahab for helping them that they promised to save her life in their turn. They bade her tie a scarlet thread to the window of her house, so that they would be sure to recognize it; and they promised that the persons in it should escape from all harm when the Lord gave the city into their hands.

Rahab and Joshua


By a roundabout way the spies then went back to camp, and made their report to Joshua. Early the next morning, the priests, carrying the Ark, went down to the banks of the Jordan, whose tide was much swollen at this season by the melting of the mountain snows. But as the Levites reached the water’s edge, the river divided; "the waters which came down from above stood and rose up," while the remainder flowed down to the Dead Sea. Thus a wide channel was left bare, and the people could pass over dry shod.

By Joshua’s command, the priests halted in the middle of the river until all the people had passed over. He also gave orders that twelve men, one from each tribe, should take stones from the river bed with which to build an altar. Then the priests also left the river bed, and the waters, no longer stopped in their course, again rushed downward to the Dead Sea. The army marched on to Gilgal, where the Israelites erected the altar of twelve stones, and celebrated the first Passover in the land which had been promised to them, forty years after their fathers had kept it before leaving Egypt.

Here all the people were circumcised, a religious ceremony which had been omitted during their desert wanderings. Here, too, the supply of manna ceased, and the people baked bread from the grain of the land which was soon to belong to them.

While, Joshua was planning how to take the strong city of Jericho, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and bade him march around the city once a day for six days, with all his host, and seven priests blowing the seven sacred trumpets as they marched before the Ark. The seventh day the army was to march around the city seven times; and when the last circuit was made, they were to blow a loud blast on the trumpets and to raise a sudden shout, at the sound of which the Lord would make the walls fall down flat.

All these directions were carried out with great care. The Israelites marched around the city daily, and when the seventh round had been finished on the seventh and last day, a mighty shout rent the air, and the strong walls of Jericho tottered and fell, as God had promised.

All the people, except Rahab and those whom she sheltered in her house, were killed; their property was destroyed, and the city razed, and Joshua pronounced a solemn curse upon any one who should attempt to rebuild it.

In reward for the good turn she had done the spies, Rahab was given in marriage to an Israelite. In time she became the mother of Boaz, the great-grandfather of David, a well-known king of the Israelites, or, as they are also called, the Jews.