Biblical Fiction: Warrior Prophets
Chapter 1 – Uncanny Sense
Boaz grinned and shot away from the crowd, swift as an attacking lion cub.
“Kid! You can’t leave the procession,” a Judean officer yelled at Boaz.
“Come and catch me.” Boaz laughed the laugh of a ten-year old as he scampered westward to the Jordan River. The curse of the officer was blown by the wind to the Moabite mountain range behind him.
Boaz trotted lightly ahead of the column of millions of Israelites. His lithe, wiry figure ran easily over the uneven plain. His mop of red hair bounced as he skipped over stones and crevices. He passed the families and armies of his tribe, the Tribe of Judah, first of the tribes. For forty dusty years, his tribe led the Israelite march. But now soldiers of the Reubenites, Gadites and Menashites led the invasion. Those tribes left their families and defensive troops on the east side of the Jordan, in the former lands of Bashan and Emor. Boaz could still not believe how swiftly and decisively Moses had conquered the kingdoms of Bashan and Emor. Moses then grudgingly bequeathed the land to the three tribes. And now Moses was gone.
“Boaz! Wait up!” a young panting voice called from behind as he ran parallel to the Reubenite head of the column.
“Amitai, what are you doing here?” Boaz turned around and scolded his younger cousin.
“Why should you have all the fun?” the chubby boy wheezed.
“Fine. Let’s keep moving. We’re almost at the river. Can you hear it?”
“That roaring is the river?”
“What else can it be?” Boaz replied. “It should be in sight any moment now. Come on you slowpoke. Keep up.” Boaz sprinted ahead followed closely by Amitai.
Boaz stopped short. Instinctively his right hand shot out blocking Amitai from running off the cliff in front of them. The cliff was twenty feet above the bank of the roaring river.
“Whew,” Amitai breathed. “Thanks. That was close.”
“We’re not with the camp anymore. We have to watch our step. Let’s climb down. I want to get a good view of things when the crossing starts.”
Boaz and Amitai followed a goat path down the cliff and reached the bank of the river. Short, thick bushes, interspersed with large willows peppered the shoreline. Through the dark green vegetation they saw the white turbulent waves of the Jordan River cascade southward. They were now half a mile north, yet parallel to the long column marching to the mighty river. They could see Joshua at the very front of the procession, together with four priests carrying the golden Ark. The morning sun bounced off the Ark. The priests and the nearby soldiers bathed in a glowing yellow light.
Boaz heard a twang. Without thinking Boaz pounced at Amitai and they both fell to the ground. A long arrow buried itself into the willow behind where Amitai’s heart had stood moments before.
“Boaz! Get behind the bushes,” an elderly voice hissed.
Boaz heard another, closer twang and then a moment later a meaty ‘thwack’ as the arrow buried itself into the chest of an archer across the river.
“Uncle Caleb!” Boaz whispered. “What’s going on?”
A stocky man with a flaming red and white beard stepped from behind a willow.
“I’ve been tracking that Canaanite archer since dawn. He won’t be bothering us anymore. What are you doing here? Why aren’t you with our tribe?”
“I can’t see anything from back there, Uncle. I want to see the priests enter the Jordan. I want to see the water stop flowing. All I see back there is the dust of other people’s sandals.”
“And what about you, Amitai?” Caleb gave the boy a dark look. “If it weren’t for Boaz’s quick reflexes, I would have to explain to your mother why you died on the very day the great promise is fulfilled.”
“I’m sorry, Uncle,” Amitai cringed. “I was just following Boaz.”
Caleb looked at Boaz with a pensive expression. “Boaz, did you see that arrow coming?”
“No. I just heard a noise and next thing I knew Amitai and I were on the ground.”
“Interesting. I will have to keep an eye on you. Now go back both of you. You’ll be much safer with the main body.”
“Can’t we stay with you?” Boaz pleaded. “Look! Joshua is about to speak.”
From half a mile away, they could see Joshua climbing a tall rock on the bank of the river to address the people.
“Very well, let’s get closer,” Caleb ordered. The three of them jogged south along the shore towards Joshua. Caleb kept looking to his right across the river for enemy archers.
Joshua reached the top of the boulder. He stood tall, his tanned features contrasting with his flowing pale blond beard. Boaz could hear him clearly even as he closed the distance between them.
Joshua was now just a few hundred yards away from them.
“Hereby you shall know that the living God is among you,” Joshua’s voice boomed and was heard for miles above the roar of the river, “and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Hivite, and the Perizzite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Jebusite.” He then pointed at the four priests. “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passes on before you over the Jordan.”
“There is something wrong,” Boaz said to Caleb. “Joshua is in trouble.” Boaz ran at a breakneck pace towards Joshua. Caleb noticed dozens of heads peeking from behind bushes on the other side of the Jordan.
Joshua continued his speech:
“Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, for every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, when the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, even the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand in one heap.”
Without thinking, Boaz launched himself up to intercept Joshua on the boulder. He was shocked at how high he was able to jump. Joshua, having sensed danger across the river, quickly jumped off the boulder. Boaz missed him and sailed over the top of the boulder, rolling to a rough landing on the other side. A rain of arrows from across the river filled the space where Joshua had stood.
Reubenite archers sent a volley of arrows in response.
“Archers! Keep firing!” Joshua commanded the troops. “Priests! Enter the Jordan. Now!”
The four priests carried the ark towards the water of the Jordan as arrows rained upwards towards the Canaanite side. The priests entered the turbulent waters. Water splashed up to their knees, soaking their white ceremonial garments. Suddenly the water stopped flowing. A line of dry land formed across the entire width of the river. The priests kept walking. A wall of water formed north of the priests. The wall continued to move northward against the flow of the river. The south-flowing water continued on its course leaving dry land in its wake. By the time the priests reached the middle of the river, there was no water to be seen for miles either north or south on the Jordan.
Canaanite soldiers rose from behind their hiding places and fled in a panic. Israelite arrows mowed them down as they retreated.
A wild cheer rose from the Israelite procession. Joshua, at the head of the Reubenite troops, led the way into the dry river bank and crossed the Jordan. Each tribe in turn crossed the river, with singing and cheering throughout the ranks. Ranks of older men prostrated on the Canaanite ground of the western bank, and kissed the earth. “The promise is fulfilled,” they said with tears flowing to the dry river bank. “At long last, the promise is fulfilled.”
On the eastern bank, Caleb approached Boaz at the side of the large boulder.
“How did you know Joshua was in danger?” Caleb asked.
“I don’t know. I just knew. And I knew I had to do something.”
“Boaz, you have an amazing talent. A talent that must be strengthened and developed.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You will find out.” Caleb put his arm around the young boy. “And I shall help in your training, while I can.”
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Joshua Chapter 3