Warrior Prophets Chapter 12
“Let them out,” Joshua commanded the troops surrounding the mountain cave. An enormous circular stone the height of two grown men blocked the cave entrance. Even in the summer sun, Boaz shivered, thinking of the fate of the cave’s residents. He looked towards Shakra the Gibeonite by his side, who looked pale and worn. Boaz was not sure if Shakra was tired from all the killing, or his burden as the youngest Gibeonite chieftain.
A half a dozen Israelite soldiers rolled the massive stone from the entrance. Silence greeted the Israelites.
“Kings of Canaan,” Joshua announced. “We know you are in there. Come out and save yourselves the discomfort of a needless struggle.”
“You will have to come and fetch us,” a high pitched voice called out. “We shall not willingly walk to our deaths.”
Joshua nodded at Caleb. Caleb motioned to a dozen soldiers to accompany him into the dark cave, with swords drawn and bows on their back. Boaz followed on Caleb’s heels. Shakra did not follow, nor was he asked to.
“They are no longer a threat,” Boaz whispered to Caleb. “Why do we hunt them? We’ve completely destroyed their armies.”
“Because they are our enemies,” Caleb answered without looking back. “And not just any enemies, but the leaders of our enemies. If we let them live they would assemble a new army to fight us again. We must wipe out the snakes, both the bodies and the heads.”
Boaz closed his eyes as they walked deeper into the darkening cave. He could sense the aura of the Canaanites inside. He immediately detected the aura of the five kings. A broken brown of deep despair colored their souls. A sharp red of anger tinted part of them, though Boaz did not know to whom the anger was directed. Boaz was incredulous to note a rich purple of pride or arrogance in many of them, or was it dignity? He didn’t understand.
He noticed two dozen auras to their left, waiting in ambush.
“To the left,” Boaz whispered to Caleb.
“Very good. Your senses have become sharp indeed. I’ve only noticed them now.”
“Arrows,” Caleb commanded quietly to his troops. “Stay in line with me.” Caleb grabbed the hands of soldiers on either side of him and turned them to directly face their hidden adversaries. Each soldier grabbed his companion and did likewise.
“Fire!” Caleb ordered. A dozen arrows flew. Ten bodies fell to the ground.
“Fire!” Caleb repeated. A dozen more arrows flew. Six bodies fell to the ground.
“Engage!” The Israelite soldiers shouldered their bows, drew their swords and approached the surviving Canaanites in the dark.
Boaz closed his eyes again and saw the vibrant green Israelite auras slaughter the remaining Canaanite ones. The dull brown auras were extinguished one after another. Boaz thought of rats being drowned.
Caleb and his troops turned to the five quietly whimpering voices in the back of the cave. The five kings offered no resistance and let themselves be walked out of the cave. Each king had an Israelite soldier on either side, holding their arms firmly.
Both Israelite soldiers and Canaanite kings blinked in pain at the bright afternoon sun.
Joshua pointed at five of his generals and called out:
“Come near. Put your feet upon the necks of these kings.”
The escorting soldiers forced the kings to lay on the ground. Each general placed his foot on the neck of a king.
“Fear not, nor be dismayed,” Joshua adjured the generals as he approached them with outstretched sword. I am fearful and dismayed, Boaz thought. They are defenseless. They have surrendered themselves. He noticed Shakra turning his head away.
“Be strong and of good courage,” Joshua continued, “for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom you shall fight.”
Joshua methodically beheaded each king, their heads rolling down the gentle incline. The head of Yafiya, king of Lachish, with its long locks, reached Boaz, who stopped the roll with his foot.
Though Boaz had seen many dead in his short military career, he felt his insides churning. Not able to contain himself, he ran aside, hid behind a boulder and started to retch. Boaz sobbed and cried and retched, until his stomach was empty, and then he continued to retch more, while hot tears rolled down his face.
He sensed Caleb approaching him.
“What is the matter, Boaz?” Caleb asked gently.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Boaz wept.
“The killing. At ten years old, I’ve become a little killing machine. Is that my fate? Endless war? I should be playing, learning, not out here executing helpless old men.”
“They were not so helpless and they certainly were not innocent.”
“I don’t know that.”
“Do you doubt our ways? Do you doubt Joshua? Do you doubt that we are doing anything less than the will of God?” Caleb answered forcefully.
“I don’t know what to think anymore. But I know that I can’t continue like this. I need to leave.”
“Perhaps you were too young to be involved in such bloody conflicts. Go back. Go back to our camp in Gilgal and rejoin your friends. Being in a safer environment should be good for you.”
“I will not go back to Gilgal. I cannot go back to the life of a simple Israelite boy. I will go elsewhere.”
“Are you mad?” Caleb asked angrily. “Where else can you go? How will you live?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps amongst the Canaanites that we are exterminating. I’m curious about this enemy that we are commanded to kill. Or perhaps I will go to the Philistines. There is no command to kill them, is there? I might find out why that Philistine hates me so, and is intent on killing me.”
“You might discover much more than you anticipate. This is a foolish notion. Please get it out of your head and make ready to return to Gilgal.”
Boaz crossed his arms, pouted and did not move.
“I will leave this place,” Boaz declared, “and I shall not return to Gilgal, whether you like it or not.”
“You will disobey me!? You will turn your back on me? On your training? On your people?”
“I can’t stay here and I can’t go back. That is what I know in my heart.”
Caleb brought his hand to his bushy red and white beard and looked for long moments at Boaz. He closed his eyes briefly and then opened them again.
“I see that your mind is made up. But you should not mingle with the Canaanites. It is against all our laws. If you must, seek out the Philistines. You may learn a thing or two. They are renown as great metal workers. But do not learn from their foreign ways, for they are idol-worshipers too and if they continue their strange worship in this land, that will make us enemies as well.”
“Thank you for understanding,” Boaz said.
“I understand your feelings. But I still know you’re making a mistake. You are stubborn though, and you will need to discover this on your own. I just hope the damage will not be too great. Also, you should not go alone, but who to send with you?”
Caleb turned to look towards Joshua and the dead kings. Soldiers had tied the bodies to nearby trees, letting them hang and sway in the mountain breeze. He saw a morose Shakra staring sadly at the dead kings.
“Shakra!” Caleb called.
Shakra, surprised, turned, and saw Caleb and Boaz. He walked slowly, with hunched shoulders, towards them.
“Yes, Prince Caleb?” Shakra asked unenthusiastically.
“I would like to make a request of you.”
“I am your servant, and at your command.”
“Good. I would like you to accompany Boaz.”
“And where is the young master going?”
“He is not sure. He is tired of fighting and bloodshed and does not want to return to our camp at Gilgal. He wishes to explore the land and its inhabitants.”
“But who will lead my people?” Shakra asked.
“Do you still desire to lead Gibeon?” Caleb asked back, through narrowed eyes.
Shakra’s mouth widened at the question. He stood speechless for a moment, then looking down, answered: “No.”
“We can send word to your people,” Caleb suggested, “that you are on a mission on our behalf and that you request someone else take on the mantle of leadership.”
Shakra’s face transmitted his emotions. First he frowned in contemplation, then a wide grin lit up his face.
“That would be fantastic!”
“Do I have a say in any of this?” Boaz interjected. “Who said I wanted or needed a companion?”
“I say,” Caleb stomped his foot on the ground. “As God is my witness. I only allow you to leave us if you are escorted. The alternative is for me to drag you in chains back to Gilgal and keep you in chains until you regain your senses. I much prefer to keep my eye on you, but I accept your need to see this enemy you’ve been killing. But do not get too close. You will see that they may breathe and eat and work as we do. That their wishes for their children are to grow up healthy and strong. That they mean no harm to anyone. You will come to think of them as very much like yourself. But you would be wrong. We stand for something else. Something entirely new in Canaan and most likely the world. We are descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God, the one and only God, took us out of Egypt. I was there. I saw the plagues and the splitting of the sea and Moses bringing the Law from the mountain. I heard the voice of God and I shall never forget it. And God abhors these Canaanites. He abhors these people that worship the work of their hands. That worship lifeless husks of clay and metal. That are immersed in gross sensual gratification and care little for the life of the spirit and of truth. Their world is one of falsehood, lies and evil. Go young Boaz, if you must, if you must examine the enemy from up close. But do not be enamored by their ways. Do not be seduced by their pleasures and exotic rituals. Do not be impressed by their powers and their magic, for it is all as nothing compared to the path of our God. I do not wish for you to go. I allow it only reluctantly as I would not yet break your spirit by forbidding you. But by God, you either go with Shakra, who I pray now has the maturity, sense and understanding to keep you from harm, or I will call for the chain-master right now and you will have an uncomfortable journey back to Gilgal.”
Boaz stepped back and stared at Caleb with wide eyes. He had never spoken to him so. So passionately, so forcefully.
“I will go with Shakra,” Boaz conceded.
“Good,” Caleb nodded. “And I want you to return by Passover, though you are welcome and encouraged to return earlier than that. When the rains stop, you should start your journey back, especially if you’ve reached the coast.”
Both Boaz and Shakra nodded.
“Get provisions from the supply-master and then come take your leave from Joshua,” Caleb directed.
Boaz and Shakra ran excitedly to find the supply-master. The squat middle aged supply-master grudgingly gave them each packs with a small tent, pots, fruit and dried meats. He gave them the few copper pieces he had on hand. “Don’t eat anything you haven’t killed or cooked yourself,” he warned their backs.
They found Joshua and Caleb by the entrance to the cave where the kings had been. With the descending sun, the kings’ bodies were cut down from the tree and thrown into the cave. Israelite soldiers piled large boulders in front of the entrance until the cave was impenetrable.
“I understand you are leaving us,” Joshua addressed Boaz.
“Yes, sir,” Boaz replied.
“I will sorely miss your special insights and your growing skills, but Caleb thinks it may be for the best.”
“I am tired of this war,” Boaz answered.
“It is necessary, but one so young should not have to be exposed to it. Just make sure to come back. And remember your lessons. Not just your training with Caleb, but the commands of our teacher, Moses.”
“And you, Shakra,” Joshua turned to the Gibeonite. “Guard our Boaz well and do not revert to your old ways. We take your forsaking idol-worship as permanent and steadfast. Do not expose yourselves to unnecessary risk or danger. Forty years ago, Caleb and I spied this land and learned much of great use. You are to learn and to avoid trouble. I have heard of new Phoenician weapons and iron chariots. I would learn more, their strengths and weaknesses. But remember God, our God. Do not forget Him and do not forsake Him and He shall guard you and return you safely. Godspeed.”
Boaz and Shakra both bowed to Joshua. Boaz ran to Caleb and embraced him.
“Thank you, Caleb,” Boaz muttered, holding back tears.
“Keep your wits about you and come back soon.”
Boaz let go of Caleb, turned around and together with Shakra, walked westward, towards the coast and the Philistines.
* * * * * *
Biblical Source: Joshua Chapter 10
15 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal. 16 And these five kings fled, and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17 And it was told Joshua, saying: ‘The five kings are found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.’ 18 And Joshua said: ‘Roll great stones unto the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to keep them; 19 but stay not ye; pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities; for the Lord your God hath delivered them into your hand.’ 20 And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, and the remnant which remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, 21 that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace; none whetted his tongue against any of the children of Israel. 22 Then said Joshua: ‘Open the mouth of the cave, and bring forth those five kings unto me out of the cave.’ 23 And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon. 24 And it came to pass, when they brought forth those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the chiefs of the men of war that went with him: ‘Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings.’ And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. 25 And Joshua said unto them: ‘Fear not, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage; for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.’ 26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and put them to death, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening. 27 And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had hidden themselves, and laid great stones on the mouth of the cave, unto this very day.