Category Archives: Book of Joshua

Warrior Prophets: Chapter 5 – Detour to Jerusalem

Biblical Fiction

Warrior Prophets Chapter 5

Detour to Jerusalem

“Wake up,” Caleb whispered.

“What’s going on?” Boaz whispered back groggily, “I just fell asleep.”

“We’re surrounded,” Caleb said.

Boaz sat up abruptly. They had found shelter for the night in a small cave a day’s journey away from their camp in Gilgal.

“Who is it?”

“They’re not Israelites, and they’re not those treacherous Gibeonites, so that only leaves other Canaanites.”

“What do they want?”

“I suspect either to interrogate us, kill us or most likely both.”

“Now what?”

“There are at least fifty of them, all well armed. I think I shall have to distract them while you make for Gilgal.”

“I can’t leave you, Caleb.”

“You must, Boaz. Joshua must be informed of the Gibeonite deception and of the sorcerer in their midst. I will exit the cave shooting and turn west. Once there is a wide enough opening, run and don’t look back. When no one can see you, circle around the mountain and head back to Gilgal. Grab a handful of stones as well. It was an oversight not to teach you the sling.”

Caleb notched three arrows to his bow and knelt by the cave opening. He spotted half a dozen men climbing the hill to their position.

“We know you are there, Hebrews,” one of them called from forty paces away. “The king of Jerusalem has offered a handsome reward for a live captured Israelite. Three hundred silvers! Come along and we shall not hurt you. You are only worth a tenth as much dead.”

Caleb’s answer was an arrow through the man’s throat and that of two companions. Before the Canaanites could return fire, Caleb notched two more arrows in rapid succession and downed two more Canaanites.

“Now!” Caleb commanded. “Run, Boaz, and don’t look back!”

Boaz sped through the opening in the ring of Canaanites closing in on Caleb. He heard the ‘whoosh!’ of arrows flying through the moonlit night. He heard the sounds of arrowheads penetrating flesh and of bodies falling on the rocky mountainside.

A Canaanite appeared by a boulder ten feet in front of Boaz. Without slowing his pace, Boaz flung a smooth stone at the Canaanite’s head. The man fell on the pale moonlit shrubs. As Boaz ran past a large olive tree a rock slammed into his forehead. The last thing he remembered before passing out was a Canaanite voice wishing greedily, “I hope I didn’t kill him.”

Boaz awoke to a kick in the stomach.

“Wake up, Hebrew,” a grating voice commanded.

Boaz did not move. He felt the cold stone floor under his body. His head was poorly bandaged. He could feel blood dripping down his forehead. His hands were tied behind his back. He kept his eyes closed and focused on the people in the room. I should have used my Sight before getting smashed in the head, he thought ruefully.

Right in front of him he sensed a cruel man. His orange aura hinted at a man who sought to inflict pain on others. Beyond the orange-hued aura sat a complex personality with swirling colors. A steely blue of command, a bright red of anger and a growing yellow of fear. There were other colors and emotions that Boaz did not understand.

“I know you’re awake, Hebrew,” the grating voice said and kicked again. Boaz instinctively twisted. The foot sailed over Boaz’s body. The man lost his balance and precariously hopped on one foot until he planted the second foot firmly back on the ground.

“The child is quick, Basten,” the seated man said.

“Yes, my king.” Basten grabbed Boaz by the back of the neck with beefy hands, picked him off the floor and stood him in front of his king.

“What is your name, child?” the king asked.

Boaz opened his eyes and looked around. He noticed the cold stone chamber with narrow slits for windows. The dim morning light that entered the room shone on the man sitting in front of him. The man was middle-aged with thinning brown hair, and little beady eyes that looked intently at Boaz.

“Who are you? Where am I?” Boaz asked back.

“You don’t know? I am the king of Jerusalem and you are in my palace. Now answer my question before I poke some holes in you.” The king played absently with a long sword. “What is your name and what are the Hebrew plans?”

“My name is Boaz. Our plans are to conquer all of Canaan, and we shall do so.” Boaz stood straight.

“Your people are doing more than conquering. You are killing everyone in your path. Is it your God fighting for you? Can Joshua draw miracles at whim? Is he such a powerful sorcerer?”

What does he want from me? Boaz thought. He is scared. I can sense that. He wants to find some way to beat us, to survive, to stay in power. I just need to get out of here.

“It is difficult to talk with this heavy bandage on my head and my hands tied like this.”

“How inconsiderate of me. You are, of course, right. Basten, clean up the boy, give him some food and drink and bring him back for more serious discussion. Boy, I hope you will be more forthcoming upon your return.”

Basten squeezed Boaz’s neck and led him out of the chamber. They walked through a narrow corridor and down steps. At the bottom of the staircase they entered a large kitchen with a roaring fire in the corner. Two women were at work in the kitchen. One was kneading dough on a large wooden table and the other was stirring a pot over the fire.

“Merta, attend me,” Basten ordered the plump woman by the fire.

“Shut your trap, Basten. If I overcook this stew, the king will have my head.”

“Merta, if you don’t attend me, I shall be the one to have your head.”

“Tell it to your mother, Basten. Your tough man act doesn’t impress me. When you leave your mother’s skirts and make your own home you can tell me about your manliness. Until then, stop talking. I shall be with you in a moment.”

Merta stirred the pot further and then removed it from over the fire, placing it on three stones adjacent to the roaring flames.

“There,” Merta stated, satisfied. She approached Basten and Boaz. “Now what have we here? Another victim of your games?”

“No. It’s a Hebrew we captured.”

Merta stepped back and looked at Boaz as if he were a fox that had invaded her hen house.

“Is he dangerous?” she asked nervously. The second woman stopped her kneading.

“He bleeds like a man, and is as willful as any child I know. I expect he will die as normally as any other once the king is finished with him.”

“What do you want me to do?” Merta asked.

“Help me clean his wound and bandage it again, and give the boy something to eat.”

“Our enemy? The Hebrews that are killing every Canaanite they see? My cousin lived in Ai. They massacred her and her six young children. They are merciless.” Merta looked daggers at Boaz.

“He is under our roof for now. Besides, this boy is more useful alive than dead. Come.”

Basten tore the dirty bandage off Boaz’s head. Boaz let out an involuntary yelp as scabbing ripped off his forehead. Fresh blood trickled down his face. Merta took a cloth and soaked it in a basin of dirty water. She quickly wiped Boaz’s head and face. She found a dry cloth and tied it snuggly around Boaz’s head. Basten untied Boaz’s hands and showed Boaz a large dagger.

“Don’t try anything funny, boy, or I’ll get started on those holes the king mentioned. Sit by the table.”

Boaz obediently sat on a three-legged wooden stool by the table. Merta placed a cup with some liquid in front of him and scooped out some of the stew onto a plate.

Boaz picked up the cup and smelled the liquid.

“What is this?”

“Picky, aren’t we?” Merta answered distastefully. “It is barley mead.”

Boaz sipped at the mead and grimaced at the strong taste. He drank some more.

“Hurry up,” Basten barked. “We don’t have all day.”

He’s right, Boaz thought. I need to get moving. He looked at Basten, holding his dagger. I need to get the angle just right.

Suddenly, Boaz banged on the edge of his plate. The hot stew went flying into Basten’s face. Basten roared in surprise, dropped his dagger and removed chunks of meat and carrot from his face. Boaz lunged for the dagger and sliced at Basten’s hamstrings. Basten fell to his knees as Boaz bolted out of the kitchen.

A few steps down the stone corridor took Boaz outside the palace and into the plaza of the city. Looking back, he saw a large two-story stone structure built into the wall of Jerusalem. The rest of the city was made of other smaller houses built into the wall and squat one-story stone homes.

“Get him! Get the Hebrew kid!” someone yelled from the palace.

Boaz spotted the gate to Jerusalem busy with morning merchants. The gate was twenty paces deep, bursting with people. Two guards stood on either side of the exit, both with shields and swords. The guards saw him and moved determinedly to intercept. Boaz knew his dagger skills would be no match for two adult swordsmen. He found some stones on the floor. He unwrapped the bandage from his head and prepared a makeshift sling. Caleb wanted me to learn to use the sling, Boaz thought. Now’s my chance.

Boaz’s first throw went wide off the mark. It whizzed by one soldier and hit a wine jug on a merchant’s ox-driven cart. The jug shattered, spilling wine inside the gate. The second throw also missed the soldier, hitting a hapless donkey on the rump. The donkey brayed and kicked backwards, hitting a burly blacksmith in the chest and sending him flying into a crowd of merchants entering the city.

By now, there was a large commotion in front of the gate. People were yelling, “Hebrews! We are under attack! They will kill us all!”

This isn’t working, Boaz thought as the two soldiers ignored the growing panic and got closer. Boaz saw two other guards from the outside of the gate starting to close the heavy oak doors of the city. No time, Boaz feared.

When the soldiers were ten paces away he threw Basten’s dagger, which spun in the air towards them. The soldiers ducked, and that’s when Boaz ran. He sped around the soldiers and darted toward the mob at the closing gate. Boaz reached a velocity that let him run on the inside wall of the gate, parallel to the ground, and then dive through the doors before they closed with a heavy clang.

Boaz rolled to a soft landing and stood up quickly. He looked around to get his bearings. He saw the walled city of Jerusalem towering above him. It reminded Boaz of the walls of Jericho, except that Jerusalem was much more imposing, sitting as it did on a hilltop, commanding the view of the mountain roads.

A Canaanite soldier grabbed Boaz from behind, clamping steel-like arms around his chest. The soldier suddenly fell with an arrow through his neck.

Caleb called from behind a tree. “Hurry, Boaz, this way.”

Boaz reached Caleb at the tree and hugged him tightly.

“Caleb! I thought you were dead! The last thing I remember was getting knocked in the head and a whole army of Canaanites archers attacking you. How did you survive? How did you find me?”

“That’s a story for another time, Boaz. In the meantime, we must make haste back to Joshua. He still doesn’t know about the Gibeonites and the sorcerer.” Caleb pointed Boaz in a northeast direction and together started jogging back to their camp.

“How was your stay in Jerusalem?” Caleb asked as they made their way across the mountain road.

“Mostly hospitable, good drink, though I did not try the stew.”

Caleb looked at Boaz quizzically. “Let us get off the road. The Jerusalemites are not the only ones preparing for war. It seems that all the cities in the area are gearing up for war and I caught mention of them allying together to fight us.”

“Is that bad?”

“An alliance of all the cities, with all of their soldiers, fighting us in the open, in land that has long been theirs and that they know intimately? It will be a battle to remember.”

Boaz was not sure if that was a good thing.

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets, Ch 4: Gibeonite Deception

Biblical Fiction

Warrior Prophets: Chapter 4

Gibeonite Deception

Gibeonites Deceive Joshua

“We just made camp, why do we need to leave?” Boaz complained. He looked longingly at the hundreds of thousands of neat tents on the western bank of the Jordan River. The morning sun peaked over the eastern mountains of Moab. The river flowed lazily, never having recovered its strength after the miraculous Israelite crossing.

“Joshua wants us to scout ahead,” Caleb answered. He glided with long strides over the mountainous terrain. “But we will put this time to good use. I think we shall continue to work on your speed. You will learn the swiftness of Naftali.”

“Where are we going?” Boaz asked

“West. There are a few cities at the top of this mountain range that may comprise our next target. Joshua has sent other scouts northwest and southwest to determine the enemy activity there. For now, from our camp in Gilgal we control the entire valley of the Jordan.”

“Will the camp follow us into battle?”

“No. The women, children, elderly and a security detail will remain in Gilgal. Just the troops will travel throughout Canaan until we have taken the land.”

“How long do you think it will take?”

“I don’t know. Before we entered Canaan, we lived a miraculous existence. Manna from the sky. Clothing that did not wear out. Moses conquering two kingdoms in a matter of weeks. God’s presence was strongly felt. However, now I suspect the plan is different. God wants us to settle into the normal order of the world. The Manna has stopped falling, and I for one could benefit from some new clothing.” Caleb tugged at his fraying robe. “I think we will see less and less miracles and will have to rely more on our own tactics and strength. Do not doubt that God will fulfill his promise, but it may take many years.”

“Who will take over after Joshua?”

“You are filled with questions today, aren’t you? Enough talk. Let’s train. You see that olive tree at the top of this hill?” Caleb pointed at a lonely ancient tree in the distance. “Race me there. Now!”

Caleb jumped over the craggy landscape, covering ten feet with each stride. He snatched a wild wheat stalk as he effortlessly navigated the field of rocks. Boaz moved quickly, but stumbled often over the loose rocks and stones leading up to the tree. Boaz panted his way up to the hill and found Caleb leaning casually against the tree, chewing on the wheat stalk.

“How did you get here so fast?” Boaz wheezed. “I couldn’t run any faster. I had to watch out for the stones. I kept tripping.”

“You know that the gazelle is the symbol of the Tribe of Naftali. How does a gazelle run? Does it look down to see where it’s going?”

“No. It just runs.”

“So how doesn’t it trip without looking?”

“I don’t know. Some animal sense?”

“Indeed. It perceives the form of the ground instinctively. Its eyes merely glance ahead and from a distance its mind recalls the position of every rock, shrub and tree. It can then move as swift as the wind. I want you to do the same. Look down the mountain,” Caleb pointed towards the valley. “Notice the placement of each stone, imagine the path you will take down the hill, etch it into your memory. Now, you will walk down blindfolded.”

Caleb removed a heavy woolen cloth from the satchel at his side and tied it around Boaz’s eyes. “Meet me at the bottom,” Caleb announced as he strode away.

“You’re kidding,” Boaz muttered, but started walking gingerly. He was surprised that only twice did he bang his feet against the stones and only once tripped, landing unceremoniously on some prickly shrubs. Eventually he made it to the bottom of the valley.

“Very good,” Caleb declared as he removed the blindfold. “It is much easier with your eyes open. Let’s race again to the top of this next hill.”

With a smile Boaz sprinted ahead, skipping over the rocks, without looking down.

The elders are petrified, Shakra thought angrily as he sat in the back row of the council circle. They sat on the ground within the gate of the city of Gibeon. They are willing to give up everything, to leave our home, our ancestral lands, rather than confront the Israelites. There must be a way.

“They massacred Jericho and Ai unprovoked,” wizened Silu stated. “Their God is more powerful than any in Canaan. There is no way we would survive a direct battle of arms.”

“That’s it!” Shakra stood up.

“Sit down, youngster,” Silu reproved him.

“No, no. You must listen to me. You may be right that we cannot fight them directly, but we don’t need to run away.”

“What are you saying?”

“The Israelites have been commanded by their God to destroy all the people of Canaan, right?”

“That is why we are having this council, is it not?”

“What if we convinced these Hebrews that we are not of Canaan, but rather that we are from outside Canaan and wish to ally with them?”

“Nonsense. How could we ever accomplish such a ruse?”

“I will need the Magi’s help and several industrious women,” Shakra grinned, happier than he had been in weeks.

Boaz ran merrily over the central mountains of Canaan in the afternoon sun. He spotted a wild rabbit racing away from him. Boaz caught up with the rabbit and overtook it. Boaz laughed as he vaulted over boulders and shrubs. He leapt to the top of a short olive tree and waited for Caleb.

“Come on, old man,” Boaz laughed back at Caleb, “what’s keeping you?”

Caleb merely smiled, shook his head and quickly reached Boaz’s tree.

“Do you see anything interesting from up there?” Caleb asked.

Boaz looked at the rolling Canaanite mountains. Behind him, to the east, he could make out the dusty Jordan valley intersected by the ribbon of blue, the once mighty Jordan River. Near the banks of the river he could still make out their base camp at Gilgal. Ahead of him, to the west, the mountains rose higher and were more verdant than the mountain range he was on, which extended to the north and south.

“No, I don’t see anything. No, wait. There is movement ahead of us.”

Caleb climbed to the top of the tree and looked.

“They appear to be refugees,” Caleb noted. “Tens of them. They are not carrying any weapons. There are many women and children. Must be the survivors of some internal Canaanite conflict. Let’s go meet them and see what we can find out.”

Shakra’s sharp eyes spotted the odd duo far off on top of the olive tree. A sturdy man with a flaming red and white beard and a young boy with a mop of red hair. Hebrew scouts, Shakra thought. The man was armed with a long sword on his side and a bow and a quiver full of arrows on his back. The boy merely had the bottom half of a broken spear tied to his back.

“The ruse begins,” Shakra announced. “We are about to meet our first Israelites. Magi, start weaving your spell.”

An ancient woman, bent in half by age, in a cloak too old to tell its color or fabric, twirled her fingers in the air. She looked at the approaching man and murmured quickly, urgently. “Ahlakch tribelh chakna tubarl. Ahlakch tribelh chakna tubarl. Ahlakch tribelh chakna tubarl!”

The Magi collapsed, crumpling to the ground. An assistant picked her up.

“Are you well, Magi? What happened?”

“That one,” she pointed at Caleb, “has strong natural defenses, but I overcame them. The subterfuge shall work on him.”

“Remember, everyone,” Shakra whispered. “We are from a small city near Sidon far north of here. We have been walking for weeks. Our city was captured by the Philistines and now we wish to ally ourselves with the Israelites and their powerful God. Spread the word so no one forgets.”

An obedient murmur worked its way towards the back of the marching Gibeonites.

Boaz immediately disliked the young man in the front. He was tall and very brown. Brown skin, brown eyes, brown tattered robes and thick curly brown hair. Boaz guessed he must be around twenty years old, but walked with an arrogance that belied his age. Boaz closed his eyes to examine their aura. He sensed a yellow fear in all the people, but something else as well. The young man radiated a purple triumph, though Boaz could not understand why.

Caleb and Boaz approached the front of the Gibeonites. Caleb walked with arms raised high.

“We do not wish to fight,” Caleb declared.

Shakra threw himself to the ground at Caleb’s feet, bowing and cried, “O merciful master, you must be of the sainted Israelites about which we have heard so much. We are your servants. Show us mercy and do not kill us.”

“Who are you and where are you from?” Caleb asked.

“From a very far country your servants have traveled,” Shakra answered, still on his knees, “because of the name of the Lord your God. We have heard the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. And our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying: ‘Take provision in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them: We are your servants; and now make a covenant with us.’ This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, see, it is dry, and has become crumbs.” Shakra unbundled a loaf of bread. It was dry and falling apart.

“And these wine-skins, which we filled, were new; and, see, they are torn. And these garments and shoes are worn because of the very long journey.”

Caleb examined the clothing of Shakra and those around him. The clothing was worn, ripped, old and tattered. The shoes were mud-caked and cracked at the soles.

Boaz pulled on Caleb’s robe to get his attention.

“Caleb, there is something wrong with these people,” he whispered.

Shakra gave Boaz a piercing look.

“Of course there is something wrong,” Caleb said angrily. “They are hungry and tired and worn out, from a far away land. Where exactly are you from?” he asked Shakra.

“We are from outside of Canaan, a small city near Sidon on the coast of the Great Sea. A ship full of Philistines conquered our city. Since then we have sought the sanctuary of your God’s protection.”

“You must talk to Joshua then. Our camp is less than a day’s walk due east of here,” Caleb pointed. “Tell Joshua what you told me.”

“You are most kind, noble master,” Shakra bowed again. “Your servants shall go presently.” He stood up and directed his people to keep walking.

“Caleb, they are lying,” Boaz hissed.

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s a sham. That bread was over-baked. They look like they purposely ruined their clothing. Those people haven’t been walking for weeks. I would be surprised if they’ve walked more than a day or two.”

“I don’t see it, Boaz. They are poor miserable refugees from outside of Canaan. They pose no threat. We should welcome them gladly and I expect Joshua will.”

“It would be a mistake,” Boaz said, as the tens of Gibeonites passed him, headed towards the Israelite camp.

“We have been outsmarted,” Caleb groaned as he looked upon the half empty city in the midst of the Canaanite mountains. “You were right, Boaz, and I apologize. They came from here, right under our noses. They left their elders and their strongest men with all the weapons. You see that one on guard?” Caleb pointed at a brawny Gibeonite guarding a small stone hut. “That must be where the city’s weapons are stored.”

“Let’s go back and warn Joshua,” Boaz urged.

“It will be too late once we get there. The Gibeonites will have arrived by now and if Joshua and the elders fall for the story, they may indeed make a pact with them. How did I not see it? Even after you pointed it out to me.”

“It was a well planned deception,” Boaz consoled.

“Very well planned, but there was something more. I must analyze.”

Caleb sat on the ground, cross-legged, and closed his eyes. He was motionless for several minutes with only his eyelids fluttering.

“Sorcery,” Caleb stated and opened his eyes. “They used sorcery on me. I can feel the remnants of the effect on my mind. They have a powerful sorcerer amongst them. The spell was strong and subtle. If there are more such amongst the Canaanites, we shall have hard work ahead of us.”

“What now?” Boaz asked.

“We head back to camp, quickly. It may be too late to stop the forging of a pact, but we have to prevent the sorcerer from further mischief. Let’s run. Run like the gazelle.”

“Good, but next time listen to me, Caleb.”

“I will. I shall not underestimate your judgment again.”

Boaz smiled eager to confront the tall young brown man.

* * * * * *

Biblical Source: Joshua Chapter 9

Warrior Prophets: Chapter 3 The Capture of Ashkelon

Biblical Fiction

Warrior Prophets: Chapter 3

The Capture of Ashkelon

The Aegus glided ahead of the rest of the fleet. The sleek wooden war boat rode the eastern wind, leaving behind its dozen sister ships, their sails wrapped up tightly for the night. The sailors on the sister ships drank and danced loudly around their fires. Big Larus had given the orders for revelry. In contrast, the Aegus cut through the water, dark and silent.

Akavish son of Larus blessed the moonless sky. He combed back his dark slick hair with his hands. Risto, his spider monkey, clutched Akavish’s shoulder as always. The light mist over the Mediterranean concealed their approach to the Ashkelon coast. Akavish had seen the Ashkelon walls miles from the shore. He was impressed. In his twelve years of life, he had never seen a city so fortified. Risto nodded his agreement, reading Akavish’s thoughts. The walls were thirty feet high, ten feet thick at the top and twenty feet thick at the bottom. It was impenetrable by conventional means. Constant torchlight patrols paced the top of the walls.

The Aegus steered towards a cove south of the city. A hill blocked the view of the cove from the Ashkelon sentries. The first mate quietly slithered the anchor down, where it nestled in the sandy bottom. Larus ordered the crew to sleep for a few hours, before the planned attack.

“You will stay on the ship, my son,” Larus whispered to Akavish.

“I am ready to fight,” Akavish whispered back. His voice pitched higher than he liked.

Larus punched Akavish in the stomach with a beefy fist. Risto hissed, feeling the pain. “The fighting will be short and brutal. If we succeed, it will save us a long and hard siege. Argue with me again and I’ll punch your pretty face next.”

Larus turned around without another word and headed fore towards the first mate.

Akavish limped aft and found a secluded spot on the long wooden deck.

“I will not be left behind,” Akavish told Risto. “I’m always left behind. Every raid, every ship, every council, father always leaves me behind. We have finally come to a new land, a new beginning and I will not be treated as a mere child. I will show him. I have not trained with Krafus for nothing.”

Akavish looked around. Nearby crew were snoring gently. His father was busy talking heatedly with the first mate, gesturing with thick fingers towards Ashkelon behind the hill.

“Hold on tight,” Akavish needlessly told Risto still on his shoulder. Akavish climbed over the side of the ship. He thought of using a rope, but that might alert someone as to his departure. His small fingers found impossible cracks on the side of the ship. He slowly climbed down the sloping side, his body upside down as he neared the bottom, until he reached the dark waters. He quietly sloshed into the cold waves. He looked up. Silence. No one had noticed his exit. His father would not think to look for him. Akavish swam thirty feet to shore. Risto dug his nails into Akavish’s skin. Risto despised getting wet.

At shore, Risto jumped off Akavish’s shoulder and shook violently, spraying water over the soft sand. His small teeth chattered.

“I know. The water is cold. But if we’re dead it won’t matter. Come on,” Akavish beckoned, “let’s take the city.”

In one jump, Risto latched himself back on Akavish’s right shoulder. The monkey’s head rested against the back of Akavish’s neck and his tail curved around Akavish’s right arm.

Akavish trotted lightly on the dark sand. His young eyes adjusted to night as he traveled silently to the walls of Ashkelon.

He knew other tribes had conquered Canaanite cities to the north. The tribes were like his. From the Aegean Islands, seeking a new home, leaving the growing anarchy of their crumbling empire.  He heard the Canaanites called his people Philistines. City after city had fallen to Philistine war boats. Few could compete with Philistine weapons or tactics. These were mere farmers and merchants, mostly vassals to the Egyptian Pharaoh far south.

Canaanite sentries stood at the top of the wall looking nervously to the west at the firelight of the Philistine ships. Akavish could hear the revelry that carried across the miles of waves. Akavish hiked to the eastern side of the city wall. He noticed fewer sentries and their attention was to the west.

Akavish picked up several smooth stones and put them in a satchel on his left side. He patted his jagged knife on his side. He used it to gut and clean fish. Now he wondered about using it on humans. He gritted his teeth and started climbing the wall of Ashkelon. His thin frame moved easily up the rocks, finding hand and foot holds where most adults would not manage. He held himself lightly at awkward angles, his wiry muscles supporting the little mass he had. Risto was as if grafted to Akavish, an additional limb.

“I’m more concerned about the Israelites.” A nearby voice rumbled. Akavish held tightly to the wall.

“I don’t believe those stories.” A second, higher voice answered. “Just by yelling the walls of Jericho fell down? Supernatural powers? I think the stories grew by the telling.”

“My brother-in-law heard from his cousin, I tell you. He was one of the few that were allowed to leave Jericho. He was related to some Israelite spy. They massacred everyone. Women, children. They leveled the city. He spoke about men with superhuman speed. He fled to Egypt. He said they aim to capture all of Canaan and they will.”

“Well the Philistines are at our doorstep and they’re taking over the coast. Mark my words. They will yet challenge the Egyptians.”

“But it was the Israelites who trounced the Egyptians forty years ago. They have never recovered from that blow. The Israelites are strong, crafty and merciless. They are not interested in being in charge. They want to kill everyone. Did you hear what they did to Ai?”

“Another tale?”

“No. This was less magical, but equally vicious. They baited the troops to chase them and abandon the city. The Israelites then sent a second force and burned the defenseless city to the ground, killing everyone in it. They don’t want our wealth or our cities. They don’t even want us as slaves. They want us dead. Dead, dead, dead. At least the Philistines are reasonable. They kill the leaders, some of the troops, take over the palaces, and then it’s back to business as usual. I can live with that.”

“You forget that we are some of the troops.”

Akavish had heard enough. Enough to know these Israelites were also invading Canaan and were fighting for the same land. He grabbed a stone and gave it to Risto. Risto, understanding, dashed silently across the wall and tossed the stone down into the city. It rattled as it landed on an empty cart. A nearby donkey brayed loudly at the noise. The sentries left their post to check the disturbance. Risto joined Akavish and together climbed over the wall and down the inside of the wall. Akavish landed lightly on his feet next to an animal shed.

Akavish stroked Risto’s fur. Risto was a part of him. His father had captured the baby monkey together with the plunder of some fat merchant years ago. The merchant had claimed the monkey came from south of Egypt and was extremely valuable. Larus was more interested in the gold and weapons and tossed the little monkey to Akavish. Since then, the two of them had been inseparable. Risto ate what he ate, slept when he slept, saw what he saw.

The city gate must be north, Akavish thought to Risto. That is the only side of the city I haven’t seen. Akavish skulked like a wraith deep in the Ashkelon night. The only light were the torches of the sentries on the wall. They were all looking outward. Akavish passed squat stone houses with thick thatched roofs. Sheds held goats, cows and mules all sleeping. Large stones paved the narrow paths in-between homes.

Akavish reached a plaza in front of the gate. There were two dozen archers at various states of alertness on an inner wall around the perimeter of the plaza. A killing ground, Akavish thought. If the Philistine raiders should somehow breach the gate, they will be easy pickings once they reach the plaza. From the shadows Akavish examined the gate.

It’s open, Akavish thought in excitement, seeing torchlight blazing from the opening in the thick outer wall. Then he realized it was a tunnel. The tunnel was at least twenty feet long, eight feet wide and slopped downwards with a torch in the wall every four feet. The tunnel ended with two solid oak doors reinforced with copper brackets, and three copper beams across the doors. This needs to be an inside job. How did father expect to capture this city?

Still in the shadows Akavish crawled closer to the gate.

“This Joshua is fearsome.” Two sentries passed inches in front of Akavish. He held his breath.

“I hear that Caleb is an unbelievable swordsman.” His companion replied.

“And they say that Pinchas can fly in the air like a bird. How can anyone stand up to them?”

“They are all ancient though. Perhaps they’ll die before they get here.”

“No. I heard there is a kid also. A ten year old who can predict an opponent’s move before he makes it.”

“If the Philistines don’t get us first, the Israelites certainly will. What’s the kid’s name?”

“Boaz. A redhead firebrand that will kill you just by looking at you. If you meet a Boaz, run the other way.”

“I think it’s time to move to Egypt. I’d rather be a slave in Egypt than butchered here.”

The sentries moved out of Akavish’s earshot. He let out the breath he forgot he was holding. So the enemy has a name, Akavish thought. Boaz.

Akavish noticed metal pulleys at the entrance to the tunnel. There were chains that ran from the pulley the length of the tunnel and were connected to the doors. The doors could only be opened from the entrance to the tunnel. Smart, Akavish thought. It removed any defender from outside danger. The pulleys were on either side of the tunnel entrance. It would take two people to open the gate. The left pulley raised the copper beams, and the right pulley opened the heavy oak doors. Risto was not strong enough to pull either lever, so he couldn’t count on him.

Akavish reached the corner of a house on the outskirt of the plaza. He peered down the dark narrow alley. There was no one in sight. He crossed the alley and was suddenly grabbed across his chest. A hand clamped his mouth and dragged him into the alley. Risto jumped to the roof of the house.

“Tell your little monkey to come back,” an ancient voice whispered and let go of his mouth.

“Grandpa!” Akavish whispered at the thin muscular man. “What are you doing here?”

“I’ve told you repeatedly, stop calling me grandpa. I was amorous with your grandmother, but I don’t know that I’m responsible for your family.”

“Yes, Krafus.” Akavish nodded. Risto jumped back to his perch on Akavish’s shoulder.

“Larus will be furious that you’re here. But let’s do some work. We have much to accomplish and Larus will be at the gate before dawn.”

“I don’t understand. What is the plan?”

“Simple. Kill the guards and open the gate.”

“And you were going to do this yourself?” Akavish looked incredulous.

“Their defense is better than I thought and I hadn’t figured out how to pull both levers, but now that you’re here, that’s solved.”

“What do I need to do?”

“First, send that intelligent pet of yours to fetch the torches from the tunnel. After that, follow my lead.”

“Won’t they shoot him?”

“Probably. They will also look for intruders and raise an alarm.”

“Are you sure you’re on our side?”

Krafus smiled. “We will know how to respond based on how they react. And unless they are especially gifted archers, your monkey will be too hard a target to hit.”

Akavish nodded and whispered a few words to Risto, pointing at the tunnel and the torches.

Risto shot towards the tunnel, invisible in the dark.

The torchlight in the tunnel moved and guards yelled.

Risto ran out of the tunnel towards the alleyway with four torches, two in each of his thin hairy arms. Krafus grabbed the torches and launched them at the soldiers standing on the inner wall. Three caught on fire and ran into their fellow soldiers. Two soldiers ran out of the tunnel.

“We’re under attack! Sound the alarm!”

A horn blast played counterpoint to the pandemonium of the Canaanite soldiers.

“Scale the wall and take out the soldiers on the left,” Krafus commanded. “I’ll do the right. Meet me at the tunnel entrance in five minutes. Your father will be waiting at the gate.”

“Kill them, you mean?”

“Use your knife. Cut throats. Most efficient.” Krafus ran across the dark plaza.

Akavish gulped and with Risto back on his shoulder scaled the wall. Miraculously, he was still undetected. The flames on the burning soldiers had been put out and the remainder looked around wildly for the intruders.

“The lights of the ship are gone!” a sentry yelled. “I can’t see the Philistine ships. Have they left?”

“You fool. They are probably approaching in the dark. Archers! Ready on the outer wall!” the Canaanite captain commanded. “Inner wall sentries, aim at the plaza and the tunnel, there are…” his windpipe was cut off mid-sentence as Krafus weaved his way through the soldiers.

Akavish trembled as he faced the back of a large soldier. Swallowing hard, he jumps on the large man’s back. Akavish tightened his grip on his knife, not wanting to kill his adversary. The soldier spun around and tried to cut at the body on his back. With moistness in his eyes Akavish sliced the man’s throat. He was off the man before the fresh corpse fell to the ground. Another soldier faced him, with sword drawn. Risto launched himself at the soldier’s face forcing him to drop his sword. Akavish cut the man’s throat as he tried tearing Risto off his face. Akavish grabbed Risto off the dying man’s face and put him back on his shoulder. One by one, Akavish weaved his way through each soldier on the inner wall, until all he saw were dead bodies. Part of him wanted to retch, but another part exulted in the power. The power of life and death. The power of a child over an adult. The power of agility and dexterity over a trained soldier’s strength and experience.

He scaled down the wall and ran towards the tunnel.

“They’re at the shore!” a sentry shouted. “They’re at the shore!”

Akavish looked up at the sky as a faint touch of pink announced the arrival of dawn.

“Hold your arrows!” a soldier yelled. “Wait until they’re close enough!”

Akavish reached the tunnel. From out of the tunnel, a long hand grabbed Risto violently. A short soldier put a sword to Akavish’s neck.

“What is the plan?” the short soldier demanded. “How are you taking the city?”

“I, I don’t know,” Akavish mumbled.

“Then you are no use to us.”

The short soldier fell down with a knife in his back. Akavish stabbed the taller soldier holding Risto and stepped back. Krafus dropped from the ceiling of the tunnel, retrieved his knife from the short soldier’s back and mortally stabbed the taller soldier Akavish had wounded.

“What took you so long?” Krafus asked.

“I’m new at this.” Akavish replied.

“Pull the lever. Your father’s timing is perfect. Having the fleet beach at dawn is the perfect distraction.”

Krafus and Akavish pulled on the levers simultaneously. The chains drew the copper bars up and opened the heavy oak doors. Two dozen men entered the dark tunnel with swords, spears and bows. In front was Big Larus, long steel sword in hand.

“Well met, Krafus,” Larus bowed to the thin man.

“Well met, Larus,” Krafus bowed back. “Your son was most helpful in this operation. It would have been difficult to complete it without him. Thank you for sending him.”

Larus looked at Akavish strangely. “I’m glad he was helpful.” Then he slapped Akavish across the face. “But I did not send him. If he implied otherwise, he is a liar and no son of mine. Come, we have a city to conquer. You,” he pointed at Akavish, “back to the ship.”

Larus marched into the city followed by his two dozen men. Akavish gave Krafus a pleading look, but Krafus merely shrugged his shoulders and followed Larus.

“I don’t need this,” Akavish grumbled to Risto as he walked down the tunnel. “I don’t deserve to be treated this way. I did not lie. I gave my father the city, killed for him and this is how he treats me? I will not go back to the ship. I’m a fighter, a killer. I will go where I’m appreciated.”

As he exited the tunnel, he saw the rest of his tribe’s fleet on the beach. A red dawn greeted them. The raiders walked up the pristine sand uncontested. The defenders were most likely occupied with his father’s force. The Philistines would rule Ashkelon as well.

The morning sun glinted on something in the wall. Akavish climbed the wall and found a small silver statuette of a calf nestled in a large crevice.

“This must be the Canaanite god,” Akavish said. “Didn’t do them any good and they won’t be needing it anymore.” Akavish grabbed the silver statue and climbed back down.

“This will fetch me a handsome price, I’m sure. I don’t need my father anymore. I need to follow my own path, Risto. That path lies east. If I am to make my own mark, it will be against the Israelites. The Israelites and their young hero, Boaz.”

* * * * * *


Joshua was not the only one to attack Canaan during his invasion. While the Children of Israel attacked from the east, shiploads of Aegean refugees attacked from the west, from the Mediterranean Sea. The people who would be called the Philistines conquered cities all along the Canaanite coast as far north as current day Lebanon. They become a force to challenge the weakened Egyptian empire (who had been the nominal rulers of Canaan at the time). The entire order of the ancient near east was changing, with the old empires crumbling.

Upgraded remains of gate to ancient Ashkelon

The description of the city walls and gate more or less follow the existing remains of that ancient city. There is also a nook in the outer wall near the gate where archeologists have suggested a silver statue of a calf once stood.


Akavish is Hebrew for spider.

Risto is a diminutive of Aristotle.

Krafus and Larus had a nice Aegean ring to it.

Warrior Prophets: Ch 2, Inside the Walls of Jericho

Warrior Prophets: Chapter 2

Inside the Walls of Jericho

Walls of Jericho

Boaz sat cross-legged on the dusty plain of the Jordan Valley staring intently at the grasshopper. It looked like any other grasshopper as it drank from the early morning dew. Boaz squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated. Was that a flickering light he noticed in his mind’s eye? Boaz opened his eyes. The grasshopper was gone. He banged his little fist on his folded leg, muttering, “Caleb is making me do the silliest things.”

He searched for a new target. He spotted a gray desert mole digging under the exposed roots of a dead eucalyptus tree. Boaz sighed and closed his eyes again. He perceived the typical grainy lightshow of the bright Canaanite sun playing on the inside of his eyelids. I’m not giving up, Boaz thought. Caleb said with practice I would develop the Sight. Isaac’s Sight.

He repeated to himself all the words Caleb had instructed him. Breath deeply. There are different levels of reality. Imagine God underlying everything. Calmly. What we see with our eyes is only the most superficial level.

With his eyes still closed, Boaz perceived a muted warm orange glow. It was the mole! He could see it, see its life force. He could tell the mole was hungry. It was a mother digging out a new cave for its young. Its old cave had been trampled by the Israelite army surrounding Jericho. Somehow Boaz knew this just by Sighting it. Boaz fumbled for a small stone, not wanting to lose Sight of the mole. He clutched a smooth rock and tossed it in the creature’s direction. The mole hid under the tree roots. Boaz was able to follow the movements of the mole with his eyes closed.

A small red glow swooped towards the mole. A falcon, Boaz thought. The falcon just missed catching the mole as it shivered under the tree root.

Boaz expanded his Sight and saw a multitude of small pale colors. Reds and yellows of birds flying overhead. Oranges and browns of rodents. A green in the distance that must have been a fox. Small grays and blacks of ants, spiders and grasshoppers.

A large white light approached him from behind. Caleb. I am seeing Caleb’s spirit. It is so bright! Boaz opened his eyes as the Sight of Caleb’s spirit hurt him. Boaz stood up, turned around and bowed to his approaching Master.

“Now you See?” Caleb asked.

“Yes! It’s amazing. By why do you call it Isaac’s Sight? I thought he was blind and couldn’t even tell the difference between his sons.”

“Isaac did become blind later in his life and he was confused between Jacob and Esau. We are often confused by things or people we are close to. But even in his blindness, Isaac could often discern the truth and essence of those around him.”

“Okay, what’s next?” Boaz asked.

“The siege will end today. I kept us away from the siege so you could focus on your training. The entire army has been completely silent for the past week and I knew there was no way you could stand it.” Caleb smiled.

“Not a word?” Boaz asked.

“Not a sound. I think the entire camp is ready to explode.”

“It hurt my Sight to look at you. What will happen when I see the whole camp?”

Caleb smiled again. “You will see different people in different shades and colors. Some brighter than others. You will get used to it. Very strong emotions may affect you though.”

“How do you know the siege will end today?”

“Joshua has informed us and he has assigned me a mission in the city. I would like you to accompany me.”

“Me? Into the battle zone? I’m just a kid.”

“You are no ordinary child, Boaz. I suspect that your instincts may be helpful.”

“You keep talking about these instincts. How did I get them? Am I the only one?”

“Let’s walk back to the camp as I explain.”

They both turned back to the camp which encircled the walled city of Jericho. Hundreds of thousands of Israelite soldiers surrounded the large stone walls of the city.

“Everyone is born with natural instincts which develop as they get older,” Caleb explained. “As a descendent of Judah you have been blessed with an inordinate amount of instinct. We call it simply Judah’s Instinct. Of all the sons of Jacob, amongst all twelve brothers, Judah had the most developed instinct. He somehow just knew what to do and did it. How you have more than most people, I don’t know. I expect you will play an important role in things to come. You are not unique in having a powerful attribute. Amongst each of the tribes there are people who have strongly inherited a trait of their Tribal ancestor. There is Naftali’s Speed, Simeon’s Courage, Yissachar’s Stamina. Each of the twelve tribes has a special aspect that exhibits itself in each generation.”

“Can I get the other traits as well? How about Isaac’s Sight?” Boaz asked.

“Traits from other tribes are possible to develop, but much harder. Traits of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are more easily learned by every Israelite, but we only train those that have an underlying skill.”

“What are Abraham’s and Jacob’s traits?”

“Abraham is Generosity and Jacob is Astuteness.”

“Will you teach me?”

“One thing at a time. We have a city to conquer and a maiden to protect. We are almost at the camp. From now until we hear the signal not a word, not a murmur, not a sound. It is critical for the operation that the whole camp remains completely silent. Use Isaac’s Sight to understand what is going on. I will not be able to explain anything until later. Is that clear?”

Boaz wordlessly shook his head in understanding. Caleb nodded his approval.

Boaz and Caleb reached a perimeter of Judean soldiers facing them with spears and shields in hand. Every ten steps around the camp stood a soldier with his back to Jericho. All the other soldiers concentrated their attention towards the city. The sentries nodded at Caleb as he approached. Eyebrows went up as they noted Boaz approaching, but nobody stopped his entry into the camp.

Boaz closed his eyes lightly and tried to use Isaac’s Sight on the soldiers. He saw a hue of colors. Each soldier was composed of a mix of colors. Some were bright vivid colors, others were subdued. Many of the colors swirled with a yellow or an orange or a blue becoming more dominant. A few had contrasting colors fighting for supremacy. Others were very stable in their color mix. There were many soldiers with bright colors that outshone their neighbors. A small number of colors were dark and foreboding.

Boaz opened his eyes again and tried to match the colors with the soldiers he was seeing. He recognized angry Beria, a bright red. His cousin Ruchem a playful blue. As Boaz walked with Caleb through the troops he tried to use the Sight with his eyes open. He found he could still get a sense of the person’s personality and mood, though not as strongly as with his eyes closed.

They reached the front of the siege. The front line of the camp was positioned beyond arrow range of the walls of Jericho. Boaz had never seen a walled city before. The wall was constructed of massive stones; each was as long as his ten-year old height and was as high as his chest. The entire wall was as high as five grown men standing one on top of the other. It looked impregnable to him.

Then he noticed the priests. Four of them carried the Ark. Aaron’s sons, Elazar and Itamar; and two other priests whose names he didn’t remember bared the poles of the Ark on their shoulders as they marched right below the walls of Jericho. Boaz was about to point out the danger to Caleb, but then he realized the silence.

Everyone was staring intently at the Ark, yet no one said a word. In front of the Ark, walked seven other priests, each holding a long ram’s horn and blowing on it. The trumpeting was the only sound cutting through the early morning silence. Thousands of armed troops of Israelites marched in front of and behind the priests. Rows of archers were interspersed amongst foot soldiers carrying long spears and wooden shields. All the soldiers had swords at their sides.

From the ramparts of the walls, soldiers of Jericho looked down apprehensively. Neither side attacked or made a threatening move.

Boaz looked at the soldiers on the wall with his Sight. He was overwhelmed by their fear. A sickly yellow aura pervaded their bodies. He looked back down at the Israelite troops. The priests were radiating white light. The soldiers displayed an array of colors and emotions. A steely blue resolve. A light red confidence. A darker red bloodlust.

The priests and their military entourage marched a full circuit around the city, blasting the ram’s horns as they reached each of the four compass points of Jericho. They repeated the process again and again as the sun grew hotter in the spring morning of the Jordan Valley.

More than he could ever recall, Boaz wanted to speak. He had so many questions to ask of Caleb at his side. The oppressive silence of the camp and the soldiers held his tongue. Caleb’s attention kept shifting from the priests, to the city walls, and to one particular window high in the wall. Boaz followed Caleb’s gaze. A thin red strand of silk hung from the window. Boaz closed his eyes and tried his Sight on the occupants in the wall-bound house. He sensed dozens of people crammed into a small house. They were all family. There was a strong sense of fear, like that of the soldiers on the ramparts, but it was mixed with hope, a healthy blue, like that of a bubbling spring. There were some shades of red anger, and one blinding beacon of white hope, confidence and faith. That must be the harlot Rahav, Boaz thought.

The priests finished their seventh circuit of the city. They trumpeted on the ram’s horns one last time. Boaz was startled as a booming voice broke the human silence. Joshua in the distance called out:

“Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!”

As one, the children of Israel shouted. A roar that shook the very earth. The pent up sounds of seven whole days came out in a rush of power and energy. Boaz saw the energy as a blazing inferno. The walls of Jericho shook. The foundations crumbled and in moments the walls fell in on themselves. Cries came from the soldiers on the ramparts as their bodies were crushed by falling stones. Most of the Jericho army was destroyed along with their wall. Only one part of the wall still stood whole. The one with the red string hanging from its window.

Joshua called out again:

“The city shall be consecrated! It and everything in it shall be the Lord’s. Only Rahav the harlot shall live. She and whoever is with her in her house, for she hid the messengers we sent.”

The Israelite soldiers that had accompanied the Ark were the first to enter the city, climbing over rubble and the remains of the city’s defenders. The rest of the Israelite camp rushed to the fallen city in the wake of the first soldiers. The priests, their job done, moved away from the cursed city with a stately, dignified march, carrying the Ark somberly.

“Follow me,” Caleb said and ran towards Rahav’s house, sword drawn, with a wooden shield on his left arm. He looked fearsome with his blazing red and white beard.

“But I don’t have a weapon,” Boaz fought down his panic.

“Pick up a stick,” Caleb said without looking back. “You are sure to find many a broken spear in the ruins of the wall. Hurry up. I know how fast you can move.”

Fighting back tears, Boaz followed Caleb, wondering again why a ten-year old was allowed on a battlefield.

Boaz caught up with Caleb’s long strides. He nimbly climbed over the broken wall. He almost retched as he saw the bodies of the Jericho soldiers amongst the man sized stones. Then he saw the Israelite army decimating the rest of the Jericho population. This is not a battle, Boaz thought, this is a massacre. Some Jericho residents resisted and fought back, but most just fell to the merciless onslaught of Israelite swords. Old, young, women, children, all succumbed equally to the sharp metal of the Children of Israel.

Caleb made way towards the entrance to Rahav’s house. Next to a dead defender, Boaz found the lower half of a broken spear and grabbed it. Its broken end was still damp with blood. Boaz wondered whose blood it was.

A crowd of two dozen defenders stood on a stone ramp leading to the door to Rahav’s house. A tall, swarthy man was banging loudly on the heavy oak door.

“You betrayed us, Rahav. I will break down this door and kill you and the rest of your family.”

“This is what Joshua was afraid of,” Caleb whispered to Boaz. “Watch my back.”

Caleb dived into the crowd on the ramp. He landed low and spun around, quickly slicing all the men in arm’s reach. Half a dozen defenders fell dead in one turn. Caleb walked to the door and dispatched one defender after another. He seemed to know their moves before they did, and efficiently stabbed, sliced and hacked at each man. Boaz watched the whole battle from a few steps behind Caleb, walking up the ramp as yet another defender fell.

The tall, swarthy man turned to face Caleb with a heavy broadsword. He looked in fear at the bodies all around Caleb. Caleb was unscratched. The man snarled at Caleb and attacked with a furious wave of blows. Caleb blocked each blow and parried. Their sword skills were evenly matched. The defender battered at Caleb with his heavy sword, hoping to either break Caleb’s thinner sword or wear him down.

Boaz felt a tingling on the back of his neck. He turned around quickly but did not see anyone. He closed his eyes and saw him. A swirling mass of yellow fear and red anger. An archer hiding behind the rubble. Boaz instinctively raised his stick. The stick intercepted an arrow aimed at Caleb’s back. Boaz looked at his stick and the arrow with his mouth ajar. An Israelite swordsman spotted the hidden archer and cut him down. Boaz recognized the swordsman as Pinhas the priest. Pinhas circled their position, searching for other defenders.

“I knew you would be handy to have around,” Caleb said to Boaz. “Time to end this fracas.”

Caleb jumped seven feet into the air. He somersaulted and landed behind the swarthy fellow, facing the door. Without looking Caleb stabbed backwards, piercing his opponent in the back. The tall, swarthy man fell to his knees and then on his face. Caleb knocked politely on Rahav’s door.

“Rahav! It’s me, Caleb. It’s safe to come out now. Hurry, before other disgruntled neighbors show up!”

Boaz standing behind Caleb looked through the door. There was the bright essence that he knew to be Rahav. Next to her was a dark red glow, mixed with a crazed yellow. The door opened.

Boaz was shocked by two contrasting sights. The beauty of Rahav was indescribable. He had never seen a woman as beautiful as her. Even at his young age he understood that men the world over would die or even kill for her. The other sight was the burly man grabbing her hair and holding a sword to her neck.

“Make way, Israelite,” the man demanded of Caleb.

“I am not going anywhere without Rahav safely in our hands,” Caleb stated calmly.

“She has betrayed us all. Betrayed her city, betrayed her family, betrayed her people. Give me free passage, or I shall slay her right here.”

“Rahav has saved your life by protecting you in her house. All of your family have been saved through her efforts. You all would have been doomed otherwise. You are free to go now, but without her.”

“No! I will escape this city you have destroyed and then I will kill this traitor.” The burly man pulled Rahav’s hair tighter. Rahav looked at Boaz with a silent plea in her eyes.

Boaz felt the spirit of Judah fill him. He dived underneath the burly man’s legs, rolled on the ground, turned around and with all his might slammed the tip of his stick into the man’s back. The man dropped his sword and released Rahav’s hair. Caleb grabbed the man by the neck.

“Stop!” Rahav yelled. “Don’t kill him, Caleb. He is angry and confused. My sister’s husband is a decent man. The fall of Jericho was a big blow to him.”

“As you wish, my Lady.” Caleb bowed to Rahav, stepped on the fallen sword and pushed the brother-in-law back into the house.

“And you my young hero,” Rahav smiled and tussled Boaz’s mop of red hair. “Thank you for saving me. I shall ever be in your debt, Boaz.”

Boaz thought his heart would break. Rahav was so beautiful, he wasn’t sure where her physical beauty stopped and where her shinning essence began.

“How, how do you know my name?” Boaz stuttered.

“Why, you have been in my dreams, Boaz. I have also seen the young man that wants you dead.”

* * * * * *

Biblical Sources:

Joshua Chapter 6

12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew with the horns; and the armed men went before them; and the rearward came after the ark of the Lord, [the priests] blowing with the horns continually. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp; so they did six days. 15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early at the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times; only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the horns, that Joshua said unto the people: ‘Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be devoted, even it and all that is therein, to the Lord; only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the devoted thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed by taking of the devoted thing, so should ye make the camp of Israel accursed, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are holy unto the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.’ 20 So the people shouted, and [the priests] blew with the horns. And it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the horn, that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. 22 And Joshua said unto the two men that had spied out the land: ‘Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye swore unto her.’ 23 And the young men the spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had, all her kindred also they brought out; and they set them without the camp of Israel. 24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein; only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the harlot, and her father’s household, and all that she had, did Joshua save alive; and she dwelt in the midst of Israel, unto this day; because she hid the messengers, whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Chapter 1 – Uncanny Sense

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.”

* * * * * *

Biblical Sources:

Joshua Chapter 3