Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Yesterday I reminded you of the last spy mission, 38 years before. This time, it’s just 2 spies, in secret. Find Jericho on your map.
Remember Rahab from any old Sunday School prurient interest? How does this story sound to your adult ears? Here home already built into the wall, her social status marginal in Jericho, Rahab chooses to side with the spies and invaders.
This is not a binary story of Israel versus the world, and already Rahab plus her extended family are not on the fence but in the wall. How many stories of collaboration, psychological warfare, civilian and ‘collateral damage’ are coming out of Syria today?
Rahab lies to the authorities. She extorts a promise from the vulnerable spies. What’s an insurrectionist, and what’s a terrorist? Who’s innocent, and who’s loyal to family before the powers that be? When the besieged are demoralized, do defenders sue for peace?
Some wars may be won by military technology, strategy and tactics, but more wars are lost by populaces unable or unwilling to resource their rulers and armed forces in delusions of ‘total war’. What does it mean to claim ‘God dispossessed the Canaanites’ through fear?
If "War is the continuation of politics by other means" (Clausewitz), diplomacy is perpetual. Why is the nation state given a monopoly on the use of violence? Wartime moralists have been savouring this story for a long time – not just militarist imperialist settler culture.
Then Joshua son of Nun
sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies,
‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’
So they went,
and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab,
and spent the night there.
2The king of Jericho was told,
‘Some Israelites have come here tonight
to search out the land.’
3Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab,
‘Bring out the men who have come to you,
who entered your house,
for they have come only to search out the whole land.’
4But the woman took the two men and hid them.
Then she said,
‘True, the men came to me,
but I did not know where they came from.
5And when it was time to close the gate at dark,
the men went out.
Where the men went I do not know.
Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.’
6She had, however,
brought them up to the roof
and hidden them with the stalks of flax
that she had laid out on the roof.
7So the men pursued them
on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords.
As soon as the pursuers had gone out,
the gate was shut.
8 Before they went to sleep,
she came up to them on the roof
9and said to the men:
‘I know that the Lord has given you the land,
and that dread of you has fallen on us,
and that all the inhabitants of the land
melt in fear before you.
10For we have heard
how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you
when you came out of Egypt,
and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites
that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og,
whom you utterly destroyed.
11As soon as we heard it,
our hearts failed,
and there was no courage left in any of us
because of you.
The Lord your God is indeed God
in heaven above and on earth below.
since I have dealt kindly with you,
swear to me by the Lord
that you in turn will deal kindly with my family.
Give me a sign of good faith
13that you will spare my father and mother,
my brothers and sisters,
and all who belong to them,
and deliver our lives from death.’
14The men said to her,
‘Our life for yours!
If you do not tell this business of ours,
then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you
when the Lord gives us the land.’
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window,
for her house was on the outer side of the city wall
and she resided within the wall itself.
16She said to them,
‘Go towards the hill country,
so that the pursuers may not come upon you.
Hide yourselves there for three days,
until the pursuers have returned;
then afterwards you may go on your way.’
17The men said to her,
‘We will be released from this oath
that you have made us swear to you
18if we invade the land
and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window
through which you let us down,
and you do not gather into your house
your father and mother,
and all your family.
19If any of you go out of the doors of your house into the street,
they shall be responsible for their own death,
and we shall be innocent;
but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you in the house,
we shall bear the responsibility for their death.
20But if you tell this business of ours,
then we shall be released from this oath
that you made us swear to you.’
‘According to your words,
so be it.’
She sent them away and they departed.
Then she tied the crimson cord in the window.
22 They departed and went into the hill country
and stayed there for three days,
until the pursuers returned.
The pursuers had searched all along the way
and found nothing.
23Then the two men came down again
from the hill country.
They crossed over,
came to Joshua son of Nun,
and told him all that had happened to them.
24They said to Joshua,
‘Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands;
moreover, all the inhabitants of the land
melt in fear before us.’