Jericho, Approximately 1500 BC
[Warning: The occupation of the character from which this installment
is based on may offend some more sensitive readers. However, to be
true to the story, Rahab remains what she was, and what the writer of
Hebrews recognizes her as in the Eleventh Chapter 'Honor Roll of Faith'.]
It wasn't unusual for the great men of the City to come to my house.
In fact, they all came to my house.
How many of the lower caste women of the city did the King himself know on sight by name? Most of the Priests of Marduk knew me as well. They brought me gifts, and once had a sacrifice for me when I was sick.
Although I started entertaining men when I was very young by dancing, I also paid attention to the talk about me. Later, some of the men brought my mother things for me. Mother taught me not to be vain about my appearance, and I do not believe that I was. But I also knew that compared to the other women in the city, I was much prettier than they.
And so my skills in entertaining the men of the city grew with my age.
I did not have a political position, which made my house a refuge for those in all factions in the city. And spared me and my household trouble during purges from the temple or the palace.
But in my profession, one hears many things from outside as well. Travelers and traders going here and there brought news. And some didn't want to sleep the night away, so they talked, and told stories from far lands.
And I listened.
A caravan brought news of the collapse of Egypt when I was a child. But I remember the stories.
The King heard from the lips of the chief driver many things from the house of Pharaoh. We heard more from the lips of his drivers, and during the time of dancing and wine, I heard much. Then later more from the chief as one of my mother's hired girls entertained him and he talked and talked.
The Hebrews had a god more powerful than all the gods of Egypt.
This Yahweh of theirs had invoked signs and wonders that shamed the very gods of Egypt right in their own domain. The Nile itself fell before their God. That leader of the Hebrews, Moses had taken the firstborn of Ammon Ra's king from him. And then this God parted the sea to allow the Hebrews to pass, then the sea swallowed Pharaoh's army.
The more I heard. The more I wondered about the power of our gods. As the years passed it became clear that Israel's God was righteous. He was jealous, and would punish those that did wrong in His eyes.
Yahweh brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. He healed those that had been bitten by snakes.
Marduk couldn't even relieve a minor drought or cure a prince's child of a fever.
Some of my girls and many of the men that came to my house doubted the stories. But the stories persisted. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they ran into different ones and the news traveled. And I listened.
The stories grew closer. Israel was coming this way. And now, Yahweh of the Hebrews had given his people His Law. Which they Must Obey.
Marduk's law changed with the whim of the king it seemed. The priests had changed Marduk's rules to benefit me from time to time when I needed a favor.
Now I was no longer a girl. My household looked to me for guidance even though I was only a woman. Some of the counselors sought me out from time to time about matters. They knew I listened to everybody, and could judge which was the better idea on some things. But if I ran into them in the market and even just spoke to them they'd rebuke me for it and degrade me and swear by the sky and sea they could not speak to a woman, and a harlot at that. Later, in the evening, they'd bring me gifts and kiss me and say they must keep up appearances. It was a game I played well.
And I knew others came to talk to me and spend time with me because they liked good-looking women, and around my house, there were always several.
As Israel approached our area the city began to become nervous. Several of the better connected families took what they could carry without being suspicious and left on a sudden errand south along the shore of the Salt Sea. The Hebrews had already defeated several of the area powers, and compared to Sihon and some of the others, our army was nothing compared to Israel.
One of the priests, a cousin of mine, moved in with us. He claimed he had had a vision from Marduk. That the God of Israel would utterly defeat us and overthrow our city, and burn all that was left, and people would not live in this place ever again.
I told him that did not sound like a vision from Marduk, but from the Great Yahweh, God of Israel.
When I said that his face grew pale and his eyes filled with tears. He fell on his face in my wine room and cried like a child. From that day until we left, he refused to leave my house.
More people left the city as the Nation of Israel approached.
One morning two travelers came to my door and asked to rest.
It wasn't unusual. Aside from my other talents with men, many came just to taste my wine and watch the girls dance. Sometimes, many times, that was all they did.
But these two were different.
When the girl removed her shawl and began to whirl, the two went up to the roof to take the air.
Later when the other men were in the chambers with the girls, they asked my elderly father many questions about the city.
I approached them. "You are from Israel." I said plainly in the speech of the caravans.
They admitted it.
I asked them face to face, eye to eye, if the miracles I had heard of were real.
They said they were. Then they told me of the passing of their Moses. And how now a true warrior was their leader and Prophet.
What my cousin the priest had told me came back to me. I made my decision.
Word came, the king had heard that Joshua the son of Nun, the new leader of Israel, had spies throughout the land and he was wondering about the men that had come to my house. His guards were in my courtyard.
I told the men to hide in the rafters of my house. Then I went downstairs and smiled at the guards and teased them and convinced them that I wouldn't think of hiding enemy spies when soldiers are so much more fun. I even offered to let them search me.
They said they know they were here.
I told them they had come by, but didn't seem to like women, they had just left, if they hurried to the gate, they might catch them. The guards ran off.
I made the men promise to me by their God that when Israel came to destroy the city, that they would remember me.
They made a nice speech about this and that, but it came down to the same thing, if I didn't double cross them, they'd save us. One of them gave me his bright red belt to tie to my window to mark my house. I let them down over the city wall behind my house and they ran into the hills to hide until the search parties gave up.
The next few days were unbearable.
Terror hung over the city. My house was still. No dancing, no singing, no men from the great houses of the city came to call.
The Children of Israel had crossed the Jordan. They were on our doorstep.
We waited for the inevitable.
Our allies the Amorites ran before them. The others did as well.
I talked to my cousin the priest. He renounced all he had ever done for Marduk and began praying to the God of Israel. Although I believed the miracle that was before my own eyes, the Jordan being dry for the Hebrews to cross, I did not know how to approach a God I had never seen.
The Israelites had renewed their covenant with their God by cutting themselves in their manhood.
I fell on my face before their God. If they could do that for him, I could pray to Him like my cousin did.
They were outside the city. I could see their camp from my roof. If they did not honor their pact with me, then I remembered their Yahweh's Law. If they swore by Him and forgot me, He would have the revenge. I tied the belt to my window, and prayed.
They marched around our city. It was a sight. Every day for a week they had a parade around the city.
Then on the seventh day, they marched more and shouted louder and the city crumbled around us. But in the midst of ruin and destruction the men that I had hidden came to my house and lead us out and we ran without looking back until we were camp next to their camp.
The city was on fire.
Later, we were accepted by Israel and came to belong to them.
I hear some of my descendants may come into something good.
They even say of one of them that He will be the Son of God.
Not bad for just a woman.
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