The city lay in ruins now, the last embers smoldering. What had once been a proud oasis in the wilderness was now nothing but a charred shell. Jericho, the mighty city of palm dates, fallen to the children of Israel as a token of what was to come, the complete subjugation of the Land of milk and honey at the hand of the Lord of the Covenant's people. The sun had set hours ago and the heated ashes glowed brightly in the dark.

Inside his tent, Joshua paced back and forth. Suddenly he stopped and sat. He drank a sip of wine and called out softly to the guard just outside his tent. The guard entered and bowed to him. "Yes, my lord? What is your wish?"

Joshua replied, "Bring me Rahab the harlot." The guard bowed again. "At once, my lord."

Minutes later, she entered the tent, led by two guards. Joshua signalled for them to leave. She stood there, fully wrapped in her clothing, her face covered with veils (for so is the custom with KEDESHOT that they do not reveal any part of their skin except when they are engaged in their service). She trembled slightly but she stood tall and faced him, not showing any fear. For several moments they merely looked at each other in silence, each trying to ascertain the measure of the other.

Finally he gestured for her to sit. He offered her a cup of wine but she simple shook her head in negation, then bowed her head in thanks. He knew the feelings rising within him. He had not been with a woman for a long time, and now, he was the conquerer, and she the helpless enemy female of the vanquished nation.

Another man, another victor, would have simply taken her according to his will as one of the spoils of war. For this was the way of the world. But Israel was not just another victor, and Joshua was not just another man. He had been the servant and disciple of the Man of God (the prophet witout equal who had seen the Lord of the Covenant and lived), and that servitude and that discipleship had molded him into a special man, yet a man none the less, with all of the feelings and passions of a man. Yet he knew that to treat her with indignity, to humble her, would negate and undo all that he had become, all that he was. For was he not the supreme leader, and commander-in-chief of the hosts of the Lord of Hosts, and a prophet in his own right? And had not this lowly harlot who sat now at his feet been given a surety of protection by a divine oath?

For the Israelite spies that she had hid and protected, at the peril of her own life, and the lives of her family, had sworn to her that the Lord of the Covenant would deal truthfully with her and her household if she would deal truthully with His chosen people whom He had redeemed from Egypt.

"And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the Land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the Land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. And she said, According unto your words, so be it."

And now all was fulfilled. Jericho has been defeated and utterly overthrown, and the whole land of Canaan lie before them - a gift from the Lord of the Covenant as He had promised Moses His servant, the master and teacher of Joshua ben Nun.

Now Rahab sat before him in silence and subjugation for she was well acquainted with silence and subjugation. The daughter of poor parents, she had, since girlhood, been a bread earner for her family through the sale of her body for the pleasure of the men of Jericho; thus her father had dedicated her to the service of the gods of Jericho as a KEDESHAH, a sacred temple prostitute. Since the beginning of her memory, men had been her masters and had told her what to do, what to think, what to say and more importantly, what NOT to say. Hers was not to reason or question but to obey, first her father and her brothers, then the priests of Jericho, and then those who patronized her services. And now, this man who sat before and above her. There was no need for speech between them. She only had to look into a man's eyes to understand what he wished of her, and Joshua was a man; her new lord and master to be sure, yet nevertheless a man, and she saw his desire in his eyes, and she fully expected him to treat her the way any foreign conquerer would treat a subjugated enemy woman, as an object for his own pleasure. It was therefore disconcerting to her when, after a while, he averted his eyes from her and spoke softly to her.

"Rahab, it is known to me how you acted kindly and faithfully with the servants of the Lord of the Covenant when they came to your city to spy out its strength. And you have your reward from Heaven; you life, and the lives of your kin, have been spared. For see all about you is destruction and death. All that you have known for your entire life is gone now forever. At the Lord of the Covenant's behest, we have made this a place of CHEREM; for now it is totally devoted to obliteration, and cursed be he who would build it up again. This place, and all your memories of it, your friends, teachers, peers, all gone. Rahab, tell me truly - you hate us, do you not?" She spoke to him as softly as he had to her. "Hate you, my lord? No, I do not hate you - for how can I hate the instrument of the Lord of the Covenant's will?" Joshua smiled down upon her. "You speak of the Lord of the Covenant, but surely He is the God of Israel, your enemey, and not your God."

She looked up at him. "I have heard how he destroyed those who hated Israel in the Red Sea; how He guided Israel through the great wilderness of Sinn these forty years; how He was with Moses and with your people in all their travail, and how He fed them with miraculous bread and gave them water from the rocks of the dessert. Is the Lord of the Covenant so small then that He must be in one place only and be God to one people only? Can He not be God to all who will call upon Him and serve Him?"

Joshua marvelled at her words. He rose and began to pace again as he spoke to her. "He is a jealous God, hating them that worship stones and trees and stars falsely, and them that commit all manner of abominations to His face, and He will destroy them as surely as He destroyed the great city Sodom." "My lord", she said, "You have asked if I hate you. Yet you have spared my life and the lives of my family. You asked about my friends and those who knew me and taught me. My teachers have been those who taught me how to use my femaleness for their own benefit; my friends were those who chose to be near me when they wanted to use me. Even my own kin have always treated me as a maid-servant. Yet I begged for their lives because they were my flesh and blood. I served this city as a whore and a slave. What have I lost? It was God's will that this place be destroyed and given over to you, and if this place, then everything in it as well, - given over to you. And now, my lord, if it please you, I shall be your whore and your slave."

He felt a stirring of compassion for this woman who sat humbly, and in humility, speaking her heart to him. He went to her and lifted her up, standing her in front of him. "Not so, Rahab. There shall be no slaves or KEDESHOT among the Lord of the Covenant's people. But you shall be free to come with us, or to go where you will. No man of Israel shall harm you or molest you, for Heaven Himself is bound to protect you by our oath." She could not look at him for she felt shame, the shame of a lifetime of object-ness imposed upon her by fate. She had never felt these feelings before. Abuse had given her its own twisted strength; she had learned how to manipulate people, mainly men, how to use the passions and weaknesses of people for her own survival, yet the gentleness and honesty of this conquerer before her suddenly stripped her of all her defenses. She felt vulnerable before him. And that feeling made her feel suddenly frightened, - far more frightened than if he had rudely grabbed herand raped her there on the spot, for THAT was behavior that she could understand. Kindness and considerateness to the weak by those in a position of power was something that she did not understand, having never experienced it. Suddenly she wished to show this Hebrew man her gratitude for his kindness to her, and that desire naturally presented itself to her in the form that she best understood, in the ONLY way she undwerstood. he was a man and she would give her what a man wanted and desired, what she was well versed in giving. She stood before him and looked up into his strong face. She saw tha the was weary with the weariness of the warrior who had faught the hard fight and now needed to feel the joy of the prize of victory.

She spoke, still in a soft voice. "My lord, Joshua, if it is your desire, I shall lie down with you." Her voice was filled with gratitude and selflessness, and the sound of his name on her tongue caused him to feel a tenderness toward her that made him wish to protect her from all hurt. For he knew that her whole life had been filled with pain. He lifted his arms and stretched them out to her, and he spoke to her, saying, "Rahab, Rahab, you who had mercy upon the servants of the Lord of the Covenant, He shall have mercy upon you. Rahab, your name means "wide" and He shall widen your joy and he shall open wide His storehouse of all that is good and abundantly give to you His great healing and CHESED."

Then she leaned against him and felt the strength of his arms encircle her, protectively. And she wept. For the floodgates of all her past life of sorrow opened up and she poured forth all the pain that she had held within herself for her own self protection. Now she allowed him to protect her with his embrace for his embrace was different than the embraces of men that she had previously known. For all their embraces had been embraces of taking, but HIS was the embrace of giving. And as she sobbed, he held her close and stroked her hair. "I shall give you my own CHESED and love you", he whispered, "and so great shall my love for you be that even if I might cause the very sun in the sky to stand still for you as a show of my love for you, I would do so."

And Rahab journeyed with the children of Israel in all their journeyings throughout the Land, and when they had subdued the Land and the Lord of the Covenant had given them rest from all their enemies round about them, it happened that Joshua ben Nun took Rahab the harlot to wife, for she worshipped the God of Israel with all her heart and strength and might, and they had many sons and daughters.

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