When Moses died, Joshua became the leader of God’s people. Once they were camped on the shores of the River Jordan, Joshua called two of his best men to a secret meeting. They were brave and clever soldiers. “I have a secret mission for you,” he said.
The two men liked secret missions. “I want you to spy on the land across the river. Sneak into the city of Jericho. Find out how strong it is. Find out if the people are ready to fight us and how many soldiers they have. See what types of weapons they use. Are they made of bronze or iron?Then come back and tell me. After we cross the River Jordan, we’ll attack Jericho.”
The men nodded. That afternoon the two spies slipped into the city. It was surrounded by great thick walls. At night the gates were closed tight. Guards patrolled the tops of the walls. The men walked by a group of soldiers. One of them turned and shouted, “Hey, who are those two strangers?”
“They look like Israelites!” “Stop! Spies! Those two men are spies, stop them!”
The two could hear the crowd crashing after them. They turned first this way, then that. They dashed through the narrow streets, trying to find a place to hide.
“In here!” someone whispered. The men stopped and looked up. They saw a woman hanging out of a window above them. “In here.” She pointed at the door below her. Joshua’s spies opened the door and ran in.
The Israelite spies looked around. They saw the woman standing on the other side of the room. “I will hide you,” she said. “Follow me.”
The Jericho woman led the spies up to the roof of her house. She showed them where to hide. The spies waited until it became dark.
When the king of Jericho had heard about the spies, he ordered his soldiers to search the city. Soon they reached the house where the spies were hiding.
The soldiers entered the woman’s house. When they questioned her, she told them, “Yes, they were here, but now they’re gone. If you hurry, you can still catch them.”
The guards clattered out of the house. They rushed out of the gate just before it closed for the night. Now no matter what, they could not come back in until the next morning.
“Quickly,” the woman called to the Israelites. “Quickly, now is your chance. Hurry and leave while the guards are gone.”
The two men climbed out of their hiding place. “I know all about you people of Israel,” she said. “God is on your side. He blesses whatever you do. All the men in Jericho are scared to fight you.
“If I help you escape, will you remember me and not harm me when you take Jericho?”
“Our lives for yours,” the men replied. “Yes, we’ll save you if you help us get out of here.” The woman nodded. Then she led them up another set of stairs.
The men climbed the narrow steps until they reached a tiny room. “Here, this is how you will escape,” the woman said. She pointed at a small window. That side of the house was actually part of the wall surrounding Jericho. The woman gave the spies some rope. “If you climb out here, you’ll land on the outside of the city. Go into the hills. Stay hidden for three days.”
The man took the rope from her. “What is your name?”
“I am Rahab.”
“Rahab, when Israel attacks, tie this red rope to the window. We’ll make sure no one living here gets hurt when we attack Jericho.”
The other spy growled, “But if you tell and we are caught, you’ll get no mercy from our army.”
She nodded. The men opened the window and fastened the red cord to a pillar. Slowly they lowered themselves out of the house. They bounced against the wall with their feet. When they reached the ground, no alarm had sounded. They disappeared into the darkness. Rahab pulled the rope back inside. She knew it was her ticket to safety. If God wanted the people of Israel to capture Jericho, then they surely would.
The spies from Israel hid for three days. Once they knew they were safe, they ran back to camp and reported to Joshua.
“It’s too good to be true,” the men said. “This woman who helped us said all the men in Jericho were afraid of us. The city is ours.”
Then the three men bowed their heads and thanked God for helping them. When Joshua finished praying he looked at his men.
“We will invade Jericho a few days from now. Today, though, is the day for which we have waited so long.” At first his officers did not understand what he meant. Then a huge grin stretched itself across Joshua’s bearded face. “Today is the day the Lord will lead us into the promised land!” The men took up the call and ran to the other leaders. They told the news to everyone in the camp. Soon it spread from one end to the other, “Today is the day!”
The people were so excited. They had hoped for and counted down the days. Forty years of wandering were over!