Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joshua sends spies

Several days went by as the people of Israel mourned the death of their great leader. Moses was in a much better place, and although Joshua felt a great urgency to press on with the invasion of Canaan he also wanted to respectfully acknowledge the moment.

Joshua didn’t talk much of his experience on Mount Nebo, for he was mindful how easily the people could be frightened. Stories of Lucifer and Michael fighting over the body of Moses could be taken the wrong way. If the Devil can’t deceive people into doubting his existence, then he’ll try to crush their faith with fear. Either way, Joshua wasn’t going to stand for it.

However, so many people kept asking to see Moses’ body that, in the end, Joshua had to tell the truth. He had no idea where Moses was buried. That was a secret known only to the Lord, for which Joshua was surprisingly grateful. A grave can become a shrine, and a shrine can become an idol, and if that were ever to happen people would completely miss the point of Moses’ entire life.

Mindful that history has a way of repeating itself, a few hours after the ritual mourning had ceased, Joshua summoned his most trusted friends under the secrecy of darkness.
Caleb, Phinehas and Salman were ordered to spy out the land of Canaan, and pay particularly attention to Jericho and it’s fortifications.

Eleazar the High Priest (and Phinehas’ father) was also there to add his blessing and prayers, even as they saddled up their horses on what was certain to be a dangerous mission.

“Caleb, enter Jericho on foot,” said Joshua, “or you'll look suspicious. Salman will guard the horses at the river until you return.”

“Why the big secret?” Salman asked, “can’t we at least tell our families?”

“It’s for your own safety, and theirs” Joshua replied. “Besides, you don't have much time.”

“How long?” asked Caleb.

“Four days at the most.” said Joshua. “We'll cross the Jordan on the fifth. If you're not back, I’ll assume you're dead, or soon will be.”

“That's the least of our worries,” replied Caleb.

“I know,” said Joshua, “I only wish I could go myself.”

“Yes, but what kind of trouble would we return to?” said Caleb.

Joshua nodded his head in agreement. Caleb was right, at least on the big things, and more often than he cared to boast.

“Eleazar, it’s time send them off.”

On Joshua’s cue, the High Priest stepped forwarded and anointed each man with oil on the forehead. “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and give you peace. Shalom.”

“Shalom,” echoed Joshua, as the three men mounted their horses.

“What were you saying?” Phinehas asked Caleb.

Caleb leaned towards him with a crazy look in his eyes, “If you even smell of fear,” he whispered, “I'll kill you myself. You and Salman.”

“Oh that’s comforting,” Phinehas replied.

“Stop your squabbling and get out here,” Joshua ordered, and slapped their horses on the hind legs to send all three charging off into the night.

Eleazar stood solemnly watching them off under the moonlit sky. Joshua sensed the Priest’s fatherly pride wrestling with fear for his own son’s safety.

“He would be in more danger if he stayed,” said Joshua philosophically, “We all would.”

Although Eleazar kept his mouth shut tightly with stoic resolve, he still had to wipe the tears from his eyes. “There’s no safer place to be,” Eleazar replied, “other than in God’s will.”

“Amen,” said Joshua, as he gazed into the glorious night sky. “God’s will be done.”

The stars were too numerous to be counted.

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