The Story of a Scarlet Cord
Joshua i: 1, to
the death of Moses, while the children of Israel
were still encamped upon the east bank of the river
Jordan, God spoke to Joshua, and said:
"Now that Moses my servant is dead, you are to take
his place and to rule this people. Do not delay, but
lead them across the river Jordan, and conquer the
land which I have given to them."
Then God told Joshua how large would be the land
which the Israelites were to have, if they should
show themselves worthy of it. It was to reach from
the great river Euphrates, far in the north, down to
the border of Egypt on the south, and from the
desert on the east to the Great Sea on the west. And
God said to Joshua:
"Be strong and of a good courage. I will be with you
as I was with Moses. Read constantly the book of the
law which Moses gave you, and be careful to obey all
that is written in it. Do this and you will have
Then Joshua gave orders to his officers. He said,
"Go through the camp, and tell the people to prepare
food for a journey; for in three days we shall pass
over the river Jordan, and shall go into the land
which the Lord has promised us."
To say this was very bold; for at that time of the
year, in the spring, the Jordan was much larger than
at other times. All its banks were overflowed, and
it was running as a broad, deep, swift river, down
to the Dead Sea, a few miles to the south. No one
could possibly walk through it; only a strong man
could swim in its powerful current; and the
Israelites had no boats in which they could cross
On the other side of the river, a few miles distant,
the Israelites could see the high walls of the city
of Jericho, standing at the foot of the mountains.
Before the rest of the land could be won, this city
must be taken, for it stood beside the road leading
up to the mountain country.
Joshua chose two careful, brave, and wise men, and
said to them, "Go across the river, and get into the
city of Jericho; find out all you can about it, and
come back in two days."
The two men swam across the river, and walked over
to Jericho, and went into the city. But they had
been seen, and the king of Jericho sent men to take
them prisoners. They came to a house which stood on
the wall of the city, where was living a woman named
Rahab; and she hid the men.
But these strange men had been seen going into her
house, and the king sent his officers after them.
The woman hid the men on the roof of the house, and
heaped over them stalks of flax, which are like long
reeds, so that the officers could not find them.
After the officers had gone away, thinking that the
two spies had left the city, the woman Rahab came to
the two men, and said to them:
"All of us in this city know that your God is mighty
and terrible, and that he has given you this land.
We have heard how your God dried up the Red Sea
before you, and led you through the desert, and gave
you victory over your enemies. And now all the
people in this city are in fear of you, for they
know that your God will give you this city and all
"Now," said Rahab, "promise me in the name of the
Lord, that you will spare my life, and the lives of
my father and mother, and of my brothers and
sisters, when you take this city."
And the men said, "We will pledge our life for
yours, that no harm shall come to you; for you have
saved our lives."
This woman's house stood on the wall of the city.
From one of its windows Rahab let down outside a
rope, upon which the men could slide down to the
ground. It happened that this rope was of a bright
The two spies said to Rahab, "When our men come to
take this city, you shall have this scarlet rope
hanging in the window. Bring your father, and
mother, and family into the house, and keep them
there while we are taking the city. We will tell all
our men not to harm the people who are in the house
where the scarlet cord hangs from the window; and
thus all your family will be safe when the city is
Then the two men, at night, slid down the rope and
found their way to the river, and swam over it
again, and told their story to Joshua. They said,
"Truly the Lord has given to us all the land; for
all the people in it are in terror before us, and
will not dare to oppose us."
One fact was a great help to the Israelites in their
plans for taking the land of Canaan. It was not held
by one people, or ruled over by one king, who could
unite all his people against the Israelites. There
were many small nations living in the land, and each
little tribe, and even each city, was ruled by its
own king. So it would be easy for the Israelites to
destroy them one by one, so long as they kept apart
and did not band themselves together into one army.
The Israelites were now a strong and united people,
trained for war, and willing to obey one leader, so
that all the twelve tribes were ready to fight as