This morning in our class we talked about Joshua chapter 2. In this chapter we have the account of Rahab and the two men that Joshua sent to spy on Jericho.
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.” (Joshua 2:15-24 ESV)
The class this morning brought back memories of my visit to Jericho earlier this year. I decided to look through my pictures to see if I had any good shots of the hills near Jericho that Rahab sent the spies to.
This picture was taken from about the middle of the tell of Jericho (Tell es-Sultan). You can see one of the excavation trenches in the foreground and looming in the background are the hills west of Jericho. I can just imagine the spies making for the hills under cover of darkness. They would have found caves to hide in as they avoided the search that was being made for them. Fortunately, they did not have to hide for long.
I am sure that the spies were tired out after climbing the hills. I know what it is like to have climbed a hill like this, as earlier in the day I had climbed the Snake Path at Masada.
In this second picture we see a trio of gondolas that are carrying tourists up to the Jericho hills. The spies did not have this luxury ride available to them. It would have been a long climb for them. So, why is there a gondola system at Jericho taking people up into the hills?
In the hills above Jericho there is a Greek Orthodox monastery built into the cliff. This is the Monastery of the Temptation. The first monastery at the site was built in the 6th century above a cave that was the traditional site of where Jesus spent the 40 days and nights of his temptation. The hills or mountain here is known as Mount Temptation. The cave was identified as the traditional site of the temptation by Helena of Constantinople in 326, so keep this in mind as you consider whether this is the actual place where the temptation of Jesus took place.
What I really like about this picture is the way that the buildings cling to the cliff. I can only imagine how difficult they were to construct and now to maintain. I am not sure that I would want to live or work in such a precarious place.
I hope you enjoyed my wandering thoughts from class this morning. Our teacher is doing a great job of getting us to think beyond just the account in Joshua.
To view links to the entire class series click on Walls of Jericho.