With the Ark of the Covenant going ahead of them, God's people cross the River Jordan and march around the city of Jericho for seven days. Then the priests blow their trumpets, the people roar and the walls of Jericho come crashing down.
It had started off as an ordinary wooden box, then they covered it in gold. They made two wooden poles for carrying the box and they covered those in gold too. They took the two pieces of stone that God had used to write down the Ten Commandments and put them inside the box. They made a lid for the box from pure gold. It had two golden angels standing on it with their wings spread over the lid. And from there, between the two angels, God had spoken to Moses. It wasn't an ordinary box now. The Israelites had taken the box with them wherever they went as they wandered through the desert for forty years. It was always carried by four priests, one at each end of the two golden poles. Today the four priests stood on the bank of the River Jordan with Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, standing beside them.
“Take the box down into the river,” Joshua commanded the priests.
“But the river is in full flood,” the priests protested, “We'll be washed away and the box will be lost forever.”
Joshua looked round. Behind him was the army of Israel, row after row of soldiers waiting to cross the river and take back the land that God had promised to them and right behind the soldiers were the rest of the people. This was no time for anyone to be disobeying orders.
“Just do it!” he growled.
So the priests carried the box down to the river. But the moment their feet touched the edge of the water it seemed to shrink away from them. They took another step forward and the water shrank back again. With every step that the priests took the waters of the River Jordan got lower and lower and by the time they reached the middle of the river there wasn't a drop of water left; the river was empty. Nobody could understand it but then in the distance they heard a rumbling sound and everybody looked to see what it was. Up river, to the north, a mountain of water was growing higher and higher every second. It was like an invisible wall was holding back the water, stopping it from flowing down the river bed.
“Stay where you are,” Joshua told the priests, then he turned to the Israelites and gave the order – “Let's move!” The people hurried forward and every single one of them crossed the River Jordan on dry ground. When the last person was safely across, the priests brought the box up out of the river and at that very moment the mountain of water was released. With a thunderous roar the water crashed down and within seconds the river was flowing again. It was a miracle, a miracle that none of them would ever forget. Now everybody knew for sure that God was with Joshua and they wouldn't question his orders again. It was just as well, because when the Israelites reached the city of Jericho, Joshua gave the strangest orders yet.
“Listen up,” Joshua said to the officers and priests who'd gathered to hear his battle plan. “God has told me what we are to do. We will split the army into two halves. The priests who carry the box will stand in between the two halves and seven more priests with trumpets made from rams' horns will stand in front of them. They will all march around the city once with the priests blowing their trumpets and then return to the camp.”
“I don't get it” Dan said after the meeting. “He doesn't want us to set fire to the gates or tear down the walls? Just march around the city without making any noise apart from those trumpets?”
“I don't get it either,” said Asher, “But I do trust him.”
So the soldiers and the priests marched around the city, carrying the box and blowing the trumpets, just as Joshua had said, and then they returned to the camp.
The next day Joshua called another meeting.
“Same again lads,” he said, “Soldiers, priests, box, trumpets, once around the city and back to camp.”
Dan and Asher still didn't get it but everyone did as they were told. And they were told the same thing again on the third day and the fourth day and the fifth day and the sixth day. But on the seventh day the orders changed.
“Today,” Joshua told them, “we will march around the city seven times. Then you priests with the trumpets let out a mighty blast and when we hear you the rest of us will shout with all our strength.”
As they marched around Jericho, Dan and Asher looked up at the enormous walls of the city. Nobody had gone in or come out of the place since they'd arrived. It was shut up tight; the people of Jericho were afraid.
“Look!” Dan called out, pointing up. Asher looked and saw a window in the wall with a piece of red cord hanging down from it.
“Rahab's house,” said Asher. “We promised that if she helped us to escape we'd protect her family. She kept her end of the deal, now it's up to us.”
At last the army came round to the front of the city for the seventh time. They stopped marching and for a few moments there was complete silence. Then the seven priests raised their trumpets to their lips and blew a deafening battle call. As the notes echoed around the soldiers drew a deep breath and they roared.
Dan and Asher felt the ground beneath them begin to shake and as they watched the walls of the city started to tremble. Cracks appeared in the stones, small at first but spreading fast and getting wider and deeper. Then with crash after crash of falling rock the walls of Jericho collapsed.
At Joshua's command the Israelite soldiers drew their swords and charged forward to capture the city.
“Quick!” said Dan to Asher, “We've got to find Rahab and her family and get them out of there.”
The two brothers sprinted around the outside of the city until they saw a piece of red cord lying in the rubble. They began to dig with their bare hands, hurling away great pieces of stone.
Then a voice called out, “Dan? Asher? Is that you?”
“Rahab!” shouted Asher, “Hold on, we're nearly there.”
They moved a few more rocks and then found themselves looking down into what was left of Rahab's house. By some miracle this one room had not been crushed and Rahab and all her family were alive.
That night Dan and Asher took Rahab to meet Joshua. In the distance what was left of the city of Jericho was burning, set on fire by the soldiers.
“What's going to happen to us?” asked Rahab, “Where will we go?”
“You deserve a reward,” Joshua replied, “When we've captured this whole country I will give you some land where you and your family can live. But for now stay with us. When news of what happened here gets out our enemies will stand together against us. Today was the end of the battle for Jericho but it was only the beginning of the war for Israel.”