The tent flap opened just enough to let Achan slip into the cool darkened room. Outside, he could hear the welcoming cheers for the returning soldiers. Singing and shouting filled the air. He would join in the celebration soon, but not until he had taken care of this matter first.
He glanced about him, looking for a good hiding place. The sunlight filtered through the tent fabric, giving everything a reddish glow. Pushing aside the bedding, he began to dig in the soft sand. When the hole measured a foot or so deep, he pulled a bundle from beneath his cloak.
He glanced over his shoulder toward the doorway before unfolding the cloth to reveal the precious treasure inside. His fingers caressed the cool metal. His eyes glazed with the thought of what it could buy.
“Gasp! Where did you get that?”
Achan jumped and twirled about. “Shhh!” He thrust the items under his robe. “How did you get in here? I didn’t see the tent open.”
Mira, his wife, smiled. “I was waiting for you in the other room.” She slid her arms around his neck. “I missed you.”
Achan smiled and looked around again. He pulled out his treasures. Mira reached for the blue embroidered cloth. “Where did you get it?”
“Shhh—I took it.” He opened the Babylonian garment to reveal some gold chains and trinkets of silver.
“Ohhh, they’re beautiful!” She lifted a chain to her neck.
“Mira, it was so exciting!” Achan swung his arms. “We marched around those high walls of Jericho each day. We could see people on top watching us and laughing at us. On the seventh day, we started at daybreak and marched around seven times. The trumpets sounded and we shouted and the walls crumbled and fell down before us.”
He stood up and swung an imaginary sword back and forth. “We rushed into the city. There was no place for them to hide. With God’s might, we conquered the great city of Jericho!”
Achan stopped. He took the Babylonian robe and gold chain from her and wrapped it with the other gold and silver in a ram’s skin. Digging the hole a little deeper, he placed everything into it.
“Why are you burying them?”
“Joshua told us that God commanded that we destroy the whole city of Jericho—the people, the animals, everything. We were not to touch or keep anything for ourselves.”
“I don’t know why. It’s been cursed by God.”
Mira jumped back from her husband. “Cursed? Achan, what have you done?”
“I wasn’t going to take anything. I didn’t want to—until I entered that house. You should have seen it. There were alabaster jars and gold and silk and tapestries everywhere! I thought I was in paradise.”
Mira’s eyes softened with her imagination.
“I was the only one in that house. I saw this dress and thought of you. I saw heaps of gold and silver and boxes of precious jewels. I brought these for you. No one saw me. No one will know.”
They filled the hole and slid the bedding over it. Later, they would take it out—later, when Jericho was a memory—later, when no one remembered the curse.
~ ~ ~
Shofars blasted the morning, waking the camp from their sleep. It wasn’t the usual call to worship. It was the call for assembly. Achan rolled from his bedding. He could hear scurrying of feet. He poked his head outside.
“Ho, neighbor! What’s going on?”
“Joshua has called all the men to the outer courts of the tabernacle.”
Something wasn’t right. If Joshua was back, then the army must have returned from the battle at Ai. It was such a little city, not everyone had gone with him. There should be shouts of rejoicing, but instead, Achan heard wailing and moaning.
“Mira, I’ll be back soon.”
Not long afterward, a man threw open the tent. He pushed past her and shoved the bed aside.
Mira’s eyes grew wide. “What are you doing?”
Sand flew in the air as the man dug in the ground. He gave a bitter shout as he lifted the bundle. He shook it in her face and grabbed her wrist.
“Let go of me! What are you doing?”
The man threw her at Achan’s feet. He lifted her and held her close. People shouted and shook their fists. “Stone them!”
“I have brought sin and sorrow into the camp. I’m sorry, Mira. ”
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