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Claiming Canaan: Milcah's Journey

By Barbara M. Britton

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Six years after the battle for Ai
The camp at Gilgal, outside the fallen fortress of Jericho

Milcah bat Zelophehad stood in the noonday sun, on a hill not far from the rowed tent tops of camp. She waited with her older sisters. Her sisters waited for their husbands. She waited for Hanoch. The man who had asked her eldest sister if he could arrange a betrothal when he returned from battle. Hanoch, a brave soul, did not care that another man who had expressed an interest in marriage to her lay buried deep beneath the ground somewhere in Canaan.

Battle-hardened warriors traipsed along the path toward their homes in Gilgal. Men from the tribes of Israel, the sons of Jacob, carried satchels of spoils. Some bulging. Others thin. But all contained wealth from fallen cities.

“Do you see them?” she asked her sisters, rising on tiptoe. She twisted the gold band on her finger. The ring with the ruby as solid and handsome as her Hanoch. He had sneaked the ring to her before he departed.

“Not yet,” her sister Hoglah said. “I have seen few of our tribesmen. Perhaps the men of Manasseh ventured farther north with Joshua.”

Two men passed on the trail. One fighter tugged a wide-bellied cow toward its new home. Would Hanoch bring her livestock?

Her eldest sister’s brow furrowed. “Reuben assured me our clansmen would return before spring. Our men may be burdened with carts or taking care of any wounded.”

Hurry beloved. Milcah fisted her hand. Her golden band fit snug against her skin. She would not leave her sundrenched outpost until Hanoch marched toward her eldest sister, bowed, and settled on a time to discuss a marriage feast. Please, God. May Hanoch make haste.

Drawing closer, Mahlah wrapped her arm around Milcah’s waist. The softness of her sister’s veil and the slight scent of myrtle bolstered Milcah’s weary bones.


Until she glimpsed Mahlah’s husband, Reuben, stalking closer alongside men from their clan and alongside Hoglah’s husband.

She strained her neck. Where was Hanoch? He should be with his clansmen.
Reuben’s firm-set mouth and pity-filled eyes impaled her hopeful spirit.
Her vision blurred so that all the men of Manasseh were buoyed by a sea of tears.

“No. It cannot be.” She swallowed the last of her whisper.

The shake of Reuben’s head revealed her fate.

She slumped in the dirt and wailed.

Death had claimed another intended.

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