“Go to the hill country.” The mountainous area rises up quickly very quickly just about one-half mile from Tel Jericho. The pursuers would have naturally thought that the men from Israel would have headed back east towards the Jordan, about 5 miles (8 km) away.
“three days until the pursuers have returned.” It would not take the pursuers three days to go the five miles to the Jordan, but if the pursuers did not find them on the path, they would likely think that either the spies had made it to the Jordan and crossed over to the camp of Israel, or that they had hidden in the brush by the Jordan. Since it was night, there would have been a good chance that the spies would not have crossed the Jordan in the dark since it was at flood stage and unfamiliar to them, and instead had hidden themselves in the brush waiting for sunrise. So it is logical that the men from Jericho might have searched for them here for a couple of days. While hiding three days may seem excessive, the spies wanted to be sure they would not encounter the men from Jericho on the path to the Jordan.