The third thing Joshua did was to secretly send two spies to Jericho to survey the surrounding land and especially the city. These two found a woman of faith in a heathen city. Rahab was a harlot living in a house on the city walls. Keil and Delitzsch think the spies going to her house was at once natural, because it would arouse the least amount of suspicion, and providential, because she had come to believe in the true God due to the great miracles God had worked to deliver Israel.
When the king learned two men from Israel had entered Rahab"s house, he sent to have her turn them over to him. She lied by saying she did not know they were men of Israel and that they had left as darkness fell, at about the time the gate would be shut. She urged the king"s men to pursue the spies, saying they should be able to overtake them. When they set out down the road to the fords used to cross the river, the gate was shut in case the spies had not left.
Rahab"s faith is seen in her words to the spies on the roof before she hid them under the flax. She said, "I know that the Lord has given you the land," and "the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Joshua 2:9; Joshua 2:11). Rahab is also seen as a woman of faith by her works, which is important since James says faith without works is dead because it is by itself. Rahab is mentioned as a woman of faith because she peacefully received the spies (Hebrews 11:31) and sent them out by a different way (James 2:25).
We also learn some other interesting facts from this part of the story. Her drying the stalks of flax tells us it was about March or April and the river was at flood stage, as it was during harvest time according to Coffman. Rahab was somehow involved in the processing of flax and may even have used it to make linen. Further, she was a woman deeply committed to her family, as is seen by her asking the spies to promise her that the lives of her family would be delivered when Jericho was conquered.
She let the spies down by a cord, telling them to go to the nearby mountains and wait three days before going back to the Israelite camp. Coffman says these mountains were about one mile from Jericho and rose from 1500 to 2000 feet above the plain. They are limestone hills full of caves and grottos that would have been well suited to hiding. It was in these caves that the Dead Sea scrolls were found. As they were being let down, the spies agreed to keep their oath to save Rahab"s family on three conditions. First, she had to tie the red cord she had let them down by to the window to designate the house in which she lived. Second, everyone of her family members who wanted to be spared would have to remain inside during the attack. Third, she had to keep quiet about the spies mission in Jericho.
When the spies returned from Jericho, they told Joshua all they had learned on their secret mission. Through Rahab, God had told Joshua the victory was assured because God was on their side. (Joshua 2:22-24.)
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Joshua 2". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany