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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 2

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-24

Joshua 2:1 . Sent out two spies. Many read, “Joshua had sent out.” Being a wary general he would lose no time in gaining every kind of information. A harlot’s house, named Rahab. The word is rendered hostess, or landlady, as well as harlot. She got her bread by keeping a sort of inn. Her subsequent marriage and issue, in the line of David, indicate that she was no prostitute. But the Greek and Latin fathers all use the term harlot. Josephus follows the LXX in reading, γυναικος πορνης , which must here be understood as landlady rather than harlot.

Joshua 2:5 . Whether the men went I wot [or know] not. Her motives were pure, but her words were not true. So it was with Abraham before Abimelech. The Holy Ghost having recorded the reproof which Abimelech gave Sarah, we ought not to defend the practice. Genesis 20:9. And if lying be reprehensible for the safety of life, how wicked must it be to lie in the common affairs of business and conversation.

Joshua 2:12 . Swear unto me by the Lord. This was the ancient way of making covenants; and such covenants, whether relating to marriage or property, if holy and compatible with salvation, cannot be broken. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not, shall ascend into the hill of the Lord. Psalms 15:5.

Joshua 2:15 . Window. The ancient houses in western Asia had a gloomy appearance; their construction exhibited the fears of the people. The windows were high, and many of them not larger than a loop-hole through which a man might pass. The scarlet thread seems to have been hanks of yarn which she was accustomed to spin and weave.

Joshua 2:24 . The Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land. Those spies were believers; the ten spies forty years before were unbelievers, and perished in their sins; but these by faith obtained safety and salvation.


The Lord had encouraged Joshua by many gracious promises of his presence and support; but this did not supersede the use of means. Therefore he sent two men to acquaint himself with the road, and with Jericho, the object of their first attack. When we seek the aids of providence, and neglect the means, we do but tempt the Lord.

The spies entering on their arduous mission, after surveying the country, ventured within the city, but with so many fears that they stopped at the first paltry inn on the wall; and not without being perceived, and traced to Rahab’s house. It was now that this admirable woman learned the character and business of the strangers. Following the impulse of the moment, having heard the fame of Israel’s God, she concealed them in the flax, at the risk of her own life, and then excused herself to the guards. What an act of faith; and what an example of virtue combined with prudence.

After this noble act of faith which had sprung up in a moment from the bottom of her heart; faith that exceeds all the army of Israel; she ascended to acquaint the trembling strangers of all that she had done. She apprized them also with the motives of her singular conduct; for she had heard how the Lord had opened the channels of the Red sea, wide as the wilderness, to give his people a passage, and had caused the waters to return on the presuming Egyptians, long hardened by a course of miracles. She had heard how Sihon and Og had fallen before them, and because of which her whole land fainted with fear. She apprized them farther, that seriously believing the Lord would give them the land, she had risked her own life for their safety. She then stipulated, that they in return should save her life, and the lives of all her kindred; nor would she be satisfied with less than an oath of the Lord for their safety. Here sinners, here is faith in a poor gentile. Here is grace which shames and confounds the supineness of the christian world: here is a glorious example for the wicked to follow. Our God through a long succession of ages has cut off the men who despised his miracles and grace; and he is proceeding with his work. Do you believe the visitation of his rod? Do you believe that conversion or destruction speedily awaits the unregenerate world? Do your souls, like the Canaanites, faint with fear? Then haste to day, haste while you have opportunity. This was Rahab’s only opportunity; haste to the Lord’s ministers, and never rest till they shall find your repentance so sincere as to give you with safety promises of pardon and peace; promises which Jesus Christ, like Joshua, shall ratify and confirm. Nor be content, oh man, with thy own salvation; but make intercession that thy whole household may be included in the covenant of peace. The safety of Rahab and her house was connected with conformity to the covenant signs. The scarlet chain of linen must be hung in the window for a sign of respect to the house, and the whole family must abide in the house till the carnage and vengeance were overpast. Thus the believer and his household must abide protected with the blood of the cross, and sheltered in society with the saints. “If any of Rahab’s brethren,” says bishop Hall, “shall fly from the red flag, and rove about the city, not contented with the roof that hid the spies, it is in vain to tell the avengers he is Rahab’s brother. That affinity will save him in the house; not in the streets. If we will wander beyond the line of demarcation, we place ourselves out of divine protection. We cannot claim the benefits of redemption when we fly in the byways of our own heart. The church is that house of Rahab, saved while all Jericho is put to the sword.”

Lastly, we see in Rahab’s case the truth of our Saviour’s prediction: Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. May our faith hereby be greatly strengthened; and acting henceforth ingenuously for God, we may not be afraid of any evil.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 2". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/joshua-2.html. 1835.
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