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The Spies at Rahab's House
v. 1. And Joshua, the son of Hun, sent out of Shittim, a town in Moabitis, where he had his headquarters, this probably having taken place even before the officers of the host made the proclamation throughout the camp, two men to spy secretly, this having reference both to the manner in which the command was given, and the form in which it was carried out, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho, both the city and its vicinity. Jericho was located in a beautiful and fertile valley, noted for its palm-trees, some six to eight miles from the Jordan, and the entire neighborhood was thickly settled. And they went and came into an harlot's house, where their stay would arouse the least suspicion, named Rahab, and lodged there, prepared to stay there overnight.
v. 2. And it was told the king of Jericho, probably by some of the watch who had marked the coming of the strangers, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to-night of the children of Israel to search out the country. This was the natural conclusion which the men of Jericho would reach in finding men of Israel in their city.
v. 3. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house; for they be come to search out all the country. The king's messengers did not search her house, but made their demand at the door, relying on her supposed loyalty to produce the spies.
v. 4. And the woman took the two men and hid them, just as soon as the servant in charge of the door had informed her of the identity of the callers, whereupon she appeared at the door in person, and said thus, There came men unto me, literally, "True, there came to me men," but I wist not whence they were;
v. 5. and it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out, for the gates were closed at sunset, and the short twilight was rapidly succeeded by the falling of darkness; she implied that the spies must have taken advantage of the dusk to make their escape. Whither the men went I wot (know) not; pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
v. 6. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, those of the Orient being flat and usually parapeted, and hid them with the stalks of flax, unbroken lengths spread out there for the purpose of drying, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
v. 7. And the men, the king's messengers, pursued after them, the spies, the way to Jordan unto the fords, where they were most likely to cross; and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they, the keepers, the watchmen, shut the gate, to prevent the escape of the spies, if they were still in the city. The obvious terror which had taken hold of the king of Jericho showed that the judgment of the Lord upon the Canaanites had already begun, for it was He who took their courage from them.
The Spies Saved by Rahab
v. 8. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof, where they were preparing to pass the night;
v. 9. and she said unto the men, I know that the Lord, Jehovah, of whom she had heard and toward whom she felt a reverential awe, hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, namely, the fear that they would be exterminated by Israel, Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 11:25, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you, are terrified and utterly discouraged by the obvious assistance which Jehovah had rendered His people.
v. 10. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when ye came out of Egypt, Exodus 14:21; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed, Numbers 21:21-35.
v. 11. And as soon as we had heard these things, for Rahab here asserts of all her countrymen what she herself felt, our hearts did melt, said of complete discouragement, neither did there remain any more courage in any man because of you, they found it impossible to raise a bit of spirit, either to think, plan, or act, so great was their terror; for the Lord, your God, He is God in heaven above and in earth beneath. Thus Rahab, in concluding, confessed her faith in Jehovah, the true God. It is strange that the miracles of God's almighty power, which wrought faith in the heart of this great sinner, caused the unbelieving hearts of the other Canaanites to become hardened and thus to be condemned to the judgment of death, of extermination.
v. 12. Now, therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have showed you kindness, in hiding them from the king's messengers, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house and give me a true token, some sign of truth by which they would guarantee immunity to her and her relatives in the general extermination which was sure to come;
v. 13. and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, her entire relationship, and deliver our lives from death. The sign of truth which she demanded was the solemn oath that they would save the lives of all her kin.
v. 14. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, literally, "our souls instead of yours to die" (they pledged their very souls for the truth of their promise to spare Rahab and her relatives), if ye utter not this our business, that is, if she would not betray them while they were on their way back to the camp of Israel. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee, show her this mercy and faithfulness, and save her life.
v. 15. Then she let them down by a cord, a strong rope, through the window; for her house was upon the town wall, built right against it, and she dwelt upon the wall, her chamber overhung the wall.
v. 16. And she said unto them as they stood below after their escape from the city, Get you to the mountain, a wild cliff north of Jericho, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned; and afterward may ye go your way. Being familiar with the distances and all possible roads, she was able to give the spies this shrewd bit of advice.
v. 17. And the men said unto her, in order to obviate the danger of a false interpretation of their promise and oath, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear, namely, unless she would do as they now directed her to act.
v. 18. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shall bind this line of scarlet thread, a thin, but strong rope, such as surveyors used, probably the one by which they had made their escape, in the window which thou didst let us down by; and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, who apparently were living in their own homes, home unto thee, thus having them all together in one house.
v. 19. And it shall be that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, anywhere outside, his blood shall be upon his head, it would be his own fault if some soldier of Israel would strike him down, and we will be guiltless; and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head if any hand be upon him, in that case they would assume the blame. That was the second condition.
v. 20. And if thou utter this our business, in betraying them after their departure, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. This third condition was really only a repetition of the chief condition made at the time they swore the oath, v. 14.
v. 21. And she said, According unto your words, so be it. She agreed to all the conditions. And she sent them away, and they departed; and she bound the scarlet line in the window, namely, when she found that she needed it for the stipulated purpose.
v. 22. And they went and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned; and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, on every road which they could possibly have taken, but found them not.
v. 23. So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, over the river Jordan, and came to Joshua, the son of Nun, by the evening of the third day, and told him all things that befell them, gave him a full report of all that had happened to them;
v. 24. and they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. Rahab, the harlot, is an example of faith, Hebrews 11:31, for the Lord has His elect in the midst of an unbelieving nation. She forsook the sinful business in which she was engaged, and afterward became an ancestress of Jesus, Matthew 1:5. It was an act of faith on her part to shield those representatives of God's people, James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31. True faith, love toward God, always shows itself in love toward the fellow-believers, in doing good to the members of God's people and in resisting the enemies of the Lord.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Joshua 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany