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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Joshua 2

 

 


Verses 1-11

EXPOSITION

RAHAB AND THE SPIES.—

Joshua 2:1

And Joshua the son of Nun sent. Rather, as margin, had sent (see note on Joshua 1:2). It might have been at the very time when the command was given to the Israelites, for, according to a common Hebrew manner of speech (see, for instance, 1 Samuel 16:10), the three days (verse 22) may include the whole time spent by the spies in their exploring expedition. Out of Shittim. Literally, from the valley of acacias. It is so called in full in Joel 3:18. This place (called Abel-Shittim in Numbers 33:49), in which the Israelites had sojourned for some time (see Numbers 25:1; cf. Numbers 25:10. Numbers 12:1), seems to have been in the plains ( עַרְבֹת see note on Joshua 4:13) of Moab, by Jordan, opposite Jericho" (Numbers 33:48, Numbers 33:49, Numbers 33:50; Numbers 36:13; cf. Deuteronomy 1:5). It was "the long belt of acacia groves which mark with a line of verdure the upper terraces of the valley.". The word Abel, or meadow, signifying the long grass with its juicy moisture, points to it as a refreshing place of sojourn and pasture for flocks, after the weary wandering in the wilderness. The acacia, not the spina AEgyptiaca of the ancients, the mimosa Nilotica of Linnaeus, but the acacia Seyal, a tree with a golden tuft of blossom, which is still to be found on the spot, very hard dark wood, of which much use was made in the tabernacle and its fittings (see Exodus 25:1-40; Exodus 26:1-37; Exodus 36:1-38; Exodus 37:1-29; etc). The name Abel was a common one in Palestine, and is the same as Abila, from whence comes Abilene (Luke 3:1). We may add that it has nowhere been said that they were at Shittim. We find this out from Number 25:1. This undesigned coincidence is beyond the power of an inventor, and far beyond the power of a compiler who was not only untrustworthy, but so clumsy that he made the most extraordinary blunders in the management of his matter (see note on next verse, and also on Joshua 1:11). Two men. Young men, as we are told in Joshua 6:23, and therefore active, fleet of foot as well as brave and prudent. All these qualities, as the subsequent narrative shows, were urgently required. "Joshua himself was full of God's Spirit, and had the oracle of God ready for his direction. Yet now he goes, not to the Propitiatorie for consultation, but to the spyes. Except where ordinarie meanes faile us, it is no use appealing to the immediate helpe of God; we may not seek to the posterne, but where the common gate is shut. It was promised Joshua that bee should leade Israel into the promised land, yet hee knew it was unsafe to presume. The condition of his provident care was included in that assurance of successe. Heaven is promised to us, but not to our carelessnesse, infidelitie, disobedience" (Bishop Hall). Secretly. Literally, dumbness or craftiness (the noun being used adverbially), implying the silence and skill required for the task. He who knows how to he silent possesses one at least of the elements of success. The necessity of silence and secrecy may be inferred from Joshua 6:1. Keil, however, following the Masoretic punctuation, regards" secretly" as referring to the Israelites, and the spies as sent unknown to the army, that no depressing report might damp their courage. Jericho. "The city of fragrance" (from רָוַח to breathe, and in the Hiphil, to smell a sweet odour), so called from its situation in the midst of palm trees, from which it was called "the city of palm trees עִיר הַתְּמָרִיּם in Deuteronomy 34:3, 2 Chronicles 28:15; cf. 1:16. The vast palm grove, of which relics are even now occasionally washed up from the Red Sea, preserved by the salt in its acrid waters, has now disappeared. We read of it as still existing in the twelfth century, and indeed traces of it were to be seen as late as 1838. A dirty and poverty-stricken village called Riha, or Eriha, is all that now marks the site of all these glories of nature and art, and the most careful researches have until lately failed to discover any remains of the ancient city. It is doubtful whether the ruins observed by Tristram are not the ruins of soma later city, built in the neighbourhood. Bartlett, p. 452, believes Riha to be the site of the later Jericho of our Lord's day, but Tristram would, with less probability, identify Riha with Gilgal. They both, however, place the site of ancient Jericho about a mile and a half from Riha. Conder thinks its true position is at the fountain Ain-es-Sultan. Lenormant, in his 'Manual of Oriental History,' remarks on the skill of Joshua as a military tactician. Whether he followed the advice of his experienced leader, or whether we are to attribute his success to special guidance from above, he certainly displayed the qualities of a consummate general. "Jericho," says Dean Stanley, "stands at the entrance of the main passes from the valley of the Jordan into the interior of Palestine, the one branching off to the southwest towards Olivet, the other to the northwest towards Michmash, which commands the approach to Ai and Bethel. It was thus the key of Palestine to any invader from this quarter." He illustrates by Chiavenna (or the key city, from its situation), in Italy. Lenormant remarks that from an ordinary historical point of view the strategy of Joshua is worth notice. It was the practice ever followed by Napoleon, and, he adds, by Nelson also, to divide his enemies, and crush them in detail. Had Joshua advanced upon Palestine from the south, each success, as it alarmed, would have also united the various communities of the land, under their separate kings, by the sense of a common danger. Thus each onward step would have increased his difficulties, and exposed him, exhausted by continued efforts, to the assaults of fresh and also more numerous enemies, in a country which grew ever more easy to defend and more perilous to attack. But by crossing the Jordan and marching at once upon Jericho, he was enabled, after the capture of that city, to fall with his whole force first upon the cities of the south, and then on those of the north. The political condition of Palestine at that time (see Introduction) did not permit of a resistance by the whole force of the country under a single leader. A hasty confederation of the kings of the south, after the treaty with Gibeon, was overthrown by the rapid advance of Joshua and the battle of Beth-boron. By this success he was free to march with his whole army northward, against the confederation of tribes under the leadership of the king of Hazor, whom he overcame in the decisive battle of Merom. There is no hint given in the Scripture that in this strategy Joshua acted under the special guidance of the Most High. The probability is, that in this, as in all other of God's purposes effected through the agency of man, there is a mixture of the Divine and human elements, and that man's individuality is selected and guided as an instrument of God's purpose, which, in this instance, was the chastisement of the Canaanitish people, and the gift of the Holy Land as a possession to the descendants of Abraham. That Joshua was not indifferent to human means is shown by this very verse. Into a harlots house. Many commentators have striven to show that this word simply means an innkeeper, an office which, as Dr. Adam Clarke proves at length, was often filled by a woman. It has been derived from זוּן to nourish, a root also found in the Syriac. The Chaldee paraphast and many Jewish and Christian interpreters have adopted this interpretation, in order, as Rosenmuller remarks, "to absolve her from whom Christ had His origin from the crime of prostitution." But St. Matthew seems to imply the very opposite. The genealogy there contained mentions, as though of set purpose, all the blots on the lineage of Christ as was fitting in setting forth the origin of Him who came to forgive sin. Only three women are there mentioned: Tamar, who was guilty of incest; Rahab, the harlot; and Ruth, the Moabitess. And the LXX. render by πόρνη. Calvin calls the interpretation "innkeeper" a "presumptuous wresting of Scripture." Hengstenberg also rejects the interpretation "innkeeper," and maintains the right of the spies, who, he says, were no doubt chosen by Joshua for their good character, to enter a wicked woman's house for a good purpose. It does not appear that the spies entered the house of Rahab with any evil intent, but simply because to enter the house of a woman of that kind—and women of that kind must have been very numerous in the licentious Phoenician cities—would have attracted far less attention than if they had entered any other. Even there it did not escape the notice of the king, who had been thoroughly alarmed (verse 3) by the successes of Israel eastward of Jordan. Origen, in his third homily on Joshua, remarks that, "As the first Jesus sent his spies before him and they were received into the harlot's house, so the second Jesus sent His forerunners, whom the publicans and harlots gladly received." Named Rahab. Origen (Hom. 3) sees in this name, which signifies room (see Rehoboth, Genesis 26:22), the type of the Church of Christ which extends throughout the world, and receives sinners. And lodged there. Literally, and lay there, perhaps with the idea of lying hid, for they did not (verse 15) spend the night there.

Joshua 2:4

And the woman took the two men. The majority of commentators are of opinion that here, as in Joshua 2:1, we must render by the pluperfect. For, as Calvin remarks, Rahab would hardly have dared to lie so coolly had she not previously taken precautions to conceal her guests. And therefore she must have told a twofold falsehood. She must have discovered, or been made acquainted with, their errand, and therefore have "known whence they were," in addition to her assertion that she did not know where they were now. And hid them. The original is remarkable and very vivid. And hid him, i.e; each one in a separate place. No doubt the detail comes from an eyewitness, so that if the Book of Joshua he not a contemporary work, the writer must have had access to some contemporary document.

Joshua 2:5

I wot not. Much has Been said about Rahab's falsehood which is little to the point. The sacred historian simply narrates the fact, and makes no comment whatever upon it. But the fact that Rahab afterwards became the wife of Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah, as the genealogy in St. Matthew informs us, shows that neither her falsehood nor her mode of life excited much disapprobation among the Jews. Nor need this surprise us. There is no need, with Keil, to repudiate energetically the assertion of Hauff that the author of this Book regarded Rahab's deception as not only allowable, but praiseworthy, any more than we need scruple to confess that Jael's base treachery met with the approval of Deborah and Barak. The tone of feeling in Jewish society in Rahab's day must have differed enormously in many respects from what obtains in our own time, in the light of the dispensation of the Spirit. We may take, as an instance of what that tone of feeling was, even before Israel had been corrupted by their sojourn in Egypt, the narrative in Genesis 38:1-30. And we may be sure that in a Phoenician city the tone was many degrees lower still. Rahab, therefore, was no doubt absolutely ignorant that there was any sin, either in her mode of living or in the lie she told to save the men's lives. She acted from a twofold motive, and her course, both of thought and action, was a most surprising instance of faith and insight, in one brought up as she had been. She not only followed an instinct of humanity, at a time when human life was thought of little value, in preserving the lives of the men who had sought shelter under her roof, but she could discern in the wonderful successes of Israel the hand of a higher power than that of the gods whom she had been brought up to worship. In her subsequent conduct she betrayed an affection for her kindred somewhat uncommon in persons situated similarly to herself. And we may be sure, from the fact that she was chosen to be a "mother in Israel," that she forsook the sins of her country and her education as soon as she came within the range of a higher light (see Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25). From what has been said we may learn that, though Rahab's faith was "as a grain of mustard seed," her conduct showed that she possessed it; and in hers, as in every case, to walk by the light she had was a sure prelude to the possession of more. And as regards her departure from truth here, it must be shown, before she can be blamed, that she had any idea that truthfulness was a duty. Such a duty does not appear to have been clearly recognised until He who was Himself the truth came among men. "However the guilt of Rahab's falsehood may be extenuated, it seems best to admit nothing which may tend to explain it away. We are sure that God discriminated between what was good in her conduct and what was bad; rewarding the former, and pardoning the latter. Her views of the Divine law must have been exceedingly dim and contracted. A similar falsehood, told by those who enjoy the light of revelation, however laudable the motive, would of course deserve a much heavier censure" (Matthew Henry). So also Calvin in loc; "Vitium virtuti admistum non imputatur."

Joshua 2:6

But she had brought them up. Literally, and she caused them to ascend; but our version has very properly (see Joshua 2:4) given the preterite the pluperfect sense here. "Two strangers, Israelites, spies, have a safe harbour provided them, even amongst their enemies, against the proclamation of a king." "Where cannot the God of heaven either find or raise up friends to His own causes and servants?" (Bp. Hall) To the roof of the house. The flat roofs of Oriental, and even of Greek and Italian houses, are used for all kinds of purposes, especially for drying corn and other things for domestic use (see 1 Samuel 9:25, 1 Samuel 9:26; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 16:22; 2 Kings 23:12. Also Acts 10:9, where the roof is used as a place of retirement and repose). Stalks of flax. Literally, flax of the tree. The word translated flax either of the raw material or of the linen made from it. Here it must mean flax as it came cut from the field; that is, as our version translates it, the stalks of flax ( λινοκαλάμη, LXX), which grows in Egypt to a height of three feet, and may be presumed to have attained a height not much less at Jericho. The word עָרַד which signifies to lay in a row, and is used of the wood on the altar in Genesis 22:9, and of the shew bread in Le Genesis 24:6, confirms this view. It is obvious that this would have formed a most sufficient hiding place for the fugitives. "Either faith or friendship are not tried but in extremities. To show countenance to the messengers of God while the publique face of the State smiles upon them, is but a courtesie of course; but to hide our own lives in theirs when they are persecuted is an act which looks for a reward" (Bp. Hall).

Joshua 2:7

Unto the fords. There were several of these fords. One near Jericho (cf, 3:28; 12:5, 12:6; 2 Samuel 17:22, 2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 19:16, 2 Samuel 19:19, 2 Samuel 19:39); one at Bethsean, now Beisan, leading to Succoth ( 8:4; cf. Genesis 32:22; Genesis 33:17. See Robinson, ' Biblical Researches' 2.497; Ritter, 'Geography of Palestine'); beside others not mentioned in Scripture. A vivid description of the crossing the Jordan at the fords near Jericho is to be found in Tristrain's 'Land of Israel,' p. 520. The ford is almost certainly the one mentioned here, since an hour or two's ride brought the party to Shittim. These fords were easy to cross save when the Jordan, as was now the case (Joshua 3:15), overflowed its banks. This may have been the reason why the pursuers did not cross the fords, but they pursued the spies to the fords, hoping to find their retreat cut off. This is rendered more probable by the fact (Joshua 2:22) that the pursuers appear to have continued their search after leaving the fords.

Joshua 2:8

And before they were laid down, i.e; to sleep on the roof, a common practice in the East in summer.

Joshua 2:9

Hath given. Rahab's faith is shown by this expression. What God willed she regarded as already done. To speak of the future as of a past already fulfilled is the usual language of the Hebrew prophets. Faint, Literally, melt; cf. Exodus 15:15, Exodus 15:16, which is thus shown to be not poetic license, but sober fact. For we may take the future in the passage just cited as a present, and translate, "All the inhabitants of Canaan melt away; fear and dread are falling upon them" (cf. Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 11:25).

Joshua 2:10

For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you. Rahab uses the word יְהֹוָה. Whether this name were known to her or not, she knew what was signified by it, the one only self-existent God (since יהוה is clearly derived from הָיָה or הָוָה to be), the Author of all things, visible and invisible (see Joshua 2:11). The Red Sea. Brugsch, in his 'History of Egypt,' denies that יַם־סוּף should be rendered 'Red Sea,' and affirms that this error of the LXX. interpreters has been the source of endless misapprehensions. יַם־סוּף is an Egyptian word signifying flags or rushes, which abound not only in the Red Sea, but in the marshes on the shores of the Mediterranean, as, in fact, in all low-lying lands. It is here, according to Brugsch, in a treacherous and well-nigh impassable country, near that Serbonian bog, "where armies whole have sunk", that we are to look for the victorious passage of Moses, and the destruction of Pharaoh and his host. The סוּף or rushes were to be found in the Nile, as Exodus 2:9, Exodus 2:5 shows (cf. Isaiah 19:6). So that יַם־סוּף by no means necessarily implies the Red Sea. Yet on the other hand we may remember, with the Edinburgh Reviewer, that the coastline of Palestine and of the delta of the Nile has undergone considerable changes during the historic period, and that the land has, during that period, largely encroached on the sea. Sihon and Og. As we read in Number 21. and Deuteronomy 2:1-37; Deuteronomy 3:1-29. Whom ye utterly destroyed. Rather, devoted to utter destruction (see Joshua 6:21). Rahab seems to be aware that the extermination of these nations was in fulfilment of a Divine sentence.

Joshua 2:11

Melt. The word in the Hebrew is a different one to that used in Joshua 2:9, but it has a precisely similar meaning. There seems no reason why the destruction of Sihon and Og should have inspired such terror into the hearts of the powerful Phoenician tribes. But the miracle of the drying up of the Red Sea was an event of quite another order, and eminently calculated to produce such feelings. Nothing but such an occurrence could have explained Rahab's language, or the anxiety which the near approach of the armies of Israel inspired in those "cities, great and walled up to heaven," with their inhabitants of giant-like stature and strength. Courage. Literally, spirit. The word רוּחַ seems to have been used in the Hebrew in just the same senses as our word spirit, and it signified wind also (see 1 Kings 10:5). For the Lord your God, he is God. Literally, for Jehovah your God. This declaration, bearing in mind the circumstances of the person who uttered it, is as remarkable as St. Peter's, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." How Rahab attained to this knowledge of God's name and attributes we do not know. It is certain, however, that under the circumstances her knowledge and spiritual insight are as surprising as any recorded in Scripture, and are sufficient to explain the honour in which her name has been held, both at the time and ever since. "I see here," says Bp. Hall, "not only a disciple of God, but a prophetesse." Keil argues that Rahab regards God only as one of the gods, and supposes that she had not entirely escaped from polytheism. But this view does not appear to be borne out by the form of her expressions. We should rather, in that case, have expected to find "he is among the gods," than He is God, which is the only possible rendering of the Hebrew.

HOMILETICS

Joshua 2:1-12

Rahab and the spies.

Three points demand our attention in this narrative. First, the conduct of Joshua; secondly, of the spies; and thirdly, of Rahab.

I. JOSHUA'S CONDUCT. Here we may observe that—

1. He does not despise the use of means. He was under God's special protection. God had promised (Joshua 1:5) that he would not fail him nor forsake him." He had seen miracles wrought in abundance, and was destined to receive other proofs of God's extraordinary presence with him. Yet he does not rely on these, where his own prudence and diligence are sufficient. We must learn a similar lesson for ourselves—

(a) in our external undertakings,

(b) in our internal warfare.

In both "God helps those that help themselves." We must "work out our own salvation," because it is "God that worketh in us," by ordinary as well as by extraordinary means. To pray to God for special help or direction, without doing our best to use the means placed within our reach, to exercise our reason, and to see His directing hand in the external circumstances of our lives, is mere fatalism. To expect to be freed from besetting sins, to triumph over temptations without effort on our own part, to have victory without struggle, perfection without perseverance, is mere selfishness and indolence.

2. The use of ordinary means, where possible, is a law of God's kingdom. God might have written His gospel in the skies. He might have proclaimed and might reproclaim it in voices of thunder from heaven. He might make it an irresistible influence from within. But He does not. He uses human means. Jesus Christ, like His prototype, sent His disciples two and two to go before Him. (Mark 6:7; it is implied in Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:1). Human influence has ever since been the means of propagating Divine truth. And not only so, but to use extraordinary means when ordinary would suffice was a suggestion of the devil, peremptorily rejected twice by Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:4, Luke 4:12); and this, because this world is God's world as well as the other: reason and prudence, though subordinate in importance, yet are as much God's gifts as faith.

II. THE CONDUCT OF THE SPIES.

1. They preferred duty to reputation. The only house they could enter without suspicion was a house whither, under ordinary circumstances, it would have been impossible for them to go. So Christ's disciples must not fear the comments of the evil-minded when duty calls upon them to incur suspicion. To give needless cause for slander is a sin: to shrink from seeking the lost for fear of it is a greater. Compare Boaz (Ruth 3:14) with the spies here, and both with Jesus Christ (Luke 7:37, Luke 7:38). Ministers of religion, physicians, and the purest-minded Christian women do not fear to visit the lowest haunts of vice for the temporal or spiritual welfare of those who inhabit them. It is well that their garb should proclaim the fact that they are on an errand of mercy. All needful precautions should be taken to preserve their reputation. But often they will have to put reputation and all in God's hands, when duty calls, and they may be sure that all is safe with Him.

2. They went unmurmuring on a task of the utmost peril. So must God's messengers now take their lives in their hands when they visit the sick, either to serve their bodies or their souls. The missionary confronts a similar risk when he carries to savage nations the good tidings of salvation by Christ. If He preserve them alive, they thank Him for His goodness; if not, the blood of such martyrs is still the seed of the Church. Men do and dare all for the sake of the temporal reward of the Victoria Cross. The messengers of Jesus Christ ought not to be less willing to risk all that is worth having in this life for the Eternal Crown. How rare is this spiritual gallantry, as we may call it! Yet it is rare only because genuine faith is rare. We believe in rewards that we can see. The unfading crown excites few longings, because it is of faith, not sight.

3. They did not recklessly expose themselves to danger. When Rahab bid them conceal themselves, they did so. They willingly accepted her aid in letting them down from the wall, and her advice in concealing themselves in the caves of the mountains. In so doing they did but anticipate the command, "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another" (Matthew 10:23). Thus St. Peter concealed his residence from the disciples (Acts 12:17); St. Paul was let down in a basket from the wails of Damascus (Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:33); St. Cyprian retired from his see for awhile that he might still continue to guide it while his guidance was needed. So now, to expose one's life unnecessarily is suicide, not sanctity.

III. RAHAB'S CONDUCT.

1. Her faith. This is commended in Hebrews 11:31. It was manifested by her conduct, as St. James tells us in Joshua 2:1-24 :25. For

(a) she incurred danger by acting as she did. This was a proof of the sincerity of her profession. For no one willingly incurs danger for what he does not believe. And

(b) the reason for her acting as she did was faith in God. It might not have been a strong faith. It was certainly a faith which had not had many advantages. She could have known little about Jehovah; but she recognised His hand in the drying up of the Red Sea and the discomfiture of Sihon and Og. Then

(c) the seems to have lived up to her light. To be a harlot was no very grievous offence in the eyes of a people who regarded that profession as consecrated to the service of the gods, as was the case in Babylonia, Syria, Cyprus, Corinth, and a host of other places. Yet she was not idle, as the stalks of flax imply, and perhaps, in spite of her impure life, the guilt of which she had no means of realising, she might have been one of those (Proverbs 31:18) who "seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." And so she was permitted to "feel after God and find him" as other sinners have been, through His merits who cried, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

2. Her unselfishness. She receives the men, knowing the danger she was in. She risks her life rather than give them up. She takes every care for their safety by her prudence and the excellent advice she gives them. As the next section shows, she had a regard, not merely for her own safety, but for that of her kindred. And this is a proof that she had striven to a degree after better things. For it is well known that nothing more deadens men and women to the gentler impulses of our nature, nothing has a greater tendency to produce cruelty and callousness to suffering, than the systematic indulgence of sensual passion.

3. Her falsehood. As the notes have shown, this was of course a sin, but in her case a venial one. Even Christian divines have held it to be a debatable question whether what Calvin calls a mendacium officiosum, a falsehood in the (supposed) way of duty, were permissible or not. And though this casuistry is chiefly that of Roman Catholic divines, yet Protestants have doubted whether a lie might not lawfully be told with the intent of saving life. In Rahab's time the question had never arisen. Heathen and even Jewish morality had hardly arrived at the notion that the truth must in all cases be spoken. Sisera requested Jael, as a matter of course, to do what Rahab did. Jonathan deceives his father to save David's life, and he is not blamed for doing so (1 Samuel 20:28, 1 Samuel 20:29). David deceives Ahimelech the priest (1 Samuel 21:2). Even Elisha appears not to have adhered to strict truth in 2 Kings 6:19, and Gehazi is not punished so much for his lie as for his accepting a gift which his master had declined. Jeremiah, again, tells without hesitation the untruth Zedekiah asks him to tell (Jeremiah 38:24 27). How, then, should Rahab have known that it was wrong of her to deceive the messengers of the king, in order to save the spies alive?

4. Her treachery to her own people. This, under ordinary circumstances, would also have been a sin. But here the motive justifies the act. It was not the result of a mere slavish fear of Israelite success. It was due to the fact that she recognised the Israelites as being under the protection of the true God, who would punish the idolatry and impurity of the Canaanites. Resistance, she knew, was vain. Jehovah had given them the land. There could be no harm in delivering her own life, and and the life of those dear to her, from the general slaughter. Besides, neither as a probable consequence nor in actual fact did the escape of the spies, through Rahab, affect the fate of Jericho. Not as a thing probable from her action, for the report of the spies, though it might supply Joshua with valuable information, could not bring about the fall of Jericho. Her conduct was not like that of Ephialtes at Thermopylae, or of Tarpeia at Rome. Nor did the report of the spies actually bring about the fall of Jericho, for it was effected by supernatural means. In conclusion, it may be remarked that Rahab was in a sense the "first fruits of the Gentiles." She was justified by faith, not by works, in the sense in which St. Paul uses the words. That is to say, her former life had not entitled her to the favour of God, though her work in saving the spies was effectual as an evidence of her faith. She was forgiven, saved, numbered among faithful Israel, and became a "mother in Israel." And as a "woman that was a sinner," she was a type of those whom Jesus Christ came to save, who, "dead in trespasses and sins, were quickened" by the grace and mercy of the true Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ.

HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER

Joshua 2:1

Forethought.

Let us play a little with this word. It has more in it than a good example for a military commander. And its side suggestions as to what is wise in all conflicts are many and valuable. Generalise the action of Joshua here, and its gives you some lesson of prudence in all departments of life. Let us gather a few of these.

I. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. Always and everywhere do so. Many definitions have indicated the difference between man and the lower animals. One says, man is an animal that can strike a light; another, one which has language; another, one that can form abstract ideas. A very profound thinker recently taught us, "Man is an animal that knows what s o'clock," i.e; that takes note of time. It is perhaps only an amplification of this last idea to add, man is an animal that thinks of tomorrow. The vegetable, in its vocabulary of time, knows only the word today; the animal knows yesterday and today; man alone lives in a yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He belongs to tomorrow as much as to today: is a sort of amphibious animal, living on the dry land of today and in the watery element of tomorrow. From tomorrow springs hope, fear, rest, distress. Man never is—but always to be blest. This instinct of anticipation is natural because it is necessary. We cannot get on without "sending out spies." Unless we forecast what is coming we cannot prepare for it, enjoy it, or secure it. If we advance without forecasting, we find ourselves perplexed in simplest circumstances; helpless, though possessed of abundant resources; weak, though endued with force of character; unready, though competent and resolved. There are some who never seem taken at a disadvantage; they have their wits about them; have presence of mind to do the wise thing, and presence of heart to do the right. Their difficulties kindle elation, and always end in advantage. There are others who move like a worm cut in two, their reasoning and acting powers always lagging behind themselves. An opportunity only agitates them; a duty disturbs them; a difficulty deters them from any further advance. All their wise thoughts come in the shape of resolutions which are not acted on, or regrets which are enfeebling. The difference between these two classes of men arises from this. The former send out spies, and are prepared; the latter take no trouble to forecast wisely—are always, therefore, taken by surprise. See that you look out well. Christ did not forbid thinking, but anxious thinking of tomorrow. Think what duties may come, and get ready, by prayer and self denial, the strength to do them. Think of opportunities, and get ready the clearness of view which will let you embrace them. Think of temptations, and by prayer protect yourself. Happy is the man who can so wisely anticipate that every duty, difficulty, danger, as it comes, finds him ready. Therefore, look before you leap, and send out spies.

II. DO NOT SEND FORTH TOO MANY SPIES, NOR SEND THEM FORTH TOO FAR. Here Joshua sent two men to Jericho—say ten miles away. There are some send all their forces out to spy, like a general who reconnoitres in force and does nothing else. They are always prospecting with all their powers. Their whole energies are given up to the guessing of the future. Reason, imagination, conscience, all are engaged in anticipation. So busy are they with tomorrow that they have but little strength left for today. Joshua did not reconnoitre in force, nor did he send out many to spy the land. He sends only two. Do not be always thinking on what is before you; it will become brooding, and when we brood our forecast is equally erroneous and enervating; nor let your whole soul go out into the tomorrow. Today needs the bulk of your powers. Tomorrow cannot claim so much. And doing today's work well, while not the whole, is yet nine-tenths of preparation for the morrow. A little thought, a little care, a little preparation, is the lesson of Joshua's two spies. And if we should not send forth too many, neither should we despatch them too far. Joshua limits his scrutiny to the immediate struggle before him. About to assail Jericho, he seeks all the information he can get on it So ought we to put a limit to our prospects. The distant advantage should be excluded from our dreams, and the remote danger from our apprehensions. What is immediately before him is a wise man's care. And to take each stage as it comes into sight and provide for it is safety and wisdom alike. It is the golden mean between the levity of indifference and the torture of anxiety. Not too many spies must be sent out, nor too far afield.

III. SEE THAT YOUR SPIES ARE FIT FOR THEIR TASK. It is not every soldier who will make a scout; for his task there is needed endurance, resource, coolness, daring, quickness of perception and of purpose, in their highest form. I assume that Joshua chose two fit men; partly because he had seen the invasion of Canaan postponed for forty years through the unfitness of the spies then sent, and also because the few glimpses we have of them show them to have been the right sort of men. We can see that they had the agility of youth (Joshua 6:23) and the daring of faith (Joshua 2:24), and doubtless they had other qualities beside. See that the spies you send out are fit for their work. Some people employ their Wishes in this work, and these return with tale more flattering than true; some their mere imagination, which takes in all that may, can, or will happen; some send forth their fears, which return telling of countless lions in the way, and some their superstitions, which read auspices of good or omens of evil fortune in the simplest and most meaningless experiences. They choose unfit spies. If you are to send two, who shall they be? Of the first one there can be no doubt—it must be faith, for faith has clearer eyesight than anything else. It sees the invisible. It beholds God as well as man; sees His moral as well as material laws at work; sees the elements of hope which He brings with Him into every scene; is the attribute of daring; can always find or make a way out of difficulties. Let faith have the forecasting as its charge. And if faith should be invariably one of the two spies, consecration should be the other. Spy out the future, not simply to know it, but with desire to use it. And to that end scrutinise the future with the eye of consecration, with the desire to see the opportunities of doing good, of growing in grace, of honouring God, of blessing man. Happy the man who chooses his spies well, and sees with trustful eye the help, and with loving purpose the opportunities, which lie before him. Lastly—

IV. SEND YOUR SPIES ACROSS JORDAN BEFORE YOU YOURSELF MAKE THE PASSAGE. It is not by accident of poetic fancy merely that the Jordan, dividing the land of sojourn from the land of rest, has been taken as an image of that "river without a bridge," across which is the better land. Of course like all analogies it is imperfect, for while God's Israel finds rest in the heavenly Canaan, it finds no Canaanite to dispute the enjoyment of it. Still it is a suggestive emblem of the rugged, forbidding boundary beyond which is our land of milk and honey. And if our wisdom exercises itself in surveying every stage in advance and preparing for it, it certainly will find a special reason for surveying, and preparing for what is on the other side of the great dividing line between him and eternity. Have you sent out your spies there? Do you know exactly the sort of experience which is before you? Could you confidently pass over Jordan? Through your Saviour is it the abundant entrance that is waiting you? Do not confine your thoughts to Shittim, however sweet its shade of acacias may be; but prepare for what is beyond, and face the passage of the Jordan with the full knowledge and firm faith which would make your rest in Canaan sure.—G.

HOMILIES BY J. WAITE

Joshua 2:1

A brand plucked from the fire.

This strange and somewhat romantic story of Rahab and the spies forms an interesting episode in the Scripture narrative. The special interest lies in the nature of the incidents and the character of the chief actor. Nothing is told us as to any definite result from the visit of the spies affecting the after siege and capture of the city, except so far as this, that they learnt from Rahab the alarm of the inhabitants at the approach of the Israelitish host. It shows, however, that, confident as Joshua may have been that the Lord was fighting on his side, he did not abstain from taking all proper precautions to ensure safety and success. God commonly works by the use of means and instruments, and they who have most living faith in His protecting and delivering power will be most careful to be coworkers with Him in all prudent forethought and diligence. We may, perhaps, best develop the moral teaching of this narrative by keeping the conduct of Rahab most prominently in mind. Her honourable distinction is that, as far as we know, she alone in all that dark, guilty land of Canaan was disposed to recognise the divinity that guided the onward march of the Israelites, and to welcome them to their destined inheritance. Certain moral difficulties have been felt by many in reference to the honour given to her name in Scripture. Her character and mode of life has been felt to be a difficulty; attempts have been made to show that "harlot" may simply mean "innkeeper." But this interpretation will not hold good. Much of the point and worth of the narrative depends on our regarding her as one of a class on whom Christ bestowed His pity; "a woman that was a sinner." Her treachery to her own people is condemned; but this, despicable as under ordinary circumstances it may be, is to be justified on the ground of loyalty to the God of Israel. It is a Christian principle that the claims of God are supreme over all other claims, even those that spring out of the ties of nature and of nationality. Her falsehood is a difficulty. No need to attempt to justify this. A low moral standard and the pressure of circumstances may palliate it, but cannot excuse. A lie must always be offensive to a God of truth. No skilful casuistry can make this aspect of her conduct right. But she is commended in Scripture, not for her treachery or falsehood, but for her faith (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25)—for the fact that, hearing of the wonders wrought by Jehovah, she believed Him to be the only true and living God, and so was moved to escape from the corruption of her own doomed city and cast in her lot with His people. The following lessons seem to be suggested:

I. THE SIGNALS OF GOD'S GRACE MAY BE FOUND UNDER VERY UNLIKELY CONDITIONS. Here is a gleam of light in the midst of gross heathen darkness; a susceptibility to Divine impressions where it might least have been expected. The report of Israel's successes could scarcely of itself have produced it. In her that report awakened faith and the desire for a purer life, but in her neighbours it only roused the recklessness of despair. It moved her to seek deliverance: it made them only the riper for their doom. Why this difference? We trace here the secret working of that Spirit from the Lord who prepares the souls of men for higher revelations of truth. God directed the spies to her house because He had first put it into her heart to receive them kindly. Thus within the vilest and the most degraded there may be latent possibilities of good that only need the outward incentive to call them forth. God is often nearer to men, and they are nearer to "the kingdom," than we suppose. He who came "to seek and to save that which was lost" made Himself the "friend of publicans and sinners," not only because they most needed Him, but because He saw that they were most ready to welcome Him. His word awakened an echo in their hearts, when proud Pharisaic hearts were hopelessly closed against it. It discovered and quickened germs of better life in the midst of corruption and death. It kindled hope in the region of despair. To the self-satisfied rulers of the people He said, "The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."

II. REPENTANCE MAY TRANSFORM A LIFE OF SIN AND SHAME INTO ONE OF HONOUR AND RENOWN. Rahab's sin was forgiven as soon as her heart turned to the Lord. There is a place for her in the commonwealth of Israel. Her faith saved not only herself, but her whole household (verses 12, 18). She became the wife of Salmon, mother of Boaz, and thus ancestress of David and of Christ (Matthew 1:5, Matthew 1:6). A suggestive hint of the way in which the grace of God can "graft the wild olive tree m among the natural branches," and make it abundantly fruitful to His praise. It not only wipes out the reproach of the past, but developes from it a rich and glorious future. Faculties that have been wasted in the service of sin become effective instruments of righteousness. The history of the Church is full of examples. As in the case of Saul of Tarsus, so in less conspicuous instances, God has often entered the ranks of the enemy and brought forth from them living trophies of His power, who have henceforth served nobly the cause that once they destroyed.

III. THE REWARD OF GENEROUS TRUSTFULNESS. It is remarkable that this Canaanite woman should have had such confidence in the sanctity of a promise and oath (verse 12). It is significant of eternal principles enshrined in the heart of man, which the most degrading conditions cannot wholly obliterate. Note here, not only a Divine Providence, but a law of human nature. There is trust on both sides. The woman meets the spies with generous kindness, takes their life under her protection, and they in return keep sacred watch and guard over hers. It is a valuable lesson for all time. "With what measure ye meet," etc.; "Blessed are the merciful," etc. The trustful soul is trusted. Love begets love. "For a good man some would even dare to die." Whatever noble quality you cherish and practically exemplify has power to awaken something similar to it in others. It propagates and multiplies itself, and that is its reward.

IV. IN THE DELIVERANCE OF THIS CANAANITE FAMILY FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF THE DOOMED CITY WE SEE A TYPE OF GOSPEL SALVATION. The Fathers, as usual, have carried the principle to a fanciful extreme in their use of these incidents. But the general features of the analogy are too plain to be overlooked. The rescue of Rahab and her kindred is certainly dimly prophetic of the gathering of a redeemed Church out of the Gentile world; and in the "scarlet cord," the sign of the covenant and the means of deliverance, we can scarcely help seeing a hint both of the blood of the passover and the "blood of the cross." How blessed the security of those who are under the protection of that sacred sign, that "true token!" In the "day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God," with what joy will they lift up their heads, knowing that their "redemption draweth nigh."—W.

HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER

Joshua 2:4

The harlot Rahab.

A peculiar interest has always attached to this woman's case. Of the doomed nations with whom Israel came into collision, she is the first to be known, and the first to escape the doom ordained for them: an early type of the calling of the Gentiles; a whisper that the faith which was a sacred secret for Israel would yet become the heritage of the world; a study for early theologians on the sovereign grace of God, which can call those farthest off and make them vessels of His grace and mercy. While theologians learnt charity and hope from her experience, the historian and the patriot looked back with hardly less of interest to her, as to one whose simple service and womanly hospitality were a national boon. At the moment when the difficulties and perils of theft undertaking were conspicuous, when the bravest people might have shrunk from an encounter with such foes, Rahab's greeting heartened them. Like the Midianite's dream of the cake of barley bread which heartened Gideon, so this woman's acknowledgment of Israel's God, and prediction of their success, was itself an inspiration. "A cup of cold water" given in the name of Jehovah, her act refreshed a nation. And so her name, cleared of the dishonour which had clung to it, was enrolled amongst those of the worthies who had deserved well of Israel. And all the thoughtful, whether their interest lay in creed or country, were glad to note that "a great reward" was given her by the God under whose wings she had come to trust. The deliverance of herself, of her family; a noble marriage, a royal progeny—these were dwelt upon by the devout of Israel, as examples of what all might expect who lived for the service of the Lord. Let us consider her story.

I. THE WAKING OF THE SOUL. There has been an attempt made to take off the stigma which, to point the marvels of grace, all the centuries had attached to her. One of the earliest versions of the Jewish Scriptures renders the word which describes her calling—innkeeper. And one commentator (Adam Clarke) shows that women were the tavern-keepers in Greece and Egypt in ancient days; and points out many items in the narrative which would comport with such a view. We adhere more strictly to both letter and spirit of the narrative when we accept the usual rendering, and seek for mitigation of her ill repute in other less questionable considerations. It is right to remember that amongst her own people, probably, there was no stigma in the name; that she was probably a priestess of the Phoenician Venus, like the priestesses of Bhowani, in India, today, consecrate to the goddess; float she was hard-working, attached to her kindred, and apparently treated with respect by her people. But applying such considerations to modify the revulsion which every pure mind feels at the name given her, we still cannot avoid feeling that there is a vast gulf between Rahab as she had been, and the Rahab that can say, "Jehovah, your God, He is God in heaven above and in earth beneath." A former faith—for the heathen have faith—had disappeared; in stern and terrible questionings it had broken up and melted away; a new God had risen on her soul; a deity of indulgence had sunk into the disregard of true repentance, and the Jewish deity of mercy and of duty had risen on her heart. For us to change one thought about our God for another involves often a painful and protracted embarrassment; but for one to change her goddess in spite of all the centuries of tradition commending her—her acceptance by the people, and to be in Jericho a solitary believer in Jehovah—such a change was not wrought easily or lightly, and was not wrought out, one fancies, while she still pursued a course of wrong. "The fountains of the great deep were broken up," and her soul went through the experience of earthquake and fire, before the small still voice could calm her into faith. This was a soul waking. How it came about none can tell. The external influences that prepare for such changes may be roughly traced, but the inward "moving" is too deep and subtle to be seen. Jericho lay on the route of a caravan trade, which was even then carried on between Babylon and Egypt (see Babylonish garment, Joshua 7:21). And so she had heard of all God's wonders in Egypt, and of "the strong hand and mighty arm" with which He had brought them out. The overthrow of the inhabitants of Bashan and the Amontes, the warlike people—the remains of whose cities excite the marvel of all today—had seemed too wonderful to be the result of unaided human strength or skill. And these, likely enough, started the deeper thoughts. But they only occasioned, they did not produce them. There must have been a deeper work going on. Dubiety had risen in her about the Godhead of Deity that sanctioned the life she led; a sense that her country's gods exerted no hallowing or elevating influence—that they sanctioned all vile indulgences, but inspired no virtue; she had grown weary of worldliness; restless with the longing for a God pure and strong enough to trust. The God of Israel—who alone among all deities then worshipped, stood forth as the God of help and duty—looked in her face, breathed on her heart, and she was His. We must not miss the lessons of such a waking. We must despair of none. The soul, like the body, may sometimes be easily killed, but sometimes it takes a great deal of killing. And from sins, and vices, and unbelief, which wound the soul and apparently leave no chance of life, ofttimes it will recover, and its health will come again like the health of a little child. God can travel where no teacher comes, and can enter where no truth is known, and can commend Himself to hearts that seem incapable of appreciating His charms. And so here, without guide, teacher, or companion, she rises to the light of God. Have you waked thus to the greatness, the nearness, and the claims of a redeeming God? Observe secondly—

II. THE ACTION OF FAITH. Here we have not quite so easy a theme; for the mixture of good and evil which always marks human action is provokingly obvious here. With clear faith falsehood is mingled; with devotion to Israel, something like treason to her people. And persons who can do addition, but cannot balance accounts, are apt to reject her altogether. They forget that morality has its chronology, and that the sanctity of truth dates from the Christian era. They forget, too, what ought to be obvious, that the charge of not doing all she can to save her country hardly lies against a person who has the conviction that her country cannot be saved, and that her city is for its sins a very City of Destruction; and that in rewarding her, God rewards, not her lie, but her hospitality, her courage, her taking the part of Israel, her confession of His name; and that what we have here is not nineteenth century Christianity, but incipient Israelitism. Considering these things, mark the action of faith in her case. When these considerations have their weight, it is very Striking how many of the characteristics of Christian faith are found here.

1. Her faith sees clearly all that it is needful to see. She has the purged eye which discerns the great lines on which God works, and the great lines on which our safety and bliss are to be found. Fortune and probabilities fade from her view, and she sees all things depending on God, and all bliss depending on following Him.

2. Her faith braves every danger in the way or duty. Think you a weak or timorous woman would have risked her life as she did? The King was nearer than the hosts of Israel: it were easy to have her falsehood discovered; and if so she dies. But faith dares what nought else dares. An inward moral courage is its continual mark, and at the risk of life she makes her choice.

3. Her faith leads her to cast in her lot with the people of God, and seek to share their fortune. An earthborn faith makes a person trim and endeavour to stand neutral—to avoid the fate of Jericho without identifying one's self with the fortunes of Israel. Rut she says in effect to the men, "Your people shall be my people, and your God my God." And by hiding them, aiding their escape, counselling for their safety, entering into covenant with them, she chooses her part with the people of God. To this she may be moved by fear more than by love. And love is better than fear. But the fear of God is infinitely better than listlessness, and is the beginning of wisdom. Happy they who see with the clearness, who venture with the courage, who choose with the piety of God's believing people. Shrink thou from no risk in following Christ. Choose thou the heritage of the people of God: His grace, His pardon, His eternal love. Lastly, observe—

III. THE REWARDS OF HER FAITH. Faith has always an exceeding great reward. It passes tremblingly along its anxious path to peace and rest. And so here. Observe how, answering the workings of her heart, God brings nigh His help.

1. She has an open door set before her. Not casually, but by God's guidance, the spies come for lodging to her house.

2. All needed wisdom is given where she has the will to use it.

3. She is kept safe from the men of Jericho by God.

4. While miraculous incidents in the destruction of Jericho leave her no room for thought of having helped it, she is herself saved, with her father, mother, brethren, and all that she had.

5. An honoured guest of Israel, she becomes the wife of the head of the tribe of Judah, Salomon. Probably he was one of the two spies, Ephraim and Judah being the leading tribes, and heads of the tribes being chosen for such work.

6. Her child was Boaz, one of the brightest and most honourable of Israel's saints; her daughter-in-law, Ruth the Moabitess; her grandchild's grandchild, David; and Jesus of Nazareth had her blood in His veins. How little she had dreamt of all that satisfaction, that gracious wealth, and sweet renown! And so it ever is! Cast in thy lot with the people of God. Like them, follow Him, His conscience oracle, and there will be a growing benediction on your life, a various mercy—pardon, peace, joy of His love, hope of His heaven—till, so exceeding and abundantly above what you asked or thought, His mercy will come to you, that you will be "like them that dream;" and when others say, "The Lord hath done great things for us," your heart will reply, "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we axe glad."—G.

HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE

Joshua 2:9

Rahab's faith

Since the time when Moses despatched twelve spies to inspect the land, the fame of the Israelites had spread amongst the inhabitants of Canaan. They were on their guard, and it was necessary to act with caution. Joshua sent, therefore, only two men, and that" secretly." The few are sometimes better than the many. Arriving at Jericho towards evening, they entered into Rahab's house, there to spend the night. As Rahab is honourably mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews as an example of "faith," and in the Epistle of James as an illustration of the "works" that result from faith, let us consider her faith so far as it is worthy of imitation.

I. IT WAS A FAITH THAT REASONED. It based itself on facts. She mentioned two striking events, the passage of the "sea of weeds," and the overthrow of the two kings of the Amorites by the Israelitish nation. From these she argued that the God of Israel must be mightier than the gods whom her country worshipped, that He was "Lord in heaven and earth," and that He would procure for His people the land of Canaan. Thus she took to heart the lessons of the past. Prejudice is strong. It could not have been an easy matter to renounce belief in her own deities, and to acknowledge the supremacy of an enemy's God. If men consult history they find therein ample evidence of a "power that maketh for righteousness.'' And further, the hand of God can be seen as the power that upholdeth righteousness. The history of the Jews is itself a witness to the truth and might of God. The spread of Christianity cannot be accounted for except on the supposition that it was "the work of God." What the keenest shafts of philosophical ridicule and reasoning rafted to accomplish, that the "religion of the fishermen" soon achieved. It released men from the bondage of grossest idolatry and foulest sin. We may reasonably demand that men should pay to the "God of the Christians" that homage which is His due. We only ask that they will allow facts of religion to press upon them with their proper weight. The wicked may well feel downcast, for the chaff shall be blown away before the wind of judgment. "Who is on the Lord's side?'

II. IT WAS A FAITH THAT LED TO THE ADOPTION OF PRACTICAL MEASURES.

(a) She hid the messengers. With the proverbial ingenuity of woman, she concealed them behind the stalks of flax piled upon the roof. Possibly the Eastern law of hospitality had some influence upon her conduct, but the narrative shows that Rahab was willing to undergo present risk for the sake of future preservation. Had the spies been detected in her house, death was sure. We do not excuse the falsehoods she told, nor are they commended in Scripture. They were an outcome of her degraded state, and an infirmity which was graciously overlooked by reason of her faith. To have respect to a future good is the duty of every man. The obstacle in the path of many is that they cannot forego present enjoyment. Religion requires us to endure "as seeing Him who is invisible," to "look at the things unseen."

(b) She bound the scarlet line in the window. Before letting the men down by a cord, she demanded "a true token" that should assure her of security in the day of assault. The spies gave her an oath pledging their life for her safety, but Coupling with the oath certain conditions to be fulfilled on her part. Here again is Rahab a model of appropriate action. God binds Himself by a covenant to forgive men if they respect the terms thereof. He confirmed His declaration by an oath (Hebrews 6:17). But only those can be said to "believe" who actually "flee for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before them." The Israelites were required to sprinkle the blood upon the lintel of the door post, and similarly must the blood of Christ be sprinkled upon our consciences if we would be unharmed when the destroying angel passes by. Our foreheads must be sealed (Revelation 7:8), but not with the mark of the beast (Revelation 20:4). If the promises of God are to have effect, we must observe the conditions. Herein many are found wanting. They listen, hesitate, think, but there is no practical faith, no actual recognition of God's love by accepting His gracious offers. Let the "scarlet line" be visible forthwith! then in the sifting day our interests will be secure. Though the elements crash all around, for us there will be "perfect peace."

III. A FAITH THAT CARED FOR THE WELFARE OF FRIENDS. Natural affection had not been extinguished by her wretched life. Her trust in the God of Israel brought into clearer light her love for her relations, and she desired their safety. And how can Christians enjoy their salvation without being deeply concerned for the state of those dear to them? As Rahab implored protection for her kinsfolk, so will the followers of Christ commend to their Saviour's care those whom they love. Rahab's was intercessory prayer. It is related of a dumb son of Croesus that when he saw a soldier about to kill his father, he burst forth into the utterance, "What! will you kill Croesus?" Moreover, it was required of Rahab that when the siege commenced she should gather her friends within the shelter of her own domicile, otherwise they could not be recognised and saved. It is not sufficient merely to plead with God on behalf of those we love; He expects us to use all possible efforts for their moral safety. It was impossible for Rahab to preserve the whole city. Love dictated the enlargement of her sphere, prudence set reasonable bounds to it. The inhabitants would doubtless have resented her action and advice, and death would have ensued. There is no need for us to seek to justify all that Rahab did. We are only concerned to imitate her in so far as she is presented to us as a model of faith.—A.

HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE

Joshua 2:9

Rahab and the spies.

The history of the escape of the Israelitish spies through the assistance of Rahab the harlot, and the reward given her for her services, in the sparing of her life when all her townsfolk perished, is one which presents many moral difficulties. To help the enemies of one's country is an act severely and justly reprobated by all nations. That which is in itself evil cannot be transformed into good because it is done for a good cause; otherwise we ought to give plenary indulgence to the Society of Jesus. We must beware, then, of extolling the wrong thing which Rahab did. But at the same time we must recognise that she was prompted to it by a nobler motive than that of securing her own safety. Faith in the true God had taken rough possession of this ignorant soul. She had heard of the miracles by which Israel had been brought out of Egypt and led safely through the perils of the wilderness. She says, "We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when ye came out of Egypt, and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites," etc. It is clear, then, that the Canaanites knew enough to acknowledge with Rahab, that "the Lord the God of Israel was God in heaven above and in the earth beneath;" and therefore that they were sinning by still cleaving to their false gods, whose worship was an abomination to the only living and true God. It cannot be denied, therefore, that Rahab gave a proof of faith in the choice which she made between her own people and the people of God. It is this aspect of her conduct alone which is commended in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Joshua 11:1-23 :31). We must be careful, moreover, not to exaggerate what she did. She did not betray the secret of her people, she simply preserved the lives of the representatives of the nation which she knows to be enrolled under the banner of the true God. This act of faith saved her, and even won for her the honour of a place in the genealogy of Messiah (Matthew 1:5). We occupy a very different position from that of Rahab. No such conflict can arise in our case between duty to the earthly and to the heavenly fatherland, because the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. Let it be ours to have the faith of Rahab in the victory of our Divine Head; and let us hold fast this confidence, especially in view of the great conflicts that are before us, between the Captain of our salvation and an unbelieving world. Have we not as much to rest our faith upon—nay, far more than Rahab had—in the great victories of the past? We are the soldiers of a General who said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). To be confident of victory is to have already conquered.—E. DE P.


Verses 12-24

EXPOSITION

THE OATH OF THE SPIES.—

Joshua 2:12

Kindness. The original is perhaps a little stronger, and involves usually the idea of mercy and pity. This, however, is not always the ease (see Genesis 21:23; 2 Samuel 10:2). "It had been an ill nature in Rahab if she had been content to be saved alone: that her love might be a match to her faith, she covenants for all her family, and so returns life to those of whom she received it," (Bp. Hall). A true token. Literally, a token of truth. The construction is that in which the latter noun often stands in Hebrew for an adjective. Here, however, it would seem to be a little more, a token of truth—a pledge, that is, of sincerity. Rahab wanted some guarantee that her life and the lives of her kindred would be saved. The bare word of the spies would not suffice, for how could she and her kindred be identified in the confusion attending the sack of the city? But if the spies would agree upon some sign by which she could be recognised, it would at once be a pledge that they intended to keep their word, and a means of protection in the approaching downfall of the city.

Joshua 2:14

Our life for yours. Literally, our souls ( נֶפֶשׁ, answering to the Greek ψυχή—the principle of life in men and animals) in the place of you to die; i.e; may we die if you are not preserved safe and sound. A similar expression is used by Ignatius, ad Ephesians 1:1-23; ad Polyc. 2, 6, etc. If ye utter not, i.e; Rahab and her kindred (Rosenmuller). Many MSS; however, read "if thou utterest not."

Joshua 2:15

Then she let them down. The conversation which is related afterwards, no doubt occurred afterwards, as is proved by the use of the perfect הוֹרַדְתֵּנוּ in Joshua 2:18. There is no reason to suppose the window by which she let them down. to have been so distant from the ground as to preclude a conversation, and it is quite possible that Rahab's house may have been in a situation in which such a conversation could be carried on without interruption. There are continental cities now surrounded by walls, in which such a conversation would involve no difficulty whatever, especially if the house from which such a conversation was carried on happened to stand a little apart from other houses. And though the spies sent by Moses described the walls of the Phoenician cities in hyperbolical language, it is highly improbable that their fortifications were stronger than those of mediaeval times. The little town of Ahrweiler, in the valley of the Ahr, near Remagen, may serve as an instance in point. It would once have been called a strongly fortified town, but the walls are of no great height, and the houses are built upon them. The same may be seen at Bacharach and Oberwesel, and other well known places where the fortifications have not been modernised. With the escape of the spies we may compare the escape of St. Paul from Damascus, as recorded in Acts 9:25, and 2 Corinthians 11:32, 2 Corinthians 11:33.

Joshua 2:16

Get you to the mountains. No hint is given why the mountains were to be so safe a refuge. But a reference to the geography of the district will supply the reason. Any mountain district is usually less accessible and less thickly inhabited than the plains. But within five miles of Jericho lay the remarkable range called Quarantania, or Kuruntul, which is literally honeycombed with caves, so that a man might be concealed for months in the immediate neighbourhood of Jericho with a very slight risk of discovery. It is obvious how strongly this fact confirms the accuracy of the narrative. An inventor would have been certain in some way or other to draw attention to a statement intended to give an air of probability to his narrative. But there is nothing of the kind here, and yet the narrative displays a thorough acquaintance with the geographical features of the neighbourhood. Canon Tristram carefully explored the caverns. On one face of the rock, which is perpendicular, he found "some thirty or forty habitable caves," and on the southern face, towards Jericho, he supposed there were a good many more than this. The scouts of the king of Jericho might be excused a very diligent search, for we are told that the "foot hold was hazardous and the height dizzy." From the days of the spies till long after the Christian era, these caves have been in existence. They have been tenanted by Greek, Syrian, and even Abyssinian monks, and Canon Tristram found many Greek and Ethiopic inscriptions, as well as figures of our Lord and the saints. The Abyssinian Christians make a yearly pilgrimage there even now. The reason of the reverence in which the place is held, is the tradition (not, however, eight hundred years old, see Bitter, 3.37) that, as the name Quarantania implies, the forty days' fast of our Lord took place there. As a specimen of the mystical interpretations in which the Fathers indulged, we find Origen expounding the advice, "Get you to the mountains," as follows: "Humilia et dejecta refugite, quae excelsa sunt et sublimia, praedicate."

Joshua 2:17

We will be blameless. Perhaps "we would be blameless," and therefore we make the conditions which follow. Something must be supplied to fill up the sense. The most ordinary rule would be to translate "we are blameless," i.e; by making these conditions. But the former yields a better sense.

Joshua 2:18

This line of scarlet thread. Rather, this rope, from קוָה to twist. It is described as made of sewing thread ( הוּט), because no doubt it was formed of several such threads twisted into a rope. The scarlet ( שָנִי), or rather crimson, was produced from the dried bodies as well as the eggs of the cochineal insect, called in Arabic, kermes (whence our word crimson, and the German karmesin). This line of scarlet thread is regarded by the Fathers generally, and by our own divines, as Bishop Hall and Bishop Wordsworth, as symbolical of the blood of Christ,

Joshua 2:19

His blood shall be upon his head (cf. Le Joshua 20:9). "If we will wander out of the limits that God has set us, we cast ourselves out of His protection." (Bp. Hall).

Joshua 2:20

And if thou utter this our business. This was an obvious condition. Rahab's betrayal of the spies could not save Jericho, but it would destroy them, or at least expose them to imminent danger. She would, therefore, by mentioning the matter, deprive herself of all title to protection.

Joshua 2:21

And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.—Not necessarily at once, but when the time for the precaution arrived.

Joshua 2:23

And passed over. The sacred historian does not say how. But it is improbable (see Joshua 2:7) that they forded the river. They probably swam across, as they were no doubt unarmed (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:15). That befel them. Literally, "that found them."

Joshua 2:24

For even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. "[For even" is literally "and also." As Keil remarks, this information concerning the feelings of the Canaanites was the one great thing they had been sent out to discover.

HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE

Joshua 2:9

Rahab and the spies.

The history of the escape of the Israelitish spies through the assistance of Rahab the harlot, and the reward given her for her services, in the sparing of her life when all her townsfolk perished, is one which presents many moral difficulties. To help the enemies of one's country is an act severely and justly reprobated by all nations. That which is in itself evil cannot be transformed into good because it is done for a good cause; otherwise we ought to give plenary indulgence to the Society of Jesus. We must beware, then, of extolling the wrong thing which Rahab did. But at the same time we must recognise that she was prompted to it by a nobler motive than that of securing her own safety. Faith in the true God had taken rough possession of this ignorant soul. She had heard of the miracles by which Israel had been brought out of Egypt and led safely through the perils of the wilderness. She says, "We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when ye came out of Egypt, and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites," etc. It is clear, then, that the Canaanites knew enough to acknowledge with Rahab, that "the Lord the God of Israel was God in heaven above and in the earth beneath;" and therefore that they were sinning by still cleaving to their false gods, whose worship was an abomination to the only living and true God. It cannot be denied, therefore, that Rahab gave a proof of faith in the choice which she made between her own people and the people of God. It is this aspect of her conduct alone which is commended in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Joshua 11:1-23 :31). We must be careful, moreover, not to exaggerate what she did. She did not betray the secret of her people, she simply preserved the lives of the representatives of the nation which she knows to be enrolled under the banner of the true God. This act of faith saved her, and even won for her the honour of a place in the genealogy of Messiah (Matthew 1:5). We occupy a very different position from that of Rahab. No such conflict can arise in our case between duty to the earthly and to the heavenly fatherland, because the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. Let it be ours to have the faith of Rahab in the victory of our Divine Head; and let us hold fast this confidence, especially in view of the great conflicts that are before us, between the Captain of our salvation and an unbelieving world. Have we not as much to rest our faith upon—nay, far more than Rahab had—in the great victories of the past? We are the soldiers of a General who said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). To be confident of victory is to have already conquered.—E. DE P.

Jos_2:12 -25

EXPOSITION

THE OATH OF THE SPIES.—

Joshua 2:12

Kindness. The original is perhaps a little stronger, and involves usually the idea of mercy and pity. This, however, is not always the ease (see Genesis 21:23; 2 Samuel 10:2). "It had been an ill nature in Rahab if she had been content to be saved alone: that her love might be a match to her faith, she covenants for all her family, and so returns life to those of whom she received it," (Bp. Hall). A true token. Literally, a token of truth. The construction is that in which the latter noun often stands in Hebrew for an adjective. Here, however, it would seem to be a little more, a token of truth—a pledge, that is, of sincerity. Rahab wanted some guarantee that her life and the lives of her kindred would be saved. The bare word of the spies would not suffice, for how could she and her kindred be identified in the confusion attending the sack of the city? But if the spies would agree upon some sign by which she could be recognised, it would at once be a pledge that they intended to keep their word, and a means of protection in the approaching downfall of the city.

Joshua 2:14

Our life for yours. Literally, our souls ( נֶפֶשׁ, answering to the Greek ψυχή—the principle of life in men and animals) in the place of you to die; i.e; may we die if you are not preserved safe and sound. A similar expression is used by Ignatius, ad Ephesians 1:1-23; ad Polyc. 2, 6, etc. If ye utter not, i.e; Rahab and her kindred (Rosenmuller). Many MSS; however, read "if thou utterest not."

Joshua 2:15

Then she let them down. The conversation which is related afterwards, no doubt occurred afterwards, as is proved by the use of the perfect הוֹרַדְתֵּנוּ in Joshua 2:18. There is no reason to suppose the window by which she let them down. to have been so distant from the ground as to preclude a conversation, and it is quite possible that Rahab's house may have been in a situation in which such a conversation could be carried on without interruption. There are continental cities now surrounded by walls, in which such a conversation would involve no difficulty whatever, especially if the house from which such a conversation was carried on happened to stand a little apart from other houses. And though the spies sent by Moses described the walls of the Phoenician cities in hyperbolical language, it is highly improbable that their fortifications were stronger than those of mediaeval times. The little town of Ahrweiler, in the valley of the Ahr, near Remagen, may serve as an instance in point. It would once have been called a strongly fortified town, but the walls are of no great height, and the houses are built upon them. The same may be seen at Bacharach and Oberwesel, and other well known places where the fortifications have not been modernised. With the escape of the spies we may compare the escape of St. Paul from Damascus, as recorded in Acts 9:25, and 2 Corinthians 11:32, 2 Corinthians 11:33.

Joshua 2:16

Get you to the mountains. No hint is given why the mountains were to be so safe a refuge. But a reference to the geography of the district will supply the reason. Any mountain district is usually less accessible and less thickly inhabited than the plains. But within five miles of Jericho lay the remarkable range called Quarantania, or Kuruntul, which is literally honeycombed with caves, so that a man might be concealed for months in the immediate neighbourhood of Jericho with a very slight risk of discovery. It is obvious how strongly this fact confirms the accuracy of the narrative. An inventor would have been certain in some way or other to draw attention to a statement intended to give an air of probability to his narrative. But there is nothing of the kind here, and yet the narrative displays a thorough acquaintance with the geographical features of the neighbourhood. Canon Tristram carefully explored the caverns. On one face of the rock, which is perpendicular, he found "some thirty or forty habitable caves," and on the southern face, towards Jericho, he supposed there were a good many more than this. The scouts of the king of Jericho might be excused a very diligent search, for we are told that the "foot hold was hazardous and the height dizzy." From the days of the spies till long after the Christian era, these caves have been in existence. They have been tenanted by Greek, Syrian, and even Abyssinian monks, and Canon Tristram found many Greek and Ethiopic inscriptions, as well as figures of our Lord and the saints. The Abyssinian Christians make a yearly pilgrimage there even now. The reason of the reverence in which the place is held, is the tradition (not, however, eight hundred years old, see Bitter, 3.37) that, as the name Quarantania implies, the forty days' fast of our Lord took place there. As a specimen of the mystical interpretations in which the Fathers indulged, we find Origen expounding the advice, "Get you to the mountains," as follows: "Humilia et dejecta refugite, quae excelsa sunt et sublimia, praedicate."

Joshua 2:17

We will be blameless. Perhaps "we would be blameless," and therefore we make the conditions which follow. Something must be supplied to fill up the sense. The most ordinary rule would be to translate "we are blameless," i.e; by making these conditions. But the former yields a better sense.

Joshua 2:18

This line of scarlet thread. Rather, this rope, from קוָה to twist. It is described as made of sewing thread ( הוּט), because no doubt it was formed of several such threads twisted into a rope. The scarlet ( שָנִי), or rather crimson, was produced from the dried bodies as well as the eggs of the cochineal insect, called in Arabic, kermes (whence our word crimson, and the German karmesin). This line of scarlet thread is regarded by the Fathers generally, and by our own divines, as Bishop Hall and Bishop Wordsworth, as symbolical of the blood of Christ,

Joshua 2:19

His blood shall be upon his head (cf. Le Joshua 20:9). "If we will wander out of the limits that God has set us, we cast ourselves out of His protection." (Bp. Hall).

Joshua 2:20

And if thou utter this our business. This was an obvious condition. Rahab's betrayal of the spies could not save Jericho, but it would destroy them, or at least expose them to imminent danger. She would, therefore, by mentioning the matter, deprive herself of all title to protection.

Joshua 2:21

And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.—Not necessarily at once, but when the time for the precaution arrived.

Joshua 2:23

And passed over. The sacred historian does not say how. But it is improbable (see Joshua 2:7) that they forded the river. They probably swam across, as they were no doubt unarmed (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:15). That befel them. Literally, "that found them."

Joshua 2:24

For even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. "[For even" is literally "and also." As Keil remarks, this information concerning the feelings of the Canaanites was the one great thing they had been sent out to discover.

HOMILETICS

Joshua 2:12-24

The oath of the spies, and their return to Joshua.

This passage suggests considerations of various kinds, historical, practical, and allegorical.

I. THE TRUSTWORTHINESS OF THE SPIES. They had, no doubt, been specially selected by Joshua for this purpose, and they show themselves worthy of his choice.

II. THE SCARLET CORD A TOKEN OF SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST. For scarlet, or rather crimson (see note), is the colour of blood. The scarlet cord had been the salvation of the messengers. It was now to be the means of salvation to her who had received from them the assurance of deliverance from the wrath to come. Like the blood upon the door post, it was to be the sign which the destroying messengers of God's vengeance were to respect and pass by. That scarlet cord alone could ensure safety. And it could ensure the safety only of those who trusted in it alone. It must be taken, therefore, as the type of salvation through the blood of Christ alone.

III. EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS. Like St. Paul's "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved" (Acts 27:31), so the spies here declare that to abide in Rahab's house is a necessary condition of safety. The house here is a type of the Church of Christ, not necessarily of external communion with any particular branch of it, but of actual internal membership in the mystical body of Christ, of which, ordinarily speaking, Baptism and the reception of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper are the outward tokens. "Holy Scripture," says the 18th Article of the Church of England, "doth set out to us only the name of Christ, whereby men must be saved." And we must unite ourselves with Him by faith and obedience. We must enter into the "House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). We must keep up a "continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ." Our scarlet cord must be bound prominently in the window. Those who wander recklessly from the fold, who are carried about to "erroneous and strange doctrines," who follow their own wills instead of abiding by the covenant of salvation in Christ, cannot expect the deliverance which comes only to those who confess Christ openly before men, and declare plainly their union with those who fight under His banner.

IV. THE SPIES WHO FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THEIR DUTY HAVE THEIR REWARD IN BRINGING GOOD TIDINGS. We have seen what the conduct of the spies has been. And now they return to reanimate their brethren. Their report is, that already their enemies are disheartened and dispirited at the thought of the Great Name under the protection of which the Israelites fight. So does the faithful soldier of Christ ever become a source of encouragement to his brethren. He who trusts in the Lord, and goes steadfastly about His work, never fails to find the enemies of the Lord "fainting because of" His soldiers. It is only the cowardly and distrustful who find the "children of Anak," and "cities walled up to heaven"—that is, insuperable difficulties and tasks beyond their powers. They who set themselves in earnest to combat the enemies of God, and will neither make a compact with them, nor be "afraid of their faces," are sure of victory. Sometimes the walls of some fortress of sin will fall as if by miracle. Sometimes the enemy will only be discomfited after the prolonged and exhausting efforts of a battle of Beth-horon. But the servants of God on the eve of a new conflict with the powers of evil may safely address their fellow warriors in the words, "Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land."

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/joshua-2.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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