Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 2:1

Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   Hospitality;   Reconnoissance;   Shittim;   Spies;   Vigilance;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Home;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Rahab;   Religion;   Spies;   Stories for Children;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Desert, Journey of Israel through the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abelshittim;   Rahab;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Joshua the son of nun;   Prostitution;   Rahab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Prostitution;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Abel-Shittim;   Harlot;   Rahab;   Shittim;   Spies;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abel-Shittim;   Deuteronomy, the Book of;   Inn;   Jericho;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Architecture in the Biblical Period;   Harlot;   Immorality;   Innkeeper;   Joshua, the Book of;   Laadan;   Lodge;   Rahab;   Shittim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abel-Shittim;   Hoshea;   Jericho;   Joshua;   Number;   Rahab;   Shittim;   War;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Assumption of Moses;   Harlot ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jericho;   Numbers as Symbols;   Rahab, Rachab ;   Shittim ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Harlot;   Jericho;   Rahab;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abel-shittim;   Jericho;   Rahab;   Shittim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Harlot;   Jer'icho;   Ra'hab,;   Shit'tim;   War;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Booz;   Jericho;   Rahab;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abel-Shittim;   Crime;   Jericho;   Lodge;   Meadow;   Rahab;   Shittim;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abel-shittim;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Inn;   Phinehas;   Rahab;   Shittim;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Joshua - sent - two men to spy secretly - It is very likely that these spies had been sent out soon after the death of Moses, and therefore our marginal reading, had sent, is to be preferred. Secretly - It is very probable also that these were confidential persons, and that the transaction was between them and him alone. As they were to pass over the Jordan opposite to Jericho, it was necessary that they should have possession of this city, that in case of any reverses they might have no enemies in their rear. He sent the men, therefore, to see the state of the city, avenues of approach, fortifications, etc., that he might the better concert his mode of attack.

A harlot's house - Harlots and inn-keepers seem to have been called by the same name, as no doubt many who followed this mode of life, from their exposed situation, were not the most correct in their morals. Among the ancients women generally kept houses of entertainment, and among the Egyptians and Greeks this was common. I shall subjoin a few proofs.

Herodotus, speaking concerning the many differences between Egypt and other countries, and the peculiarity of their laws and customs, expressly says: Εν τοισι αἱ μεν γυναικες αγοραζουσι και καπηλευουσι· οἱ δε ανδρες, κατ ' οικους εοντες, ὑφαινουσι. "Among the Egyptians the women carry on all commercial concerns, and keep taverns, while the men continue at home and weave." Herod. in Euterp., c. xxxv. Diodorus Siculus, lib. i., s. 8, and c. xxvii., asserts that "the men were the slaves of the women in Egypt, and that it is stipulated in the marriage contract that the woman shall be the ruler of her husband, and that he shall obey her in all things." The same historian supposes that women had these high privileges among the Egyptians, to perpetuate the memory of the beneficent administration of Isis, who was afterwards deified among them. Nymphodorus, quoted by the ancient scholiast on the Oedipus Coloneus of Sophocles, accounts for these customs: he says that "Sesostris, finding the population of Egypt rapidly increasing, fearing that he should not be able to govern the people or keep them united under one head, obliged the men to assume the occupations of women, in order that they might be rendered effeminate." Sophocles confirms the account given by Herodotus; speaking of Egypt he says: -

Εκει γαρ οἱ μεν αρσενες κατα στεγαςπ

Θακουσιν ἱστουργουντες αἱ δε ξυννομοιπ

Τα ' ξω βιου τροφεια προσυνους ' αει

Oedip. Col. v. 352.

"There the men stay in their houses weaving cloth, while the women transact all business out of doors, provide food for the family," etc. It is on this passage that the scholiast cites Nymphodorus for the information given above, and which he says is found in the 13th chapter of his work "On the Customs of Barbarous Nations." That the same custom prevailed among the Greeks we have the following proof from Apuleius: Ego vero quod primate ingressui stabulum conspicatus sum, accessi, et de Quadam Anu Caupona illico percontor. - Aletam. lib. i., p. 18, Edit. Bip. "Having entered into the first inn I met with, and there seeing a certain Old Woman, the Inn-Keeper, I inquired of her."

It is very likely that women kept the places of public entertainment among the Philistines; and that it was with such a one, and not with a harlot, that Samson lodged; (see Judges 16:1, etc.); for as this custom certainly did prevail among the Egyptians, of which we have the fullest proof above, we may naturally expect it to have prevailed also among the Canaanites and Philistines, as we find from Apuleius that it did afterwards among the Greeks. Besides there is more than presumptive proof that this custom obtained among the Israelites themselves, even in the most polished period of their history; for it is much more reasonable to suppose that the two women, who came to Solomon for judgment, relative to the dead child, ( 1 Kings 3:16, etc), were inn-keepers, than that they were harlots. It is well known that common prostitutes, from their abandoned course of life, scarcely ever have children; and the laws were so strict against such in Israel, ( Deuteronomy 23:18;), that if these had been of that class it is not at all likely they would have dared to appear before Solomon. All these circumstances considered, I am fully satisfied that the term זונה zonah in the text, which we translate harlot, should be rendered tavern or inn-keeper, or hostess. The spies who were sent out on this occasion were undoubtedly the most confidential persons that Joshua had in his host; they went on an errand of the most weighty importance, and which involved the greatest consequences. The risk they ran of losing their lives in this enterprise was extreme. Is it therefore likely that persons who could not escape apprehension and death, without the miraculous interference of God, should in despite of that law which at this time must have been so well known unto them, go into a place where they might expect, not the blessing, but the curse, of God? Is it not therefore more likely that they went rather to an inn to lodge than to a brothel? But what completes in my judgment the evidence on this point is, that this very Rahab, whom we call a harlot, was actually married to Salmon, a Jewish prince, see Matthew 1:5. And is it probable that a prince of Judah would have taken to wife such a person as our text represents Rahab to be?

It is granted that the Septuagint, who are followed by Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25, translate the Hebrew זונה zonah by πορνη, which generally signifies a prostitute; but it is not absolutely evident that the Septuagint used the word in this sense. Every scholar knows that the Greek word πορνη comes from περναω, to sell, as this does from περαω, to pass from one to another; transire facio a me ad alterum; Damm. But may not this be spoken as well of the woman's goods as of her person? In this sense the Chaldee Targum understood the term, and has therefore translated it פונדקיתא אתתא ittetha pundekitha, a woman, a Tavern-Keeper. That this is the true sense many eminent men are of opinion; and the preceding arguments render it at least very probable. To all this may be added, that as our blessed Lord came through the line of this woman, it cannot be a matter of little consequence to know what moral character she sustained; as an inn-keeper she might be respectable, if not honorable; as a public prostitute she could be neither; and it is not very likely that the providence of God would have suffered a person of such a notoriously bad character to enter into the sacred line of his genealogy. It is true that the cases of Tamar and Bathsheba may be thought sufficient to destroy this argument; but whoever considers these two cases maturely will see that they differ totally from that of Rahab, if we allow the word harlot to be legitimate. As to the objection that her husband is nowhere mentioned in the account here given; it appears to me to have little weight. She might have been either a single woman or a widow; and in either of these cases there could have been no mention of a husband; or if she even had a husband it is not likely he would have been mentioned on this occasion, as the secret seems to have been kept religiously between her and the spies. If she were a married woman her husband might be included in the general terms, all that she had, and all her kindred, Joshua 6:23. But it is most likely that she was a single woman or a widow, who got her bread honestly by keeping a house of entertainment for strangers. See below.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

An harlot‘s house - In the face of the parallel passages (e. g. Leviticus 21:7: Jeremiah 5:7) the rendering advocated for obvious reasons, namely, “the house of a woman, an innkeeper,” cannot be maintained. Rahab must remain an example under the Law similar to that Luke 7:37 under the Gospel, of “a woman that was a sinner,” yet, because of her faith, not only pardoned, but exalted to the highest honor. Rahab was admitted among the people of God; she intermarried into a chief family of a chief tribe, and found a place among the best remembered ancestors of King David and of Christ; thus receiving the temporal blessings of the covenant in largest measure. The spies would of course betake themselves to such a house in Jericho as they could visit without exciting suspicion; and the situation of Rahab‘s, upon the wall Joshua 2:15, rendered it especially suitable. It appears from Joshua 2:4 that Rahab hid them before the King‘s messengers reached her house, and probably as soon as the spies had come to her house. It is therefore most likely that they met with Rahab outside of Jericho (compare Genesis 38:14), and ascertained where in the city she dwelt, and that they might entrust themselves to her care. Rahab (i. e. “spacious,” “wide.” Compare the name “Japheth” and Genesis 9:27, note) is regarded by the fathers as a type of the Christian Church, which was gathered out of converts from the whole vast circle of pagan nations.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-2.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men,.... Or "had sent"F16וישלח "miserat", Vatablus, Masius, Drusius. ; for this was done before the above order to depart: it is a tradition of the JewsF17Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2. , that they were Caleb and Phinehas; but they were not young men, as in Joshua 6:23; especially the former; nor is it probable that men of such rank and figure should be sent, but rather meaner persons; yet such as were men of good sense and abilities, and capable of conducting such an affair they were sent about, as well as men of probity and faithfulness; two good men, Kimchi says they were, and not as they that went on the mission of Moses; these were sent from Shittim, the same with Abelshittim, in the plains of Moab, where Israel now lay encamped, Numbers 33:49, which JosephusF18Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 2. calls Abila, and says it was sixty furlongs, or seven miles and better, from Jordan:

to spy secretly; or "silently"F19חרש "silentio", Montanus, Munster; so Kimchi and Ben Melech. ; not so much with respect to the inhabitants of the land, for it is supposed in all spies, that they do their business in the most private and secret manner, so as not to be discovered by the inhabitants, whose land they are sent to spy; but with respect to the children of Israel, that they might know nothing of it, lest they should be discouraged, thinking that Joshua was in some fear of the Canaanites, and under some distrust of the promise of God to give the land to them: the word for "smiths", and also for persons deaf and dumb, coming from the same root, have furnished the Jewish writers with various conceits, as that these spies went in the habit of smiths with the instruments of their business in their hands; or acted as deaf and dumb persons, and so as incapable of giving an account of themselves, or of answering to any questions put to them, should they be taken up and examined; their commentators in general take notice of this:

saying, go view the land, even Jericho; especially Jericho, so NoldiusF20P. 277. ; the land in general, and Jericho in particular, because it was a great city, as Kimchi notes; of this city; see Gill on Luke 19:4. Whether it had its name from the sweetsmelling balsam which grew in plenty about it, or from the form of it, being that of an half moon, is not certain, StraboF21Geograph. l. 16. p. 525. says of it, that here was a paradise of balsam, an aromatic, and that it was surrounded with hills in a plain, which bent to it like an amphitheatre. They were not sent to spy the land, as the spies in the times of Moses, to see what sort of land it was, and what sort of people dwelt in it; but to reconnoitre it, to know where it was best to lead the people at first, and encamp; and particularly to observe the passes and avenues leading to Jericho, the first city in it, nearest to them, of importance. Ben Gersom thinks it was to spy or pick out the thoughts of the inhabitants of the land, what apprehensions they had of the people of Israel, whether disheartened and dispirited at their near approach, and what were their intentions, resolutions, and preparations to act against them, offensively, or defensively; and which seems not amiss, since this was the chief information they got, and which they reported to Joshua upon their return; though Abarbinel objects to it as a thing impossible:

and they went, and came into a harlot's house, named Rahab; they went from Shittim, and crossed the river Jordan, by swimming or fording, and came to Jericho; which, as JosephusF23 says, was fifty furlongs, or seven miles and a half, from Jordan; and they went into a harlot's house, not purposely for that reason, because it was such an one, but so it proved eventually; though the Targum of Jonathan says it was the house of a woman, an innkeeper or victualler; for Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret the word it uses of a seller of foodF24And so R. Sol. Urbin. Obel Moed, fol. 24. 1. ; and if so, it furnishes out a reason why they turned in thither, where they might expect to have food and lodging; though the Jews commonly take her to be a harlot; and generally speaking, in those times and countries, such as kept public houses were prostitutes; and there are some circumstances which seem to confirm this in the context; and so the Greek version calls her, and is the character given of her in the New Testament: her name was Rahab, of whom the Jews have this traditionF25, that she was ten years of age when Israel came out of Egypt; that she played the harlot the forty years they were in the wilderness, became the wife of Joshua, who had daughters by her, from whom came eight prophets, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Maasia, Hanameel, Shallum, Baruch, the son of Neriah, Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, and some say Huldah the prophetess; but the truth is, she married Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah; see Gill on Matthew 1:5,

and lodged there; that is, they went thither in order to lodge.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of a Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

(a) Which was in the plain of Moab near Jordan.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Joshua 2:1-7. Rahab receives and conceals the two spies.

Joshua  …  sent  …  two men to spy secretly — Faith is manifested by an active, persevering use of means (James 2:22); and accordingly Joshua, while confident in the accomplishment of the divine promise (Joshua 1:3), adopted every precaution which a skilful general could think of to render his first attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful. Two spies were dispatched to reconnoiter the country, particularly in the neighborhood of Jericho; for in the prospect of investing that place, it was desirable to obtain full information as to its site, its approaches, the character, and resources of its inhabitants. This mission required the strictest privacy, and it seems to have been studiously concealed from the knowledge of the Israelites themselves, test any unfavorable or exaggerated report, publicly circulated, might have dispirited the people, as that of the spies did in the days of Moses.

Jericho — Some derive this name from a word signifying “new moon,” in reference to the crescent-like plain in which it stood, formed by an amphitheater of hills; others from a word signifying “its scent,” on account of the fragrance of the balsam and palm trees in which it was embosomed. Its site was long supposed to be represented by the small mud-walled hamlet Er-Riha; but recent researches have fixed on a spot about half an hour‘s journey westward, where large ruins exist about six or eight miles distant from the Jordan. It was for that age a strongly fortified town, the key of the eastern pass through the deep ravine, now called Wady-Kelt, into the interior of Palestine.

they  …  came into an harlot‘s house — Many expositors, desirous of removing the stigma of this name from an ancestress of the Saviour (Matthew 1:5), have called her a hostess or tavern keeper. But Scriptural usage (Leviticus 21:7-14; Deuteronomy 23:18; Judges 11:1; 1 Kings 3:16), the authority of the Septuagint, followed by the apostles (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25), and the immemorial style of Eastern khans, which are never kept by women, establish the propriety of the term employed in our version. Her house was probably recommended to the spies by the convenience of its situation, without any knowledge of the character of the inmates. But a divine influence directed them in the choice of that lodging-place.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-2.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Two Spies Sent Over to Jericho. - Joshua 2:1. Although Joshua had received a promise from the Lord of His almighty help in the conquest of Canaan, he still thought it necessary to do what was requisite on his part to secure the success of the work committed to him, as the help of God does not preclude human action, but rather presupposes it. He therefore sent two men out secretly as spies from Shittim the place of encampment at that time (see at Numbers 25:1), to view, i.e., explore, the land, especially Jericho, the strongly fortified frontier town of Canaan (Joshua 6:1). The word “ secretly ” is connected by the accents with “ saying,” giving them their instructions secretly; but this implies that they were also sent out secretly. This was done partly in order that the Canaanites might not hear of it, and partly in order that, if the report should prove unfavourable, the people might not be thrown into despair, as they had been before in the time of Moses. The spies proceeded to Jericho, and towards evening they entered the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there, lit . laid themselves down, intended to remain or sleep there. Jericho was two hours' journey to the west of the Jordan, situated in a plain that was formerly very fertile, and celebrated for its palm trees and balsam shrubs, but which is now quite desolate and barren. This plain is encircled on the western side by a naked and barren range of mountains, which stretches as far as Beisan towards the north and to the Dead Sea on the south. Every trace of the town has long since passed away, though it evidently stood somewhere near, and probably on the northern side of, the miserable and dirty village of Rמha, by the Wady Kelt (see Robinson, Pal. ii. pp. 279ff., 289ff.; v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 206ff.). Rahab is called a zonah , i.e., a harlot, not an innkeeper, as Josephus, the Chaldee version, and the Rabbins render the word. Their entering the house of such a person would not excite so much suspicion. Moreover, the situation of her house against or upon the town wall was one which facilitated escape. But the Lord so guided the course of the spies, that they found in this sinner the very person who was the most suitable for their purpose, and upon whose heart the tidings of the miracles wrought by the living God on behalf of Israel had made such an impression, that she not only informed the spies of the despondency of the Canaanites, but, with believing trust in the power of the God of Israel, concealed the spies from all the inquiries of her countrymen, though at the greatest risk to herself.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/joshua-2.html. 1854-1889.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This Chapter contains that memorable history which is handed down to gospel times, with such honourable testimony of the harlot Rahab. Joshua having sent spies from Shittim to Jericho, Rahab in faith received them into her house, concealed them, and before she sent them away in peace made a league with Israel through them, for her own personal safety and that of her family. The return of the spies to Joshua, with the assurance they gave of the certainty of their success in the conquering of the country, from what they had seen and heard, is also related in this Chapter.

Joshua 2:1

The dismission of these spies was not from any distrust, but rather a conviction, that the Lord would deliver Jericho into the hand of his people. Joshua sent those men that they might be convinced even before the victory, what the Lord would do. Joshua's conduct here was similar to that of John the Baptist, sending his disciples unto Christ, not for his conviction but for theirs. Matthew 11:2-3. Their coming to the house of Rahab, surely was from the over-ruling power of God. That promise is never to be lost sight of: I will bring the blind by a way they know not. Isaiah 42:16. See also Proverbs 3:6. Jericho was about seven or eight miles from the water side. We are not told how those spies got over Jordan. No doubt the Lord that was with them made their way prosperous.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-2.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Sent — Or, had sent: Two men - Not twelve, as Moses did, because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it.

To spy — That is, to learn the state of the land and people. It is evident Joshua did not this out of distrust; it is probable, he had God's command and direction in it for the encouragement of himself and his army.

Secretly — With reference not to his enemies, that being the practice of all spies, but to the Israelites; a good caution to prevent the inconveniency which possibly might have arisen, if their report had been discouraging.

Jericho — That is, the land about Jericho, together with the city. Heb. The land and Jericho, that is, especially Jericho.

Harlot's — So the Hebrew word is used, Judges 11:1, and so it is rendered by two apostles, Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25, such she either now was, or rather, had been formerly.

Lodged — Or, lay down; as the same word is rendered, Joshua 2:8, composed themselves to rest; but they were hindered from that intention.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-2.html. 1765.

(2:1 - 5:15) Вступление в землю обетованную. В этой части повествования показывается, как Господь Своей всемогущей рукой ввел Израиль в землю обетованную и как народ был духовно подготовлен к предстоящим сражениям.

(2:1-24)Соглядатаи докладывают: «Ханаан обречен на поражение». Соглядатаи были отправлены Иисусом для того, чтобы с их помощью выработать стратегию предстоящей военной кампании. Но главной их заслугой стало сообщение о явной духовной неготовности Ханаана к сопротивлению.

(2:1)Иисус посылает соглядатаев. Название Ситтим (дословно «тернистый») предполагает суровые природные условия.

Вероятно, чтобы не привлекать к себе внимание, соглядатаи, которых Иисус отправил тайно, вошли в дом обычной блудницы, ведь у нее было много посетителей. Обратите внимание, несмотря на то, что еврейское слово прочитывается как «ночевать», а не «остаться», рассказчик подчеркивает, что они пришли не к ней (1), хотя именно с этим намерением ходили к Раав мужчины Иерихона. Тот же глагол, переведенный как «легли спать», в стихе 8 не несет сексуального подтекста. Совершенно очевидно, что автор имел намерение подчеркнуть, что никаких интимных отношений у лазутчиков с Раав не было.

 

 

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A NOTABLE WOMAN

‘An harlot … named Rahab.’

Joshua 2:1

We are to travel back into that remote past in order to study a woman who holds a unique place in Bible history, one whose story is a romance, and whose character is an enigma. The facts are sufficiently distinct to make a complete narrative, but we may be pardoned if we admit a certain element of conjecture to fill in an occasional gap; and it is almost inevitable that a modern writer should draw certain inferences which a Biblical writer never thought of expressing. The Fathers treated these characters and stories as types of the Gospel; we are tempted to treat them as examples—singularly typical examples—of human character.

I. If we assume that the Psalmist (Psalms 87) meant by Rahab the same woman whom the Epistle to the Hebrews celebrates in its roll of the martyrs of faith, how appropriate and beautiful it would be! Here is the first convert to the congregation of the Lord from the licentious heathen world. Here is a brand plucked from the burning indeed. Here is the first suggestion of our Lord’s eternal truth that the publicans and harlots may enter the kingdom of heaven. She, if ever man or woman was, has been born in the mystical Zion. She is the pivot on which the Canaan of unnameable abominations, the Canaan exposed to the curse, and blotted from the face of the earth, becomes the Canaan of the promise, the land of the world’s desire, the symbol of the heavens.

With our eyes fixed on Rahab the harlot, hope springs in our hearts for all the lost and outcast world. Surely nowhere has God left Himself without a witness. The heathen may be turned unto Him, for even in such polluted hearts the cry after Him is not silenced, the possibility of faith and love is not quenched. And with this notable example of a woman rescued from shame to become the noble mother of the world’s salvation, we have an impressive command of God to revise our hasty and pharisaical judgments about the forlorn sisterhood of fallen women.

II. We cannot, of course, argue from the tone of the Old Testament in touching upon what we call the ‘social evil,’ to any Divine condonation of it; for moral ideas are the growth of the ages and of broadening revelation. The profession of Rahab is mentioned without comment of praise or blame. It is assumed as part of the constitution of society, but not condemned. There is no hint of surprise in the ancient author that such a woman should be susceptible of religious aspirations, the one potential follower of Jehovah in the corrupted land. While polygamy was recognised even for patriarchs and chosen kings, while men like Judah—a very noble type of man—could commit what the New Testament denounces as a sin without a twinge of conscience, and while the right of a woman to her own soul was not yet admitted, it was inevitable that men should treat lightly the sin which, in the light of Christ, we have learnt to regard with repugnance. But it is that very light of Christ itself which shows that the form which our repugnance takes is unjust, selfish, and uncharitable. No one is so severe as He upon impurity. It is He who has taught us to aim at purity of thought and intention, and to regard impurity in the heart as equivalent to impurity in act. It is His Spirit that fills us all with a holy horror of the unclean books and papers, the alluring sights and suggestions, the inward passions and desires which are the first movements towards the vice which we call in a special sense immorality. It is fallen man that is severe on fallen woman. It is unfallen man that is stern to fallen man. Christ in His utter purity allowed the harlots to approach Him, and to love Him. And the seven devils went out of them at His touch, and they were pure as in the days of their childhood. And if we read the story of Rahab with the eyes of Christ we may possibly arrive at a somewhat startling conclusion. For almost every fallen woman some man is to blame; for the perpetuation of her fall and the trampling in the mire men are always to blame.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Rahab had no scruple in telling a lie. Probably there are even Christian women who would tell such a lie to save those whom they loved. We cannot therefore pause to censure this untruth in a Canaanitish woman of the thirteenth century b.c.; and we may lay aside at once the charge of treason against her country and her town, not only on the ground that such a woman is a kind of outcast from her own society, but also because she was supernaturally convinced that the doom of her country was sealed, and her only hope lay in the direction of saving her own beloved family. She unblushingly assured the officers that the two men who lay concealed on her house-roof had gone out just before the city-gate was closed, and could be overtaken by a rapid pursuit.’

(2) ‘It might be asked, was not Rahab a very sinful woman? Yes. Did she not lie to the king of Jericho? Yes. How then could such a one be saved? She was saved by faith, not by her own righteousness. God saved her, not because she was good, but that she might become so. It is not to be supposed from Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 that God commended Rahab’s falsehood any more than he commends her other sins. These passages point out her real living faith, which was manifested by her works which followed. In the same way the thief on the cross was saved by faith, and not by works; and he abundantly proved the reality of his faith by his works which followed—namely, confession of his own guilt, public confession of faith in Christ’s power to save, his fear of God, rebuking sin, etc., all seen in his few words as he hung on the cross.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/joshua-2.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Ver. 1. And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim.] Where the people then encamped, [Numbers 33:49] and where the Midianites sometime, by the counsel of Balaam, Satan’s spell man, outwitted the Israelites by setting fair women before them, who soon drew them into those two sister sins, idolatry and adultery. [Numbers 25:1-2; Numbers 25:18]

Two men.] Not twelve, as Numbers 13:2-3, for those were too many by ten; and did much harm among the people.

To spy secretly.] Heb., Silently. Silence is oft no small virtue; and he is a rare man who can both keep and give counsel.

Go view the land.] Of which though God had promised to possess them, yet Joshua knew that means was to be used. So 2 Samuel 5:24. David had a promise of victory over the Philistines; but yet so as that he must fetch a compass behind them; and when he heard "the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberries," then he was to bestir himself.

Into a harlot’s house.] Or, Hostess, as some render it; but such as stuck not familiarly to entertain strangers. [Hebrews 11:31 James 2:25] Upon her conversion she was advanced to become grandmother to Jesus Christ; who by his purity washeth off all our spots; like as the sun washeth and wipeth away all the ill vapours of the earth and air.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 1. And Joshua—sent—two men to spy, &c.— Or had sent, as the Margin of our Bibles more properly renders it. Joshua had certainly sent the spies to Jericho before he issued in the camp the order mentioned ver. 10, 11 of the former chapter. This supposition removes every difficulty that can arise in this history with respect to the order of time, and clears up the 22nd verse of the present chapter. Moses had succeeded so indifferently in sending spies before to discover the land of Canaan, that it is surprising, at first view, that Joshua should venture to recur to this method. But, not to mention that he might be determined to it of his own mind, or perhaps by the express commands of God, without any solicitation on the part of the people, it appears, that he sent these two spies secretly, and that to him only they reported the success of their commission. As an able general, prudence required that Joshua should gain a knowledge of the place which he purposed to attack: his confidence in the divine promises did not exclude a diligent and judicious employment of such second causes as might favour the success of his enterprize. We would, therefore, translate the beginning of the verse in this manner: And Joshua, the son of Nun, had secretly sent out of Shittim two men to espy, and had said, &c. See Houbigant. By the land which Joshua orders them to go and view, we are not to understand the whole land of Canaan, but the environs of Jericho: the city, its avenues, its situation, its fortifications, the troops defending it; in a word, every obstacle that he would have to surmount in order to make himself master of it. The city of Jericho, situated in a wide plain according to Josephus, was but about seven miles and a half distant from Jordan. Maundrel says, that he came from Jericho to the banks of Jordan in two hours; which answers pretty nearly to the former calculation.

And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab The doubtfulness of the term used by the sacred writer, to signify Rahab's mode of life, has divided interpreters. It may equally signify a hostess, and a prostitute. Onkelos takes it in the former sense, making Rahab to be the keeper of a public house, who received, victualled, and lodged strangers. Josephus, and several rabbis, are of the same opinion, which has also its partizans among Christians. St. Chrysostom, in his second sermon upon Repentance, twice calls this woman a hostess. It does not appear by the text, say some, that she followed any other trade; and it is improbable, that Salmon, who was one of the chief heads of the house of Judah, and was one of the ancestors of the Messiah, would have married her had she been a prostitute. And yet it must be owned, the greatest probabilities, in this particular, are against Rahab. The Hebrew word zonah constantly implies a prostitute. Thus the LXX understood it, and two apostles have approved of their version; see Hebrews 11:31. James 2:25 which they would not have done, considering her as a woman whose memory they ought to hold venerable, had they not been constrained by the laws of truth. Besides, it is observable, that, in this relation, Rahab says not a word of her husband or children, when she begs the life of her kinsfolks; which, considering the trade she carried on, must naturally render her suspected. We may add with Serrarius, that, perhaps, Rahab was one of those young women, who, in a religious view, devoted herself to impurity in the idol temples. The same critic supposes the moon to have been the tutelary deity of Jericho. See Calmet, and Leviticus 21:7.

And lodged there Supposing Rahab to have actually lived in an irreproachable manner, it is nothing surprising to see the spies sent by Joshua on this discovery come by night to lodge at her inn. Whatever were her modes of life, her house was the most favourable place for the execution of their design. And it is sufficiently evident, from reading the sequel of this history, that God himself conducted them thither by a special direction of his providence.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-2.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

JOSHUA CHAPTER 2

Joshua sends two spies to Jericho; they are sought after; Rahab hides them; deceives the messengers, Joshua 2:1-7. She acknowledges that God had given them the land; her reasons, Joshua 2:8-11. The covenant between her and them, Joshua 2:12-21. Their return and relation, Joshua 2:22-24.

Sent; or, had sent, as that tense is oft used. See Poole "Joshua 1:11".

Shittim; called also Abel-shittim, Numbers 33:49.

Two men; not twelve, as Moses did, partly because the people of Canaan were now more alarmed than in Moses’s time, and more suspicious of all strangers; and partly because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it.

To spy, i.e. to learn the state of the land and people, and what way and method they should proceed in. It is evident enough that Joshmi did not this out of distrust, as the people did, Deu 1; and it is most probable he had God’s command and direction in it, for the encouragement of himself and his army in their present enterprise.

Secretly; with reference not to his enemies, which being the constant and necessary practice of all spies, was needless to be mentioned; but to the Israelites, without their knowledge or desire. And this seems added by way of opposition unto the like action, Deu 1, where it was done with the people’s privity, and upon their motion; and therefore an account was given, not only to Moses, but also to the congregation; whereas here it was given to Joshua only, Joshua 2:23, which was a good caution to prevent the inconveniency which possibly might have arisen, if their report had been doubtful or discouraging.

The land, even Jericho, i.e. the land about Jericho, together with the city. Heb. the land and Jericho, i.e. especially Jericho. So and is used 2 Samuel 2:30 1 Kings 11:1 Psalms 18:1. They obeyed Joshua’s command, even with the hazard of their own lives, considering that they were under the protection of Divine Providence, which could very easily many ways secure them; or being willing to sacrifice their lives in their country’s service.

An harlot’s house; so the Hebrew word is used, Jude 11:1 16:1 1 Kings 3:16 Ezekiel 23:44 and so it is rendered by two apostles, Hebrews 11:31 James 2:25; such she either now was, or formerly had been; and such a person’s house they might come to with less observation than to an hostess, as some render it, or to a public victualling-house. And such a course of life was very common among the Gentiles, who esteemed fornication to be either no sin, or a very small and trivial one.

Lodged there, or, lay down, as the same word, is rendered, Joshua 2:8, intended and composed themselves to rest; but they were disturbed and hindered from their intentions upon the following discovery.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-2.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Chapter 2. The Spies in Jericho.

This chapter gives an account of the spies sent by Joshua to Jericho, and of their entrance into the house of Rahab, who hid them from the king's messengers. It describes her account of the fear and dread of Israel that had fallen on the Canaanites, and of the request she made to them, to save her and her father's house, when the city should be taken. She asked for a sure sign of it to be given to her. The spies solemnly promised to honour her request, and gave her a sign by which she could ensure her safety, and with a charge for her not to tell anyone, were let down by a rope from the window of her house, which was on the outer wall, from where they made their escape to a mountain, where they waited a day or so, and then returned to Joshua, and made their report.

Joshua 2:1 a

‘And Joshua, the son of Nun, sent out of Shittim two men as spies secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” ’

These would be trained fighting men experienced at scouting. They were also young men (Joshua 6:23). The aim was to cross the Jordan, probably by swimming it (compare 1 Chronicles 12:15), and survey the land with a view to planning strategy, reconnoitring for camping places and seeking to find out what they could about Jericho. Their hope was probably to slip into Jericho without being spotted, for they did not realise that Jericho was already very much aware of the Israelite army across the Jordan.

Shittim was elsewhere called Abel-shittim (Numbers 33:49), which probably means ‘the stream of the acacias’. Shittim means ‘the acacia trees’. Josephus later spoke of an Abila in the area which was possibly the same place, probably located at Tel el-Hamman, although others prefer Tel el-Kefrein. It was about sixteen kilometres (ten miles) from the probable crossing point.

“As spies secretly.” That is without letting their own people know. He did not want to spread alarm among his own people or let them think he was afraid. Joshua wanted the spies to then report back directly to him. He was aware of the danger of the people getting the wrong impression and remembered what had happened thirty eight years previously when spies had been sent out.

Jericho was actually a fairly small city with less than two thousand inhabitants, but because it guarded the way into the land and was on its mound it must have appeared larger than it was, and a major problem was going to be breaching its walls. The Israelites were not skilled in siege warfare. Its name probably connects it with an early western Semitic moon god called Yarich. It was also known as ‘the city of palm trees’, being near an abundant spring and oasis, an important position in the hot tropical climate of the Jordan Rift, well below sea level. The main problem archaeologically speaking is that after its capture by Joshua it was not rebuilt as a city, largely because of the curse that he put on it, for over four hundred years. Thus what remained was subject to constant weather erosion and scavengers over a period of four hundred or more years. Not much evidence was likely to remain.

Joshua 2:1 b

‘And they went, and came into a prostitute’s house, whose name was Rahab, and lay (or ‘slept’) there.’

They may have met her in the square by the gate, or she may have had a sign of some kind on her house. For Rahab probably acted also as the equivalent of an innkeeper, offering beds to strangers and general ‘services’ to all. Such places were always a source of vital information. In the Code of Hammurabi the death sentence was declared against any innkeeper who failed to apprehend ‘rogues’ and hand them over to the authorities, because it was recognised that that was where such people gathered. A similar law may well have applied here.

The word for ‘prostitute’ can also signify a cult prostitute (see Ezekiel 16:15-16; Hosea 4:14; Hosea 9:1; Micah 1:7), but probably not here.

“Lay (slept) there.” This may simply mean booked accommodation, or that they rested, or it may refer to them going to sleep after sunset.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-2.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1.Sent out — Some render had sent, as in the margin, and suppose that the spies had been sent out some days before the events of the last chapter. But the vav consecutive with which this verse begins (וישׁלח ) is properly rendered Then sent Joshua, etc., and a pluperfect rendering will not materially relieve the difficulty stated in Joshua 1:11. “Even if the spies had been despatched before the events narrated in Joshua 1:10-18, it would not be grammatically correct to render וישׁלח as a pluperfect; and much less is this allowable if such a supposition be unfounded.” — Keil. ]

Shittim — The plain of acacia shrubs at the foot of the mountains on the eastern side of the Jordan, directly opposite Jericho, in which Moses had last pitched the Israelitish camp. Numbers 25:1; Numbers 33:49.

Secretly — The Masoretic conjunctive accent connects this word with saying, rather than with to spy, as is done in the English version; but the word is best understood as qualifying Joshua’s whole procedure. He communicated his orders to the two men, and also sent them out secretly in order to avoid betrayal by any evil-minded person in his own camp. All spying necessarily involves secrecy, and in this case the perilous business was a military necessity. An unexplored land was before them, and the number and spirit of the enemy, and his military preparations and plans, were utterly unknown to Joshua. Faith always uses means.

Even Jericho — The command may be better rendered. Go view the land, and particularly Jericho. This ancient town, (called also the “City of Palm Trees,”) was situated in a plain of the same name about six miles west of the Jordan, near where it enters into the Dead Sea, and about nineteen miles northeast of Jerusalem. It was a walled city, rich and populous, having commerce with Babylon and the far East. According to Stanley it was the only important town in the Jordan valley, and its situation must always have rendered its occupation necessary to any invader from the east. “It was the key of western Palestine, as standing at the entrance of the two main passes into the central mountains. From the issues of the torrent Kelt, on the south, to the copious spring, afterwards called the ‘Fountain of Elisha,’ on the north, the ancient city ran along the base of the mountains, and thus commanded the oasis of the desert valley, the garden of verdure, which clustering around these waters has, through the various stages of its long existence, secured its prosperity and grandeur.” The modern village Rihah is, by some travellers, identified with ancient Jericho, and is described by Dr. Olin as one of the meanest and foulest of Palestine, containing about forty houses, with a sickly, indolent, and vicious population.

Came into a harlot’s house — [Literally, into the house of a woman, a harlot. Their entrance into such a house would excite less suspicion, and, her house being upon the wall, (Joshua 2:15,) their escape from the city in case of necessity would be more easy. Knobel supposes that, as it was evening twilight when the spies reached Jericho, the time when harlots were wont to walk the streets, (Job 24:15; Proverbs 7:9; Isaiah xxiii, 16,) they met with Rahab at some corner and followed her to her house.] Josephus and other Jewish writers, and also some Christian commentators, unwilling to believe that these spies, intrusted with such a responsible mission, would have gone to a harlot’s house, or that Rahab, who married Salmon and became an ancestress of our Lord, and is commended by an apostle, could have been a woman of ill-fame, maintain that she was not a harlot, but a hostess or inn-keeper. But the Hebrew word זונה means always, elsewhere, a harlot, and is so rendered in the Septuagint and Vulgate. Also in the New Testament she is called emphatically the harlot, η πορνη, (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25.) And not only on philological grounds is the rendering hostess untenable, but oriental customs are against such an interpretation. In the east there are no proper inns, but as a kind of substitute there are khans or caravansaries (See note and cut at Luke 2:7.) It would have been a thing without parallel in that land for a single woman, or even a man, to be found keeping a public house. Rahab was probably unmarried; for though she had father and mother, brothers and sisters, (Joshua 2:13,) there is no hint that she had husband or child, and it is notorious that in the east rarely any but disreputable women remain single. On her falsehoods and her faith, see note on Joshua 2:5,

Lodged there —Rather, they lay down there. Joshua 2:8 shows that they ascended the house top to pass the night there.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-2.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The two men sent out as spies were young (cf. Joshua 6:23). Joshua sent them out secretly (cf. Joshua 7:2). He did not want a recurrence of the Kadesh Barnea rebellion ( Numbers 13-14).

"He had learned by experience that spy reports should be brought to the leaders only, for the people did not have sufficient orientation or experience to properly evaluate such a report." [Note: Davis and Whitcomb, p33.]

Their mission was to explore the area Israel would enter, especially Jericho. Jericho is possibly the lowest city on earth, lying about750 feet below sea level. [Note: See The New Bible Dictionary, 1962ed, s.v. "Jericho," by Kenneth A. Kitchen.] Their object was to determine when and how to attack, not whether to attack.

"Sending out men for reconnaissance was a widespread phenomenon in the east. Moreover, a prostitute"s or innkeeper"s house was the accustomed place for meeting with spies, conspirators, and the like. Thus, for example, we read in Hammurabi"s Code: "If scoundrels plot together [in conspiratorial relationships] in an innkeeper"s house, and she does not seize them and bring them to the palace, that innkeeper shall be put to death" (law 109). In a Mari letter we read about two men who sow fear and panic and cause rebellion in an army. Also, the pattern of a three-day stay in an area when pursuing escapees has support in ancient eastern sources; for example the instructions to the Hittite tower commanders specify that if an enemy invades a place he must be pursued for three days. In the same collection of instructions we find that it is forbidden to build an inn (arzana) in which prostitutes live near the fortress wall, apparently because of the kind of danger described in Joshua 2." [Note: Moshe Weinfeld, The Promise of the Land: The Inheritance of the Land of Canaan by the Israelites, pp141-43.]

Jericho was not a large city, but it had strong fortifications and a strategic location on the eastern frontier of Canaan. It lay just a few miles west of the Jordan River in the Jordan Valley. If the Israelites were to gain a foothold in Canaan, they would have to defeat Jericho.

The spies probably stayed at Rahab"s house because they hoped to be less conspicuous there than they would have been if they had lodged elsewhere. [Note: See Butler, pp31-32, for a discussion of the many instances of irony in this chapter.] Josephus called Rahab an innkeeper, which she may have been. [Note: Josephus, 5:1:2, 7. See also Hess, pp83-84; and M. A. Beek, "Rahab in the Light of Jewish Exegesis," in Von Kanaan bis Kerala, pp37-44. Bush, pp31-32, strongly rejected this possibility.] The writer recorded Rahab"s name because she became an important person in Israel"s history. She was an ancestor of David as well as Israel"s helper on this occasion (cf. Matthew 1:5).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-2.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 2:1. And Joshua sent — Or, had sent, before the directions mentioned in the preceding chapter (Joshua 2:10-11,) were given to the officers. This best agrees with Joshua 2:22 of this chapter, and the rest of the narrative. Two men — Not twelve, as Moses did, because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it. To spy — That is, to learn the state of the land and people. It is evident Joshua did not this out of distrust; it is probable he had God’s command and direction in it, for the encouragement of himself and his army. Secretly — With reference not to his enemies, that being the practice of all spies, but to the Israelites; a good caution to prevent the inconvenience which possibly might have arisen if their report had been discouraging. Jericho — That is, the land about Jericho, together with the city. Hebrew, the land and Jericho; that is, especially Jericho. A harlot’s house — Although the Hebrew word זונה, zonah, here rendered harlot, does also sometimes signify an innkeeper, or one who sells provisions; yet, as the former is certainly the common meaning of the term, and the sense in which it must frequently be necessarily taken, (see Genesis 34:31; 11:1; Hosea 1:2,) and as Rahab is called a harlot by two apostles, (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25,) who use an expression of no such equivocal meaning, it seems evident she had once been a harlot, though undoubtedly was now reformed. They lodged there — Or, lay down, as the same word is rendered Joshua 2:8, composed themselves to rest, but they were hindered from that intention.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-2.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Joshua. He had been one of the twelve spies himself. Numbers 13:8, Numbers 13:16.

sent = had sent. See Joshua 1:11. Compare Joshua 1:2.

men. Hebrew, plural of ish or enosh. See App-14.

view, Some codices, with one early printed edition, Septuagint, and Vulgate, read "and view".

Jericho. In Num. eleven times Yerecho. Here Yericho. Showing difference of authorship.

came. The Septuagint preserves the primitive text by adding "to Jericho and came". Omitted by Figure of speech Homuotelenton. See App-6.

harlot"s. Word to be taken in usual sense.

Rahab. See Matthew 1:5. Hebrews 11:31. James 2:25.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly. Faith is manifested by an active persevering use of means (James 2:22.); and accordingly Joshua, while confiding in the accomplishment of the divine promise (Joshua 1:3), adopted every precaution which a skillful general could think of to render his first attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful. Two spies were despatched to reconnoitre the country, particularly in the neighbourhood of Jericho; for, in the prospect of investing that place, it was desirable to obtain full information as to its site, its approaches, the weak and assailable parts of its walls, the character and resources of its inhabitants. This mission, which in many respects was a perilous onethey had to swim across the swollen river, required the strictest privacy, and it seems to have been studiously concealed from the knowledge of the Israelites themselves, lest any unfavourable or exaggerated report, publicly circulated, might have dispirited the people, as that of the spies did in the days of Moses.

Jericho, [ Y

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-2.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were.—A falsehood which evidently left no stain on Rahab’s conscience, although all falsehood is sin. The same may be said of Jael’s slaying Sisera. The Divine standard of sin and holiness never varies; but the standard of man’s conscience, even when faith is a dominant principle in the character, may vary to a very considerable degree. In Jesus Christ “all that believe are justified from all things;” but “by the deeds of the law no one. Here, as elsewhere, the application of the law only brings the discovery of sin.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
sent
or, had sent. Shittim.
Numbers 25:1; 33:49
to spy secretly
Numbers 13:2,17-21; Judges 18:2,14,17; Matthew 10:16; Ephesians 5:5
even Jericho
5:10; 6:1-24
harlot's house
Though the word zonah generally denotes a prostitute, yet many very learned men are of opinion that it should be here rendered an innkeeper or hostess, from zoon, to furnish or provide food. In this sense it was understood by the Targumist, who renders it, ittetha pundekeetha, "a woman, a tavern-keeper," and so St. Chrysostome, in his second sermon on Repentance, calls her [pandokeutria.] The Greek [porné] by which the LXX. render it, and which is adopted by the Apostles, is derived from [pernaó] to sell, and is also supposed to denote a tavern keeper. Among the ancients, women generally kept houses of entertainment. Herodotus says, "Among the Egyptians, the women carry on all commercial concerns, and keep taverns, while the men continue at home and weave." The same custom prevailed among the Greeks.
6:17,25; Matthew 1:5
Rachab
21:31; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25
lodged
Heb. lay.
Reciprocal: Genesis 42:9 - Ye are spies;  Deuteronomy 1:24 - GeneralJoshua 3:1 - Shittim;  Joshua 6:22 - Joshua;  Joshua 7:2 - Go up;  Joshua 18:12 - Jericho;  Joshua 18:21 - Jericho;  Judges 1:23 - sent;  Judges 11:1 - an harlot;  1 Samuel 26:4 - General1 Kings 3:16 - two women;  1 Chronicles 19:3 - to search;  Luke 7:19 - two;  Luke 19:1 - Jericho

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-2.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.And Joshua the son of Nun sent, etc. The object of the exploration now in question was different from the former one, when Joshua was sent with other eleven to survey all the districts of the land, and bring back information to the whole people concerning its position, nature, fertility, and other properties, the magnitude and number of the cities, the inhabitants, and their manners. The present object was to dispose those who might be inclined to be sluggish, to engage with more alacrity in the campaign. And though it appears from the first chapter of Deuteronomy, (Deuteronomy 1:22,) that Moses, at the request of the people, sent chosen men to spy out the land, he elsewhere relates (Numbers 13:4) that he did it by command from God. Those twelve, therefore, set out divinely commissioned, and for a somewhat different purpose, viz., to make a thorough survey of the land, and be the heralds of its excellence to stir up the courage of the people.

Now Joshua secretly sends two persons to ascertain whether or not a free passage may be had over the Jordan, whether the citizens of Jericho were indulging in security, or whether they were alert and prepared to resist. In short, he sends spies on whose report he may provide against all dangers. Wherefore a twofold question may be here raised — Are we to approve of his prudence? or are we to condemn him for excessive anxiety, especially as he seems to have trusted more than was right to his own prudence, when, without consulting God, he was so careful in taking precautions against danger? But, inasmuch as it is not expressly said that he received a message from heaven to order the people to collect their vessels and to publish his proclamation concerning the passage of the Jordan, although it is perfectly obvious that he never would have thought of moving the camp unless God had ordered it, it is also probable that in sending the spies he consulted God as to his pleasure in the matter, or that God himself, knowing how much need there was of this additional confirmation, had spontaneously suggested it to the mind of his servant. Be this as it may, while Joshua commands his messengers to spy out Jericho, he is preparing to besiege it, and accordingly is desirous to ascertain in what direction it may be most easily and safely approached.

They came into a harlot’s house, etc. Why some try to avoid the name harlot, and interpret זונה as meaning one who keeps an inn, I see not, unless it be that they think it disgraceful to be the guests of a courtesan, or wish to wipe off a stigma from a woman who not only received the messengers kindly, but secured their safety by singular courage and prudence. It is indeed a regular practice with the Rabbins, when they would consult for the honor of their nation, presumptuously to wrest Scripture and give a different turn by their fictions to anything that seems not quite reputable. (33) But the probability is, that while the messengers were courting secrecy, and shunning observation and all places of public intercourse, they came to a woman who dwelt in a retired spot. Her house was contiguous to the wall of the city, nay, its outer side was actually situated in the wall. From this we may infer that it was some obscure corner remote from the public thoroughfare; just as persons of her description usually live in narrow lanes and secret places. It cannot be supposed with any consistency to have been a common inn which was open to all indiscriminately, because they could not have felt at liberty to indulge in familiar intercourse, and it must have been difficult in such circumstances to obtain concealment.

My conclusion therefore is, that they obtained admission privily, and immediately betook themselves to a hiding-place. Moreover, in the fact that a woman who had gained a shameful livelihood by prostitution was shortly after admitted into the body of the chosen people, and became a member of the Church, we are furnished with a striking display of divine grace which could thus penetrate into a place of shame, and draw forth from it not only Rahab, but her father and the other members of her family. Most assuredly while the term זונה, almost invariably means harlot, there is nothing here to oblige us to depart from the received meaning.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-2.html. 1840-57.