Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 2:4

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   Falsehood;   Harlot (Prostitute);   Hospitality;   Reconnoissance;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Children;   Home;   Lying, Examples of;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Stories for Children;   Truth-Falsehood;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Rahab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Lie, Lying;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Rahab;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Architecture in the Biblical Period;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Hoshea;   Jericho;   Joshua;   Rahab;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jericho;   Rahab, Rachab ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Jericho;   Rahab;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Shittim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Jer'icho;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And hid them - Probably she secreted them for the time being in some private corner, till she had the opportunity of concealing them on the house-top in the manner mentioned Joshua 2:6.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I wist not whence they were - Rahab acted as she did from the belief in God‘s declared word, and conviction that resistance to His will would be both vain and wicked Joshua 2:9-11. Thus, she manifested a faith both sound and practical, and is praised accordingly Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25. The falsehood to which she had recourse may be excused by the pressure of circumstances and by her own antecedents, but cannot be defended.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "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 the woman took the two men,.... Or "she had taken" themF26ותפח "duxerat, tulerat"; so Syr. Ar. Kimchi, & Ben Melech. before the messengers came, upon a rumour she understood was gone abroad, that she had got Israelitish spies in her house, and so might expect to be visited and searched by the king's officers, and therefore took this precaution:

and hid them; the Hebrew word is singular, "him"F1ותצפנו "et abscondit eum", Montanus; "abdiderat eum", Vatablus. : hence the Jews, who take these two spies to be Caleb and Phinehas, say, that only Caleb was hid, and Phinehas, though he was before them, was not seen, being an angel, Malachi 2:7; but the sense is, that she hid each of them, and very probably singly and apart, that if one was found, the other might escape, as Ben Gersom observes; and Abarbinel is of opinion that she hid them twice, now in the middle of her house, one in one place, and the other in another, for the reason before given, and after this hid them in the roof of her house, as afterwards related:

and said thus, there came men unto me; that is, into her house, this she owned:

but I wist not whence they were; of what country they were, whether Israelites or not; which whether she knew or not is not certain; it is probable she did, and told an untruth, as she also did in Joshua 2:5.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-2.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:

And the woman — Or, But the woman had taken - and had hid them, before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours, that there was a suspicion of the matter, and guessed that search would be made. And this is justly mentioned as a great and generous act of faith, Hebrews 11:31, for she apparently ventured her life upon a steadfast persuasion of the truth of God's word and promise given to the Israelites.

Whence they were — Her answer contained in these and the following words, was false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; tho' her intention was good therein. But it is very probable, she being an Heathen, might think, that an officious lie is not unlawful.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-2.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 2:4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they [were]:

Ver. 4. And the woman took the two men, and hid them.] This was an act of her praiseworthy faith. See Hebrews 11:31, where it is honourably mentioned, but nothing is said of the lie she told. God layeth the finger of mercy on the scars of our sins; as that painter in the story.

But I wist not whence they were.] This was no better than an officious lie: yea, four lies she here uttereth together in a breath, - as Jacob also did three, [Genesis 27:19-24] - neither can she be excused. That was a worthy speech of a good woman on the rack, as Jerome relateth it, Non ideo negare volo ne peream: sed ideo mentiri nolo, ne peccem. But Rahab was yet but a new convert.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 4. And the woman took the two men, and hid them Or rather, as some versions have it, Now the woman had taken the two men, and had hidden them; having, without doubt, perceived the king's officers coming, or being informed of the search which was made at the time when, being already instructed by the two spies, she had conferred with them and given them assurances of her fidelity.

And said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were As if she had said, "My house is open to all: two men did come to lodge here; but I was not obliged to inform myself who they were, or whence they came; nor was it my business to inquire."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". 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

Or, But the woman had taken—and had hid them, to wit, before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours, or common rumour, that there was a suspicion of the matter, and guessed that search would be made. And this is justly mentioned as a great and generous act of faith, Hebrews 11:31, for she did apparently venture her life upon a stedfast persuasion of the truth of God’s word and promise given to the Israelites.

I wist not whence they were: her answer, contained in these and the following words, was palpably false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; howsoever, her intention was good therein: see Romans 3:8. But it is very probable, she being a heathen, might think, what some Christians have thought and said, that an officious lie is not unlawful. Or, at worst. this was her infirmity, which was graciously pardoned by God, and her faith was amply rewarded.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-2.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Hid them — Literally, hid him. Hebrew usage shows many such sudden transitions from plural to singular. Perhaps we may see in this instance an intimation of the haste with which she concealed the men, hiding one of them herself with the flax (Joshua 2:6) and leaving the other to cover himself. Some think she had taken the precaution to conceal the men before the king’s messengers arrived, and Joshua 2:6 seems to favor the supposition.

I wist not whence they were — Better, I knew not, for the verb wist is obsolete. Rahab could not safely deny that the men had entered her house, for other eyes than hers had seen them; but it is difficult to believe that she knew not whence they were. She may not, however, have had positive knowledge that they were spies.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-2.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 2:4. And the woman — Or, But the woman; had taken and hid them — Before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours that there was a suspicion of the matter, and guessed that search would be made. And this is justly mentioned as a great and generous act of faith, (Hebrews 11:31,) for she apparently ventured her life upon a steadfast persuasion of the truth of God’s word and promise given to the Israelites. Whence they were — Her answer, contained in these and the following words, was false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; though her intention was good therein. But it is very probable she, being a heathen, might think that an officious lie was not unlawful.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-2.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Hid, or "had hidden," as (ver. 6,) she had made the men retire before she spoke to the messengers, and probably before they came to demand them. As soon as she was informed of their design, she took all prudent precautions both for her own and their safety, as she could not have escaped death, if she had been discovered affording shelter to the enemies of her country. She felt herself authorized by God, on this occasion, to abandon those upon whom he had declared war, and who could have derived no benefit from the spies being betrayed to them. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-2.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

wist not. Anglo-Saxon for "knew not". It is this record that is inspired, not the act and words of Rahab.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "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 the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:

The woman took the two men and hid them - literally, him; i:e., each of them in separate places, of course previous to the appearance of the royal messengers, and in anticipation of a speedy search after her guests. True to the laws of hospitality, for which Orientals generally, and the women particularly, have ever been famous, she, at the imminent risk of her own life, protected her guests from their pursuers. According to Eastern manners, which pay an almost superstitious respect to a woman's apartment, the royal messengers did not demand admittance to search, but asked her to bring the foreigners.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-2.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:
Exodus 1:19; 2 Samuel 16:18,19; 17:19,20; 2 Kings 6:19
Reciprocal: Exodus 34:29 - wist;  Joshua 6:17 - because;  1 Samuel 27:10 - And David;  2 Samuel 17:17 - stayed;  Hebrews 11:31 - she had

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-2.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.And the woman took the two men, etc. We may presume that before Rahab was ordered to bring them forth the rumor of their arrival had been spread, and that thus some little time had been given for concealing them. (34) And indeed on receiving the king’s command, had not measures for concealment been well taken, there would have been no room for denial; much less would she have dared to lie so coolly. But after she had thus hidden her guests, as the search would have been difficult, she comes boldly forward and escapes by a crafty answer.

Now, the questions which here arise are, first, Was treachery to her country excusable? Secondly, Could her lie be free from fault? We know that the love of our country, which is as it were our common mother, has been implanted in us by nature. When, therefore, Rahab knew that the object intended was the overthrow of the city in which she had been born and brought up, it seems a detestable act of inhumanity to give her aid and counsel to the spies. It is a puerile evasion to say, that they were not yet avowed enemies, inasmuch as war had not been declared; since it is plain enough that they had conspired the destruction of her fellow-citizens. (35) It was therefore only the knowledge communicated to her mind by God which exempted her from fault, as having been set free from the common rule. Her faith is commended by two Apostles, who at the same time declare, (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25,) that the service which she rendered to the spies was acceptable to God.

It is not wonderful, then, that when the Lord condescended to transfer a foreign female to his people, and to engraft her into the body of the Church, he separated her from a profane and accursed nation. Therefore, although she had been bound to her countrymen up to that very day, yet when she was adopted into the body of the Church, her new condition was a kind of manumission from the common law by which citizens are bound toward each other. In short, in order to pass by faith to a new people, she behooved to renounce her countrymen. And as in this she only acquiesced in the judgment of God, there was no criminality in abandoning them. (36)

As to the falsehood, we must admit that though it was done for a good purpose, it was not free from fault. For those who hold what is called a dutiful lie (37) to be altogether excusable, do not sufficiently consider how precious truth is in the sight of God. Therefore, although our purpose, be to assist our brethren, to consult for their safety and relieve them, it never can be lawful to lie, because that cannot be right which is contrary to the nature of God. And God is truth. And still the act of Rahab is not devoid of the praise of virtue, although it was not spotlessly pure. For it often happens that while the saints study to hold the right path, they deviate into circuitous courses.

Rebecca (Genesis 27:0. (38)) in procuring the blessing to her son Jacob, follows the prediction. In obedience of this description a pious and praiseworthy zeal is perceived. But it cannot be doubted that in substituting her son Jacob in the place of Esau, she deviated from the path of duty. The crafty proceeding, therefore, so far taints an act which was laudable in itself. And yet the particular fault does not wholly deprive the deed of the merit of holy zeal; for by the kindness of God the fault is suppressed and not taken into account. Rahab also does wrong when she falsely declares that the messengers were gone, and yet the principal action was agreeable to God, because the bad mixed up with the good was not imputed. On the whole, it was the will of God that the spies should be delivered, but he did not approve of saving their life by falsehood.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-2.html. 1840-57.