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Jos 2:1 Joshua the son of Nun secretly sent two men out of Shittim as spies, saying, Go, view the land, including Jericho. They went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and slept there.
The spies were sent out "secretly". I'd argue that the sending out of the 12 spies about 40 years earlier was essentially a lack of faith- in the fact that God's Angel had gone ahead of them anyway to spy out the land, and Yahweh Himself had told Israel how good the land was. Perhaps the secrecy involved a sense that this was in fact not really a very spiritual decision and Joshua was somehow furtive about it. Israel had never known urban life nor perhaps even seen walled cities like Jericho. The spies entered the city at evening time, and the gate was shut. Strangers always attract attention in such places- let alone when the city was in the direct line of attack of the Hebrews. The language / accent of the two spies would've given them away. According to the record in Joshua 2, it seems they entered the city gates at dusk, the gates were shut, and they'd have perceived that they were being watched and had been noticed as suspicious strangers. And so they used some desperate initiative, and dived into a whorehouse nearby to the gate. This was the sort of place strangers would go to, as it would be today. We imagine them entering the house, and meeting the madame of the house. "What do you want?" was as dumb a question as the doctor asking the patient "How are you feeling today?". Rahab was a smart woman, accustomed to strangers, and knew what was going on. Within the first couple of sentences, she'd have figured who they were. And it seems they spoke for a short time, maybe an hour or so, realized they were busted, understood they were in a death trap within that walled city, and threw themselves on her mercy. And there, providence kicked in. James 2:25 calls those men "messengers", with a message Rahab believed. They hardly had an hour to tell her the message, before men were knocking on the door enquiring what Rahab knew about the spies. In that brief time, she believed a very sketchy and incomplete Gospel of the Kingdom. And her works reflected that faith, in telling the men [whom local culture would've barred from entering the house of a single woman] that the spies had come and gone. "That was quick!", we can imagine the King's men joking. There was weakness and dysfunction all around this story. The men "lodged" with Rahab (Josh. 2:1)- but the Hebrew term is often translated "slept with..." in a sexual context. In fact, whenever the term is used in relation to a woman, let alone a prostitute, it implies intercourse. As a word it does mean simply to sleep... but it is strange that no other term for 'lodging the night' is used, and that the term in the context of a female or prostitute does usually carry a sexual meaning. Whilst I don't believe the spies did sleep with Rahab, it's strange that no other word for 'lodging' is used. The ambiguity is, I suggest, purposeful. But they and their message were 'welcomed in peace' by Rahab (Heb. 11:31), she 'received' their message and justified herself by works by protecting them (James 2:25). This would contribute to an overall theme in the book of Joshua of Israel's weakness- the land wasn't fully possessed, Joshua appears himself as weak in many ways, he didn't fully follow the admittedly hard-to-follow act of Moses, Rahab believed the very words of promise which Israel didn't believe, the spies were sent out secretly by Joshua with no command from God to do this, when God had promised to go before Israel and give them victory... and yet God worked through all this. Even to the extent of using the weakness of the spies in going in to a brothel and "sleeping" with the madame... in order to save that woman and her family, and the lives of the spies, all in a manner which through human weakness glorified the God of Israel. Rahab had an extensive knowledge of parts of Moses' words and law, and this was the basis for her faith. Yet where did she, a whore in Jericho, get that knowledge from? Presumably from her clients, who would've been travellers who had heard these things and passed them on to her. All this is wonderful encouragement for all sinners- that God has a way of working through sin to His glory, and He doesn't give up so easily with human weakness.

Mt. 1:4 records that Salmon married Rahab. Salmon was of the tribe of Judah, because this is the genealogy through Judah (Mt. 1:2). The two spies who had been faithful the first time when spies were sent out were Joshua and Caleb- of the tribes of Ephraim and Judah (Num. 13:6; Jud. 2:9). It seems a fair guess that when the two spies were sent out, they were from these same two tribes; see on :23. Salmon was a prince of the tribe of Judah- it’s a fair guess that he was one of the two spies who went to Rahab, and he subsequently married her.


Jos 2:2 The king of Jericho was told, Behold, men of the children of Israel came in here tonight to spy out the land!-
Their dress would likely have been unusual, having worn the same clothes and shoes throughout the wilderness journeys. And they would maybe have asked a few people on the street for directions and their accent and language would have given them away. They would have been spotted going in to Rahab's house.


Jos 2:3 The king of Jericho sent to Rahab saying, Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered into your house; for they have come to spy out all the land-
We have an example here of how a king's representatives are spoken of himself personally. This is why the Lord Jesus can be called "God" because he functions as God's representative; but this doesn't make Him God Himself in person in a Trinitarian sense.


Jos 2:4 The woman took the two men and concealed them. Then she said, Yes, the men came to me, but I don’t know where they came from-
There are times when circumstances do change the appropriacy of behaviour which in more normal life we should practice. Take lying as an example. To lie is wrong. We should be truthful. Of course. But think of Rahab. She lied- and her lie and acts of deception are quoted in the New Testament as acts of faith! Further, Rahab implied that the Israelite spies were her clients- "there came men unto me" (Josh. 2:4) appears to be a euphemism- and she gave the impression that of course, as they were merely passing clients, how did she know nor care who they were nor where they went? Her male interrogators would've found it hard to press her further for information after she said that. So she not only lied but she gave the impression that the messengers of the Kingdom of God were immoral- in order to protect both them and her. Of course the way she left a red cord hanging from her window, as if almost inviting people to imagine the spies had been let down over the wall from her home on the wall, was a tremendous act of faith and witness by her, but she presumably kept to her story that they were her anonymous clients. For she was still living in her home when the city was taken. Her witness was thus an indirect one to those who wished to perceive it, but it was made within the context of a major series of untruths. The Hebrew midwives lied to the Egyptians- and were blessed for it. And we could give other examples. If we probe further, and ask why such lies were acceptable and even required, we find that often those lies were connected with saving life. To do anything that would cause the loss of human life when it is in our power to save it is dangerously close to murder. If it is in the power of our hand to do good, surely we should. Otherwise we are likely to be saying "Be warmed and filled!", yet do nothing. We do of course emphasize the need for prayer- and we have arranged days of prayer and fasting for these cases. But this does not absolve us from the need for action. Rather, it seems, do those prayers open up ways practically for us to seek our brethren's good.

There are times when we marvel at God's way of working. Rahab as a prostitute was the only person who could say with credibility that yes, men came into my home- but I have absolutely no idea who they were or where they came from. And her male interrogators would have had to avert their eyes from her gaze and shrug and leave her. For they could say no more to that implied comment that "What? You ask me of all women that question?! In my profession you don't ask those questions, didn't you realize that...". 

Jos 2:5 It happened about the time of the shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I don’t know. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them-
Here she moves into telling untruths; see on :3,4 for the discussion of that. For her lies are cited in Hebrews and James as an example of her faith and works in response to that faith. "Overtake" is the word for ability or possibility. She is implying that surely if they are true men, they will have the strength to chase after these spies and catch them. She was an expert in male psychology. And they obeyed her (:7). 


Jos 2:6 But she had brought them up to the roof, and hid them under the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof-
We imagine the spies panicked once inside the walled city, with their clothing and accent / language making it so obvious they were foreigners. With the Israelites only a short distance away across the river, everyone was fearful of spies. And they realized they had no way out. So they in desperation ran into a whore house. And it seems Rahab immediately perceived who they were, and figured they were in danger. For they were noticed entering her house in the evening (:3), and the gate was closed in the evening (:5,7), when the pursuers chased after the spies [as they thought]. So she hid them immediately they knocked on her door. Their desperate prayers for deliverance were heard in this unusual way. She would have heard of the Israelites and their God, perhaps from her clients who would have been travellers. And she desperately wanted to connect with their God. But she was stuck in Jericho, and stuck in a life of sin. It would have seemed impossible to make the connection with Him she so desired. But then two of His representatives came knocking on her door.  

"The harvest" at this time was the barley harvest (Josh. 3:15), which was traditionally reaped on 10 Nisan; not the wheat harvest, which was at Pentecost seven weeks later (Ex. 34:22). We note that the barley and flax harvests were at this time, and the two crops were harvested at the same time (Ex. 9:31,33). This would explain why Rahab had flax stalks on her roof (Josh. 2:6). This is the kind of internal corroboration within the record which is to me the greatest proof of Biblical inspiration.


Jos 2:7 The men pursued them the way to the Jordan to the fords. As soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate-
As discussed on :5, this had been her challenge to her own people, and they fell for it. They likely searched every house in Jericho for the spies. But not hers, or at least, not too thoroughly. Male awkwardness and embarrassment before a woman like her would have meant they accepted her word and she ceased from being a possible suspect. 


Jos 2:8 Before they had lain down, she came up to them on the roof-
Rooftops were consistently associated with idolatry throughout the Hebrew Bible. But here, Rahab learns more of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, having quit idolatry. The spies are called "messengers" in Heb. 11 because they had a message for her; and their message were 'welcomed in peace' by Rahab (Heb. 11:31), she 'received' their message and justified herself by works by protecting them (James 2:25). 


Jos 2:9 and she said to the men, I know that Yahweh has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you-
See on Ps. 24:6. When she says that she was aware that God had "given you the land" (Josh. 2:9), she uses the same two Hebrew words used repeatedly in Deuteronomy regarding God's promise to give Israel the land of the Canaanites. "Your terror is fallen upon us" is likewise an allusion to Ex. 15:16; 23:27 [the same Hebrew word for "terror" is used by Rahab]. Rahab speaks of how her people are "fainting" in fear- quoting Ex. 15:15 about how the inhabitants of Canaan would "faint" (AV "melt away") because of Israel. Knowing all this, she has the ambition to request the impossible- that she would be the exception, that with her a covenant would be made. When she says that "we have heard" about the Exodus (Josh. 2:10), she may be referring to the prophecy of Ex. 15:14: "The people shall hear and be afraid". In this case, her emphasis would have been upon the word "have"- 'yes, we have heard indeed, as Moses sung, and yes, we are afraid'. Seeking God's face is actually to strive for the unachievable in this life; but it's what we are to do. Spiritual ambition of the type Rahab had lifts us far above the mire of mediocrity which there is in all human life under the sun.


Jos 2:10 For we have heard how Yahweh dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt; and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond Jordan, to Sihon and to Og, whom you utterly destroyed-
This utter destruction was because Yahweh had hearkened to the voice of Israel (Num. 21:3 cp. Dt. 3:6 s.w.), and Rahab was attracted to a God who listened to prayers and responded to dramatically. Israel's enemies were to be 'utterly destroyed' which is defined as meaning that no covenant be made with them (Dt. 7:2). Rahab desperately wanted to enter covenant with Yahweh, but she saw she was doomed to 'utter destruction' because that was to be Jericho's fate (Josh. 6:21 s.w.). But her desire from the heart was read by God, and responded to in such a wonderful way, beyond any human device; hence in :12 (see note there) she asks for covenant relationship. 


Jos 2:11 As soon as we had heard it, our hearts melted, neither did there remain any more spirit in any man because of you; for Yahweh your God-
When the earlier spies had spent 40 days looking around Canaan, they had reported that the people were strong, and they were despised by them, as if they were mere grasshoppers (Num. 13:33). The Canaanites represent all those things which appear insuperable to our inheritance of the promised kingdom. But behind those high walls, were people with melted hearts. But the ten spies perceived the people as so strong that they could never defeat them, whereas Joshua and Caleb perceived how things really were- which is how Rahab described it. The paradox is that the hearts of the Canaanites melted (Josh. 2:11), and this is the phrase used of how the hearts of the Israelites melted (Dt. 1:28). Both sides were scared of each other; but victory could have been with Israel. They wasted so much potential.

He is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath-
This was the prophetic hope, that at the restoration (see on Josh. 1:1, where I suggest Joshua was rewritten for the exiles), the Gentiles would come to state that "Yahweh is God" as they had done at times historically (here and Ex. 18:11; Ps. 100:3; 1 Kings 8:60; 2 Kings 5:15; 19:19; Is. 45:14,15). Rahab was therefore set up as representative of the Gentiles at the time of the exile. 


Jos 2:12 Now therefore, please swear to me by Yahweh, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a true token-
Heb. 11:31 comments that "By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace". Rahab's faith was faith in God's grace. For Rahab was an Amoritess and according to the law of Moses there was to be no pity or covenant with them- only death (cp. Dt. 7:2).Rahab had the spiritual ambition to ask that they make a covenant with her- she requests hesed, the common term for covenant relationship ("deal kindly with me", Josh. 2:12 cp. 1 Sam. 20:8). See on :10. And the spies made a covenant with her. Grace, like love, finds a way. Remember that she was also aware of what Israel had done to their enemies on their way to Jericho- and she appears to allude to Moses' commands to destroy utterly and not make covenant with the peoples of the land (Dt. 2:32-37; 7:1-5; 20:16-18).

The spies apparently didn't give her any token, apart from their word that their lives would be forfeit if hers was lost- if she continued faithful to the covenant (:14). Considering they were completely at her mercy, we wonder why they didn't make any token. Perhaps they had nothing material to give her apart from their word. But see on :18.


Jos 2:13 Please save alive my father, my mother, my brothers and my sisters and all that they have, and will deliver our lives from death-
Rahab apparently lived alone, with her family avoiding her for shame that she was a whore and her home was a brothel. They would have had to significantly humble themselves to accept the gospel of the Kingdom from her mouth, and to have entered into her home in order to be saved.


Jos 2:14 The men said to her, Our life for yours, if you don’t talk about this business of ours; and it shall be, when Yahweh gives us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you-
"Kindly and truly" is the language of covenant. Jericho was to be utterly destroyed which meant no covenant made with her inhabitants (see on :10,12; Dt. 7:2). Here they repeat that the covenant has been extended to her, if she doesn't betray them. We note the contrast between Gentile whore Rahab and respectable Israelite family man Achan. He broke covenant (Josh. 7:11), whereas she entered covenant and was faithful to it (Josh. 2:12-14). She took and hid the spies (Josh. 2:6), whereas Achan took and hid the spoil (Josh. 7:21,22). Rahab saved her family alive (Josh. 2:13,14; 6:22,23), whereas Achan destroyed his family (Josh. 7:25).    


Jos 2:15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window; for her house was on the side of the wall, and she lived on the wall-
Heb. "in the wall" may mean her house was between the inner and outer walls. Perhaps the flax stems on her roof had been grown outside the city walls and she therefore had a rope to haul them up to her. This may have been a way of avoiding paying tax on them, which would have been required if they had been brought through the city gate.

Escaping out of a window down the wall was the experience of David and Paul (Acts 9:25). Paul describes it as one of the most humiliating things which happened to him (2 Cor. 11:32). The triple repetition shows the same Divine hallmark of His operation, in the lives of different men separated by centuries.


Jos 2:16 She said to them, Go to the mountain, lest the pursuers find you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward, you may go on your way-
Rahab comes over as in command of the situation, even though she was a Gentile prostitute begging for God's grace. "Three days" may be a non literal period. Ex. 14:4,8 uses the same word for "pursuer" about the Egyptians likewise pursuing Israel in vain- also around the time of Passover.    


Jos 2:17 The men said to her, We will be guiltless of this your oath which you have made us to swear-
The next three verses give the conditions for the covenant, but they say that Rahab had "made us swear". She had used her position of power over them to make them enter a covenant of Yahweh with her (see on :10,12).


Jos 2:18 Behold, when we come into the land-
LXX "If we succeed in penetrating into a part of the town".

You shall bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which you used to let us down. You shall gather to yourself into the house your father, your mother, your brothers and all your father’s household-
See on :21. This line or rope may have been the "true token" of :12. It seems they gave her the scarlet thread. Perhaps they had worked this out in advance, entering Jericho with the aim of finding someone to believe their message. It was around Passover time, and so this may have been an invitation for Rahab to in essence participate in the Passover ritual, putting the symbol of blood on her house so that she might be saved whilst the rest of the world around her perished. She was being treated as one of the covenant people. Scarlet was associated with the removal of sin (Lev. 14:4,6,51; Num. 19:6) and the Passover blood (Ex. 12:7,13).   

 
Jos 2:19 It shall be that whoever goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood will be on his head, and we will be guiltless. Whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand is on him-
This continues the allusions to the Passover legislation, although Rahab and her family were only able to keep the spirit and not the letter of it. As Rahab was a whore and her home a brothel, her family had to humble themselves to accept the Gospel and take refuge in it.


Jos 2:20 But if you talk about this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless of your oath which you have made us to swear-
Compare the evidence for Rahab's preaching the message of the spies, with the terms of the covenant thrashed out with her- if she were to "utter" (Heb. to preach, advertise openly] the "business" of the spies, then the covenant would be null and void. She did indeed do this, and yet the covenant still stood. Perhaps the agreement insisted upon by the spies was somewhat self-protective, without the ambition which Rahab had to bring others to throw themselves upon God's grace. This would only make her spiritual perception and ambition stand out the more. All this fits in with the overall theme of the book of Joshua- that Israel were given the land, Ephraim and Manasseh were allowed to return to their lot East of Jordan, despite the fact that they were disobedient and didn't drive out all the Canaanites as required by God. Taking the crossing of the Red Sea as a type of baptism, the wilderness walk as symbolic of our probationary lives now (1 Cor. 10:1-3), the entrance of the promised land speaks of our entrance to God's Kingdom- and this will likewise be by grace, in the face of all the mess ups, disobedience, failure to obey... which we're all so guilty of.


Jos 2:21 She said, According to your words, so be it. She sent them away, and they departed. She tied the scarlet line in the window-
Rahab was told to bind the scarlet cord in her window "when we come into the land" (Josh. 2:18). But Rahab bound it there immediately when they left- as if she recognized that her land was already in Israel's hands (Josh. 2:21). Considering the whole town was wondering how the spies had escaped, and she was under suspicion, to leave the escape rope dangling there, indeed to take it up and then place it there again immediately (so :21 implies), was really stupid. She didn't need to do that at that stage. But the joy of the Gospel should make us fools for Christ's sake. But does it, in our postmodern age? When was the last time the joy of the good news we know, lead you to do something humanly foolish? It could be gathered from Heb. 11:31 that Rahab preached to others the message she had received from the spies- for the inspired commentary there notes that Rahab did not perish with those "that believed not"- apeitheo suggesting disbelief, a wilful refusal to believe. What message did Jericho not believe? There was no particular message for them from the words of Moses or Joshua. The message was presumably an appeal from Rahab, to repent and accept the God of Israel as she had done- to cast themselves upon His mercy. And in any case, as a prostitute estranged from her family, either due to her profession or because estrangement from them had led her to it, she must have gone to her estranged family and preached to them, bringing them within her despised house. The question, of course, is: 'Why then was not Rahab killed by the people of Jericho if she openly preached to them about the God of Israel?'. The ancient law code of Hammurabi contains the following statute: “If felons are banded together in an ale-wife’s [prostitute’s or innkeeper’s] house and she has not haled [them] to the palace, that ale-wife shall be put to death” (S.R. Driver and J.C. Miles, The Babylonian Laws [Oxford: Clarendon, 1956], 2:45). Perhaps she was so despised that she was untouchable, or treated as mad. Perhaps former clients of hers in the city's leadership decided it would be better to let her 'get religion' rather than spill any beans about them. But it could be said that it was a miracle she wasn't murdered for her witness. She certainly ran the risk of it. If men and women with a far less complete understanding of the Gospel could risk their lives for it... what does our understanding and faith convict us to do for the sake of witnessing to it? Give money towards it? Risk our lives, health, convenience in travelling for it? Risk our embarrassment and loss of standing in the workplace or family by preaching it...? Our knowledge of the Gospel of the Kingdom is far more detailed than that of Rahab, who picked up snatches of it from her clients, and had at most an hour's pressured conversation with the spies before she had to show whether or not she believed it. If it motivated her to do all she did- what about us?

The book of Joshua was rewritten for the encouragement of the exiles (see on Josh. 1:1). Judah had gone into exile because they had acted like a prostitute, as the prophets make clear. This account of the salvation of a prostitute was therefore for their encouragement. Against all odds, they could be saved out of Babylon, a nation and city marked out for destruction by 'falling' as was Jericho.


Jos 2:22 They left and came to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers had returned. The pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but didn’t find them-
Rahab appears to have knowledge and authority in all this, although she was the underdog. The pursuers and the spies are both presented as doing what she told them to do; as if she, the despised Gentile whore in a condemned city, was exalted to a position of power by her commitment to God.


Jos 2:23 Then the two men returned, descended from the mountain, passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun. They told him all that had happened to them-
"Returned and descended" is the very phrase used of how the faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, had returned and descended to Israel with the news that they could easily conquer the land (Dt. 1:25). I suggested on :1 that there were distinct connections between those two faithful spies and the spies now being sent out. Israel were being bidden learn from their failure to believe the spies 38 years previously. The Bible continually bids us learn from recorded history.


Jos 2:24 They said to Joshua, Truly Yahweh has delivered into our hands all the land. Furthermore, all the inhabitants of the land melt away before us!
They had begun to melt away after the exodus (Ex. 15:15 s.w.), and the spies may be almost frustrated that Israel had wasted so much time before believing this. For nearly 40 years, the Canaanites had been in this 'melted away' mental state, and Rahab uses the same word to describe them (:9). The prophetic descriptions of hills [nations / cities] and 'the land' "melting" before God (s.w. Am. 9:5,13; Nah. 1:15) are therefore not to be read literally, but rather alluding to this state of mind amongst the peoples within the land promised to Abraham- in the shadow of latter day Divine judgment and the giving of their kingdoms to His people.