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Rahab And The Fall Of Jericho

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CHAPTER 2 May 18 
The Spies Come to Rahab
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. 2The king of Jericho was told, Behold, men of the children of Israel came in here tonight to spy out the land! 3The 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. 4The 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. 5It 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. 6But 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. 7The 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. 8Before they had lain down, she came up to them on the roof; 9and 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. 10For 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. 11As 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, He is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath. 12Now 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. 13Please save alive my father, my mother, my brothers and my sisters and all that they have, and will deliver our lives from death.14The 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.15Then 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. 16She 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. 17The men said to her, We will be guiltless of this your oath which you have made us to swear. 18Behold, when we come into the land, 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. 19It 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. 20But if you talk about this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless of your oath which you have made us to swear. 21She said, According to your words, so be it. She sent them away, and they departed. She tied the scarlet line in the window. 22They 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. 23Then 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. 24They said to Joshua, Truly Yahweh has delivered into our hands all the land. Furthermore, all the inhabitants of the land melt away before us!


2:1 Secretly- 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. 
Came into the house of a prostitute- Israel had never known urban life nor perhaps even seen walled cities like Jericho. The spies entered the city at evening time (:2), and the gate was shut (:5). 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. 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 near 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. 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). 
2:9,10 When she says that she was aware that God had "given you the land" (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. "The fear of you is fallen upon us" is likewise an allusion to Ex. 15:16; 23:27 [the same Hebrew word is used by Rahab]. Rahab speaks of how her people are "melting" in fear- quoting Ex. 15:15 about how the inhabitants of Canaan would "melt” 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 (: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'. 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.
2:10  Where did she, a whore in Jericho, get that knowledge from? How had she come to know about Yahweh? 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.
2:12 Deal kindly- Heb. 11:31 comments that it was by faith that Rahab did not perish; 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 (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", cp. 1 Sam. 20:8). 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). 
2:18 Rahab was told to bind the scarlet cord in her window "when we come into the land". But Rahab bound it there immediately when they left- as if she recognized that her land was already in Israel's hands (: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 2:21 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 Rahab did not perish with those "that believed not"- apeitheosuggesting 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. If people with a far less complete understanding of the Gospel could risk their lives for it... what does our understanding and faith convictus to do for the sake of witnessing to 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?