|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-7 Faith in God's promises ought not to do away, but to encourage our diligence in the use of proper means. The providence of God directed the spies to the house of Rahab. God knew where there was one that would be true to them, though they did not. Rahab appears to have been an innkeeper; and if she had formerly been one of bad life, which is doubtful, she had left her evil courses. That which seems to us most accidental, is often overruled by the Divine providence to serve great ends. It was by faith that Rahab received those with peace, against whom her king and country had war. We are sure this was a good work; it is so spoken of by the apostle, Jas 2:25; and she did it by faith, such a faith as set her above the fear of man. Those only are true believers, who find in their hearts to venture for God; they take his people for their people, and cast in their lot among them. The spies were led by the special providence of God, and Rahab entertained them out of regard to Israel and Israel's God, and not for lucre or for any evil purpose. Though excuses may be offered for the guilt of Rahab's falsehood, it seems best to admit nothing which tends to explain it away. Her views of the Divine law must have been very dim: a falsehood like this, told by those who enjoy the light of revelation, whatever the motive, would deserve heavy censure.
Verse 6. - But she had brought them up. Literally, and she caused them to ascend; but our version has very properly (see ver. 4) given the preterite the pluperfect sense here. "Two strangers, Israelites, spies, have a safe harbour provided them, even amongst their enemies, against the proclamation of a king." "Where cannot the God of heaven either find or raise up friends to His own causes and servants?" (Bp. Hall.) To the roof of the house. The flat roofs of Oriental, and even of Greek and Italian houses, are used for all kinds of purposes, especially for drying corn and other things for domestic use (see 1 Samuel 9:25, 26; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 16:22; 2 Kings 23:12. Also Acts 10:9, where the roof is used as a place of retirement and repose). Stalks of flax. Literally, flax of the tree. The word translated flax either of the raw material or of the linen made from it. Here it must mean flax as it came cut from the field; that is, as our version translates it, the stalks of flax (λινοκαλάμη, LXX.), which grows in Egypt to a height of three feet, and may be presumed to have attained a height not much less at Jericho. The word עָרַד which signifies to lay in a row, and is used of the wood on the altar in Genesis 22:9, and of the shew bread in Leviticus 24:6, confirms this view. It is obvious that this would have formed a most sufficient hiding place for the fugitives. "Either faith or friendship are not tried but in extremities. To show countenance to the messengers of God while the publique face of the State smiles upon them, is but a courtesie of course; but to hide our own lives in theirs when they are persecuted is an act which looks for a reward" (Bp. Hall).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But she had brought them up to the roof of the house,.... Before the messengers came; though Abarbinel thinks it was after they were gone, when she took them from the place of their concealment, and had them to the roof of the house, where she thought they would be safe and secure, should the messengers return, or others come in search of them, who would not, as she imagined, look for them there:
and hid them with the stalks of flax; that is, under them, or "in flax of wood", or "a tree" (b); which may with as much propriety, or more, be called a tree than hyssop, 1 Kings 4:33; as it is in the Misnah (c). Moreover, there was a sort of flax which grew in the upper part of Egypt towards Arabia, as Pliny says (d), which they called "xylon", or wood, of which were made "lina xylina": though the words may be rightly transposed, as by as, "stalks of flax", which are large and strong before the flax is stripped or beaten off of them; the Targum renders it bundles of flax, or handfuls and sheaves of them, as they were when cut down and gathered:
which she had laid in order upon the roof; to be dried, as Kimchi observes; and Pliny (e) speaks of flax being bound up in bundles, and hung up and dried in the sun; which was done that it might be more easily stripped and beaten off; and the roofs of houses in those countries being flat, were very fit for such a purpose; See Gill on Deuteronomy 22:8; and these being now laid there were very suitable and convenient to conceal the men under them. This seems to be in favour of Rahab, as being a virtuous and industrious woman; see Proverbs 31:13.
(b) "in linis ligni", Montanus; "vel arboris", Vatablus. (c) Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 3. & Bartenora in ib. (d) Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.((e) Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax—Flax, with other vegetable productions, is at a certain season spread out on the flat roofs of Eastern houses to be dried in the sun; and, after lying awhile, it is piled up in numerous little stacks, which, from the luxuriant growth of the flax, rise to a height of three or four feet. Behind some of these stacks Rahab concealed the spies.
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