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 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; Jdg 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.
And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.Joshua 2:2-3. To-night — This evening. Probably Israel had but one friend in all Jericho, and God directed them to her! Thus, what seems to be most accidental is often overruled to serve the great ends of Providence. And those that acknowledge God in their ways, he will guide them with his eye.
And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
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: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.
And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.Joshua 2:6-7. Up to the roof — In those countries the roofs of the houses were made quite flat, and it is probable it might be customary to lay the stalks of flax upon them that they might be dried by the heat of the sun. Fords — Or, passages; that is, the places where people used to pass over Jordan, whether by boats or bridges. The gate — Of the city, to prevent the escape of the spies, if peradventure Rahab was mistaken, and they yet lurked therein.
And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;Joshua 2:8-11. Before they were laid down — To sleep, as they intended. She came up unto them — Having got clear of the officers, to the roof of the house, where they lay hid. Here she informs them, 1st, That the report of the great things God had done for them had reached Jericho. Not only that they had had an account of their late victories, obtained over the Amorites in the neighbouring country, on the other side the river; but that their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, and passage through the Red sea, which had taken place at a great distance, and forty years ago, were remembered and spoken of afresh in Jericho, to the amazement of every body. 2d, She tells them what impressions the tidings of these things had made upon the Canaanites; your terror is fallen, upon us, Joshua 2:9. Our hearts did melt, Joshua 2:11. If she kept a public house, that might have given her an opportunity of understanding the sense of various companies, and of travellers from other parts of the country; so that they could not have known this any way better than by her information; and it would greatly encourage Joshua and Israel to hear how their enemies were dispirited and cast down; especially as this was the accomplishment of a promise God had made them, that he would lay the fear and dread of them upon all this land, (Deuteronomy 9:25,) and so it would be an earnest of the accomplishment of all his other promises to them. 3d, She hereupon makes profession of her faith in God, and his promise; and perhaps there was not found so great faith, (all things considered,) no, not in Israel, as in this woman of Canaan. First, She believes God’s power and dominion over all the world, Joshua 2:11. Jehovah your God — Whom you worship and call upon, is so far above all gods that he is the only true God; for he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath, and is served by all the hosts of both. Secondly, She believes his promise to his people Israel, Joshua 2:9; I know that the Lord hath given you the land — The king of Jericho had heard as much as she had of the great things God had done for Israel, yet he cannot infer from thence that the Lord had given them this land; but resolves to hold it out against them to the last extremity. For the most powerful means of conviction will not avail when despite is done to the Spirit of grace, and his influences are quenched or resisted. But Rahab the harlot, who had only heard of the wonders God had wrought, speaks with more assurance of the truth of the promise made to the fathers than all the elders of Israel had done, who were eye-witnesses of those wonders, many of whom perished through unbelief of this promise. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed: so Rahab did. O woman, great is thy faith! Let those who ask, “On what principle she could receive into her house the known enemies of her country, conceal them from the searchers, and dismiss them in safety?” consider this her faith, and the foundation on which it was built, and they will be at no loss for an answer.
And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:Joshua 2:12-13. Swear unto me by the Lord — Hebrew, by Jehovah, your God, who is the only true God: so she owns his worship, one eminent act whereof is, swearing by his name. My father’s house — My near kindred, which she particularly names, (Joshua 2:13,) husband and children, it seems, she had none. And for herself it was needless to speak, it being a plain and undeniable duty to save their preserver. True tokens — Either an assurance that you will preserve me and mine from the common ruin, or a token which I may produce as a witness of this agreement, and a means of my security. This is all that she asks. But God did for her more than she could ask or think. She was afterward advanced to be a princess in Israel, the wife of Salmon, and one of the ancestors of Christ. All that they have — That is, their children, as appears from Joshua 6:23.
And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.Joshua 2:14. Our life for yours — We will venture our lives for the security of yours. Our business — That is, this agreement of ours, and the condition of it, lest others, under this pretence, should secure themselves. By which they show both their piety and prudence in managing their oath with so much circumspection, that neither their own consciences might be insnared, nor the public justice obstructed.
Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.Joshua 2:15-16. Her house was upon the town-wall — Which gave her the opportunity of dismissing them when the gates were shut. She dwelt upon the wall — Her particular dwelling was there; which may possibly be added, because the other part of her house was reserved for the entertainment of strangers. Get you to the mountain — That is, to some of the mountains wherewith Jericho was encompassed, in which also there were many caves where they might lurk. Three days — Not three whole days, but one whole day, and part of two days.
And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.
And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.Joshua 2:17. The men said — Or, had said; namely, before she let them down; it being very improbable either that she would dismiss them before the condition was agreed on, or that she would discourse with them, or they with her, about such secret and weighty things after they were let down, when others might overhear them. Blameless — That is, free from guilt or reproach if it be violated; namely, if the following condition be not observed.
Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.Joshua 2:18. When we come into the land — That is, over Jordan, and near the city. This line of scarlet — The Hebrew word, תקות, tickvath, more properly means, rope, riband, or web. Probably the same with which she was about to let them down. Window — That it may be easily discerned by our soldiers.
And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.Joshua 2:19. Upon his head — The blame of his death shall rest wholly upon himself, as being occasioned by his own neglect of the means of safety. Our head — We are willing to bear the sin, and shame, and punishment of it. If any hand be upon him — So as to kill him.
And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.
And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.Joshua 2:21. In the window — Forthwith, partly that the spies might see it hung out before their departure, and so the better know it at some distance; partly lest some accident might occasion a neglect about it.
And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.Joshua 2:22-23. Three days — Supporting themselves there with the provisions which Rahab had furnished them with. The way — That is, in the road to Jordan, and the places near it, but not in the mountains. Passed over — Jordan unto Joshua.
So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them:
And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.