Hebrews 11:31
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) That believed not.—Bather, that were disobedient (see Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:6; Hebrews 4:11). To her and to her countrymen alike had come the knowledge of what the Lord had done for Israel (Joshua 2:10). She recognised from these signs, and acknowledged, the supremacy of Jehovah (Hebrews 11:11), and she cast in her lot with His servants; the men of Jericho continued in their disobedience, and perished (Joshua 6:21). Through faith, therefore, a despised heathen woman became united with the people of God. With such an example these more detailed histories may fitly close.

Hebrews 11:31. By faith — Expressed in her words, recorded Joshua 2:9-11, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, &c.; the harlot Rahab — That is, who had once been a harlot; but after she believed in the true God, it is reasonable to think she amended her manners, as well as repented of the lie by which she deceived the king of Jericho’s messengers. For that faith in the true God, which made her hazard her life in receiving and concealing the spies, must, when she attained to more knowledge, have wrought in her a thorough reformation; perished not with them that believed not — With the rest of the Canaanites in that city, among whom she dwelt; when she had received the spies — Hospitably, and dismissed them in peace, when an alarm was taken by her fellow-citizens, and they searched for them to destroy them.11:20-31 Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, concerning things to come. Things present are not the best things; no man knoweth love or hatred by having them or wanting them. Jacob lived by faith, and he died by faith, and in faith. Though the grace of faith is of use always through our whole lives, it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has a great work to do at last, to help the believer to die to the Lord, so as to honour him, by patience, hope, and joy. Joseph was tried by temptations to sin, by persecution for keeping his integrity; and he was tried by honours and power in the court of Pharaoh, yet his faith carried him through. It is a great mercy to be free from wicked laws and edicts; but when we are not so, we must use all lawful means for our security. In this faith of Moses' parents there was a mixture of unbelief, but God was pleased to overlook it. Faith gives strength against the sinful, slavish fear of men; it sets God before the soul, shows the vanity of the creature, and that all must give way to the will and power of God. The pleasures of sin are, and will be, but short; they must end either in speedy repentance or in speedy ruin. The pleasures of this world are for the most part the pleasures of sin; they are always so when we cannot enjoy them without deserting God and his people. Suffering is to be chosen rather than sin; there being more evil in the least sin, than there can be in the greatest suffering. God's people are, and always have been, a reproached people. Christ accounts himself reproached in their reproaches; and thus they become greater riches than the treasures of the richest empire in the world. Moses made his choice when ripe for judgment and enjoyment, able to know what he did, and why he did it. It is needful for persons to be seriously religious; to despise the world, when most capable of relishing and enjoying it. Believers may and ought to have respect to the recompence of reward. By faith we may be fully sure of God's providence, and of his gracious and powerful presence with us. Such a sight of God will enable believers to keep on to the end, whatever they may meet in the way. It is not owing to our own righteousness, or best performances, that we are saved from the wrath of God; but to the blood of Christ, and his imputed righteousness. True faith makes sin bitter to the soul, even while it receives the pardon and atonement. All our spiritual privileges on earth, should quicken us in our way to heaven. The Lord will make even Babylon fall before the faith of his people, and when he has some great thing to do for them, he raises up great and strong faith in them. A true believer is desirous, not only to be in covenant with God, but in communion with the people of God; and is willing to fare as they fare. By her works Rahab declared herself to be just. That she was not justified by her works appears plainly; because the work she did was faulty in the manner, and not perfectly good, therefore it could not be answerable to the perfect justice or righteousness of God.By faith the harlot Rahab - She resided in Jericho; Joshua 2:1. When Joshua crossed the Jordan, he sent two men as spies to her house, and she saved them by concealment from the enemies that would have destroyed their lives. For this act of hospitality and kindness, they assured her of safety when the city should be destroyed, and directed her to give an indication of her place of abode to the invading Israelites, that her house might be spared; Joshua 2:18-19. In the destruction of the city, she was accordingly preserved; Joshua 6. The apostle seems to have selected this case as illustrating the nature of faith, partly because it occurred at Jericho, of which he had just made mention, and partly to show that strong faith had been exercised not only by the patriarchs, and by those who were confessed to be great and good, but by those in humble life, and whose earlier conduct had been far from the ways of virtue. "Calvin."

Much perplexity has been felt in reference to this case, and many attempts have been made to remove the difficulty. The main difficulty has been that a woman of this character should be enumerated among those who were eminent for piety, and many expositors have endeavored to show that the word rendered "harlot" does not necessarily denote a woman of abandoned character, but may be used to denote a hostess. This definition is given by Schleusner, who says that the word may mean one who prepares and sells food and who receives strangers to entertain them. Others have supposed that the word means "an idolatress," because those devoted to idolatry were frequently of abandoned character. But there are no clear instances in which the Greek word, and the corresponding Hebrew word - זונה zownah - is used in this sense. The usual and the fair meaning of the word is what is given in our translation, and there is no good reason why that signification should not be retained here. It is not implied by the use of the word here, however, that Rahab was an harlot at the time to which the apostle refers; but the meaning is, that this had been her character, so that it was proper to designate her by this appellation. In regard to this case, therefore, and in explanation of the difficulties which have been felt in reference to it, we may remark:

(1) that the obvious meaning of this word here and of the corresponding place in Joshua 2:6 is, that she had been a woman of abandoned character, and that she was known as such. That she might have been also a hostess, or one who kept a house of entertainment for strangers, is at the same time by no means improbable, since it not unfrequently happened in ancient as well as modern times, that females of this character kept such houses. It might have been the fact that her house was "known" merely as a house of entertainment that led the spies who went to Jericho to seek a lodging there. It would be natural that strangers coming into a place should act in this respect as all other travelers did, and should apply for entertainment at what was known as a public house.

(2) there is no improbability in supposing that her course of life had been changed either before their arrival, or in consequence of it. They were doubtless wise and holy men. Men would not be selected for an enterprise like this, in whom the leader of the Hebrew army could not put entire confidence. It is not unfair then to suppose that they were men of eminent piety, as well as sagacity. Nor is there any improbability in supposing that they would acquaint this female with the history of their people, with their remarkable deliverance from Egypt, and with the design for which they were about to invade the land of Canaan. There is evidence that some such representations made a deep impression on her mind, and led to a change in her views and feelings, for she not only received them with the usual proofs of hospitality, but jeoparded her own life in their defense, when she might easily have betrayed them. This fact showed that she had a firm belief that they were what they professed to be - the people of God, and that she was willing to identify her interests with theirs.

(3) this case - supposing that she had been a woman of bad character, but now was truly converted - does not stand alone. Other females of a similar character have been converted, and have subsequently led lives of piety; and though the number is not comparatively great, yet the truth of God has shown its power in renewing and sanctifying some at least of this, the most abandoned and degraded class of human beings. "Publicans and harlots," said the Saviour, "go into the kingdom of God;" Matthew 21:31. Rahab seems to have been one of them; and her case shows that such instances of depravity are not hopeless. This record, therefore, is one of encouragement for the most abandoned sinners; and one too which shows that strangers, even in a public house, may do good to those who have wandered far from God and virtue, and that we should never despair of saving the most abandoned of our race.

(4) there is no need of supposing that the apostle in commending this woman approved of all that she did. That she was not perfect is true. That she did some things which cannot be vindicated is true also - and who does not? But admitting all that may be said about any imperfection in her character, (compare Joshua 2:4), it was still true that she had strong faith - and that is all that the apostle commends. We are under no more necessity of vindicating all that she did, than we are all that David or Peter did - or all that is now done by those who have the highest claims to virtue.

(5) she had strong faith. It was only a strong belief that Yahweh was the true God, and that the children of Israel were his people, which would have led her to screen the strangers at the peril of her own life; and when the city was encompassed, and the walls fell, and the tumult of battle raged she showed her steady confidence in their fidelity, and in God, by using the simple means on which she was told the safety of herself and her family depended; Joshua 6:22-23.

With them that believed not - The inhabitants of the idolatrous city of Jericho. The margin is, "were disobedient." The more correct rendering, however, is, as in the text, believed not. They evinced no such faith as Rahab had, and they were therefore destroyed.

Received the spies with peace - With friendliness and kindness; Joshua 2:1 ff.

31. Rahab showed her "faith" in her confession, Jos 2:9, 11, "I know that Jehovah hath given you the land; Jehovah your God, is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."

the harlot—Her former life adds to the marvel of her repentance, faith, and preservation (Mt 21:31, 32).

believed not—Greek, "were disobedient," namely, to the will of God manifested by the miracles wrought in behalf of Israel (Jos 2:8-11).

received—in her house (Jos 2:1, 4, 6).

with peace—peaceably; so that they had nothing to fear in her house. Thus Paul, quoting the same examples (Heb 11:17, 31) for the power of faith, as James (Jas 2:21, 25; see on [2589]Jas 2:21; [2590]Jas 2:25) does for justification by works evidentially, shows that in maintaining justification by faith alone, he means not a dead faith, but "faith which worketh by love" (Ga 5:6).

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not; by the same gospel faith Rahab, who, as the Jews read the word, Joshua 2:1, hnwz; was an hostess, and kept a house of entertainment, and so came to lodge the spies; or, as the Septuagint read it, and the Holy Ghost confirms it here, and Jam 2:25, was a public harlot, who gat her livelihood by the prostitution of her body, as well as the sale of meat and drink: so notorious a sinner as she, and a Canaanite too, was preserved from the destruction that was inflicted by the Israelites on the unbelieving and disobedient inhabitants of Jericho, being, after her exclusion out of the camp, in order to a legal purifying, admitted into God’s church, and honoured by him to be a mother in Israel, from whom the Messiah should descend, Joshua 6:23,25.

When she had received the spies with peace: the full proof of her being a believer, was her entertaining of the spies sent from Joshua to Jericho, preserving them when sought for, and dismissing them, advising them what they were to do in order to their safety, Joshua 2:3,10, to the end. The ground of all this, was her faith in God’s promise of giving Canaan to Israel, confirmed by the great works she heard God had done for them, and her own expectation of good only in the portion of God’s people, to whom she desired to be united, which was afterwards accomplished. Neither doth Paul and James contradict each other concerning her faith and works, Jam 2:25; for she was empted from destruction by the same faith by which she was justified; and her faith was justified to be sound and true, by her carriage to the spies, for it was a full demonstration of her faith in God. By faith the harlot Rahab,.... The Targum on Joshua 2:1 calls her , "a woman, that kept a victualling house": this paraphrase is taken notice of by Jarchi and Kimchi on the place, who interpret it, "a seller of food": and even the Hebrew word is so explained by a considerable Jewish writer (p); and this may rather seem to be the sense of the word, and to be her proper business, from the spies going to her house, as being an house of entertainment; and from Salmon's marrying her, which might be thought strange that a prince of Israel would, had she been a person of ill fame; to which may be added, the encomiums of her for her faith and works, both by our apostle, and by James: but yet, the constant use of the word, in this form, the testimonies of two apostles, and her making no mention of her husband and children, when she agreed with the spies, confirm the generally received character of her, that she was an harlot. Some Jewish writers say (q) that she was ten years of age when the Israelites came out of Egypt; and that all the forty years they were in the wilderness, "she played the harlot"; and was one and fifty years of age when she was proselyted. She is called an harlot; not with respect to her present, but past life. In the Greek text, she is here called Raab, as also in James 2:25 and so in the Septuagint in Joshua 2:1. Rachab, which exactly answers to the Hebrew word Joshua 2:1 and by Josephus (r) "Rachabe". This woman was a wonderful and singular instance of the free, sovereign, distinguishing, powerful, and efficacious grace of God; being one that sprung from Canaan, and was of the nations that were abhorred; but, being called by grace, became an eminent believer: she believed that the God of the Israelites was God in heaven and on earth; that he had given the land of Canaan to them; she received the spies, and hid them through that faith; she caused them to swear by the Lord, that they would show mercy to her, and her family; and gave credit to them; and observed their instructions: and so she

perished not with them that believed not; the inhabitants of Jericho, who were unbelievers, and disobedient, and all perished by the sword: but Rahab perished not, neither temporally, nor eternally; her temporal salvation was an emblem and type of her spiritual salvation; her receiving the spies was an emblem of a soul's receiving the Gospel, and the ministers of it; the scarlet thread, that was hung out, was an emblem of the blood of Christ, by which sins, though as scarlet, are made white as wool; and the saving of her whole family is an emblem of the complete salvation of all the elect, soul and body, by Christ:

when she had received the spies with peace; and had hid them, for some time, in her house, and then let them down by the wall; and who, at the taking of the city, saved her, and hers, according to their promise and oath: the number of these spies were two, according to Joshua 2:1. The Jews (s) say one of them was Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the high priest; and others (t) of them say they were Phinehas and Caleb.

(p) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 24. 1.((q) T. Bab. Zebachin. fol. 116. 2. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2.((r) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 2.((s) Laniado in Josh. ii. 1.((t) Tanchuma apud Masum in ib.

{14} By faith the {q} harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the {r} spies with peace.

(14) Rahab.

(q) A notable example of God's goodness.

(r) Courteously and friendly, so that not only did she not hurt them, but also kept them safe.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 11:31. The example of the Gentile woman Rahab, Joshua 2; Joshua 6:17; Joshua 6:22 ff. Her conduct had proceeded from the recognition that the God of the Israelites is a God in heaven and upon earth, and from the confidence thereon based, that this God would lead them to victory. Comp. Joshua 2:9 ff.

Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη] Comp. Jam 2:25; Clem. Rom. ad Cor. c. 12. The epithet ἡ πόρνη is to be left in its literal sense. To interpret it, with Jac. Cappellus, Valckenaer, Heinrichs, and others, after the precedent of the Chaldee paraphrase and the Arabian version, by the hostess, or, with Hofmann, the harlots’ hostess, or, with Braun and others, the heathen woman, or finally, with Koppe (in Heinrichs) and others, the idolatress, is arbitrary. The designation of Rahab as ἡ πόρνη is an historic characterization, in accordance with Joshua 2:2; Joshua 6:17 ff., and without any ground of offence. For it has already been rightly observed by Calvin: “hoc (epitheton) ad anteactam vitam referri certum est; resipiscentiae enim testis est fides.” Comp. further, Matthew 21:31-32.

τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν] the inhabitants of Jericho. They had shown themselves disobedient, because they had resisted the people of God (Joshua 6:1), although not to them either had the mighty deeds of this God remained unknown (Joshua 2:10).

δεξαμένη τοὺς κατασκόπους μετʼ εἰρήνης] seeing she had received the spies with peace, i.e. without practising acts of hostility towards them, to which she might have been incited by reason of their nationality.31. By faith] Joshua 2:9-11, “The Lord your God, He is God.”

the harlot Rahab] So she is called in Joshua 2:1; James 2:25, and it shews the faithfulness of the sacred narrative that her name is even introduced as well as that of Ruth, a Moabitess, in the genealogy of our Lord (Matthew 1:5). The Targum softens it down into “innkeeper” and others render it “idolatress.” Her name was highly honoured by the Jews, who said that eight prophets—among them Baruch, Jeremiah, and Shallum—were descended from her, and the prophetess Huldah. Megillah f. 14. 2.

that believed not] Rather, “that were disobedient.”Hebrews 11:31. Ἡ πόρνη, the harlot) אשה זונה, LXX. γυνὴ πορνὴ, a woman a harlot, Joshua 2:1. This ground, on which Rahab was accustomed to receive strangers, even adds to our wonder that she was afterwards preserved.Verse 31.- By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, when she had received the spies with peace. Rahab is instanced also by St. James (James 2:25) as having shThe harlot Rahab (Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη)

See Joshua 2; Joshua 6:17, and comp. James 2:25. Rahab's occupation is stated without mincing, and the lodging of the spies at her house was probably not a matter of accident. Very amusing are the efforts of some earlier expositors to evade the fact of a harlot's faith, by rendering πόρνη landlady.

Perished not with (οὐ συναπώλετο)

N.T.o. In lxx see Numbers 16:26; Psalm 25:9; Psalm 27:3.

Them that believed not (τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν)

Rend. "them that were disobedient." Simple disbelief is expressed by ἀπιστεῖν, ἀπιστία: disbelief as it manifests itself in disobedience, by ἀπειθεῖν. Ἁπειθεῖν is ἀπιστεῖν on its active side. See on John 3:36, and comp. Hebrews 3:18; Hebrews 4:6, Hebrews 4:11; Romans 11:30, Romans 11:32, contrasting with Romans 11:20, Romans 11:23. Ἁπειθεῖν here describes the failure to be persuaded that God had given the land to the Israelites, and the consequent refusal to surrender Jericho. Rahab's faith is shown Joshua 2:9-11.

When she had received the spies (δεξαμένη τοὺς κατασκόπους)

Rend. "having received." For this sense of friendly reception as a guest see Luke 10:8, Luke 10:10. Κατάσκοπος a spy, N.T.o. lxx, Genesis 42:9, Genesis 42:11, Genesis 42:14; 1 Samuel 26:4.

With peace (μετ' εἰρήνηνς)

The phrase only here and Acts 15:33. Quite often in lxx, as Genesis 15:15; Genesis 26:29; Exodus 18:23; Deuteronomy 20:20; Judges 8:9. In N.T. ἐν εἰρήνῃ in peace (Acts 16:36; James 2:16): εἰς εἰρήνην into peace (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48); both these very often in lxx. Rahab received the spies without enmity, and did not allow them to suffer harm from others. An interesting parallel is furnished by Dante, Purg. ii. 99, in the case of the pilot-angel who conveys souls to the shore of Purgatory.

"He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken

Whoever wished to enter, with all peace" (without interposing any obstacle.)

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