Joshua 2:1
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.
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(1) Joshua . . . sent out of Shittim.—That is, he sent the spies before the people left the place where they had been encamped for some months (Numbers 22:1; Numbers 33:49). Shittim was the last stage of the Exodus under Moses. Probably the sending of these two spies was simultaneous with the issue of the general orders to Israel to prepare for the passage of Jordan within three days. The three days of Joshua 1:11; Joshua 2:22 appear to be the same period of time.

Two men to spy.—The sending of these spies should be compared, as to the general effect and character of the measure, with other similar events. There are three instances of sending spies in reference to Canaan—viz., (1) the sending of the twelve by Moses from Kadesh-barnea; (2) the instance before us; (3) the sending of men to view Ai. The present instance is the only one in which the measure had a good effect. In the case of the twelve, Moses describes the action as a manifestation of unbelief. The spies took upon them to discover the right path for Israel to take, a thing which was God’s prerogative, not theirs (Deuteronomy 1:22; Deuteronomy 1:32-33). The men who viewed Ai (Joshua 7:2-3) came back and presumed to instruct Joshua how to proceed against it, with disastrous results. In this instance the two men brought back a report of the state of things in Jericho (exactly what they were ordered to do), which encouraged all Israel to proceed. Compare the effect of Gideon and Phurah’s visit to the camp of Midian (Judges 7:11), “Thou shalt hear what they say, and. afterwards shall thine hands be strengthened.”

Into an harlot’s house, named Rahab.—The attempts to show that Rahab was not “an harlot” are not justified by the word used in Hebrew, or in the Greek of the LXX., or in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:31), or in that of St. James (James 2:25). But there is no harm in supposing that she was also an innkeeper, which the Targum calls her in every place; indeed, it is very probable that the spies would resort to a place of public entertainment, as most suitable for ascertaining the state of the public mind. How far they were disguised, how they came to be discovered, whether the king of Jericho knew of the impending march of Israel from Shittim, are questions of detail which the narrative leaves unanswered, and which the imagination may discuss at pleasure. The point of the story is not in these.

(1) There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were.—A falsehood which evidently left no stain on Rahab’s conscience, although all falsehood is sin. The same may be said of Jael’s slaying Sisera. The Divine standard of sin and holiness never varies; but the standard of man’s conscience, even when faith is a dominant principle in the character, may vary to a very considerable degree. In Jesus Christ “all that believe are justified from all things;” but “by the deeds of the law no one. Here, as elsewhere, the application of the law only brings the discovery of sin.

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.

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.An harlot's house - In the face of the parallel passages (e. g. Leviticus 21:7 : Jeremiah 5:7) the rendering advocated for obvious reasons, namely, "the house of a woman, an innkeeper," cannot be maintained. Rahab must remain an example under the Law similar to that Luke 7:37 under the Gospel, of "a woman that was a sinner," yet, because of her faith, not only pardoned, but exalted to the highest honor. Rahab was admitted among the people of God; she intermarried into a chief family of a chief tribe, and found a place among the best remembered ancestors of King David and of Christ; thus receiving the temporal blessings of the covenant in largest measure. The spies would of course betake themselves to such a house in Jericho as they could visit without exciting suspicion; and the situation of Rahab's, upon the wall Joshua 2:15, rendered it especially suitable. It appears from Joshua 2:4 that Rahab hid them before the King's messengers reached her house, and probably as soon as the spies had come to her house. It is therefore most likely that they met with Rahab outside of Jericho (compare Genesis 38:14), and ascertained where in the city she dwelt, and that they might entrust themselves to her care. Rahab (i. e. "spacious," "wide." Compare the name "Japheth" and Genesis 9:27, note) is regarded by the fathers as a type of the Christian Church, which was gathered out of converts from the whole vast circle of pagan nations. CHAPTER 2

Jos 2:1-7. Rahab Receives and Conceals the Two Spies.

1. Joshua … sent … two men to spy secretly—Faith is manifested by an active, persevering use of means (Jas 2:22); and accordingly Joshua, while confident in the accomplishment of the divine promise (Jos 1:3), adopted every precaution which a skilful general could think of to render his first attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful. Two spies were despatched to reconnoitre the country, particularly in the neighborhood of Jericho; for in the prospect of investing that place, it was desirable to obtain full information as to its site, its approaches, the character, and resources of its inhabitants. This mission required the strictest privacy, and it seems to have been studiously concealed from the knowledge of the Israelites themselves, test any unfavorable or exaggerated report, publicly circulated, might have dispirited the people, as that of the spies did in the days of Moses.

Jericho—Some derive this name from a word signifying "new moon," in reference to the crescent-like plain in which it stood, formed by an amphitheater of hills; others from a word signifying "its scent," on account of the fragrance of the balsam and palm trees in which it was embosomed. Its site was long supposed to be represented by the small mud-walled hamlet Er-Riha; but recent researches have fixed on a spot about half an hour's journey westward, where large ruins exist about six or eight miles distant from the Jordan. It was for that age a strongly fortified town, the key of the eastern pass through the deep ravine, now called Wady-Kelt, into the interior of Palestine.

they … came into an harlot's house—Many expositors, desirous of removing the stigma of this name from an ancestress of the Saviour (Mt 1:5), have called her a hostess or tavern keeper. But Scriptural usage (Le 21:7-14; De 23:18; Jud 11:1; 1Ki 3:16), the authority of the Septuagint, followed by the apostles (Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25), and the immemorial style of Eastern khans, which are never kept by women, establish the propriety of the term employed in our version. Her house was probably recommended to the spies by the convenience of its situation, without any knowledge of the character of the inmates. But a divine influence directed them in the choice of that lodging-place.Joshua sends two spies to Jericho; they are sought after; Rahab hides them; deceives the messengers, Joshua 2:1-7. She acknowledges that God had given them the land; her reasons, Joshua 2:8-11. The covenant between her and them, Joshua 2:12-21. Their return and relation, Joshua 2:22-24.

Sent; or, had sent, as that tense is oft used. See Poole "Joshua 1:11".

Shittim; called also Abel-shittim, Numbers 33:49.

Two men; not twelve, as Moses did, partly because the people of Canaan were now more alarmed than in Moses’s time, and more suspicious of all strangers; and partly because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it.

To spy, i.e. to learn the state of the land and people, and what way and method they should proceed in. It is evident enough that Joshmi did not this out of distrust, as the people did, Deu 1; and it is most probable he had God’s command and direction in it, for the encouragement of himself and his army in their present enterprise.

Secretly; with reference not to his enemies, which being the constant and necessary practice of all spies, was needless to be mentioned; but to the Israelites, without their knowledge or desire. And this seems added by way of opposition unto the like action, Deu 1, where it was done with the people’s privity, and upon their motion; and therefore an account was given, not only to Moses, but also to the congregation; whereas here it was given to Joshua only, Joshua 2:23, which was a good caution to prevent the inconveniency which possibly might have arisen, if their report had been doubtful or discouraging.

The land, even Jericho, i.e. the land about Jericho, together with the city. Heb. the land and Jericho, i.e. especially Jericho. So and is used 2 Samuel 2:30 1 Kings 11:1 Psalm 18:1. They obeyed Joshua’s command, even with the hazard of their own lives, considering that they were under the protection of Divine Providence, which could very easily many ways secure them; or being willing to sacrifice their lives in their country’s service.

An harlot’s house; so the Hebrew word is used, Judges 11:1 16:1 1 Kings 3:16 Ezekiel 23:44 and so it is rendered by two apostles, Hebrews 11:31 Jam 2:25; such she either now was, or formerly had been; and such a person’s house they might come to with less observation than to an hostess, as some render it, or to a public victualling-house. And such a course of life was very common among the Gentiles, who esteemed fornication to be either no sin, or a very small and trivial one.

Lodged there, or, lay down, as the same word, is rendered, Joshua 2:8, intended and composed themselves to rest; but they were disturbed and hindered from their intentions upon the following discovery.

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men,.... Or "had sent" (p); for this was done before the above order to depart: it is a tradition of the Jews (q), that they were Caleb and Phinehas; but they were not young men, as in Joshua 6:23; especially the former; nor is it probable that men of such rank and figure should be sent, but rather meaner persons; yet such as were men of good sense and abilities, and capable of conducting such an affair they were sent about, as well as men of probity and faithfulness; two good men, Kimchi says they were, and not as they that went on the mission of Moses; these were sent from Shittim, the same with Abelshittim, in the plains of Moab, where Israel now lay encamped, Numbers 33:49, which Josephus (r) calls Abila, and says it was sixty furlongs, or seven miles and better, from Jordan:

to spy secretly; or "silently" (s); not so much with respect to the inhabitants of the land, for it is supposed in all spies, that they do their business in the most private and secret manner, so as not to be discovered by the inhabitants, whose land they are sent to spy; but with respect to the children of Israel, that they might know nothing of it, lest they should be discouraged, thinking that Joshua was in some fear of the Canaanites, and under some distrust of the promise of God to give the land to them: the word for "smiths", and also for persons deaf and dumb, coming from the same root, have furnished the Jewish writers with various conceits, as that these spies went in the habit of smiths with the instruments of their business in their hands; or acted as deaf and dumb persons, and so as incapable of giving an account of themselves, or of answering to any questions put to them, should they be taken up and examined; their commentators in general take notice of this:

saying, go view the land, even Jericho; especially Jericho, so Noldius (t); the land in general, and Jericho in particular, because it was a great city, as Kimchi notes; of this city; see Gill on Luke 19:4. Whether it had its name from the sweetsmelling balsam which grew in plenty about it, or from the form of it, being that of an half moon, is not certain, Strabo (u) says of it, that here was a paradise of balsam, an aromatic, and that it was surrounded with hills in a plain, which bent to it like an amphitheatre. They were not sent to spy the land, as the spies in the times of Moses, to see what sort of land it was, and what sort of people dwelt in it; but to reconnoitre it, to know where it was best to lead the people at first, and encamp; and particularly to observe the passes and avenues leading to Jericho, the first city in it, nearest to them, of importance. Ben Gersom thinks it was to spy or pick out the thoughts of the inhabitants of the land, what apprehensions they had of the people of Israel, whether disheartened and dispirited at their near approach, and what were their intentions, resolutions, and preparations to act against them, offensively, or defensively; and which seems not amiss, since this was the chief information they got, and which they reported to Joshua upon their return; though Abarbinel objects to it as a thing impossible:

and they went, and came into a harlot's house, named Rahab; they went from Shittim, and crossed the river Jordan, by swimming or fording, and came to Jericho; which, as Josephus (w) says, was fifty furlongs, or seven miles and a half, from Jordan; and they went into a harlot's house, not purposely for that reason, because it was such an one, but so it proved eventually; though the Targum of Jonathan says it was the house of a woman, an innkeeper or victualler; for Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret the word it uses of a seller of food (x); and if so, it furnishes out a reason why they turned in thither, where they might expect to have food and lodging; though the Jews commonly take her to be a harlot; and generally speaking, in those times and countries, such as kept public houses were prostitutes; and there are some circumstances which seem to confirm this in the context; and so the Greek version calls her, and is the character given of her in the New Testament: her name was Rahab, of whom the Jews have this tradition (y), that she was ten years of age when Israel came out of Egypt; that she played the harlot the forty years they were in the wilderness, became the wife of Joshua, who had daughters by her, from whom came eight prophets, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Maasia, Hanameel, Shallum, Baruch, the son of Neriah, Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, and some say Huldah the prophetess; but the truth is, she married Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah; see Gill on Matthew 1:5,

and lodged there; that is, they went thither in order to lodge.

(p) "miserat", Vatablus, Masius, Drusius. (q) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2.((r) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 2.((s) "silentio", Montanus, Munster; so Kimchi and Ben Melech. (t) P. 277. (u) Geograph. l. 16. p. 525. (w) Ut supra, sect. 4. (r)) (x) And so R. Sol. Urbin. Obel Moed, fol. 24. 1.((y) Shalshalet Hakabala, ut supra. (q))

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of {a} 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.

(a) Which was in the plain of Moab near Jordan.

Ch. Joshua 2:1-7. The Mission of the Spies to Jericho

1. sent out] Or, had sent. Comp. ch. Joshua 1:11, Joshua 3:2. This was probably on the same day that Joshua received the Divine command to cross the Jordan.

out of Shittim] Comp. Numbers 33:49; Numbers 25:1; Joshua 3:1; Micah 6:5. The full name of the place is given in the first of these passages, “Abel Shittim” = “the Meadow” or “Moist Place of the Acacias.” It was in the “Arabah” or Jordan valley opposite Jericho, at the outlet of the Wâdy Heshbon, about 60 stadia = 3 hours from the place of crossing the river. “We were in the plain of Shittim, and on climbing a little eminence near, we could see the rich wilderness of garden, extending in unbroken verdure right into the corner at the north-east end of the Dead Sea, under the angle formed by the projection of the mountains of Moab, where the Wady Suiweimeh enters the lake. It is now called the Ghor es Seisaban.… Among the tangled wilderness, chiefly near its western edge, still grow many of the acacia trees, ‘Shittim’ (Acacia sayal), from which the district derived its appropriate name of Abel ha-Shittim, ‘the meadow or moist place of the acacias;’ ” Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 524.

two men] “Young men” according to the LXX. and ch. Joshua 6:23. Brave, doubtless, and prudent, such as Joshua, who had himself been one of the twelve spies (Numbers 13:16), would be likely to select, knowing, as he knew, all the dangers to which they would be exposed.

Jericho] “The first stage of Joshua’s conquest was the occupation of the vast trench, so to speak, which parted the Israelites from the mass of the Promised Land,” and which was dominated by the city of Jericho, a place of great antiquity and importance. It derived its name, = “the City of Palm Trees,” from a vast grove of noble palm-trees, nearly three miles broad, and eight miles long, which must have recalled to the few survivors of the old generation of the Israelites the magnificent palm-groves of Egypt. The capture of Jericho was essential for two reasons:

(a)  Standing at the entrance of the main passes from the valley into the interior of Palestine,—the one branching off S. W. towards Olivet, and commanding the approach to Jerusalem, the other, to the N. E., towards Michmash, which defends the approach to Ai and Bethel—it was the key of the country to any invader coming as Joshua did from the East.

(b)  It was for that age a strongly walled town and “enjoyed the benefit of one, if not two, of those copious streams which form the chief sources of such fertility as the valley of the Jordan contains.” Its reduction, therefore, must have been the first object of the operations of Joshua on entering the land of Canaan. See Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 305. “The strategy displayed by the Israelites under Joshua—considering it only as an ordinary historical event—is worth notice. Had Israel advanced on Palestine from the South, however victorious they might have been, they would have driven before them an ever-increasing mass of enemies, who after each repulse would gain fresh reinforcements, and could fall back on new fortifications and an untouched country, more and more difficult at each step. The Canaanites, if defeated on the heights of Hebron, would have held in succession those of Jerusalem and Mount Ephraim; and it is unlikely that the invaders would ever have reached the district of Gilboa, and Tabor, or the Sea of Tiberias. In all probability Israel would have been compelled to turn off to the low country—the land of the Philistines—and with the Canaanites on the vantage ground of the mountains of Judah and Ephraim, the nation would in its infancy have been trodden down by the march of the Assyrian and Egyptian armies, whose military road this was. By crossing Jordan, destroying Jericho, occupying the heights by a night-march, and delivering the crushing blow of the battle of Beth-horon, Joshua executed the favourite manœuvre of the greatest captain by sea or land, since the days of Nelson and Napoleon; he broke through and defeated the centre of the enemies’ line, and then stood in a position to strike with his whole force successively right and left.”—Note to Lenormant’s Manual of Oriental History, 1. p. 111.

and came into a harlot’s house] The spies traversed successfully the space which separated them from Jericho, crossing the fords or swimming, and entered the city towards evening (Joshua 2:2). There was no one in the place to receive them, and it would have been perilous to have gone to a public khan or caravanserai. They, therefore, followed one of the courtesans, of whom there would be many in a Canaanitish city, to her home.

named Rahab] The name of this courtesan was Rahab. She probably, too, carried on the trade of lodging-keeper for wayfaring men. It would seem also that she was engaged in the manufacture of linen, and practised the art of dyeing, for which the Phœnicians were early famous, for we find the flat roof of the house covered with stalks of flax put there to dry, and a stock of scarlet or crimson line in her possession. Her name is mentioned in the genealogy of our Lord (Matthew 1:5). There she appears as the wife of Salmon, the son of Naasson, by whom she became the mother of Boaz, the grandfather of Jesse. See Ruth 4:20-21; 1 Chronicles 2:11; 1 Chronicles 2:51; 1 Chronicles 2:54. Her faith and works are glorified in (a) the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:31), and (b) in the Epistle of St James (James 2:25).

Verse 1. - And Joshua the son of Nun sent. Rather, as margin, had sent (see note on Joshua 1:2). It might have been at the very time when the command was given to the Israelites, for, according to a common Hebrew manner of speech (see, for instance, 1 Samuel 16:10), the three days (ver. 22) may include the whole time spent by the spies in their exploring expedition. Out of Shittim. Literally, from the valley of acacias. It is so called in full in Joel 3:18. This place (called Abel-Shittim in Numbers 33:49), in which the Israelites had sojourned for some time (see Numbers 25:1; cf. 10. 12:1), seems to have been in the plains (עַרְבֹת see note on Joshua 4:13) of Moab, by Jordan, opposite Jericho" (Numbers 33:48, 49, 50; Numbers 36:13; cf. Deuteronomy 1:5). It was "the long belt of acacia groves which mark with a line of verdure the upper terraces of the valley." (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 298). The word Abel, or meadow, signifying the long grass with its juicy moisture, points to it as a refreshing place of sojourn and pasture for flocks, after the weary wandering in the wilderness. The acacia, not the spina AEgyptiaca of the ancients, the mimosa Nilotica of Linnaeus, but the acacia Seyal, a tree with a golden tuft of blossom, which is still (Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 524) to be found on the spot, very hard dark wood, of which much use was made in the tabernacle and its fittings (see Exodus 25, 26, 36, 37, etc.). The name Abel was a common one in Palestine, and is the same as Abila, from whence comes Abilene (Luke 3:1). We may add that it has nowhere been said that they were at Shittim. We find this out from Numbers 25:1. This undesigned coincidence is beyond the power of an inventor, and far beyond the power of a compiler who was not only untrustworthy, but so clumsy that he made the most extraordinary blunders in the management of his matter (see note on next verse, and also on Joshua 1:11). Two men. Young men, as we are told in Joshua 6:23, and therefore active, fleet of foot as well as brave and prudent. All these qualities, as the subsequent narrative shows, were urgently required. "Joshua himself was full of God's Spirit, and had the oracle of God ready for his direction. Yet now he goes, not to the Propitiatorie for consultation, but to the spyes. Except where ordinarie meanes faile us, it is no use appealing to the immediate helpe of God; we may not seek to the posterne, but where the common gate is shut. It was promised Joshua that bee should leade Israel into the promised land, yet hee knew it was unsafe to presume. The condition of his provident care was included in that assurance of successe. Heaven is promised to us, but not to our carelessnesse, infidelitie, disobedience" (Bishop Hall). Secretly. Literally, dumbness or craftiness (the noun being used adverbially), implying the silence and skill required for the task. He who knows how to he silent possesses one at least of the elements of success. The necessity of silence and secrecy may be inferred from Joshua 6:1. Keil, however, following the Masoretic punctuation, regards" secretly" as referring to the Israelites, and the spies as sent unknown to the army, that no depressing report might damp their courage. Jericho. "The city of fragrance" (from רָוַח to breathe, and in the Hiphil, to smell a sweet odour), so called from its situation in the midst of palm trees, from which it was called "the city of palm trees עִיר הַתְּמָרִיּם in Deuteronomy 34:3, 2 Chronicles 28:15; cf. Judges 1:16. The vast palm grove, of which relics are even now occasionally washed up from the Red Sea, preserved by the salt in its acrid waters, has now disappeared. We read of it as still existing in the twelfth century, and indeed traces of it were to be seen as late as 1838. A dirty and poverty-stricken village called Riha, or Eriha, is all that now marks the site of all these glories of nature and art, and the most careful researches have until lately failed to discover any remains of the ancient city. It is doubtful whether the ruins observed by Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 216) are not the ruins of soma later city, built in the neighbourhood. Bartlett, p. 452, believes Riha to be the site of the later Jericho of our Lord's day, but Tristram would, with less probability, identify Riha with Gilgal. They both, however, place the site of ancient Jericho about a mile and a half from Riha. Conder thinks its true position is at the fountain Ain-es-Sultan. Lenormant, in his 'Manual of Oriental History,' remarks on the skill of Joshua as a military tactician. Whether he followed the advice of his experienced leader, or whether we are to attribute his success to special guidance from above, he certainly displayed the qualities of a consummate general. "Jericho," says Dean Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 805), "stands at the entrance of the main passes from the valley of the Jordan into the interior of Palestine, the one branching off to the southwest towards Olivet, the other to the northwest towards Michmash, which commands the approach to Ai and Bethel. It was thus the key of Palestine to any invader from this quarter." He illustrates by Chiavenna (or the key city, from its situation), in Italy. Lenormant remarks that from an ordinary historical point of view the strategy of Joshua is worth notice. It was the practice ever followed by Napoleon, and, he adds, by Nelson also, to divide his enemies, and crush them in detail. Had Joshua advanced upon Palestine from the south, each success, as it alarmed, would have also united the various communities of the land, under their separate kings, by the sense of a common danger. Thus each onward step would have increased his difficulties, and exposed him, exhausted by continued efforts, to the assaults of fresh and also more numerous enemies, in a country which grew ever more easy to defend and more perilous to attack. But by crossing the Jordan and marching at once upon Jericho, he was enabled, after the capture of that city, to fall with his whole force first upon the cities of the south, and then on those of the north. The political condition of Palestine at that time (see Introduction) did not permit of a resistance by the whole force of the country under a single leader. A hasty confederation of the kings of the south, after the treaty with Gibeon, was overthrown by the rapid advance of Joshua and the battle of Beth-boron. By this success he was free to march with his whole army northward, against the confederation of tribes under the leadership of the king of Hazor, whom he overcame in the decisive battle of Merom. There is no hint given in the Scripture that in this strategy Joshua acted under the special guidance of the Most High. The probability is, that in this, as in all other of God's purposes effected through the agency of man, there is a mixture of the Divine and human elements, and that man's individuality is selected and guided as an instrument of God's purpose, which, in this instance, was the chastisement of the Canaanitish people, and the gift of the Holy Land as a possession to the descendants of Abraham. That Joshua was not indifferent to human means is shown by this very verse. Into a harlots house. Many commentators have striven to show that this word simply means an innkeeper, an office which, as Dr. Adam Clarke proves at length, was often filled by a woman. It has been derived from זוּן to nourish, a root also found in the Syriac. The Chaldee paraphast and many Jewish and Christian interpreters have adopted this interpretation, in order, as Rosenmuller remarks, "to absolve her from whom Christ had His origin from the crime of prostitution." But St. Matthew seems to imply the very opposite. The genealogy there contained mentions, as though of set purpose, all the blots on the lineage of Christ as was fitting in setting forth the origin of Him who came to forgive sin. Only three women are there mentioned: Tamar, who was guilty of incest; Rahab, the harlot; and Ruth, the Moabitess. And the LXX. render by πόρνη. Calvin calls the interpretation "innkeeper" a "presumptuous wresting of Scripture." Hengstenberg ('Geschichte des Reiches Gottes,' p. 197) also rejects the interpretation "innkeeper," and maintains the right of the spies, who, he says, were no doubt chosen by Joshua for their good character, to enter a wicked woman's house for a good purpose. It does not appear that the spies entered the house of Rahab with any evil intent, but simply because to enter the house of a woman of that kind - and women of that kind must have been very numerous in the licentious Phoenician cities - would have attracted far less attention than if they had entered any other. Even there it did not escape the notice of the king, who had been thoroughly alarmed (ver. 3) by the successes of Israel eastward of Jordan. Origen, in his third homily on Joshua, remarks that, "As the first Jesus sent his spies before him and they were received into the harlot's house, so the second Jesus sent His forerunners, whom the publicans and harlots gladly received." Named Rahab. Origen (Hom. 3) sees in this name, which signifies room (see Rehoboth, Genesis 26:22), the type of the Church of Christ which extends throughout the world, and receives sinners. And lodged there. Literally, and lay there, perhaps with the idea of lying hid, for they did not (ver. 15) spend the night there. Joshua 2:1Two Spies Sent Over to Jericho. - Joshua 2:1. Although Joshua had received a promise from the Lord of His almighty help in the conquest of Canaan, he still thought it necessary to do what was requisite on his part to secure the success of the work committed to him, as the help of God does not preclude human action, but rather presupposes it. He therefore sent two men out secretly as spies from Shittim the place of encampment at that time (see at Numbers 25:1), to view, i.e., explore, the land, especially Jericho, the strongly fortified frontier town of Canaan (Joshua 6:1). The word "secretly" is connected by the accents with "saying," giving them their instructions secretly; but this implies that they were also sent out secretly. This was done partly in order that the Canaanites might not hear of it, and partly in order that, if the report should prove unfavourable, the people might not be thrown into despair, as they had been before in the time of Moses. The spies proceeded to Jericho, and towards evening they entered the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there, lit. laid themselves down, intended to remain or sleep there. Jericho was two hours' journey to the west of the Jordan, situated in a plain that was formerly very fertile, and celebrated for its palm trees and balsam shrubs, but which is now quite desolate and barren. This plain is encircled on the western side by a naked and barren range of mountains, which stretches as far as Beisan towards the north and to the Dead Sea on the south. Every trace of the town has long since passed away, though it evidently stood somewhere near, and probably on the northern side of, the miserable and dirty village of Rha, by the Wady Kelt (see Robinson, Pal. ii. pp. 279ff., 289ff.; v. Raumer, Pal. pp. 206ff.). Rahab is called a zonah, i.e., a harlot, not an innkeeper, as Josephus, the Chaldee version, and the Rabbins render the word. Their entering the house of such a person would not excite so much suspicion. Moreover, the situation of her house against or upon the town wall was one which facilitated escape. But the Lord so guided the course of the spies, that they found in this sinner the very person who was the most suitable for their purpose, and upon whose heart the tidings of the miracles wrought by the living God on behalf of Israel had made such an impression, that she not only informed the spies of the despondency of the Canaanites, but, with believing trust in the power of the God of Israel, concealed the spies from all the inquiries of her countrymen, though at the greatest risk to herself.
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