Joshua 2:4
And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men to me, but I knew not from where they were:
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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.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.I wist not whence they were - Rahab acted as she did from the belief in God's declared word, and conviction that resistance to His will would be both vain and wicked Joshua 2:9-11. Thus, she manifested a faith both sound and practical, and is praised accordingly Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25. The falsehood to which she had recourse may be excused by the pressure of circumstances and by her own antecedents, but cannot be defended. 4-6. the woman took the two men, and hid them—literally, "him," that is, each of them in separate places, of course previous to the appearance of the royal messengers and in anticipation of a speedy search after her guests. According to Eastern manners, which pay an almost superstitious respect to a woman's apartment, the royal messengers did not demand admittance to search but asked her to bring the foreigners out. Or, But the woman had taken—and had hid them, to wit, before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours, or common rumour, 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 did apparently venture her life upon a stedfast persuasion of the truth of God’s word and promise given to the Israelites.

I wist not whence they were: her answer, contained in these and the following words, was palpably false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; howsoever, her intention was good therein: see Romans 3:8. But it is very probable, she being a heathen, might think, what some Christians have thought and said, that an officious lie is not unlawful. Or, at worst. this was her infirmity, which was graciously pardoned by God, and her faith was amply rewarded. And the woman took the two men,.... Or "she had taken" them (z) before the messengers came, upon a rumour she understood was gone abroad, that she had got Israelitish spies in her house, and so might expect to be visited and searched by the king's officers, and therefore took this precaution:

and hid them; the Hebrew word is singular, "him" (a): hence the Jews, who take these two spies to be Caleb and Phinehas, say, that only Caleb was hid, and Phinehas, though he was before them, was not seen, being an angel, Malachi 2:7; but the sense is, that she hid each of them, and very probably singly and apart, that if one was found, the other might escape, as Ben Gersom observes; and Abarbinel is of opinion that she hid them twice, now in the middle of her house, one in one place, and the other in another, for the reason before given, and after this hid them in the roof of her house, as afterwards related:

and said thus, there came men unto me; that is, into her house, this she owned:

but I wist not whence they were; of what country they were, whether Israelites or not; which whether she knew or not is not certain; it is probable she did, and told an untruth, as she also did in Joshua 2:5.

(z) "duxerat, tulerat"; so Syr. Ar. Kimchi, & Ben Melech. (a) "et abscondit eum", Montanus; "abdiderat eum", Vatablus.

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:
4. And the woman took the two men] Instead of timidly surrendering them to the king she resolved to shield and protect them.

I wist not] For this meaning of “wist,” comp. Exodus 16:15, “And they said one to another, It is manna, for they wist not what it was;” Exodus 34:29, and in many other passages both in the Old and New Testament. See Commentary on St Mark, ch. Joshua 9:6, p. 100.Verse 4. - And the woman took the two men. The majority of commentators are of opinion that here, as in ver. 1, we must render by the pluperfect. For, as Calvin remarks, Rahab would hardly have dared to lie so coolly had she not previously taken precautions to conceal her guests. And therefore she must have told a twofold falsehood. She must have discovered, or been made acquainted with, their errand, and therefore have "known whence they were," in addition to her assertion that she did not know where they were now. And hid them. The original is remarkable and very vivid. And hid him, i.e., each one in a separate place. No doubt the detail comes from an eyewitness, so that if the Book of Joshua he not a contemporary work, the writer must have had access to some contemporary document. Joshua's appeal to the two tribes and a half, to remember the condition on which Moses gave them the land on the east of the Jordan for an inheritance, and to fulfil it, met with a ready response; to that these tribes not only promised to obey his commandments in every respect, but threatened every one with death who should refuse obedience. In recalling this condition to the recollection of the tribes referred to, Joshua follows the expressions in Deuteronomy 3:18-20, where Moses himself recapitulates his former command, rather than the original passage in Numbers 32. The expression "this land" shows that the speaker was still on the other side of the Jordan. חמשׁים, with the loins girded, i.e., prepared for war, synonymous with חלצים in Deuteronomy 3:18 and Numbers 32:32 (see at Exodus 13:18). חיל כּל־גּבּורי, all the mighty men of valour, i.e., the grave warriors (as in Joshua 6:2; Joshua 8:3; Joshua 10:7, and very frequently in the later books), is not common to this book and Deuteronomy, as Knobel maintains, but is altogether strange to the Pentateuch. The word "all" (v. 14, like Numbers 32:21, Numbers 32:27) must not be pressed. According to Joshua 4:13, there were only about 40,000 men belonging to the two tribes and a half who crossed the Jordan to take part in the war; whereas, according to Numbers 26:7, Numbers 26:18, Numbers 26:34, there were 110,000 men in these tribes who were capable of bearing arms, so that 70,000 must have remained behind for the protection of the women and children and of the flocks and herds, and to defend the land of which they had taken possession. On Joshua 1:15 see Deuteronomy 3:18; and on the more minute definition of "on this side (lit. beyond) Jordan" by "toward the sun-rising," compare the remarks on Numbers 32:19. The answer of the two tribes and a half, in which they not only most cheerfully promise their help in the conquest of Canaan, but also express the wish that Joshua may have the help of the Lord (Joshua 1:17 compared with Joshua 1:4), and after threatening all who refuse obedience with death, close with the divine admonition, "only be strong and of a good courage" (Joshua 1:18, cf. Joshua 1:6), furnishes a proof of the wish that inspired them to help their brethren, that all the tribes might speedily enter into the peaceable possession of the promised inheritance. The expression "rebel against the commandment" is used in Deuteronomy 1:26, Deuteronomy 1:43; Deuteronomy 9:23; 1 Samuel 12:14, to denote resistance to the commandments of the Lord; here it denotes opposition to His representative, the commander chosen by the Lord, which was to be punished with death, according to the law in Deuteronomy 17:12.
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