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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.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. 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 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.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:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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. 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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