Joshua 2:6
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 on the roof.
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(6) The stalks of flax.—It is remarked that flax and barley are both early crops (Exodus 9:31), and that the first month (see Joshua 4:19) was the time of barley harvest. (Comp. 2Samuel 21:9.)

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.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.Stalks of flax - literally, "the carded fibres of the tree." The flax in Palestine grew to more than three feet in height, with a stalk as thick as a cane. It was probably with the flax stalks, recently cut (compare Exodus 9:31, note) and laid out on the house roof to dry, that Rahab hid the spies. 6. she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax—Flax, with other vegetable productions, is at a certain season spread out on the flat roofs of Eastern houses to be dried in the sun; and, after lying awhile, it is piled up in numerous little stacks, which, from the luxuriant growth of the flax, rise to a height of three or four feet. Behind some of these stacks Rahab concealed the spies. Up to the roof, which was plain, after the manner. See Deu 22:8 Matthew 10:27 Mark 2:4 Acts 10:9. Laid in order upon the roof, that they may be dried by the heat of the sun. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house,.... Before the messengers came; though Abarbinel thinks it was after they were gone, when she took them from the place of their concealment, and had them to the roof of the house, where she thought they would be safe and secure, should the messengers return, or others come in search of them, who would not, as she imagined, look for them there:

and hid them with the stalks of flax; that is, under them, or "in flax of wood", or "a tree" (b); which may with as much propriety, or more, be called a tree than hyssop, 1 Kings 4:33; as it is in the Misnah (c). Moreover, there was a sort of flax which grew in the upper part of Egypt towards Arabia, as Pliny says (d), which they called "xylon", or wood, of which were made "lina xylina": though the words may be rightly transposed, as by as, "stalks of flax", which are large and strong before the flax is stripped or beaten off of them; the Targum renders it bundles of flax, or handfuls and sheaves of them, as they were when cut down and gathered:

which she had laid in order upon the roof; to be dried, as Kimchi observes; and Pliny (e) speaks of flax being bound up in bundles, and hung up and dried in the sun; which was done that it might be more easily stripped and beaten off; and the roofs of houses in those countries being flat, were very fit for such a purpose; See Gill on Deuteronomy 22:8; and these being now laid there were very suitable and convenient to conceal the men under them. This seems to be in favour of Rahab, as being a virtuous and industrious woman; see Proverbs 31:13.

(b) "in linis ligni", Montanus; "vel arboris", Vatablus. (c) Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 3. & Bartenora in ib. (d) Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.((e) Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.

But she had brought them up to the {c} roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.

(c) Meaning, on the house: for then their houses were flat above, so that they might do their business on it.

6. the roof of the house] The roofs of Eastern houses were flat (St Mark 2:4), and were made useful for various purposes, as drying corn, hanging up linen, and preparing figs and raisins. They were also used as (a) places of recreation in the evening; (b) sleeping-places at night, when the interior apartments were too hot or sultry for refreshing repose; (c) places for devotion and even idolatrous worship. Comp. 1 Samuel 9:25-26; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 16:22; 2 Kings 23:12; Daniel 4:29; Acts 2:1; Acts 10:9. The Jewish Law required that they should have a battlement, in order that guilt of blood might not come upon the house through any one falling from it (Deuteronomy 22:8). “Parts of Roman houses were also furnished with such roofs called solaria, because they lay exposed on all sides to the sun, and also mœniana, as the Italians now also call them altana.” Lange’s Commentary.

the stalks of flax] “stubble of flaxe,” Wyclif. Unbroken flax is here meant, the stalks of which, about Jericho and in Egypt, reached a height of more than three feet and the thickness of a reed. It was anciently one of the most important crops in Palestine (Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:9).Verse 6. - But she had brought them up. Literally, and she caused them to ascend; but our version has very properly (see ver. 4) given the preterite the pluperfect sense here. "Two strangers, Israelites, spies, have a safe harbour provided them, even amongst their enemies, against the proclamation of a king." "Where cannot the God of heaven either find or raise up friends to His own causes and servants?" (Bp. Hall.) To the roof of the house. The flat roofs of Oriental, and even of Greek and Italian houses, are used for all kinds of purposes, especially for drying corn and other things for domestic use (see 1 Samuel 9:25, 26; 2 Samuel 11:2; 2 Samuel 16:22; 2 Kings 23:12. Also Acts 10:9, where the roof is used as a place of retirement and repose). Stalks of flax. Literally, flax of the tree. The word translated flax either of the raw material or of the linen made from it. Here it must mean flax as it came cut from the field; that is, as our version translates it, the stalks of flax (λινοκαλάμη, LXX.), which grows in Egypt to a height of three feet, and may be presumed to have attained a height not much less at Jericho. The word עָרַד which signifies to lay in a row, and is used of the wood on the altar in Genesis 22:9, and of the shew bread in Leviticus 24:6, confirms this view. It is obvious that this would have formed a most sufficient hiding place for the fugitives. "Either faith or friendship are not tried but in extremities. To show countenance to the messengers of God while the publique face of the State smiles upon them, is but a courtesie of course; but to hide our own lives in theirs when they are persecuted is an act which looks for a reward" (Bp. Hall). 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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