And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan to the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Judges 3:28.
as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate—This precaution was to ensure the capture of the spies, should they have been lurking in the city.Fords, or passages, i.e. the usual places where people used to pass over Jordan, whether by boats or bridges; or rather, because of the shallowness of the river, which a little after this swelled higher, as the history will tell us, and as it is very usual for rivers to do.
They shut the gate of the city, partly for their security against their approaching enemies; and partly to prevent the escape of the spies, if peradventure Rahab was mistaken, and they yet lurked in the city.
the way to Jordan; on the other side of which the people of Israel lay encamped, to which they supposed, according to Rahab's account, these two men directed their course:
unto the fords; the fords of Jordan, the passages through it; for in some places, and at some times, it was fordable; which accounts for the way in which these spies could get over Jordan, see Genesis 32:10; it was most reasonable to conclude they would return the same way; and so far the king's messengers went, but further they did not choose to go, because it would be to no purpose, and they might expose themselves to the camp of Israel, which lay on the other side:
and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate; that is, either as soon as the king's messengers were gone out of Rahab's house, either the spies, or rather the men of the house, Rahab's servants, shut the door of it to prevent their return, or others coming in; or rather, when they were got out of the city, the watchmen of the city, the porters of the city gates, shut them, that if they were not got out of the city, to prevent their escape, or however to keep out others from entering, that might be on some such design, or worse.And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 7. - Unto the fords. There were several of these fords. One near Jericho (cf, Judges 3:28; Judges 12:5, 6; 2 Samuel 17:22, 24; 2 Samuel 19:16, 19, 39); one at Bethsean, now Beisan, leading to Succoth (Judges 8:4; cf. Genesis 32:22; Genesis 33:17. See Robinson, ' Biblical Researches' 2:497; Ritter, 'Geography of Palestine'); beside others not mentioned in Scripture. A vivid description of the crossing the Jordan at the fords near Jericho is to be found in Tristrain's 'Land of Israel,' p. 520. The ford is almost certainly the one mentioned here, since an hour or two's ride brought the party to Shittim. These fords were easy to cross save when the Jordan, as was now the case (Joshua 3:15), overflowed its banks. This may have been the reason why the pursuers did not cross the fords, but they pursued the spies to the fords, hoping to find their retreat cut off. This is rendered more probable by the fact (ver. 22) that the pursuers appear to have continued their search after leaving the fords. 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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