Joshua 2:9
And she said to the men, I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that your terror is fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
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(9-11) She said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land. . . .—The words of this confession are memorable in everyway. Note the fulfilment of the prophetic song of Moses, which is partly repeated here (Exodus 15:15-16, with Joshua 2:9-11), “All the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away; fear and dread shall fall upon them.” But especially observe the expression of Rahab’s own belief, Jehovah, your God, He is God in heaven above and in earth beneath.” Did the faith of the men of Israel go much further than this? Did it always go so far? (Comp. Joshua 24:14; 1Kings 18:21; Jonah 1:9-10). The prophets themselves could not assert much more. The greatest of them were satisfied if they could bring the people of Israel to acknowledge this. Rahab’s confession is also one of a series. The Egyptians, Philistines, Syrians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, were all in turn brought to the same acknowledgment by their contact with Israel. The reason is stated in Joshua 4:24, “That all the people of the earth may know the hand of Jehovah, that it is mighty.”

2:8-21 Rahab had heard of the miracles the Lord wrought for Israel. She believed that his promises would certainly be fulfilled, and his threatenings take effect; and that there was no way of escape but by submitting to him, and joining with his people. The conduct of Rahab proved that she had the real principle of Divine faith. Observe the promises the spies made to her. The goodness of God is often expressed by his kindness and truth, Ps 117:2; in both these we must be followers of him. Those who will be conscientious in keeping promises, are cautious in making them. The spies make needful conditions. The scarlet cord, like the blood upon the doorpost at the passover, recalls to remembrance the sinner's security under the atoning blood of Christ; and that we are to flee thereto for refuge from the wrath of a justly offended God. The same cord Rahab used for the saving of these Israelites, was to be used for her own safety. What we serve and honour God with, we may expect he will bless, and make useful to us.The sense is, that "they pursued along the way which leads to Jordan and across the fords;" probably those described in Judges 3:28. Jos 2:8-21. The Covenant between Her and Them.

8-13. she came up unto them upon the roof and said—Rahab's dialogue is full of interest, as showing the universal panic and consternation of the Canaanites on the one hand (Jos 24:11; De 2:25), and her strong convictions on the other, founded on a knowledge of the divine promise, and the stupendous miracles that had opened the way of the Israelites to the confines of the promised land. She was convinced of the supremacy of Jehovah, and her earnest stipulations for the preservation of her relatives amid the perils of the approaching invasion, attest the sincerity and strength of her faith.

Quest. How could they understand one the other?


1. The Hebrew and the Canaan or Phoenician languages have a very great resemblance, and are thought to be but differing dialects of one and the same tongue, as the learned prove by a multitude of words, which are common to both of them. Or,

2. Some of the Hebrews had either out of curiosity, or by Joshua’s order and direction, learnt that language for this or other such like occasions.

Your terror, i.e. the dread of you. See Exodus 23:27 34:24 Deu 11:25 Deu 28:7. And she said unto the men,.... The two spies:

I know that the Lord hath given you the land; the land of Canaan, of which she was an inhabitant, and in which they now were; this she knew either by some tradition that was among them; or by divine revelation, a supernatural impulse upon her mind: or by observing what the Lord had done already, in putting the land of the Amorites into their hands, which were one of the seven nations of Canaan; and by this it also appears, and more clearly by what follows, that she had knowledge of the Lord God, the God of Israel:

and that your terror is fallen upon us; which was another token or sign by which she knew the land would be delivered to them; that they who were a formidable people, and struck terror into others, now were terrified themselves, at the rumour of Israel being come to invade them; this was what the Lord said should be the case, Deuteronomy 11:25,

and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you; or "melt" (f), like wax before the fire, as Moses had predicted, Exodus 15:15.

(f) "liquefacti sunt", Montanus, Piscator.

And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your {d} terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

(d) For so God promised, De 28:7, Jos 5:1.

8–21. Reception of the Spies by Rahab

9. the Lord] The name is remarkable as used by Rahab. But the Israelites had long been encamped in the neighbourhood, and she might easily have become acquainted with the name of their God.

your terror] i.e. “the terror of you.” The prophetic words of triumph in Moses’ song were now fulfilled (Exodus 15:14-16; comp. also Deuteronomy 11:25).

faint] Heb. melt. “Oure hearte basshade, ne spirit bood in us at youre yncomynge,” Wyclif. See Joshua 2:24.Verse 9. - Hath given. Rahab's faith is shown by this expression. What God willed she regarded as already done. To speak of the future as of a past already fulfilled is the usual language of the Hebrew prophets. Faint, Literally, melt; cf. Exodus 15:15, 16, which is thus shown to be not poetic license, but sober fact. For we may take the future in the passage just cited as a present, and translate, "All the inhabitants of Canaan melt away; fear and dread are falling upon them" (cf. Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 11:25). When the king of Jericho was informed of the fact that these strange men had entered the house of Rahab, and suspecting their reason for coming, summoned Rahab to give them up, she hid them (lit., hid him, i.e., each one of the spies: for this change from the plural to the singular see Ewald, 219), and said to the king's messengers: כּן, recte, "It is quite correct, the men came to me, but I do not know where they were from; and when in the darkness the gate was at the shutting (i.e., ought to be shut: for this construction, see Genesis 15:12), they went out again, I know not whither. Pursue them quickly, you will certainly overtake them." The writer then adds this explanation in Joshua 2:6 : she had hidden them upon the roof of her house among stalks of flax. The expression "to-night" (lit., the night) in Joshua 2:2 is more precisely defined in Joshua 2:5, viz., as night was coming on, before the town-gate was shut, after which it would have been in vain for them to attempt to leave the town. "Stalks of flax," not "cotton pods" (Arab., J. D. Mich. ), or "tree-flax, i.e., cotton," as Thenius explains it, but flax stalks or stalk-flax, as distinguished from carded flax, in which there is no wood left, λινοκαλάμη, stipula lini (lxx, Vulg.). Flax stalks, which grow to the height of three or four feet in Egypt, and attain the thickness of a reed, and would probably be quite as large in the plain of Jericho, the climate of which resembles that of Egypt, would form a very good hiding-place for the spies if they were piled up upon the roof to dry in the sun. The falsehood by which Rahab sought not only to avert all suspicion from herself of any conspiracy with the Israelitish men who had entered her house, but to prevent any further search for them in her house, and to frustrate the attempt to arrest them, is not to be justified as a lie of necessity told for a good purpose, nor, as Grotius maintains, by the unfounded assertion that, "before the preaching of the gospel, a salutary lie was not regarded as a fault even by good men." Nor can it be shown that it was thought "allowable," or even "praiseworthy," simply because the writer mentions the fact without expressing any subjective opinion, or because, as we learn from what follows (Joshua 2:9.), Rahab was convinced of the truth of the miracles which God had wrought for His people, and acted in firm faith that the true God would give the land of Canaan to the Israelites, and that all opposition made to them would be vain, and would be, in fact, rebellion against the Almighty God himself. For a lie is always a sin. Therefore even if Rahab was not actuated at all by the desire to save herself and her family from destruction, and the motive from which she acted had its roots in her faith in the living God (Hebrews 11:31), so that what she did for the spies, and thereby for the cause of the Lord, was counted to her for righteousness ("justified by works," James 2:25), yet the course which she adopted was a sin of weakness, which was forgiven her in mercy because of her faith.

(Note: Calvin's estimate is also a correct one: "It has often happened, that even when good men have endeavoured to keep a straight course, they have turned aside into circuitous paths. Rahab acted wrongly when she told a lie and said that the spies had gone; and the action was acceptable to God only because the evil that was mixed with the good was not imputed to her. Yet, although God wished the spies to be delivered, He did not sanction their being protected by a lie." Augustine also pronounces the same opinion concerning Rahab as that which he expressed concerning the Hebrew midwives (see the comm. on Exodus 1:21).)

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