Joshua 6:25
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwells in Israel even to this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
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(25) And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive.—“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not” (Hebrews 11:31). And so Jesus said to her who had ministered to Him in the house of Simon the Pharisee, “Thy sins are forgiven;” and again, “Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace” Luke 7:48; Luke 7:50). “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works?” (James 2:25).

And she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day.—“Salmon begat Booz of Rachab” seems certainly to refer to her (Matthew 1:5), though why she is called Rachab in that place is not obvious. Rachab is not the usual form of the word, either in the LXX. or in the other passages of the Greek text where she is named. It is not simply a variation in the English spelling, but a difference in the original Greek.



Joshua 6:25

This story comes in like an oasis in these terrible narratives of Canaanite extermination. There is much about it that is beautiful and striking, but the main thing is that it teaches the universality of God’s mercy, and the great truth that trust in Him unites to Him and brings deliverance, how black soever may have been the previous life.

I need not tell over again the story, told with such inimitable picturesqueness here: how the two spies, swimming the Jordan in flood, set out on their dangerous mission and found themselves in the house of Rahab, a harlot; how the king sent to capture them, how she hid them among the flax-stalks bleaching on the flat roof, confessed faith in Israel’s God and lied steadfastly to save them, how they escaped to the Quarantania hills, how she ‘perished not’ in the capture, entered into the community of Israel, was married, and took her place-hers!-in the line of David’s and Christ’s ancestresses.

The point of interest is her being, notwithstanding her previous position and history, one of the few instances in which heathen were brought into Israel. The Epistle to the Hebrews and James both refer to her. We now consider her story as embodying for us some important truths about faith in its nature, its origin, its power.

I. Faith in its constant essence and its varying objects.

Her creed was very short and simple. She abjured idols, and believed that Jehovah was the one God. She knew nothing of even the Mosaic revelation, nothing of its moral law or of its sacrifices. And yet the Epistle to the Hebrews has no scruple in ascribing faith to her. The object of that Epistle is to show that Christianity is Judaism perfected. It labours to establish that objectively there has been advance, not contradiction, and that subjectively there is absolute identity. It has always been faith that has bound men to God. That faith may co-exist with very different degrees of illumination. Not the creed, but the trust, is the all-important matter. This applies to all pre-Christian times and to all heathen lands. Our faith has a fuller gospel to lay hold of. Do not neglect it.

Beware lest people with less light and more love get in before you, ‘who shall come from the east and the west.’

II. Faith in its origin in fear.

There are many roads to faith, and it matters little which we take, so long as we get to the goal. This is one, and some people seem to think that it is a very low and unworthy one, and one which we should never urge upon men. But there are a side of the divine nature and a mode of the divine government which properly evoke fear.

God’s moral government, His justice and retribution, are facts.

Fear is an inevitable and natural consequence of feeling that His justice is antagonistic to us. The work of conscience is precisely to create such fear. Not to feel it is to fall below manhood or to be hardened by sin.

That fear is meant to lead us to God and love. Rahab fled to God. Peter ‘girt his fisher’s coat to him,’ and lost his fear in the sunshine of Christ’s face, as a rainbow trembles out of a thunder-cloud when touched by sunbeams.

We have all grounds enough to fear.

Urge these as a reason for trust.

III. Faith in its relation to the previous life.

It is a strange instance of blindness that attempts have been made to soften down the Bible’s plain speaking about Rahab’s character.

In her story we have an anticipation of New Testament teaching.

The ‘woman that was a sinner.’

Mary Magdalene.

‘Then drew near all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him.’

She shows us that there is no hopeless guilt. None is so in regard to the effects of sin on a soul. There is no heart so indurated as that its capacity for being stirred by the divine message is killed.

There is none hopeless in regard to God.

His love embraces all, however bad. The bond which unites to Him is not blamelessness of life but simple trust.

The grossest vice is not so thorough a barrier as self-satisfied self-righteousness.

A thin slice of crystal will bar the entrance of air more effectually than many folds of stuff.

IV. Faith in its practical effects.

Rahab’s story shows how living faith, like a living stream, will cut a channel for itself, and must needs flow out into the life.

Hence James is right in using her as an example of how ‘we are justified by works and not by faith only,’ and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is equally right in enrolling her in his great muster-roll of heroes and heroines of faith, and asserting that ‘by faith’ she ‘perished not among them who believed not.’ The one writer fastens on a later stage in her experience than does the other. James points to the rich fruit, the Epistle to the Hebrews goes deeper and lays bare the root from which the life rose to the clusters.

The faith that saves is not a barren intellectual process, nor an idle trust in Christ’s salvation, but a practical power. If genuine it will mould and impel the life.

So Rahab’s faith led her, as ours, if real, will lead us, to break with old habits and associations contrary to itself. She ceased to be ‘Rahab the harlot,’ she forsook ‘her own people and her father’s house.’ But her conquest of her old self was gradual. A lie was a strange kind of first-fruits of faith. Its true fruit takes time to flower and swell and come to ripeness and sweetness.

So we should not expect old heads on young shoulders, nor wonder if people, lifted from the dunghills of the world, have some stench and rags of their old vices hanging about them still. That thought should moderate our expectations of the characters of converts from heathenism, or from the degraded classes at home. And it should be present to ourselves, when we find in ourselves sad recurrences of faults and sins that we know should have been cast out, and that we hoped had been so.

This thought enhances our wondering gratitude for the divine long-suffering which bears with our slow progress. Our great Teacher never loses patience with His dull scholars.

V. Faith as the means of deliverance and safety.

From external evils it delivers us or not, as God may will. James was no less dear, and no less faithful, than John, though he was early ‘slain with the sword,’ and his brother died in extreme old age in Ephesus. Paul looked forward to being ‘delivered from every evil work,’ though he knew that the time of his being ‘offered’ was at hand, because the deliverance that he looked for was his being ‘saved into His heavenly kingdom.’

That true deliverance is infallibly ours, if by faith we have made the Deliverer ours.

There is a more terrible fall of a worse city than Jericho, in that day when ‘the city of the terrible ones shall be laid low,’ and our Joshua brings it ‘to the ground, even to the dust.’ ‘In that same day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: we have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks,’ and into that eternal home He will certainly lead all who are joined to Him, and separated from their foul old selves, and from ‘the city of destruction,’ by faith in Him.6:17-27 Jericho was to be a solemn and awful sacrifice to the justice of God, upon those who had filled up the measure of their sins. So He appoints, from whom, as creatures, they received their lives, and to whom, as sinners, they had forfeited them. Rahab perished not with them that believed not, Heb 11:31. All her kindred were saved with her; thus faith in Christ brings salvation to the house, Ac 14:31. She, and they with her, were plucked as brands from the burning. With Rahab, or with the men of Jericho; our portion must be assigned, as we posses or disregard the sign of salvation; even faith in Christ, which worketh by love. Let us remember what depends upon our choice, and let us choose accordingly. God shows the weight of a Divine curse; where it rests there is no getting from under it; for it brings ruin without remedy.Even unto this day - These words are rightly noted as implying that the narrative was written not long after the occurrences which it records. 25. she—Rahab

dwelleth in Israel unto this day—a proof that this book was written not long after the events related.

For that general command of rooting out the Canaanites seems to have had some exception, in case any of them had sincerely and seasonably cast off their idolatry and wickedness, and submitted themselves to the Israelites, as we shall see hereafter. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive,.... From perishing by the sword, as the rest of the inhabitants did. Kimchi says, some interpret it of his giving her food, and an inheritance by which she might live; and Josephus (f) intimates the same: he says, he gave her fields, and had her in great honour and esteem; and it is the notion of some Jewish writers, that he took her to wife, and that this is meant by saving her alive; which sense Kimchi disapproves of, as being foreign; besides, it was not Joshua, but Salmon, a prince in Israel, that married her, Matthew 1:5,

and her father's household, and all she had; that is, he saved alive all her relations, and it may be her cattle, if she had any; and those of her kindred also, as their sheep, oxen, and asses, when those of others were killed, Joshua 6:21. Some also understand this of intermarriages of principal persons in Israel with some of her father's fairly; but it only signifies that their lives were spared, when the whole city was destroyed with the edge of the sword:

and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; which may be meant either personally of Rahab, who was living and dwelt in the land of Canaan, when this history was written; and serves to strengthen the opinion that Joshua was the writer of it, and to explain the meaning of the phrase "unto this day", elsewhere used in this book; and to remove any objection from it against his being the author of it; or else of her dwelling there in her posterity, and so she might dwell in it unto the times of the Messiah, who sprang from her, Matthew 1:5,

because she hid the messengers which Joshua, sent to spy out Jericho; this was the reason of her and her father's family being saved alive; See Gill on Joshua 6:17.

(f) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 7.

And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she {p} dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

(p) For she was married to Salmon prince of the tribe of Judah, Mt 1:5.

25. she dwelleth in Israel] These words do not necessarily imply that she was alive at the time the Book of Joshua was written, but that the family of strangers, of which she was reckoned the head, continued to dwell among the children of Israel. She married Salmon, of the tribe of Judah, and became the ancestress of Boaz, the husband of Ruth. See Matthew 1:5. Her reception into the Jewish Church, and her mention in the genealogy of Christ, were a pledge and earnest of the reception of the Gentile world, and of the grafting of the wild olive into the good olive-tree (Romans 11:24).Verse 25. - Unto this day. This may either be interpreted of herself, or, according to s common Hebrew idiom, of her family (cf. Joshua 17:14-18; Joshua 24:17). For a fuller discussion of the bearing of this passage on the date of the Book of Joshua, see Introduction. There is no mention of Rahab's marriage in the Old Testament. Lightfoot ('Hebrew and Talmudicai Exercitations?' Matthew 1:5) mentions a tradition that she married Joshua! Dr. W. H. Mill, in his treatise on the genealogies of our Lord, defends the tradition St. Matthew has followed by showing that Salmon's age at the time gives immense probability to the statement. Some (see the Bishop of Bath and Wells' article in Smith's ' Dictionary of the Bible') suppose that Salmon was one of the spies. On the seventh day the marching round the town commenced very early, at the dawning of the day, that they might go round seven times. כּמּשׁפּט, in the manner prescribed and carried out on the previous days, which had become a right through precept and practice. On the seventh circuit, when the priests had blown the trumpet, Joshua commanded the fighting men to raise a war-cry, announcing to them at the same time that the town, with all that was in it, was to be a ban to the Lord, with the exception of Rahab and the persons in her house, and warning them not to take of that which was laid under the ban, that they might not bring a ban upon the camp of Israel. The construction in v. 16, "it came to pass at the seventh time the priests had blown the trumpets, then Joshua said, ... " is more spirited than if the conjunction כּאשׁר had been used before תּקעוּ, or בּתקוע had been used. Because the Lord had given Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, they were to consecrate it to Him as a ban (cherem), i.e., as a holy thing belonging to Jehovah, which was not to be touched by man, as being the first-fruits of the land of Canaan. (On cherem, see the remarks at Leviticus 27:28-29.) Rahab alone was excepted from this ban, along with all that belonged to her, because she had hidden the spies. The inhabitants of an idolatrous town laid under the ban were to be put to death, together with their cattle, and all the property in the town to be burned, as Moses himself had enjoined on the basis of the law in Leviticus 27:29. The only exceptions were metals, gold, silver, and the vessels of brass and iron; these were to be brought into the treasury of the Lord, i.e., the treasury of the tabernacle, as being holy to the Lord (Joshua 6:19; vid., Numbers 31:54). Whoever took to himself anything that had been laid under the ban, exposed himself to the ban, not only because he had brought an abomination into his house, as Moses observes in Deuteronomy 7:25, in relation to the gold and silver of idols, but because he had wickedly invaded the rights of the Lord, by appropriating that which had been laid under the ban, and had wantonly violated the ban itself. The words, "beware of the ban, that ye do not ban and take of the ban" (Joshua 6:18), point to this. As Lud. de Dieu observes, "the two things were altogether incompatible, to devote everything to God, and yet to apply a portion to their own private use; either the thing should not have been devoted, or having been devoted, it was their duty to abstain from it." Any such appropriation of what had been laid under the ban would make the camp of Israel itself a ban, and trouble it, i.e., bring it into trouble (conturbare, cf. Genesis 34:30). In consequence of the trumpet-blast and the war-cry raised by the people, the walls of the town fell together, and the Israelites rushed into the town and took it, as had been foretold in Joshua 6:5. The position of העם ויּרע is not to be understood as signifying that the people had raised the war-cry before the trumpet-blast, but may be explained on the ground, that in his instructions in Joshua 6:16 Joshua had only mentioned the shouting. But any misinterpretation is prevented by the fact, that it is expressly stated immediately afterwards, that the people did not raise the great shout till they heard the trumpet-blast.

As far as the event itself is concerned, the difference attempts which have been made to explain the miraculous overthrow of the walls of Jericho as a natural occurrence, whether by an earthquake, or by mining, or by sudden storming, for which the inhabitants, who had been thrown into a false security by the marvellous procession repeated day after day for several days, were quite unprepared (as Ewald has tried to explain the miracle away), really deserve no serious refutation, being all of them arbitrarily forced upon the text. It is only from the naturalistic stand-point that the miracle could ever be denied; for it not only follows most appropriately upon the miraculous guidance of Israel through the Jordan, but is in perfect harmony with the purpose and spirit of the divine plan of salvation. "It is impossible," says Hess, "to imagine a more striking way, in which it could have been shown to the Israelites that Jehovah had given them the town. Now the river must retire to give them an entrance into the land, and now again the wall of the town must fall to make an opening into a fortified place. Two such decisive proofs of the co-operation of Jehovah so shortly after Moses' death, must have furnished a pledge, even to the most sensual, that the same God was with them who had led their fathers so mightily and so miraculously through the Read Sea." That this was in part the intention of the miracle, we learn from the close of the narrative (Joshua 6:27). But this does not explain the true object of the miracle, or the reason why God gave up this town to the Israelites without any fighting on their part, through the miraculous overthrow of their walls. The reason for this we have to look for in the fact that Jericho was not only the first, but the strongest town of Canaan, and as such was the key to the conquest of the whole land, the possession of which would open the way to the whole, and give the whole, as it were, into their hands. The Lord would give His people the first and strongest town of Canaan, as the first-fruits of the land, without any effort on their part, as a sign that He was about to give them the whole land for a possession, according to His promise; in order that they might not regard the conquest of it as their own work, or the fruit of their own exertions, and look upon the land as a well-merited possession which they could do as they pleased with, but that they might ever use it as a gracious gift from the Lord, which he had merely conferred upon them as a trust, and which He could take away again, whenever they might fall from Him, and render themselves unworthy of His grace. This design on the part of God would of necessity become very obvious in the case of so strongly fortified a town as Jericho, whose walls would appear impregnable to a people that had grown up in the desert and was so utterly without experience in the art of besieging or storming fortified places, and in fact would necessarily remain impregnable, at all events for a long time, without the interposition of God. But if this was the reason why the Lord gave up Jericho to the Israelites by a miracle, it does not explain either the connection between the blast of trumpets or the war-cry of the people and the falling of the walls, or the reason for the divine instructions that the town was to be marched round every day for seven days, and seven times on the seventh day. Yet as this was an appointment of divine wisdom, it must have had some meaning.

The significance of this repeated marching round the town culminates unquestionably in the ark of the covenant and the trumpet-blast of the priests who went before the ark. In the account before us the ark is constantly called the ark of the Lord, to show that the Lord, who was enthroned upon the cherubim of the ark, was going round the hostile town in the midst of His people; whilst in Joshua 6:8 Jehovah himself is mentioned in the place of the ark of Jehovah. Seven priests went before the ark, bearing jubilee trumpets and blowing during the march. The first time that we read of a trumpet-blast is at Sinai, where the Lord announced His descent upon the mount to the people assembled at the foot to receive Him, not only by other fearful phenomena, but also by a loud and long-continued trumpet-blast (Exodus 19:16, Exodus 19:19; Exodus 20:14-18). After this we find the blowing of trumpets prescribed as part of the Israelitish worship in connection with the observance of the seventh new moon's day (Leviticus 23:24), and at the proclamation of the great year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:9). Just as the trumpet-blast heard by the people when the covenant was made at Sinai was as it were a herald's call, announcing to the tribes of Israel the arrival of the Lord their God to complete His covenant and establish His kingdom upon earth; so the blowing of trumpets in connection with the round of feasts was intended partly to bring the people into remembrance before the Lord year by year at the commencement of the sabbatical month, that He might come to them and grant them the Sabbath rest of His kingdom, and partly at the end of every seven times seven years to announce on the great day of atonement the coming of the great year of grace and freedom, which was to bring to the people of God deliverance from bondage, return to their own possessions, and deliverance from the bitter labours of this earth, and to give them a foretaste of the blessed and glorious liberty to which the children of God would attain at the return of the Lord to perfect His kingdom (vid., Pentateuch, pp. 631f.). But when the Lord comes to found, to build up, and to perfect His kingdom upon earth, He also comes to overthrow and destroy the worldly power which opposes His kingdom. The revelation of the grace and mercy of God to His children, goes ever side by side with the revelation of justice and judgment towards the ungodly who are His foes. If therefore the blast of trumpets was the signal to the congregation of Israel of the gracious arrival of the Lord its God to enter into fellowship with it, no less did it proclaim the advent of judgment to an ungodly world. This shows clearly enough the meaning of the trumpet-blast at Jericho. The priests, who went before the ark of the covenant (the visible throne of the invisible God who dwelt among His people) and in the midst of the hosts of Israel, were to announce through the blast of trumpets both to the Israelites and Canaanites the appearance of the Lord of the whole earth for judgment upon Jericho, the strong bulwark of the Canaanitish power and rule, and to foretel to them through the falling of the walls of this fortification, which followed the blast of trumpets and the wary-cry of the soldiers of God, the overthrow of all the strong bulwarks of an ungodly world through the omnipotence of the Lord of heaven and earth. Thus the fall of Jericho became the symbol and type of the overthrow of every worldly power before the Lord, when He should come to lead His people into Canaan and establish His kingdom upon earth. On the ground of this event, the blowing of trumpets is frequently introduced in the writings of the prophets, as the signal and symbolical omen of the manifestations of the Lord in great judgments, through which He destroys one worldly power after another, and thus maintains and extends His kingdom upon earth, and leads it on towards that completion to which it will eventually attain when He descends from heaven in His glory at the time of the last trump, with a great shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, to raise the dead and change the living, to judge the world, cast the devil, death, and hell into the lake of fire, create a new heaven and new earth, and in the new Jerusalem erect the tabernacle of God among men for all eternity (1 Corinthians 15:51.; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:1; 21).

The appointment of the march round Jericho, which was to be continued for seven days, and to be repeated seven times on the seventh day, was equally significant. The number seven is a symbol in the Scriptures of the work of God and of the perfection already produced or to be eventually secured by Him; a symbol founded upon the creation of the world in six days, and the completion of the works of creation by the resting of God upon the seventh day. Through this arrangement, that the walls of Jericho were not to fall till after they had been marched round for seven days, and not till after this had been repeated seven times on the seventh day, and then amidst the blast of the jubilee trumpets and the war-cry of the soldiers of the people of God, the destruction of this town, the key to Canaan, was intended by God to become a type of the final destruction at the last day of the power of this world, which exalts itself against the kingdom of God. In this way He not only showed to His congregation that it would not be all at once, but only after long-continued conflict, and at the end of the world, that the worldly power by which it was opposed would be overthrown, but also proved to the enemies of His kingdom, that however long their power might sustain itself in opposition to the kingdom of God, it would at last be destroyed in a moment.

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