And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
Verse 1. - And Joshua the son of Nun sent. Rather, as margin, had sent (see note on Joshua 1:2). It might have been at the very time when the command was given to the Israelites, for, according to a common Hebrew manner of speech (see, for instance, 1 Samuel 16:10), the three days (ver. 22) may include the whole time spent by the spies in their exploring expedition. Out of Shittim. Literally, from the valley of acacias. It is so called in full in Joel 3:18. This place (called Abel-Shittim in Numbers 33:49), in which the Israelites had sojourned for some time (see Numbers 25:1; cf. 10. 12:1), seems to have been in the plains (עַרְבֹת see note on Joshua 4:13) of Moab, by Jordan, opposite Jericho" (Numbers 33:48, 49, 50; Numbers 36:13; cf. Deuteronomy 1:5). It was "the long belt of acacia groves which mark with a line of verdure the upper terraces of the valley." (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 298). The word Abel, or meadow, signifying the long grass with its juicy moisture, points to it as a refreshing place of sojourn and pasture for flocks, after the weary wandering in the wilderness. The acacia, not the spina AEgyptiaca of the ancients, the mimosa Nilotica of Linnaeus, but the acacia Seyal, a tree with a golden tuft of blossom, which is still (Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 524) to be found on the spot, very hard dark wood, of which much use was made in the tabernacle and its fittings (see Exodus 25, 26, 36, 37, etc.). The name Abel was a common one in Palestine, and is the same as Abila, from whence comes Abilene (Luke 3:1). We may add that it has nowhere been said that they were at Shittim. We find this out from Numbers 25:1. This undesigned coincidence is beyond the power of an inventor, and far beyond the power of a compiler who was not only untrustworthy, but so clumsy that he made the most extraordinary blunders in the management of his matter (see note on next verse, and also on Joshua 1:11). Two men. Young men, as we are told in Joshua 6:23, and therefore active, fleet of foot as well as brave and prudent. All these qualities, as the subsequent narrative shows, were urgently required. "Joshua himself was full of God's Spirit, and had the oracle of God ready for his direction. Yet now he goes, not to the Propitiatorie for consultation, but to the spyes. Except where ordinarie meanes faile us, it is no use appealing to the immediate helpe of God; we may not seek to the posterne, but where the common gate is shut. It was promised Joshua that bee should leade Israel into the promised land, yet hee knew it was unsafe to presume. The condition of his provident care was included in that assurance of successe. Heaven is promised to us, but not to our carelessnesse, infidelitie, disobedience" (Bishop Hall). Secretly. Literally, dumbness or craftiness (the noun being used adverbially), implying the silence and skill required for the task. He who knows how to he silent possesses one at least of the elements of success. The necessity of silence and secrecy may be inferred from Joshua 6:1. Keil, however, following the Masoretic punctuation, regards" secretly" as referring to the Israelites, and the spies as sent unknown to the army, that no depressing report might damp their courage. Jericho. "The city of fragrance" (from רָוַח to breathe, and in the Hiphil, to smell a sweet odour), so called from its situation in the midst of palm trees, from which it was called "the city of palm trees עִיר הַתְּמָרִיּם in Deuteronomy 34:3, 2 Chronicles 28:15; cf. Judges 1:16. The vast palm grove, of which relics are even now occasionally washed up from the Red Sea, preserved by the salt in its acrid waters, has now disappeared. We read of it as still existing in the twelfth century, and indeed traces of it were to be seen as late as 1838. A dirty and poverty-stricken village called Riha, or Eriha, is all that now marks the site of all these glories of nature and art, and the most careful researches have until lately failed to discover any remains of the ancient city. It is doubtful whether the ruins observed by Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 216) are not the ruins of soma later city, built in the neighbourhood. Bartlett, p. 452, believes Riha to be the site of the later Jericho of our Lord's day, but Tristram would, with less probability, identify Riha with Gilgal. They both, however, place the site of ancient Jericho about a mile and a half from Riha. Conder thinks its true position is at the fountain Ain-es-Sultan. Lenormant, in his 'Manual of Oriental History,' remarks on the skill of Joshua as a military tactician. Whether he followed the advice of his experienced leader, or whether we are to attribute his success to special guidance from above, he certainly displayed the qualities of a consummate general. "Jericho," says Dean Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 805), "stands at the entrance of the main passes from the valley of the Jordan into the interior of Palestine, the one branching off to the southwest towards Olivet, the other to the northwest towards Michmash, which commands the approach to Ai and Bethel. It was thus the key of Palestine to any invader from this quarter." He illustrates by Chiavenna (or the key city, from its situation), in Italy. Lenormant remarks that from an ordinary historical point of view the strategy of Joshua is worth notice. It was the practice ever followed by Napoleon, and, he adds, by Nelson also, to divide his enemies, and crush them in detail. Had Joshua advanced upon Palestine from the south, each success, as it alarmed, would have also united the various communities of the land, under their separate kings, by the sense of a common danger. Thus each onward step would have increased his difficulties, and exposed him, exhausted by continued efforts, to the assaults of fresh and also more numerous enemies, in a country which grew ever more easy to defend and more perilous to attack. But by crossing the Jordan and marching at once upon Jericho, he was enabled, after the capture of that city, to fall with his whole force first upon the cities of the south, and then on those of the north. The political condition of Palestine at that time (see Introduction) did not permit of a resistance by the whole force of the country under a single leader. A hasty confederation of the kings of the south, after the treaty with Gibeon, was overthrown by the rapid advance of Joshua and the battle of Beth-boron. By this success he was free to march with his whole army northward, against the confederation of tribes under the leadership of the king of Hazor, whom he overcame in the decisive battle of Merom. There is no hint given in the Scripture that in this strategy Joshua acted under the special guidance of the Most High. The probability is, that in this, as in all other of God's purposes effected through the agency of man, there is a mixture of the Divine and human elements, and that man's individuality is selected and guided as an instrument of God's purpose, which, in this instance, was the chastisement of the Canaanitish people, and the gift of the Holy Land as a possession to the descendants of Abraham. That Joshua was not indifferent to human means is shown by this very verse. Into a harlots house. Many commentators have striven to show that this word simply means an innkeeper, an office which, as Dr. Adam Clarke proves at length, was often filled by a woman. It has been derived from זוּן to nourish, a root also found in the Syriac. The Chaldee paraphast and many Jewish and Christian interpreters have adopted this interpretation, in order, as Rosenmuller remarks, "to absolve her from whom Christ had His origin from the crime of prostitution." But St. Matthew seems to imply the very opposite. The genealogy there contained mentions, as though of set purpose, all the blots on the lineage of Christ as was fitting in setting forth the origin of Him who came to forgive sin. Only three women are there mentioned: Tamar, who was guilty of incest; Rahab, the harlot; and Ruth, the Moabitess. And the LXX. render by πόρνη. Calvin calls the interpretation "innkeeper" a "presumptuous wresting of Scripture." Hengstenberg ('Geschichte des Reiches Gottes,' p. 197) also rejects the interpretation "innkeeper," and maintains the right of the spies, who, he says, were no doubt chosen by Joshua for their good character, to enter a wicked woman's house for a good purpose. It does not appear that the spies entered the house of Rahab with any evil intent, but simply because to enter the house of a woman of that kind - and women of that kind must have been very numerous in the licentious Phoenician cities - would have attracted far less attention than if they had entered any other. Even there it did not escape the notice of the king, who had been thoroughly alarmed (ver. 3) by the successes of Israel eastward of Jordan. Origen, in his third homily on Joshua, remarks that, "As the first Jesus sent his spies before him and they were received into the harlot's house, so the second Jesus sent His forerunners, whom the publicans and harlots gladly received." Named Rahab. Origen (Hom. 3) sees in this name, which signifies room (see Rehoboth, Genesis 26:22), the type of the Church of Christ which extends throughout the world, and receives sinners. And lodged there. Literally, and lay there, perhaps with the idea of lying hid, for they did not (ver. 15) spend the night there.
And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
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:
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.
And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
Verse 5. - I wot not. Much has Been said about Rahab's falsehood which is little to the point. The sacred historian simply narrates the fact, and makes no comment whatever upon it. But the fact that Rahab afterwards became the wife of Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah, as the genealogy in St. Matthew informs us (though Knobel denies this, asserting that between Joshua and David there were more than three generations, forgetting that Boaz, when he married Ruth, was an old man, see Ruth 3:10), shows that neither her falsehood nor her mode of life excited much disapprobation among the Jews. Nor need this surprise us. There is no need, with Keil, to repudiate energetically the assertion of Hauff that the author of this Book regarded Rahab's deception as not only allowable, but praiseworthy, any more than we need scruple to confess that Jael's base treachery met with the approval of Deborah and Barak. The tone of feeling in Jewish society in Rahab's day must have differed enormously in many respects from what obtains in our own time, in the light of the dispensation of the Spirit. We may take, as an instance of what that tone of feeling was, even before Israel had been corrupted by their sojourn in Egypt, the narrative in Genesis 38. And we may be sure that in a Phoenician city the tone was many degrees lower still. Rahab, therefore, was no doubt absolutely ignorant that there was any sin, either in her mode of living or in the lie she told to save the men's lives. She acted from a twofold motive, and her course, both of thought and action, was a most surprising instance of faith and insight, in one brought up as she had been. She not only followed an instinct of humanity, at a time when human life was thought of little value, in preserving the lives of the men who had sought shelter under her roof, but she could discern in the wonderful successes of Israel the hand of a higher power than that of the gods whom she had been brought up to worship. In her subsequent conduct she betrayed an affection for her kindred somewhat uncommon in persons situated similarly to herself. And we may be sure, from the fact that she was chosen to be a "mother in Israel," that she forsook the sins of her country and her education as soon as she came within the range of a higher light (see Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25). From what has been said we may learn that, though Rahab's faith was "as a grain of mustard seed," her conduct showed that she possessed it; and in hers, as in every case, to walk by the light she had was a sure prelude to the possession of more. And as regards her departure from truth here, it must be shown, before she can be blamed, that she had any idea that truthfulness was a duty. Such a duty does not appear to have been clearly recognised until He who was Himself the truth came among men. "However the guilt of Rahab's falsehood may be extenuated, it seems best to admit nothing which may tend to explain it away. We are sure that God discriminated between what was good in her conduct and what was bad; rewarding the former, and pardoning the latter. Her views of the Divine law must have been exceedingly dim and contracted. A similar falsehood, told by those who enjoy the light of revelation, however laudable the motive, would of course deserve a much heavier censure" (Matthew Henry). So also Calvin in loc.," Vitium virtuti admistum non imputatur."
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 upon the roof.
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).
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.
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.
And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;
Verse 8. - And before they were laid down, i.e., to sleep on the roof, a common practice in the East in summer.
And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
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).
For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
Verse 10. - For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you. Rahab uses the word יְהֹוָה. Whether this name were known to her or not, she knew what was signified by it, the one only self-existent God (since יהוה is clearly derived from הָיָה or הָוָה to be), the Author of all things, visible and invisible (see ver. 11). The Red Sea. Brugsch, in his 'History of Egypt,' denies that יַם־סוּפ should be rendered 'Red Sea,' and affirms that this error of the LXX. interpreters has been the source of endless misapprehensions. יַם־סוּפ is an Egyptian word signifying flags or rushes, which abound not only in the Red Sea, but in the marshes on the shores of the Mediterranean, as, in fact, in all low-lying lands. It is here, according to Brugsch, in a treacherous and well-nigh impassable country, near that Serbonian bog, "where armies whole have sunk" (Milton, 'Paradise Lost,' Book H., line 594), that we are to look for the victorious passage of Moses, and the destruction of Pharaoh and his host. The סוּפ or rushes were to be found in the Nile, as Exodus 2:9, 5 shows (cf. Isaiah 19:6). So that יַם־סוּפ by no means necessarily implies the Red Sea. Yet on the other hand we may remember, with the Edinburgh Reviewer (July, 1879), that the coastline of Palestine and of the delta of the Nile has undergone considerable changes during the historic period, and that the land has, during that period, largely encroached on the sea. Sihon and Og. As we read in Numbers 21. and Deuteronomy 2, 3. Whom ye utterly destroyed. Rather, devoted to utter destruction (see Joshua 6:21). Rahab seems to be aware that the extermination of these nations was in fulfilment of a Divine sentence.
And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Verse 11. - Melt. The word in the Hebrew is a different one to that used in ver. 9, but it has a precisely similar meaning. There seems no reason why the destruction of Sihon and Og should have inspired such terror into the hearts of the powerful Phoenician tribes. But the miracle of the drying up of the Red Sea was an event of quite another order, and eminently calculated to produce such feelings. Nothing but such an occurrence could have explained Rahab's language, or the anxiety which the near approach of the armies of Israel inspired in those "cities, great and walled up to heaven," with their inhabitants of giant-like stature and strength. Courage. Literally, spirit. The word רוּחַ seems to have been used in the Hebrew in just the same senses as our word spirit, and it signified wind also (see 1 Kings 10:5). For the Lord your God, he is God. Literally, for Jehovah your God. This declaration, bearing in mind the circumstances of the person who uttered it, is as remarkable as St. Peter's, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." How Rahab attained to this knowledge of God's name and attributes we do not know. It is certain, however, that under the circumstances her knowledge and spiritual insight are as surprising as any recorded in Scripture, and are sufficient to explain the honour in which her name has been held, both at the time and ever since. "I see here," says Bp. Hall, "not only a disciple of God, but a prophetesse." Keil argues that Rahab regards God only as one of the gods, and supposes that she had not entirely escaped from polytheism. But this view does not appear to be borne out by the form of her expressions. We should rather, in that case, have expected to find "he is among the gods," than He is God, which is the only possible rendering of the Hebrew.
CHAPTER 2:12-25. THE OATH OF THE SPIES. -
Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:
Verse 12. ? Kindness. The original is perhaps a little stronger, and involves usually the idea of mercy and pity. This, however, is not always the case (see Genesis 21:23; 2 Samuel 10:2). "It had been an ill nature in Rahab if she had been content to be saved alone: that her love might be a match to her faith, she covenants for all her family, and so returns life to those of whom she received it," (Bp. Hall). A true token. Literally, a token of truth. The construction is that in which the latter noun often stands in Hebrew for an adjective. Here, however, it would seem to be a little more, a token of truth - a pledge, that is, of sincerity. Rahab wanted some guarantee that her life and the lives of her kindred would be saved. The bare word of the spies would not suffice, for how could she and her kindred be identified in the confusion attending the sack of the city? But if the spies would agree upon some sign by which she could be recognised, it would at once be a pledge that they intended to keep their word, and a means of protection in the approaching downfall of the city.
And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
Verse 14. - Our life for yours. Literally, our souls (נֶפֶשׁ, answering to the Greek ψυχή - the principle of life in men and animals) in the place of you to die; i.e., may we die if you are not preserved safe and sound. A similar expression is used by Ignatius, ad Ephesians 1, ad Polyc. 2, 6, etc. If ye utter not, i.e., Rahab and her kindred (Rosenmuller). Many MSS., however, read "if thou utterest not."
Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.
Verse 15. - Then she let them down. The conversation which is related afterwards, no doubt occurred afterwards, as is proved by the use of the perfect הורַדְתֵּנוּ in ver. 18. There is no reason to suppose the window by which she let them down. to have been so distant from the ground as to preclude a conversation, and it is quite possible that Rahab's house may have been in a situation in which such a conversation could be carried on without interruption. There are continental cities now surrounded by walls, in which such a conversation would involve no difficulty whatever, especially if the house from which such a conversation was carried on happened to stand a little apart from other houses. And though the spies sent by Moses described the walls of the Phoenician cities in hyperbolical language, it is highly improbable that their fortifications were stronger than those of mediaeval times. The little town of Ahrweiler, in the valley of the Ahr, near Remagen, may serve as an instance in point. It would once have been called a strongly fortified town, but the walls are of no great height, and the houses are built upon them. The same may be seen at Bacharach and Oberwesel, and other well known places where the fortifications have not been modernised. With the escape of the spies we may compare the escape of St. Paul from Damascus, as recorded in Acts 9:25, and 2 Corinthians 11:32, 33.
And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.
Verse 16. - Get you to the mountains. No hint is given why the mountains were to be so safe a refuge. But a reference to the geography of the district will supply the reason. Any mountain district is usually less accessible and less thickly inhabited than the plains. But within five miles of Jericho lay the remarkable range called Quarantania, or Kuruntul, which is literally honeycombed with caves, so that a man might be concealed for months in the immediate neighbourhood of Jericho with a very slight risk of discovery. It is obvious how strongly this fact confirms the accuracy of the narrative. An inventor would have been certain in some way or other to draw attention to a statement intended to give an air of probability to his narrative. But there is nothing of the kind here, and yet the narrative displays a thorough acquaintance with the geographical features of the neighbourhood. Canon Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 207, sqq.) carefully explored the caverns. On one face of the rock, which is perpendicular, he found "some thirty or forty habitable caves," and on the southern face, towards Jericho, he supposed there were a good many more than this. The scouts of the king of Jericho might be excused a very diligent search, for we are told that the "foot hold was hazardous and the height dizzy." From the days of the spies till long after the Christian era, these caves have been in existence. They have been tenanted by Greek, Syrian, and even Abyssinian monks, and Canon Tristram found many Greek and Ethiopic inscriptions, as well as figures of our Lord and the saints. The Abyssinian Christians make a yearly pilgrimage there even now. The reason of the reverence in which the place is held, is the tradition (not, however, eight hundred years old, see Bitter, 3:37) that, as the name Quarantania implies, the forty days' fast of our Lord took place there. As a specimen of the mystical interpretations in which the Fathers indulged, we find Origen expounding the advice, "Get you to the mountains," as follows: "Humilia et dejecta refugite, quae excelsa sunt et sublimia, praedicate."
And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.
Verse 17. - We will be blameless. Perhaps "we would be blameless," and therefore we make the conditions which follow. Something must be supplied to fill up the sense. The most ordinary rule would be to translate "we are blameless," i.e., by making these conditions. But the former yields a better sense.
Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.
Verse 18. - This line of scarlet thread. Rather, this rope, from קוָה to twist. It is described as made of sewing thread (הוּט), because no doubt it was formed of several such threads twisted into a rope. The scarlet (ָשנִי), or rather crimson, was produced from the dried bodies as well as the eggs of the cochineal insect, called in Arabic, kermes (whence our word crimson, and the German karmesin). This line of scarlet thread is regarded by the Fathers generally, and by our own divines, as Bishop Hall and Bishop Wordsworth, as symbolical of the blood of Christ (see Clement of Rome, 'Epistle to Corinthians,' 12; Justin Martyr, 'Dial. Tryph.' 111; Iren., 'Adv. Haer.,' 4:37; Orig., 'Hom. 2 on Joshua.' "Coccineum, quod sanguinis formam gerebat." See also Bp. Hall, 'Contemplations,' Book 8; and Leviticus 14:4, 6, 42, 51),
And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.
Verse 19. - His blood shall be upon his head (cf. Leviticus 20:9). "If we will wander out of the limits that God has set us, we cast ourselves out of His protection." (Bp. Hall).
And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.
Verse 20. - And if thou utter this our business. This was an obvious condition. Rahab's betrayal of the spies could not save Jericho, but it would destroy them, or at least expose them to imminent danger. She would, therefore, by mentioning the matter, deprive herself of all title to protection.
And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.
Verse 21. - And she bound the scarlet cord in the window. - Not necessarily at once, but when the time for the precaution arrived.
And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.
So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them:
Verse 23. - And passed over. The sacred historian does not say how. But it is improbable (see ver. 7) that they forded the river. They probably swam across, as they were no doubt unarmed (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:15). That befel them. Literally, "that found them."
And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.
Verse 24. - For even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us. "[For even" is literally "and also." As Keil remarks, this information concerning the feelings of the Canaanites was the one great thing they had been sent out to discover.