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" F2; which may with as much propriety, or more, be called a tree than hyssop, ( 1 Kings 4:33 ) ; as it is in the Misnah F3. Moreover, there was a sort of flax which grew in the upper part of Egypt towards Arabia, as Pliny says F4, 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 F5 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 Proverbs 31:19 Proverbs 31:24 ) .
F2 (Ueh ytvpb) "in linis ligni", Montanus; "vel arboris", Vatablus.
F3 Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 3. & Bartenora in ib.
F4 Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.
F5 Nat. Hist. l. 19. c. 1.