Joshua 2

Rahab and the Spies

1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”
3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.
5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”
6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)
7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof
9 and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.
10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b]
11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
12 “Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign
13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”
15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.
16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us
18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.
19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them.
20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them.
23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them.
24 They said to Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

Joshua 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

Rahab receives and hides two Israelites. (1-7) Rahab and the spies. (8-21) The return of the spies. (22-24)

Verses 1-7 Faith in God's promises ought not to do away, but to encourage our diligence in the use of proper means. The providence of God directed the spies to the house of Rahab. God knew where there was one that would be true to them, though they did not. Rahab appears to have been an innkeeper; and if she had formerly been one of bad life, which is doubtful, she had left her evil courses. That which seems to us most accidental, is often overruled by the Divine providence to serve great ends. It was by faith that Rahab received those with peace, against whom her king and country had war. We are sure this was a good work; it is so spoken of by the apostle, ( James 2:25 ) ; and she did it by faith, such a faith as set her above the fear of man. Those only are true believers, who find in their hearts to venture for God; they take his people for their people, and cast in their lot among them. The spies were led by the special providence of God, and Rahab entertained them out of regard to Israel and Israel's God, and not for lucre or for any evil purpose. Though excuses may be offered for the guilt of Rahab's falsehood, it seems best to admit nothing which tends to explain it away. Her views of the Divine law must have been very dim: a falsehood like this, told by those who enjoy the light of revelation, whatever the motive, would deserve heavy censure.

Verses 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, ( Psalms 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.

Verses 22-24 The report the spies brought was encouraging. All the people of the country faint because of Israel; they have neither wisdom to yield, nor courage to fight. Those terrors of conscience, and that sense of Divine wrath, which dismay the ungodly, but bring not to repentance, are fearful forebodings of approaching destruction. But grace yet abounds to the chief of sinners. Let them, without delay, flee to Christ, and all shall be well.

Cross References 52

  • 1. S ver 4; S Genesis 42:9; James 2:25
  • 2. S Numbers 25:1; Joshua 3:1; Joel 3:18
  • 3. S Numbers 21:32; Judges 18:2
  • 4. S Numbers 33:48
  • 5. Joshua 6:17,25; S Hebrews 11:31
  • 6. Joshua 6:23
  • 7. ver 1; Joshua 6:22
  • 8. Joshua 6:17; 2 Samuel 17:19-20
  • 9. Judges 5:8; Judges 9:35; Judges 16:2
  • 10. S Hebrews 11:31
  • 11. Judges 15:14; Proverbs 31:13; Isaiah 19:9; James 2:25
  • 12. S Exodus 1:17,19; Joshua 6:25; 2 Samuel 17:19
  • 13. Numbers 22:1; Judges 3:28; Judges 7:24; Judges 12:5,6; Isaiah 16:2
  • 14. ver 16,22
  • 15. S Deuteronomy 22:8; Judges 16:27; 2 Samuel 16:22; Nehemiah 8:16; Isaiah 15:3; Isaiah 22:1; Jeremiah 32:29
  • 16. S Genesis 35:5; S Exodus 15:14; Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 2:25
  • 17. S Genesis 8:1; Exodus 14:21; Joshua 3:17; Psalms 74:15
  • 18. S Numbers 23:22
  • 19. S Numbers 21:21; Numbers 21:21,24,34-35
  • 20. S Genesis 10:16; S Genesis 14:7
  • 21. Joshua 9:10
  • 22. S Numbers 21:2
  • 23. S Genesis 42:28
  • 24. S Deuteronomy 2:25; Psalms 107:26; John 1:5
  • 25. Exodus 15:14; Joshua 5:1; Joshua 7:5; 2 Samuel 4:1; Psalms 22:14; Isaiah 13:7; Isaiah 19:1; Jeremiah 51:30; Nahum 2:10
  • 26. 2 Kings 5:15; 2 Kings 19:15; Daniel 6:26
  • 27. S Genesis 14:19; S Numbers 20:14; Deuteronomy 4:39
  • 28. S Genesis 24:8; S Genesis 47:31
  • 29. S Genesis 24:12; Ruth 3:10
  • 30. S Genesis 24:14; S Exodus 3:12; Joshua 4:6; 1 Samuel 2:34; 2 Kings 19:29; ver 18
  • 31. ver 18; Joshua 6:23
  • 32. 1 Kings 20:39,42; 2 Kings 10:24
  • 33. S Genesis 47:29; Judges 1:24; Matthew 5:7
  • 34. Jeremiah 38:6,11
  • 35. ver 18,21; Genesis 26:8; Judges 5:28; 1 Samuel 19:12; Acts 9:25
  • 36. S Genesis 14:10
  • 37. S ver 7
  • 38. ver 22; James 2:25
  • 39. S Hebrews 11:31
  • 40. S Genesis 24:8
  • 41. ver 21
  • 42. S ver 15
  • 43. S ver 13; ver 12; Joshua 6:23
  • 44. S Leviticus 20:9; Ezekiel 33:4
  • 45. Matthew 27:25
  • 46. S Genesis 24:8; S Genesis 47:31
  • 47. ver 18
  • 48. S ver 15
  • 49. ver 16
  • 50. S ver 7
  • 51. Joshua 10:8; Joshua 11:6; Judges 3:28; Judges 7:9,14; Judges 20:28; 1 Samuel 14:10; ver 9; Joshua 6:2
  • 52. S Exodus 15:15

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "the Sea of Reeds"
  • [b]. The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of the spies sent by Joshua to Jericho, and of their entrance into the house of Rahab, who hid them from the king's messengers, Jos 2:1-7; of the relation she gave them of the fear and dread of Israel, which were fallen upon the Canaanites, Jos 2:8-11; and of the request she made to them, to save her and her father's house, when the city should be taken, and to have a sure sign of it given her, Jos 2:12,13; which the spies solemnly promised, and gave her a sign of it, with a charge not to discover the matter to any, Jos 2:14-20; and being let down by a cord through the window of her house, they made their escape to a mountain, where they lay three days, and then returned to Joshua, and made their report, Jos 2:21-24.

Joshua 2 Commentaries

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