Joshua 2:1-21

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.

Joshua 2:1-21 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JOSHUA 2

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 2:1-21 In-Context

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 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.
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.”

Cross References 48

  • 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

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.