Joshua 2

Spies View the Land

1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men from Acacia Grove[a] [as] spies, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name [was] Rahab, and {spent the night}[b] there.
2 The king of Jericho was told, "Look, [some] men from the {Israelites}[c] have come here tonight to search out the land."
3 And the king of Jericho sent [for] Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who came to you, the ones who have entered your house, for they have come to search out the whole land."
4 But the woman took the two men and hid them. And she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they [were] from.
5 And when [it was time] to shut the gate {for the night},[d] the men left, and I do not know where they went. Chase after them quickly, for you may catch up [to] them."
6 (But she had taken them to the roof and had hidden them {in the stalks of flax}[e] that she {had spread out} on the roof.)
7 So the men chased after them on {the way to the Jordan} at the fords; and they shut the gate behind the pursuers that had gone out after them.
8 Before {they went to sleep}, she came up to them on the roof
9 and said to the men, "I know that Yahweh has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away [in fear] because of your presence.
10 For we have heard how Yahweh dried up the waters of the {Red Sea} before you when you went out from Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that [were] beyond the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
11 We heard [this], and our hearts melted, and {no courage was left in anyone} because of your presence. For Yahweh your God [is] God in the heavens above and on the earth below.
12 So then please swear to me by Yahweh, because {I have shown loyalty to you}, and {you will also show loyalty} {to my family}. You must give me a sign of good faith,
13 and you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all that belongs to them; you will deliver our lives from death."
14 And the men said to her, "{Our lives for yours}. If you do not report this business of ours, {we will show you loyalty and faithfulness} when Yahweh gives us the land."
15 Then she lowered them with a rope through the window, as her house [was] on the outer side of the wall, and she [was] residing in the wall.
16 And she said to them, "Go to the mountain, so that the pursuers will not find you, and hide yourselves there three days until the pursuers return, and afterward you may go {on your way}."
17 The men said to her, "We [will be] released from this oath of yours that you made us swear.
18 [When] we come to the land, you must tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you must gather your father and mother, and your brothers, and your whole family to your house.
19 If anyone goes outside the doors of your house, {they will be responsible for their own death}, and we [will be] innocent. Anyone who will be with you in the house, {we will be responsible for their death} {if a hand is laid on them}.
20 But if you report this business of ours, we will be released from your oath that you made us swear."
21 And she said, "According to your word it [will be]." Then she sent them away, and they went, and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They departed and came to the mountain, and they stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers searched {all along the way} but did not find [them].
23 The two men returned and went down from the mountain, and they crossed [over] and came to Joshua son of Nun, and they told him everything that happened to them.
24 They said to Joshua, "Surely Yahweh has given all the land into our hand; also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away [in fear] because of our presence."

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.

Footnotes 22

  • [a]. Hebrew "Shittim"
  • [b]. Literally "lay down"
  • [c]. Literally "sons/children of Israel"
  • [d]. Literally "in the darkness" or "at dark"
  • [e]. Literally "in the flaxes of the plant stalk"
  • [f]. Literally "had been arranged"
  • [g]. Literally "the road of the Jordan"
  • [h]. Literally "they lay down"
  • [i]. Literally "sea of reeds"
  • [j]. Hebrew "heart"
  • [k]. Literally "a spirit no longer stood in anyone"
  • [l]. Literally "I have done with you a loyal love"
  • [m]. Literally "you will do ... loyal love"
  • [n]. Literally "with the house of my father"
  • [o]. Or "faithfulness"
  • [p]. Literally "Our lives in place of yours to die"
  • [q]. Literally "we will do with you loyal love and faithfulness"
  • [r]. Literally "to your way"
  • [s]. Literally "his blood [will be] on his head"
  • [t]. Literally "his blood [will be] on our head"
  • [u]. Literally "if a hand will be against him"
  • [v]. Literally "on all of the road"

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries