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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Joshua 2

 

 

Verses 1-24

The Story of Rahab the Harlot and the Two Spies - Joshua 2:1-24 gives the account of Rahab the harlot hiding the two Israeli spies when they were sent out to spy out Jericho.

This story contains a testimony of divine providence in the lives of Rahab as well as the two spies. God must have certainly orchestrated their meeting in Jericho. Although the Scriptures do not say that the Lord instructed Joshua to send out these spies, it was a custom that he has learned under the leadership of Moses. The Lord honoured Joshua's decision by protecting these two spies from harm.

Joshua 2:1 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.

Joshua 2:1 — "And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho" - Comments- As Joshua learned to mediate upon God's Word ( Joshua 1:8), he received divine ideas and instructions on how to take the cities. Moses had used the strategy of sending spies into the land before them successfully in a previous encounter to defeat the Amorites ( Numbers 21:32). Joshua had been the commander of the army during the leadership of Moses and he most certainly remembered the twelve spies who were sent to spy our the land of Israel and how God judged them ( Numbers 13) as well as the other times that spies were used in order to prepare to take a city or a country. In addition, Moses had fought and taken many cities before during the wilderness journey. The book of Deuteronomy describes previous battles with Og, king of Bashan, where the children of Israel took sixty fortified cities ( Deuteronomy 3:4-5). Song of Solomon , Joshua was seasoned in battle before the conquest of Canaan.

Numbers 21:32, "And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there."

Deuteronomy 3:4-5, "And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many."

Joshua 2:1 — "And they went, and came into an harlot"s house, named Rahab, and lodged there - Comments- The harlot's house was most likely a public lodging place for travellers, which was probably infested with offers of prostitution, such as we see taking place in modern societies.

Word Study on "an harlot"s" - In the Hebrew text the word "harlot" is made up of two words ( אִשָּׁה זֹונָה), which literally reads, "a woman (who) commits adultery."

1. A woman - Strong says the Hebrew word ""ishshah" ( אִשָּׁה) (H 802) means, "a woman, wife, female." The Enhanced Strong says it is a commonly used word in the Old Testament, being found 780 times, and is translated in the KJV as "wife 425, woman 324, one 10, married 5, female 2, misc 14."

2. A harlot - Hebrew "zanah" ( זָנָה) (H 2181) - This primitive root word means, "to commit adultery," with the added meanings, "to be a harlot, act as a harlot, commit fornication." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 93times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "...harlot 36, go a whoring 19, ...whoredom 15, whore 11, commit fornication 3, whorish 3, harlot + 08022, commit 1, continually 1, great 1, whore"s + 08021." Gesenius tells us that some commentators wrongly conclude that "zonah" ( זוֹנָ֛ה) is derived from "zun" ( זוּן) (H 2109), which means "to feed," so that Rahab is understood as "a hostess, a keeper of a house of entertainment." He understands this word to mean "to commit fornication." The LXX translates the Hebrew word ( זָנָה) as "porne," or "harlot," ( γυναικὸς πόρνης) which more likely reflects its ancient meaning. This meaning is supported by Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

Hebrews 11:31, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace."

James 2:25, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"

Word Study on "Rahab" - Gesenius says the Hebrew name "Rahab" ( רָחָב) (H 7343) means, "broad, wide." Strong says it literally means, "proud." PTW says it means, "broad." The Enhanced Strong says this name is used five times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "Rahab 5." The other uses are found in Joshua 2:3; Joshua 6:17; Joshua 6:23; Joshua 6:25, all referring to this same individual. We find her mentioned in the New Testament in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Matthew 1:5). She is mentioned in the epistle of Hebrews as the woman, who by faith, delivered herself from the armies of Israel ( Hebrews 11:31). She is mentioned in the epistle of James as an example of works demonstrating a person's faith in God ( James 2:25).

Matthew 1:5, "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;"

Hebrews 11:31, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace."

James 2:25, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"

Comments- Matthew Henry believes Rahab the harlot had already repented of her profession before she met the Israelite spies. 24] This is merely speculation and not the main point in the story. Her confession of faith in the God of Israel ( Joshua 2:9-11) serves to justify her in the eyes of God just as we are justified by our confession of faith in Jesus Christ and His work of Redemption on Calvary. We find her being justified in the sight of God by her confession of faith and by her works in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

24] Matthew Henry, Joshua, in Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Joshua 2:1.

Scripture References - Note other Scripture references to Rahab, the harlot:

Joshua 2:1-24

Joshua 6:17-25

Matthew 1:5 - The name of Rachab listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ is believed by most conservative scholars to be the same as Rahab the harlot of the book of Joshua.

Matthew 1:5, "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;"

Hebrews 11:31, "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace."

James 2:25, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"

Joshua 2:2 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.

Joshua 2:2 — "And it was told the king of Jericho" - Comments- The land of Canaan was made up of a loosely knit group of city-states, each with their own king. We could compare its structure to modern-day Somalia, where there exists no formal government, but rather, warlords who control various areas of the nation. Each of these city-states in the land of Canaan had a king who yielded control over their immediate surroundings. We will read later during the height of Joshua's conquest of Canaan how some of these kings formed a coalition of forces to withstand the army of Israel. But in the early stages of this conquest these city states were not ready to defend one another, perhaps because they did not expect Israel's overwhelming success, or perhaps, it took a major crisis for them to lay aside their past differences and joint together in a common cause.

Joshua 2:9 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.

Joshua 2:9Scripture References - Note a similar Scripture:

Exodus 23:27, "I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee."

Joshua 2:10 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.

Joshua 2:10 — "Og, whom ye utterly destroyed" - Comments- Moses destroyed sixty cities from the kingdom of Og.

Deuteronomy 3:4, "And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan."

Joshua 2:11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any Prayer of Manasseh , because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Joshua 2:11 — "And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, remain any more courage in any Prayer of Manasseh , because of you" - Comments- This was prophesied in the Song of Moses ( Exodus 15:14). It was also prophesied by Moses while at Mount Sinai ( Exodus 23:27).

Exodus 15:14, "The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina."

Exodus 23:27, "I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee."

Joshua 2:11"for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath" - Comments- This is Rahab"s confession of faith in YHWH.

Joshua 2:18 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.

Joshua 2:18"thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by" - Comments- The scarlet thread served as a protective covering over Rahab's household during the destruction of Jericho. It is also similar to the blood that was painted on the homes of the children of Israel during the first Passover night in the book of Exodus. Conservative scholars said that the scarlet thread is symbolic of redemption, as it represents the blood of Jesus Christ, which protects us from divine judgment and eternal damnation. Manley Beasley said that Rahab recognised herself as a sinner, hence, "the Harlot" was the title given to her. 25]

25] Manley Beasley, Sermon in Chapel Service, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, 26 February 1983.

I have had several dreams through the years where I was in my home with other people. Then I looked outside to see a terrible storm or tornado coming. In the dream, I felt the assurance of God"s protection for both me and those in my house.

Joshua 2:20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.

Joshua 2:21 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.

Joshua 2:20-21Comments - Rahab's Vow of Silence- Rahab did not dare discuss her faith in the God of Israel to the people in Jericho. This is an excellent illustration of Romans 14:22.

Romans 14:22, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/joshua-2.html. 2013.

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