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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 2

 

 

Verses 1-24

THE SPIES RECEIVED AND HIDDEN BY RAHAB

(vv. 1-24)

Joshua then sent two spies to "view the land, especially Jericho"(v. 1).Twelve men had been sent before at the request of the people (Deuteronomy 1:22-23). At that time the people wanted to find out whether they were likely to be able to overcome the enemy, and ten of the twelve spies reported that the odds were against them, so that the people refused to go in. Only Joshua and Caleb urged that they should launch an attack because they knew God could easily overpower the enemy on their behalf, but the rebellion of the people resulted in 38 more years of wandering in the wilderness.In this case, however, the men are told to view especially Jericho. They were not sent to make a decision as to whether to attack Jericho, but rather to find out Jericho's condition in view of Israel's attacking them. For Joshua had already told Israel that in three days they would cross the Jordan. There was firm decision to go forward, and Jericho was the first object of attack. In the sending of the spies God had at least two objectives in view, [1] to confirm to Israel the fact that God was already weakening the hearts of the Canaanites, and[2] to save Rahab and her household from destruction.

It so happened that the spies found lodging in the home of a woman who proved to be a harlot. Sinful as she was, the Lord had begun a work of repentance and faith in her heart, as her words to the spies proved. It was not lust that led them to her home, but it was God's grace that did so. When the king of Jericho heard that Israelites had come to Jericho as spies, he demanded that Rahab should deliver them to him (v. 3). But she was the one person in that whole city who had been awakened to realize that Israel was serving the true God and that His rights were paramount, so that she decided she must take sides with God against her own nation. When the messengers came to Rahab, she lied to them, telling them that though the men had come to her house, she did not know where they were from and they had left again as darkness was falling (v. 5). The messengers accepted her word for it, and her suggestion that they pursue them quickly.

Was it right for Rahab to lie? No, it is never right to lie.Yet Rahab lied because she had faith in God.Not that faith made her lie, but she could see no other way of protecting the spies.Possibly a more mature faith would have acted differently, for God could work a miracle to protect the spies, if he so chose.The fact that she lied showed her faith, but also showed the weakness of her faith.

"But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof" (v. 6). There is a lovely spiritual significance in this.She had the material from which linen is made, laid in order.Linen is a symbol of "the righteous acts of saints" (Revelation 19:8).Thus, though Rahab had been given over to sin, yet God had so worked in her heart that now there was in her own house the material for acts of righteousness, and in becoming order.Her life had been previously disorderly, but here was promise of change.

When the men of the city had gone out in pursuit of the spies, the gates were shut, then Rahab came to the spies before they slept, and spoke to them in such away that there was no doubt that God had truly awakened her to some reality of faith in Him (vv. 7-8). She told them, "I know that the Lord has given you the land." She had witnessed the fear of all the inhabitants of the land, for they had heard of God's bringing Israel through the Red Sea and of their more recent destruction of the kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og (vv. 9-10).

Having such reports, Rahab says, "our hearts melted," and courage deserted the people of the land. The report brought fear to all the people generally, but it awakened faith in Rahab, who declares firmly, "The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (v. 11).

Then she pleads with the spies, on the basis of her faith in showing kindness to them, that when Israel conquers Jericho, they will spare her father's house, her father, mother, brothers and sisters, delivering them all from being put to death (vv. 12-13). This is a clear evidence of a work of God in her heart, for harlotry shows no regard for proper family relationships. Similarly, when one has been saved from an ungodly life today, it is wonderful to see how concerned he or she is that close relatives should be saved.

The spies willingly promise her this favor, but on condition that she and her family do not betray them to others. The spies could not leave by the gate, which had been closed, but since Rahab's house was on the wall, she let them down by a rope from her window. She suggested their going the opposite way from Jordan, to hide for three days till the pursuers were back in the city.

No doubt before they were let down they spoke the words of verses 17-20, instructing her to bind the line of scarlet cord in her window, which would mark out her house as that to be spared when Israel conquered Jericho. She must bring her family into the house at that time, for anyone outside the house could not count on any protection (vv. 18-19). This may remind us of the Passover in Egypt, when everyone inside a house which was marked by blood on the doorposts and lintels was safe from God's judgment (Exodus 12:12-13). So the red cord symbolizes the blood of Christ which shelters from judgment.

The spies then went do the mountain to hide for three days before returning over the Jordan to bring to Joshua the report that the inhabitants of the country had become fainthearted because of Israel, and therefore it was evident that God had delivered them into Israel's hands. Of course they would report the case of Rahab also.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Joshua 2:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/joshua-2.html. 1897-1910.

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