Rahab Receives and Conceals the Two
1. Joshua … sent … two men to spy
secretly—Faith is manifested by an active, persevering use of
2:22); and accordingly
Joshua, while confident in the accomplishment of the divine promise
1:3), adopted every
precaution which a skilful general could think of to render his first
attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful. Two spies were despatched
to reconnoitre the country, particularly in the neighborhood of
Jericho; for in the prospect of investing that place, it was desirable
to obtain full information as to its site, its approaches, the
character, and resources of its inhabitants. This mission required the
strictest privacy, and it seems to have been studiously concealed from
the knowledge of the Israelites themselves, test any unfavorable or
exaggerated report, publicly circulated, might have dispirited the
people, as that of the spies did in the days of Moses.
Jericho—Some derive this name from a
word signifying "new moon," in reference to the crescent-like
plain in which it stood, formed by an amphitheater of hills; others
from a word signifying "its scent," on account of the fragrance
of the balsam and palm trees in which it was embosomed. Its site was
long supposed to be represented by the small mud-walled hamlet Er-Riha;
but recent researches have fixed on a spot about half an hour's journey
westward, where large ruins exist about six or eight miles distant from
the Jordan. It was for that age a strongly fortified town, the key of
the eastern pass through the deep ravine, now called Wady-Kelt, into
the interior of Palestine.
they … came into an harlot's
house—Many expositors, desirous of removing the stigma of
this name from an ancestress of the Saviour (Mt 1:5), have called her a hostess or tavern
keeper. But Scriptural usage (Le 21:7-14;
De 23:18; Jud 11:1; 1Ki 3:16), the authority of the
Septuagint, followed by the apostles (Heb 11:31;
Jas 2:25), and the immemorial
style of Eastern khans, which are never kept by women, establish the
propriety of the term employed in our version. Her house was probably
recommended to the spies by the convenience of its situation, without
any knowledge of the character of the inmates. But a divine influence
directed them in the choice of that lodging-place.
2, 3. it was told the king—by the
sentinels who at such a time of threatened invasion would be posted on
the eastern frontier and whose duty required them to make a strict
report to headquarters of the arrival of all strangers.
4-6. the woman took the two men, and hid
them—literally, "him," that is, each of them in separate
places, of course previous to the appearance of the royal messengers
and in anticipation of a speedy search after her guests. According to
Eastern manners, which pay an almost superstitious respect to a woman's
apartment, the royal messengers did not demand admittance to search but
asked her to bring the foreigners out.
5. the time of shutting of the gates—The
gates of all Oriental cities are closed at sunset, after which there is
no possibility either of admission or egress.
the men went out—This was a palpable
deception. But, as lying is a common vice among heathen people, Rahab
was probably unconscious of its moral guilt, especially as she resorted
to it as a means for screening her guests; and she might deem herself
bound to do it by the laws of Eastern hospitality, which make it a
point of honor to preserve the greatest enemy, if he has once eaten
one's salt. Judged by the divine law, her answer was a sinful
expedient; but her infirmity being united with faith, she was
graciously pardoned and her service accepted (Jas 2:25).
6. she had brought them up to the roof of the
house, and hid them with the stalks of flax—Flax, with other
vegetable productions, is at a certain season spread out on the flat
roofs of Eastern houses to be dried in the sun; and, after lying
awhile, it is piled up in numerous little stacks, which, from the
luxuriant growth of the flax, rise to a height of three or four feet.
Behind some of these stacks Rahab concealed the spies.
7. the men pursued after them the way to Jordan
unto the fords—That river is crossed at several well-known
fords. The first and second immediately below the sea of Galilee; the
third and fourth immediately above and below the pilgrims'
bathing-place, opposite Jericho.
as soon as they which pursued after them were
gone out, they shut the gate—This precaution was to ensure
the capture of the spies, should they have been lurking in the
The Covenant between Her and Them.
8-13. she came up unto them upon the roof and
said—Rahab's dialogue is full of interest, as showing the
universal panic and consternation of the Canaanites on the one hand
(Jos 24:11; De 2:25), and her strong convictions on the
other, founded on a knowledge of the divine promise, and the stupendous
miracles that had opened the way of the Israelites to the confines of
the promised land. She was convinced of the supremacy of Jehovah, and
her earnest stipulations for the preservation of her relatives amid the
perils of the approaching invasion, attest the sincerity and strength
of her faith.
14. the men answered her, Our life for yours, if
ye utter not this our business—This was a solemn
pledge—a virtual oath, though the name of God is not mentioned;
and the words were added, not as a condition of their fidelity, but as
necessary for her safety, which might be endangered if the private
agreement was divulged.
15. her house was upon the town wall—In
many Oriental cities houses are built on the walls with overhanging
windows; in others the town wall forms the back wall of the house, so
that the window opens into the country. Rahab's was probably of this
latter description, and the cord or rope sufficiently strong to bear
the weight of a man.
16-21. she said—rather "she had said,"
for what follows must have been part of the previous conversation.
Get you to the mountain—A range of
white limestone hills extends on the north, called Quarantania (now
Jebel Karantu), rising to a height of from twelve hundred to fifteen
hundred feet, and the sides of which are perforated with caves. Some
one peak adjoining was familiarly known to the inhabitants as "the
mountain." The prudence and propriety of the advice to flee in that
direction rather than to the ford, were made apparent by the
21. she bound the scarlet line in the
window—probably soon after the departure of the spies. It was
not formed, as some suppose, into network, as a lattice, but simply to
hang down the wall. Its red color made it conspicuous, and it was thus
a sign and pledge of safety to Rahab's house, as the bloody mark on the
lintels of the houses of the Israelites in Egypt to that people.