1 Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. 2 It was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued them on the road to the Jordan to the fords; and as soon as those who were pursuing them had gone out, they shut the gate.
8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men, “ I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, 13 and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19 It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought them all along the road, but had not found them. 23 Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”
Observation – What does it say?
- Joshua sent to men to spy out the land.
- The spies were to especially spy out Jericho.
- They went inside the house of a prostitute.
- The prostitute’s name was Rahab.
- They lodged at the prostitute’s house which would indicate they stay there at least overnight.
- The King of Jericho was told the spies where in the city
- The identity of the Spies was known – They were from Israel
- The reason the spies were there was known
- The spies were known the night they arrived. So it is clear this was not a covert operation or if it was it was poorly executed.
- The king new where the spies were, in Rahab’s house.
- The king told Rahab to turn over the spies.
- Rahab hid the spies on the roof under stalks of flax
- Rahab laid out the stalks of flax neatly
- Rahab stated a bold face lie to the king’s men
- The men had not left
- She did know where they were from
- She did know were the men were
- Rahab told the kings men the spies left just before the gates were closed for the night.
- The gates were closed were closed at dark.
- Rahab said she did not know where the men went
- Rahab told the king’s men that if they left quickly they might be able to catch the spies.
- The king’s men thought they were chasing the spies.
- The king’s men followed the road that led to the Jordan river
- The king’s men went as far as the ford
- As soon as the king’s men left to chase the spies the closed the gates.
- They kings men were chasing the spies in the dark
- Since Rahab said that the spies had left when it was time to close the gate the gate must have been opened to let the king’s men out and then closed behind them.
- Now that the gate was shut the spies could not get back in but neither could the king’s men.
- Before the spies went to sleep for the night Rahab asked them to remember her kindness to them and spare her and her family when Jericho falls.
- Rahab told the spies that she knew the LORD had given the Israelites the land.
- Rahab told the spies the entire city of Jericho and the entire area was terrified of the Israelites
- The inhabitants of the area had heard about the exodus from Egypt.
- They heard about how God had dried up the Red Sea
- They had heard about what Israelites did to the kings of the Amorite, the land on the east side of the Jordan, the land that was given to the Gadite, Reubenites and the ½ tribe of Mannaseh
- The Israelites utterly destroyed Sihon and Og
- According to Rahab the people in Jericho did not have enough courage to stand up against the Israelites.
- Rahab acknowledged the God of Israel was the God in heaven and on earth
- Rahab had the spies swear by God
- Rahab ask the spies to swear that that she and her family will be treated kindly when Israel conquered Jericho.
- Rahab made the request the spies make the oath was because she had been kind to them.
- Rahab asked for a pledge of truth.
- Rahab asked that her father, mother, brothers and sisters and all that belonged to them be spared.
- The men’s oath was their life for her’s. There is no record of an oath taken by the LORD.
- The spies’ oath was conditional. Based on the condition that Rahab not tell anyone about their business. This condition is repeated just before they leave.
- The spies promised to deal kindly and faithfully with Rahab – What does dealing faithfully mean?
- The Spies escaped through a window in the wall.
- Rahab’s house was on the city wall.
- The spies were lowered to the ground via a rope.
- Rahab told the spies to go hide out in the hill country for 3 days
- The reason the spies were to hide 3 days was that by that time the king’s men would have stopped looking for them. By that time.
- The reason the spies were to go to the hill country is the king’s men would not be looking for them there.
- The spies told Rahab that the oath they took would not be binding unless she tied a red thread in the window she let them down.
- The oath would also pertain only to those in Rahab’s house.
- If Rahab wanted to protect her family they must be in the house.
- Anyone who ventures out of the Rahab’s house will not be protected.
- Rahab agrees to the conditions of the oath
- The spies went to the hill country for 3 days
- The kings men returned to Jericho within the 3 days
- After 3 days in the hill country the spies crossed back over the Jordan
- The spies came reported back to Joshua
- The spies told Joshua everything that happened
- The spies reported that God had given the land to Israel
- The spies reported were in fear of the Israelites
Interpretation – What does it mean?
Prostitutes are great sources of information. They have been used by all kinds of intelligence gathering organizations for information. So it is not surprising that the spies would go to a harlot for information.
I find two interesting points here. First, God had given the land to the Israelites but Joshua as the leader of the army was still required to act as a good general. And gather information about the enemy and territory is fundamental to fighting any war or battle. Just as Moses did as God commanded by sending the first group of spies in Numbers 13:1 so Joshua sent spies into the land. Obedience to God does not mean operating in a foolish manner. Joshua was not sending spies into the land to determine rather or not to go. God had already said go. He was sending them to determine the strategy and tactics to use. Joshua trusted God but he also understood that God required him to exercise his best judgment and abilities. That was Joshua’s job. But the results were God responsibilities.
The second point is that Rahab is a harlot. She lied straight face when asked about the spies from Israel Yet; it is because she lied she is included in the roll call of the saints in Hebrews 11:31, “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” It should give us a sense of peace and comfort to know that it is by faith that God not only saves and preserves us.
Application – How does it work?
Doing the will of God can only be accomplished by faith as exhibited by Rahab. But doing the will of God requires doing. Sitting back and doing nothing because God with take care of it, as an excuse to go nothing, is sinful. God requires us to act. God requires us to do. God commands and we obey. He commands us to obey His will. He is responsible for the outcome you are not. So don’t fret the large stuff, i.e. the results. That is God responsibility. You are only responsible for the easy simple stuff. Your responsibility is to obey His command.