Joshua 2: Rahab and the Spies
In this chapter, Joshua sends some spies into the Promised Land, to take a look around before he sends in the troops.
He sends two spies, and instructs them to look the place over—especially Jericho, which must have some kind of significance. (I’m guessing it’s the capital.) They go, and stay at the house of a prostitute named Rahab, who lives in Jericho. However, while the spies are there, the king of Jericho hears about it, and commands Rahab to bring the men out to him. Rahab, however, had taken the men up to her roof, and hidden them under some flax that was laying up there. So when the king’s messengers come, she tells them that the men had been there, but that they’ve gone. (And, for good measure, she tells the king’s men that she didn’t know they were Israelites.) She tells the king’s men to run after them—maybe there’s still time to catch them!
Once the king’s men have gone off after the spies, Rahab goes up to the roof to talk to them. She tells them that she knows the LORD has given the Israelites her country, and all of the people where she lives are “melting in fear” (verse 9) because of them. When everyone heard about what the LORD did at the Red Sea, and then how He defeated the kings on the other side of the Jordan, their “hearts melted” and their “courage failed,” because “the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (verse 11).
So Rahab asks the spies to spare her and her family. When they come to conquer the Promised Land, she would like them to spare her family. They agree:
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.” (verse 14)
However, there are some conditions that Rahab must meet:
- The spies give Rahab a scarlet cord, which she must tie in her window
- All of Rahab’s family must be inside her house, when the Israelites attack; they won’t be responsible for the safety of anyone outside the house
- Rahab must not tell anyone what the spies are doing
If these conditions aren’t met, the spies will no longer be bound by their oath. She agrees to the terms.
So Rahab—whose house is part of the city wall—lets the men out a window, to climb down the wall on a rope. She tells them to go up into the hills for a few days, until the men pursuing them return, and then they can go back to their people. They do, and after a few days, they go back across the Jordan to where Joshua and the people are waiting. They give a good report:
They said to Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” (verse 24)
I find it interesting that Joshua begins his leadership by sending in spies to the Promised Land. The last time they did this, the Israelites didn’t react so well. However, this time it seems to have worked out nicely.
Rahab is an interesting example of faith, because she’s not an Israelite. She’s a foreigner, living in a foreign land, and the only information she has about the LORD is what she’s heard through rumours and second-hand stories. And yet, it’s enough to know that He is “God in heaven above and on the earth below” (verse 11).