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In this chapter we have an account of Rahab's receiving and con.
cealing the two spies sent from Shittim ; the covenant between her and them ; and of their return, and report to Joshua,
1 A ND Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim, from
11 the plains of Moab, where they were now encamped, two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho, which was the nearest city, about seven miles distant ; learn its strength, and how it is best to attack it ; but let none of the peo, ple know, lest they should murmur, and get a false report. And
they went and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, 2 and lodged there.* And it was told the king of Jericho, say.
ing, Behold, there came in men hither to night, of the children of Israel to search out the country ; the city was soon
alarmed, for they judged from their habit, language, or aspect, • 3 that they were Israelites and spies. And the king of Jericho
sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come
to thee, which are entered into thine house : for they be £ come to search out all the country, and surprise the city. And
the woman had discovered who these persons were, and their errand, and she took the two men, and hid them, and said
thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they 5 [were :) And it came to pass (about the time) of shutting of
the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out : whither the men went I wot not : pursue after them quickly ; for ye shall overtake them before they get to the river Jordan. This part of her conduct was very blameable ; she told an absolute falsehood, and neither God nor man could praise her for this. It might be partly owing to her fears, and partly to her ignorance
of the nature of truth and religion, which God mercifully par6 doned, and accepted her faith. But she had brought them up
to the roof of the house, which was fiat, like the leads of our churches, as is now common in the east, and hid them with
the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof 7 to dry. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan
unto the fords : and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate, to guard the city
against surprise, and secure the spies if they were not gone out. 8 And 'before they were laid down, she came up unto them 9 upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the
• Rahab lived on the wall of the city, which was convenient for them to make obser. vations from ; to lie concealed, or to make their escape. She is called here, and in the New Testament, an harlot : but the word properly si nifies, an hostess, or innkeeper. So the Chaldee paraphrase renders it. She might have been an harlot, but was now reclaimed from it ; Lor her discourse with the spies savours of religion and the fear of God.
LORD hath given you the land, * and that your terror is fallen
upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because 10 of you ; this was what the spies came to inquire about. For we
have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt, above forty years ago ; and it is still talked of what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that [were] on the other side Jordan, Sihon and
Og ; whom ye utterly destroyed ; these are fresh in our 11 memories. And as soon as we had heard (these things,] our
hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you ; this Moses had foretold ; for the LORD your God, he [is] God in heaven above, and in earth
beneath, he can do whatsoever he pleases in heaven and in earth. 12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD
since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token,
a sure sign to secure us when you take the city, and that you 13 will be as good as your words : And [that] ye will save aliye
my father and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters,
and all their children that they have, (ch. vi. 23.) and deliver 14 our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life
for yours, if ye utter not this our business, if ye tell not the errand on which we came. And it shall be when the LORD hath
given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee, 15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window : for
her house (was) upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the 16 wall. And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain,
which is near the city, and in which there are many caves, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days,
until the pursuers be returned : and afterward may ye go 17 your way. And the men said unto her, We (will be] blame
less of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear, we would willingly observe most exactly what we promise and swear,
and therefore, that there may be no mistake on either part, we 18. repeat the terms again ; Behold, (when) we come into the
land and are drawing near to your city, 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. 19 And it shall be, [that] whosoever shall go out of the doors of
thy house into the street, his blood [shall be) upon his head,
• Some think that God had made known to the king and people of Jericho, that they must quit their land, though the circumstance is not inentioned, and that the people would not take the warning; but Rahab believed it ; and that this appears to be the nature of that faith which she manifested, and for which she is commended in Heb. xi. 31. and James ii. 25 The apostle says, She perished not with those that believed not; or, as in the Hebrew, who were not obedient ; but how could they be said to be disobedient, if God's will was not made known to them?
+ This showed that her faith in Jehovah was strong, by whom she asks them to swear,. and also in his promise to give them the land.
and we will be] guiltless : and whosoever shall be with thee
in the house, his blood [shall be] on our head, if [any] hand be 20 upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will 21 be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.* And
she said, According unto your words, so [be] it, I willingly submit to all these terms. And she sent them away, and they
departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window before 39 they left her. And they went, and came unto the mountain,
and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought (them) throughout all the way, but found [them) not.
So the two men returned, and descended from the moun. tain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, 24 and told him all [things] that befell them : And, expressing
theinselves like bold and faithful men, they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land, as bure ds if we already possessed it, for even all the inhabitants of the country de faint because of us, and therefore we have nothing to fear. These were good tidings to Joshua which he trobably told to all the people: to encourage and animate them.
T E learn hence, that the faith of Rahab should be imi
VV tated by us. She believed the promise, and obeyed the command of the God of Israel. She ventured her life, and all that was dear to her, upon his declaration. This was surprising in a person so young, (for she was the mother of Boaz thirty years after this especially in a person of her profession and character, if that was indeed criminal. She renounced idolatry, and acknowledged the true God and the law of Moses. This is the more remarkable, considering that the prince, and the other inhabitants of the city, who had heard these things as well as she, were not so affected by them, and payed no regard to them: there was not so great faith in Israel. They knew the land was promised to their fathers, and had seen the great things God had done for them, yet staggered through unbelief. But this woman was confident of it ; she speaks to the spies, notwithstanding their seemingly destitute condition, as if they had actually taken the city, and the whole land was at their disposal. Therefore she is recommended to our imitation by the apostle Paul. She not only assented to this truth, that Jehovah was God in heaven above, and in earth beneath, but acted accordingly : and by works proved the sincerity of her faith. She was justified, as James says, by her works : and he adds, that as the body without the
• These were the three conditions ; to bind the scarlet thread in the window, to have all her relations in her own house, and not to tell the business on which they came, or the agreement they had made, lest others should hang out a scarlet thread or cord, likewise.
spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. Let us imitate her example in this respect ; and as we profess to believe in God, so let us be careful to maintain good works.
2. There may be a mixture of imperfection in the best characters, which should be a caution and a warning to us. Neither Paul nor James commend her for lying. It is strange that any commentators should attempt to vindicate it, saying, If the officers would be deceived, let them be deceived : and as they were Canaanites, truth was not their due. But this is a strange way of arguing in christian divines ; and such as some heathen philosophers would have blushed at. Good ends will never justify bad means; we may do any thing, but sin, to promote a good end. Those which are called officious lies, that will, if told, produce more good than harm, however they may have been vindicated, are certainly very bad things, and ought carefully to bo avoided ; for nothing is lawful for one, which is not so for others in like circumstances ; and if this maxim once comes to be held good, all mutual trust and confidence will be at an end. Nay, even those divines who have endeavoured to vindicate Rahab's conduct, have still asserted, not with great consistency indeed, that it is our duty to put away lying far from us, and every one to speak truth to his neighbour, and never to do evil that good muy come. But these are the declarations of the bible, and, as such, may be set against all artful equivocations and sophistical arguments whatever. We learn,
3. That in all our covenant engagements, we should be as plain and express with one another as possible. The spies, though in haste, and undoubtedly in great confusion, were very exact in first settling the terms with Rahab, repeating the agreement, thať they might respectively remember what was promised. They explained every condition, to prevent the possibility of equivocation. Let us be cautious in all our engagements, that we may not be perplexed and confounded afterward. It becomes us especially to be cautious in all our transactions with God ; that we count the cost, examine what is required of us, and not be rash to utter any thing before God, by way of vow or engagement. Let integrity and prudence direct and preserve' us in all our engagements with God and man ; for the righteous Lord loveth right cousness, and his countenance beholdeth the upright.
The people prepare tò pass over Jordan ; God encourages and
directs Joshua, and Joshua the people, by telling them the waters
should be cut off ; which was done according to his word. · 1 A ND Joshua rose early in the morning after the return of
II the spies, and their report was made known to the people ; and they removed from Shittim, where they had been encamped about a month, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over, that, obsery
ing the width of the river, the miracle might appear more remark2 able. And it came to pass after three days, that the officers
went through the host a second time, with more particular di3 rections ; And they commanded the people, saying, When
ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the
priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your 4 place, and go after it.* Yet there shall be a space between
you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure ; that is, about a thousand yards, rather more than half a mile : come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go : for ye have not passed [this] way heretofore : they must Keep at a distance from the ark, out of reverence to it, and that all might see it the better, as they were to follow it through an
untrodden path. 5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves, keep
yourselves from all moral and legal pollutions, and bring your
hearts to an holy and reverent temper, for tomorrow the LORD 6 will do wonders among you. And Joshua spake unto the
priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And the priests showed strong faith in God, and ready obedience to Joshua, and they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, probably from the mercy seat, just before the ark began to remove, This day will I be. gin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses, (so] I will be with thee : as
Moses was magnified in the sight of Israel, by dividing the Red 8 sea, 80 shalt thou be magnified by dividing Jordan. And thou
shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan, in the first entrance into the river, where they stood for a season, till the river was divided,
• The 1.evites used to carry the ark, but the priests did it on some extraordinary oc. casions, as at this time, and chap. vi. 6. It used to be carried in the midst of the camp, but now went before it, the pillar of oloud being probably removed.