[Yehoshua 2 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]
1 And Joshua the son of Nun [Yehoshua ben Nun] sent out of Shittim two men [Sheetim shnayim anashim] to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land [HaAretz], even Jericho [Yericho]. And they went, and came into an harlot's house [bais isha zonah], named Rahab [Rachav], and lodged there.
He sent spies over to Jericho to obtain needful information. He did not go to work with a blind confidence. He recognised that God's work in the case was to be performed through himself and Israel, and that God's cooperation would not be lacking if they did their part.
In this we have a much needed lesson, that has already been frequently visible in the course of these examinations of the ways of providence. We ought never to neglect those reasonable measures which are calculated to bring about any result we may desire. When we have committed the matter to God, and taken care to avoid every element of wrong doing in our proceedings, we may go ahead with the assurance that God will prosper us, if the enterprise upon which we may be engaged is for our good in relation to Him. If we sit down supinely and act the part of the sluggard or the fool, our prayers will ascend to heaven as unregarded as the lowing of oxen.
Ways of Providence Ch 12
The people of Israel had been spiritually prepared for the crossing of the Jordan. All that remained was the divine command to advance. In the meantime, Joshua, as an experienced and proven military leader, determined that he should know something of the conditions
which his people could expect to meet once the crossing had been completed.
Accordingly, he sent "out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho." Why two spies? And why were they sent "secretly"?
To avoid the disastrous consequences which occurred when Moses, at the insistence of the people, sent out twelve spies from Kadesh-Barnea (Deut. 1:22). All the nation had known that twelve men had been sent out and the people had waited expectantly for their return and the report they would bring. Every tribe was given the opportunity to exercise faith but the influence of ten faithless spies virtually destroyed a generation.
Such a catastrophe was not to be repeated. Obviously, the two "young men" (6:23) were hand-picked by Joshua. He wanted men of faith for a task such as this and they would be chosen for their zeal and enthusiasm, their courage and agility.
However, Joshua would have been most careful in choosing the right men. (The word "men" has been rendered from the Hebrew enowsh, which means "to be frail, mortal, feeble, sick".) Surely this was an unsuitable word to describe such men, who would have been robust, both physically and spiritually? By no means. The word expresses an acknowledgement on the part of both Joshua and the two men that the flesh was weak, and that only Yahweh could crown their mission with success.
The Israelites were camped at Abel-Shittim ("the meadow of acacias"). It was an area of lush rich grass in the northern area of the plain of Moab, about 14 miles from Jericho. It was an area ideally suited to the pasturing of sheep and cattle. Joshua sent the two men out "silently" or "cunningly", as the word also means. They were not sent on their way with a fanfare of trumpets and the shouts of the people. It is probable that only a few trusted people knew of this mission.
Exercising every care, and having swum the fast-flowing river Jordan, the men came cautiously to the city of Jericho. The name means "city of the moon" or "a place of fragrance". It has been termed "the city of palm trees" (Deut. 34:3; Judg. 1:16; 2 Chron. 28:15).
Of this ancient city, Stanley wrote: "Jericho stands at the entrance of the main passes from the valley of the Jordan into the interior of Palestine, the one branching off to the south-west towards Olivet, the other to the north-west towards Michmash, which commands the approach to Ai and Bethel. It was thus the key of Palestine to any invader from this quarter." ("Sinai and Palestine", p.305).
Archaeologists have discovered that the city was of relatively small size, but of intense strategic importance. Carefully disguised, Joshua's two men entered the city. Well trained in their craft, they would doubtless firstly have noticed important details concerning the approach to the city, the defences, and other matters which would be of considerable interest to Joshua.
They would also have been interested to learn the frame of mind of the people of Jericho; for news would have reached this city that the Israelites, in enormous numbers, were camped only a relatively short distance from them, on the other side of the Jordan. Were the men of Jericho confident, or were they fearful? All such information would be of value to Joshua and his people.
Seeking a sanctuary, they were granted an entrance into the house of Rahab, who was a harlot, and they "lodged" within her walls. Of all the houses in Jericho, the two spies found themselves at Rahab's door - the only woman in the city with the potential to exercise
faith in Yahweh. How did this remarkable turn of events come about? There can be only one answer: the Hand of Providence.
Sons and daughters of the Living God should be encouraged by this conclusion. In all the trials of life, God's people must continue to remember His assurance:
"Yahweh thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. . ." (Deut. 30:6; Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5). *
Rahab - "Rich in Faith"
The name Rahab means "broad" or "wide" (Ges.). The word has been used to depict human pride and arrogance. Rahab, as a type of the Bride of Christ, typifies those who are walking after the flesh, on the broad, wide way which leads to destruction, until they are changed
by the influence of God's word (Mat. 7:13). See the occurrence of this word in Job 30:14; Ps. 119:96, etc. A similar word, derived from the one used here, was used to describe Egypt (Ps. 87:4; 89:10; Isa. 51:9).
Harlotry would not have been regarded as immoral by the people who inhabited the land of Canaan at this time. Not being worshippers of Israel's God, they would be unaware of the moral standards demanded by Yahweh of His people. The Canaanites, generally, were a depraved and degenerate people, so evil they were not fit to live (cp.Deut. 9:5).
Rahab was a member of an utterly immoral society. There can be no doubt as to the truth of her occupation. Because the blood of Rahab ran in the veins of the Lord Jesus Christ, numerous attempts have been made to cover up her immorality. Some have endeavoured
to make her appear an "inn-keeper" or the suchlike- but ineptly. She is called "Rahab the harlot" in both the epistle of James and that to the Hebrews.
The word harlot (porne), derived from pornos, means "to sell, to prostitute" (Jas. 2:25; Heb. 11:31). Rahab had been a harlot whilst in ignorance of the Truth. In Rahab, we are taught the lesson that it is not what we were that is important to Yahweh; it is what we are.
Through the influence of the word of God, Rahab's entire way of life was to be completely changed.The Lord Jesus told the "chief priests and elders of the people" - who were regarded as being deeply religious - that
"the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. . ." (Mat.21:23, 31).
Such people in the Lord's time were looked upon as the dregs of society. Yet they were more amenable to receiving the true gospel than the religious leaders, who were so deeply entrenched in their philosophies and positions of power that they would not wish to submit to the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.
Those who were regarded as being "respectable" were not interested in receiving true enlightenment and a changed way of life.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian Ecclesia concerning those who were fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, drunkards, revilers, extortioners. Whilst stressing that people who live such lives could not "inherit the kingdom of God", he added: "And such were some of you. . ." but they had been
"washed. . .sanctified. . .justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus. . ." (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
These words have a powerful application to one such as Rahab. She became "justified" on two counts: her faith and her works. Heb.11:31 states that she exhibited faith
"when she had received the spies in peace. . ." Jas. 2:25
says that she exhibited works "when she sent them out another way. . ."
In faith she considered the risks of keeping the men in her house, yet disregarded the dangers and placed her faith in Yahweh. Faith must be manifested in the actions of life: she moved positively to preserve the lives of the two spies by showing courage and initiative in getting them safely out of her house. *
*Joshua - His Life and Times, Bro John Ullman
6 But she had brought them up to the roof [gag] of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax [pishtei haetz], which she had laid in order upon the roof [gag].
The two Israelites had not only been seen: they had been followed to Rahab's house. The king then "sent unto Rahab". It would have appeared that the two spies were in a hopeless position. But
"there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against Yahweh. . .There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of Yahweh, that shall stand. . ." (Prov. 21:30; 19:21).
God was at work in this matter, as well as man.
Rahab Shows Faith And Works
...A safer hiding place became a matter of urgency.*
9 And she said unto the men [anashim], I know that Yahweh hath given you the land [HaAretz], and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land [HaAretz] faint because of you.
...any strangers who might have been seen passing into the city would have been reported to the king. Someone reported the presence, within the walls, of two men who were unknown to the inhabitants.*
11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts [levaveinu]did melt, neither did there remain any more courage [ ruach] in any man [ish], because of you: for Yahweh your Elohim, He is Elohim in heaven [baShomayim] above, and in earth [ HaAretz ] beneath.
Joshua and the children of Israel emboldened v24:-
A communication like this could not fail to cheer and strengthen Joshua and all the people in the enterprise in hand. How came the woman to make a communication with so important an effect? The only answer to be found is in the fact that God was working with His faithful servants, and operated in such a way upon the woman's mind as to move her to unburden herself of information useful to them.
A similar instance may be found in the case of Gideon, who was called upon to address himself to a more formidable enterprise than that entrusted to Joshua (Judges 7). With 300 men, he was required to break up an army of considerably over a hundred thousand men. He was faithfully endeavouring to summon the necessary courage; to help him in which, the Lord invited him to overhear a conversation in the enemies' camp. God said (verse 8),
"Go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host, and thou shalt hear what they say, afterwards shall thy hand be strengthened to go down to the host."
In obedience to this command, Gideon went down into the valley by stealth, and listened outside one of the soldier's tents, and heard one man express to the other a conviction that Gideon would overthrow the Midianitish host. Thus strengthened, he returned to his post, and made the arrangements by which the enemy was overthrown.
Now, these are among the things written for our instruction. A piece of conversation is ordinarily a very insignificant affair; yet, in special cases, it may be an important link in the working out of God's purpose with us. An enlightened view of the subject will teach us to regard nothing as necessarily outside the scope of divine supervision. God may touch the heart of friend or foe to speak certain words at a certain time, for good or evil, according to His own will. It is ours to commit ourselves to His hand. By this rule, David was able to say of Shimei's maledictions on the day that David fled from Jerusalem:
"Let him curse, because the Lord hath sent him to curse David; who shall therefore say, Wherefore hast thou done so?"
Ways of Providence Ch 12