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Jos 2:1-7. RAHAB RECEIVES AND CONCEALS THE TWO SPIES.
1. Joshua . . . sent . . . two men to spy secretly--Faith is manifested
by an active, persevering use of means
and accordingly Joshua, while confident in the accomplishment of the
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
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.
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.
Jos 2:8-21. 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.
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.