Rahab Shelters Spies
1Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as scouts secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially [a]Jericho [the walled city].” So they went and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 Now the king of Jericho was told, “Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to spy and search out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, because they have come [as spies] to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; so she said, “Yes, two men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 When it was time to close the [city] gate at dark, the men left; I do not know where they went. Pursue them quickly, for [if you do] you will overtake them.” 6 But [in fact] she had brought the scouts up to the roof and had hidden them under the [b]stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof [to dry]. 7 So the [king’s] men pursued them on the road to the Jordan as far as the [c]fords [east of Jericho]; as soon as the pursuers had gone out after them, the gate [of the city] was shut.
8 Now before the two men lay down [to sleep], Rahab came up to them on the roof, 9 and she said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror and dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in despair] because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the [d]Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan [on the east], to Sihon and Og, whom you [e]utterly destroyed. 11 When we heard it, our hearts melted [in despair], and a [fighting] spirit no longer remained in any man because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 And now, please swear [an oath] to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s household (family), and give me a pledge of truth and faithfulness, 13 and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, along with everyone who belongs to them, and let us all live.” 14 So the men said to her, “Our lives for yours if you do not tell [anyone about] this business of ours; then when the Lord gives us the land we will show you kindness and faithfulness [and keep our agreement with you].”
The Promise to Rahab
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built [f]into the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go [west] to the hill country, so that the pursuers [who have headed east] will not encounter you; hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you can go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We shall be blameless and free from this oath which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this [g]cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and bring into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household [so that they will be safe]. 19 But if anyone goes out the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head [that is, his own responsibility], and we shall be blameless and free [from our oath]; however, if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell [anyone] this business of ours, we shall be blameless and free from the oath which you made us swear.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then Rahab sent them off, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They left and went [on their way] to the hill country [west of Jericho], and stayed there [hidden in the caves] three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers had searched all along the road but had not found them. 23 Then the two men turned back and came down from the hill country and crossed over [the Jordan] and came to Joshua the son of Nun [at Shittim], and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “Certainly the Lord has given all the land into our hands; for all the inhabitants of the land have melted [in despair] because of us.”
- Joshua 2:1 Jericho, an oasis near the Jordan River, is believed to be one of the world’s oldest inhabited sites. Its name is derived from the Hebrew word for “moon,” implying that it may have been a center of worship for various lunar gods.
- Joshua 2:6 Flax was used to make linen and the flat rooftop of a house was a convenient place to lay the stalks in the sun to dry.
- Joshua 2:7 I.e. narrow or shallow places where the river could be crossed by wading.
- Joshua 2:10 Lit Sea of Reeds.
- Joshua 2:10 The conquest of the land and the destruction of its inhabitants were acts of divine judgment decreed by God, and carried out through acts of obedience by Joshua and the sons of Israel.
- Joshua 2:15 Modern archaeology indicates that the house may have been built against the wall, so that the city wall also formed the back wall of the house. Otherwise, it may have been built partially or entirely in the wall. The Hebrew preposition (“into/in”) has too wide a range of meaning to be precise.
- Joshua 2:18 The scarlet cord in Rahab’s window may be considered analogous to the blood on the doorposts on the first Passover night in Egypt (Ex 12:13). God allowed her life to be saved and also changed. She became an ancestress, as did Ruth, of David and of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1, 5, 6).