About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 2

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Rahab And The Spies (ch. 2:1 - 24)

In verse 1 Joshua sends "two spies", (NIV) or, "two men to spy", (KJV). We need to look at the word "spy".  In our day we think of a spy as being an undercover, a covert, CIA agent.  In one sense of the word these men might well be spies, but I think there is more to it than simply spying.  James 2:25 in the NIV calls these two men spies, but in the KJV they are called messengers, which according to the Greek word it is translated form, is actually a better translation.

I believe these two men were sent by Joshua as messengers.  They were to spy, or check out the land of Canaan and then report back to Joshua.  I tend to see these men more as messengers than spies.

In verse 1 Joshua wants these two men to look over and report back about the city of Jericho.  He specifically wanted to know about this city.  The name "Jericho" means "the house of the moon god".   Worship of the moon god was part of the Canaanite religion of the day.  The symbol associated with the moon god is the same symbol used by Islam.  Mohammad grew up in a pagan religion very much influenced by the Canaanite religion that was the practice of the day here in Joshua. 

Jericho appears to be the center of things in this area of the world.  This is why it was important in the mind of Joshua.  It was a well fortified city that needed to be dealt with before anything else could be done in Canaan.

Verse 1 tells us that the first thing these two men did when they got to Jericho was to go into the house of a prostitute named Rahab, the great grandmother of King David.  This sounds strange, and we don't know why they approached a prostitute first, but that is what they did.  Maybe they didn't know she was a prostitute at first, or, maybe there is prophetic significance to this, which I tend to believe.  The Hebrew word translated as "prostitute" in the NIV can also be translated as "innkeeper".  The general consensus among Bible teacher is that Rahab ran a brothel, a house of prostitution.        

If you question that Rahab wasn’t a prostitute because the Hebrew word can be translated as "innkeeper", the New Testament calls her a prostitute. Hebrews 11:25 is one such example.

In verse 2 we see that some people saw these two men at Rahab's house and they told the King of Jericho of their presence in the city. The King grew very concerned about this and so he sent messengers to Rahab as seen in verse 3.  They king wanted Rahab to release these two men to the messengers of the king.

In verses 4 to 7 we see Rahab's response to the king's messengers.  She lied.  She said that the two men were there but they had since left.  The truth is that she hid the men on her roof under some flax.  Houses in those days and in that part of the world had flat roofs.  They would used the flat roofs for such things as drying flax  and grain.  They would also use their roof for entertaining, as we would use a patio. 

For centuries Bible students have discussed this lie of Rahab.  If you notice, her lie was actually a number of lies combined.  The question is asked, "is there any time when a lie is not considered a sin"?  From this passage, I certainly will not end the debate. I will say this.  Rahab's lie was based on faith.  The reason why she lied was that she acknowledged the God of Israel to be the only true God, and for that reason, her lie was meant to protect the servants of the only true God.  Simply put, her lie was founded in faith.  Another thought might well be that her telling a lie was simply part of the culture she grew up in.  Telling a lie was common place and not considered wrong.  This would have been the only possible way in her thinking to protect these two men of God.       

Verses 8 and 9 tell us a lot about how the Canaanites feel about Israel being on their doorstep.  They are in great fear of Israel.  Rahab acknowledges that the God of these two men is with Israel and has given them the land of Canaan.  Just how she knows that, the text does not say.  Maybe the two men convinced her, or maybe somehow the Lord Himself told her. Nevertheless, these words are an expression of faith and trust in Yahweh, and for that, she is listed in Hebrews 11:31 as one of the great Old Testament people with faith, even though she was a prostitute, and in this case, a liar.  It is important to realize that genuine faith trumps sin.  We are not saved by anything we do, whether good or bad.  What we do and how we live at our initial salvation is not the issue.  It's how we put our trust in the Lord that is the issue.  A change of lifestyle comes after true trust in the Lord, and a change will come if true trust resides in a person. 

Verse 10 tells us that the Canaanites had heard of  Israel's miraculous escape from Egypt, even though that was about 40 years earlier.  They also heard of Israel 's defeat of the Ammorite kings of Og and Sidon, just across the Jordan River from them.  Verse 11 states that the hearts of the Canaanites sank when they heard that the Jews were on their doorstep.  When Israel is in God's will, this is how other nations feel in her presence, but when they are out of God's will, which is most of the time, other nations have no fear of Israel in the least.

Verse 11 states Rahab's very words of confession.  She told the two men that their God was the only true God of heaven and earth.  This is the confession of faith that gets her in the Hebrews 11 "Hall of Faith". 

In verses 12 and 13 Rahab pleads for mercy.  She asks the 2 men to swear by God that they will save her and her family when they attack Jericho .  She truly knows that salvation, in all of its aspects are found in the God of Israel, and that Israel herself is a means of finding that salvation. 

In verse 14 the men replied by saying, "our lives for your lives".  Simply put, since you saved us, we'll save you.  This is the Abrahamic Covenant in action.  He that blesses Israel will be blessed.  Rahab will be blessed because she has blessed Israel.  She will also be blessed because she trusts in the God of Israel.

Notice also the confession of the 2 men in verse 14.  They acknowledge and confess that it is their God who will indeed give them this land.  This is what needs to be the confession of present day Israel.  It's not right now, but it will be when the Lord brings Israel to her knees in the tribulation period of these last days.

In verses 15 and 16 Rahab puts her faith into action.  After hiding the 2 men, she lets them down the city wall with a scarlet rope.  Her house was on the edge of the wall around the city.  She told the two men to hide in the hills, which was the opposite direction she told the king's messengers these two men were.  She told them to wait for three days and then return home.  Many people make something out of these three days, and possibly for good reason.

In verses 17 through 20 the 2 men lay out the conditions of the covenant they make with Rahab.  If she ties the scarlet rope to the window by which they let them go, everyone inside the house will be saved.  No matter who is in the house.  The scarlet rope will be the token of their salvation.  There is great significance to this.  It reminds us about the blood on the doorpost when Israel was in Egypt.  Those in the house with the blood and the door posts would not experience the wrath of God.  It is clearly symbolic of our salvation.

Note that in both instances, in Egypt, and now here in Rahab's house, all in the house were saved.  I do believe that the New Testament teaches that each and every individual must come to Jesus on his own.  That being said, if the father and mother are saved people, I believe the children are saved until they reach the age where they can find Jesus on their own.  I also believe that children, even if they are not following Jesus, as long as they are in the home with Christian parents will experience the blessings of God. 

Rahab simply says, "agreed", inverse 21.  This truly made her happy.  Thus her faith has come full circle.  She hears of the one true God.  She believes and puts her trust in Him.  She puts her faith into action, and now she is blessed.  That's the way salvation works.

The chapter closes with the 2 men returning to Joshua.  They tell Joshua in verse 24 that the Lord really has given them the land of Canaan.  We find out hear how this will happen.  The Lord has brought great fear into the hearts of the Canaanites.  They have no other choice but to surrender.

Concerning Rahab there are a few things we should note.  In the gospel of Matthew, in chapter 1 where we see the lineage from which Jesus was born, we note that Rahab, the Gentile prostitute was an ancestor of Jesus.  She ended up marrying a man named Solomon and they had a son named Boaz who married Ruth.  So, in the lineage of Jesus there is a prostitute.


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