Joshua 2: Spies in the Land

Joshua 2: Spies in the Land

Original Publication Date
July 5, 2016
Apr 29, 2023 3:18 AM
JoshuaChapter StudyRahabWomenLyingFaith
Bible References
Joshua 2
Table of Contents
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on July 5, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.


Both instances of Israel's attempts to scout out the land of Canaan are extremely memorable. Previously, Moses sent 12 spies in to the land, which didn't work out in Israel's favor due to the faint-heartedness of the spies. Only 2 of the spies had been faithful to God (one being Joshua himself), perhaps this is why Joshua chose to only send 2 men this time around.

Staying at the Inn

The spies take shelter at an inn maintained by Rahab, who's described as a harlot. This was the perfect place to gather information. The inn would have been full of hustle and bustle, and foreigners showing up there wouldn't have been an oddity or raised any flags.

Also, who is going to tell people what they heard at a inn run by a harlot? This would require them to admit they were essentially in a brothel!

Rahab, the Harlot?

Joshua 2:1 and Joshua 6:25 both confirm that Rahab was a harlot, but many people refuse to believe that an ancestor of Jesus was at one point in her life, a harlot.[1]

Actually, it makes more sense that Rahab was a harlot. This proves God's mercy as well as how marvelously one's life can change. In the New Testament, Jesus forgives and heals a prostitute, telling her to go and sin no more. Rahab as a harlot proves that even before Jesus' tenure on Earth, God was willing to forgive people and turn their life around. By taking a leap of faith, Rahab went from a harlot to a survivor, to the mother of a line that would produce King David and Jesus!

Searching For Spies

The King of Jericho discovered the spies were there and commanded Rahab to give up the two men. Instead of complying with the king's orders, Rahab lies about her knowledge and hides the men. Though lying is condemned by God in the 10 commandments, Rahab's great faith is shown when she risks her life for God's cause. Hiding these men was treason, which would have been punishable by death if she'd been caught by the king. Rahab's faith is praised in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

This makes me think ore closely on what it means to bear false witness. As a child, people often simplify this to lyingβ€”all lies are bad, even little white lies. However, we see in this example that there may be times when lying is appropriate. I want to explore this in my series on the 10 Commandments, but I think the main focus in the 10 Commandments is testifying against people falsely (or leading people astray from the Most High).

Rumors of Greatness

Despite telling the king that she knew nothing about the Israelites, Rahab knew a lot about God's miracles. She tells the men that she's heard the wonders of their escape from Egypt and defeat of armies in the wilderness. Rahab proclaims God to be the true God of the world, and because she recognizes God's sovereignty, she becomes a believer and an ally. Like people today, her expression of faith may not have been perfect, but her heart was in the right place. The other people of the city had also heard these rumors, but they chose to fight a losing battle.

The Covenant Between Rahab & the Spies

Rahab asks the spies to spare her and her family when they attack the city. The spies happily agree to Rahab's request provided she keeps their mission a secret. The sign of protection was to be a scarlet colored cord hanging from the window. This is reminiscent of the passover, though I think the exact symbolism was to remind people of how she let them escapeβ€”they climbed out of the window with the cord. Rahab agrees to this covenant, which ensures safety to everyone she brings into her home during the siege. As long as the family stayed inside, they would be spared. If anything happened to them while in the house, the blood would be on the spies' heads.

The Escape

Rahab had sent the king's men out of the city searching for the spies, so she told the spies to go in the opposite direction, to the mountains. This would ensure that the king's men wouldn't see them on their way back to camp. They were to wait 3 days until the king's men had given up and returned to Jericho, then go back to their camp. Using this plan, the spies were able to escape the city unscathed.

The Report

The spies report back to Joshua once they get back to the camp. Like Joshua and Caleb 38 years prior, the 2 spies are confident that God is with them and a victory is guaranteed. They also clue Joshua in that the inhabitants have heard great things about what God has done for the Israelites and are afraid.

References and Footnotes

  1. Ngo, Robin. "Rahab the Harlot?".Β Biblical Archaeology. January 2016

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