Joshua 2 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Joshua 2)

Verse 1

[1] And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Sent — Or, had sent: Two men - Not twelve, as Moses did, because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it.

To spy — That is, to learn the state of the land and people. It is evident Joshua did not this out of distrust; it is probable, he had God's command and direction in it for the encouragement of himself and his army.

Secretly — With reference not to his enemies, that being the practice of all spies, but to the Israelites; a good caution to prevent the inconveniency which possibly might have arisen, if their report had been discouraging.

Jericho — That is, the land about Jericho, together with the city. Heb. The land and Jericho, that is, especially Jericho.

Harlot's — So the Hebrew word is used, James 2:25, such she either now was, or rather, had been formerly.

Lodged — Or, lay down; as the same word is rendered, Joshua 2:8, composed themselves to rest; but they were hindered from that intention.

Verse 2

[2] And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.

To night — This evening.

Verse 3

[3] And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

Probably Israel had but one friend in all Jericho: and God directed them to her! Thus what seems to be most accidental, is often over-ruled, to serve the great ends of providence. And those that acknowledge God in their ways, he will guide them with his eye.

Verse 4

[4] And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:

And the woman — Or, But the woman had taken - and had hid them, before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours, that there was a suspicion of the matter, and guessed that search would be made. And this is justly mentioned as a great and generous act of faith, Hebrews 11:31, for she apparently ventured her life upon a steadfast persuasion of the truth of God's word and promise given to the Israelites.

Whence they were — Her answer contained in these and the following words, was false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; tho' her intention was good therein. But it is very probable, she being an Heathen, might think, that an officious lie is not unlawful.

Verse 6

[6] But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.

Roof — Which was flat after their manner.

Upon the roof — That they might be dried by the heat of the sun.

Verse 7

[7] And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.

Fords — Or passages, that is, the places where people used to pass over Jordan, whether by boats or bridges.

The gate — Of the city, to prevent the escape of the spies, if peradventure Rahab was mistaken, and they yet lurked therein.

Verse 8

[8] And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;

Laid down — To sleep as they intended.

Verse 9

[9] And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

Your terror — That is, the dread of you.

Verse 11

[11] And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Melted — That is, were dissolved, lost all courage.

Verse 12

[12] Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:

By the Lord — By your God who is the only true God: so she owns his worship, one eminent act whereof is swearing by his name.

My father's house — My near kindred, which she particularly names, Joshua 2:13, husband and children it seems she had none. And for herself, it was needless to speak, it being a plain and undeniable duty to save their preserver.

True token — Either an assurance that you will preserve me and mine from the common ruin: or a token which I may produce as a witness of this agreement, and a means of my security. This is all that she asks. But God did for her more than she could ask or think. She was afterwards advanced to be a princess in Israel, the wife of Salmon and one of the ancestors of Christ.

Verse 13

[13] And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.

All that they have — That is, their children, as appears from Joshua 6:23.

Verse 14

[14] And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.

For yours — We will venture our lives for the security of yours.

Our business — That is, this agreement of ours, and the condition of it, lest others under this pretence, should secure themselves. By which they shew both their piety and prudence in managing their oath with so much circumspection, that neither their own consciences might be ensnared, nor the publick justice obstructed.

Verse 15

[15] Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

Town-wall — Which gave her the opportunity of dismissing them when the gates were shut.

Upon the wall — Her particular dwelling was there: which may possibly be added, because the other part of her house was reserved for the entertainment of strangers.

Verse 16

[16] And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.

The mountain — That is, to some of the mountains wherewith Jericho was encompassed, in which also there were many caves where they might lurk.

Three days — Not three whole days, but one whole day, and part of two days.

Verse 17

[17] And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.

Said — Or, had said; namely, before she let them down; it being very improbable, either that she would dismiss them before the condition was agreed on; or that she would discourse with them, or they with her, about such secret and weighty things after they were let down, when others might overhear them.

Blameless — That is, free from guilt or reproach if it be violated, namely, if the following condition be not observed.

Verse 18

[18] Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.

Into the land — That is, over Jordan, and near the city.

This line of scarlet — Probably the same with which she was about to let them down.

Window — That it may be easily discerned by our soldiers.

Verse 19

[19] And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.

Upon his head — The blame of his death shall rest wholly upon himself, as being occasioned by his own neglect of the means of safety.

Our head — We are willing to bear the sin, and shame, and punishment of it.

Be upon him — So as to kill him.

Verse 21

[21] And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

In the window — Forthwith, partly that the spies might see it hung out before their departure, and so the better know it at some distance; partly lest some accident might occasion a neglect about it.

Verse 22

[22] And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.

Three days — Supporting themselves there with the provisions, which Rahab had furnished them with.

The ways — That is, in the road to Jordan, and the places near it, but not in the mountains.

Verse 23

[23] So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them:

Passed over — Jordan unto Joshua.