Spies Sent to Jericho
Moses is dead, Israel has mourned for 30 days, it is time to leave the wilderness, it is time to believe. The new generation was willing to believe God and enter into God's Promised Land.
: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.
Who is Rahab? God sees that she is mentioned in His Word so she is important. The King James Version refers to her as a harlot. What does that really mean? Rahab was an innkeeper, she dealt with the public she lodged travelers. She is a working woman, she has no husband to take care of her. Rahab is an exception to the culture, for Israelite women didn't deal with the public; the only men that women would have contact with in public places would be the husband, sons, uncles, cousins...family. We have seen instances of women drawing water for men at wells when it was asked of them and they were to oblige to, but to have any further interaction with them was generally socially taboo.
Some say that Rahab was a prostitute. According to Bishop K.C. Pillai, prostitutes as well as lepers, pigs and liquor shops were kept outside the city. Rahab lived within the city, she ran an inn. In order for us to understand many passages in the Word of God we must understand the culture at the time. We, as Westerners, have an immensely different culture than that of the East. So when we read phrases that proclaim: beware of dogs (so I cannot have a dog?) or heap coals of fire on your enemies head to bless them (that is a blessing?) we cannot understand God's intent. The same situation is here with Rahab.
We need to be taught Oriental manners and customs. That is the mission of Bishop Pillai who was born in India an high-caste Hindu. He converted to Christianity when he was a young man and became a Bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church in India. His church realized that the Western world was ignorant of many Eastern customs and idioms which caused the Bible to be frequently misinterpreted. Bishop Pillai was then given a mission by the Eastern Orthodox Church to teach the cultures and orientalisms of the Bible.
Bishop Pillai gives us some cultural insight into life in Biblical times in a book called Appreciating Oriental Insights in the Bible compiled by Rev. Christopher C. Geer:
An inn had two portions. One was a portion where the
virgins who were taking part in a marriage ceremony could go and await the
bridegroom who came through the city gate, and the other was accommodations
for lodging and feeding those who journeyed. In addition, the innkeeper lived
upstairs. The innkeeper was called an harlot. The word harlot may refer either
to a prostitute or to an innkeeper, and the meaning needs to be determined by
its usage in the Bible.
Why were innkeepers called harlots? The inn was established and maintained by public funds, and accommodation was offered free of charge to those who journeyed. Women in the East wore veils on their faces and did not talk to men other than their husband and relatives. If a woman served in an inn, then she served the public. She would not, therefore, wear a veil, and she would talk to strange men with her face uncovered. She was called an harlot because she was one who had thrown away the veil and served anybody and everybody. (pages 76 & 77)
Now this situation with our spies lodging in Rahab's house makes more sense.
: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.
:3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying,
[the king of Jericho sends in the FBI / CIA / Seals]
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.
:4 And the woman took the two men,
and hid them,
and said thus,
There came men unto me,
I wist not whence they were:
:5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate,
when it was dark, that the men went out:
whither the men went I wot not:
pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
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.
This is a very bold move for Rahab. She could have turned them in, they were a threat to her city, her community, her home and her way of life. We have already seen that she is a unique woman. She has the boldness of one who believes that God is her ally. Rahab chose to believe God, for God's reputation has preceded Him.
: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.
:8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;
: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.
:10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you,
when ye came out of Egypt;
and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites,
that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og,
whom ye utterly destroyed.
: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.
Rahab heard about the true God and chose to believe. These events didn't happen by chance. The two spies were guided to Rahab and Rahab was inclined to hide them. She must have believed God for her deliverance. She made a deal so that her and her father's house would be protected.
: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:
: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.
: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.
: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.
: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.
:17 And the men said unto her,
We will be blameless of this thine oath
which thou hast made us swear.
: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.
: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.
:20 And if thou utter this our business,
then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.
: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.
: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.
Now think about this. Jericho is going to be conquered (we don't know how yet, unless you have read ahead) and this lady has asked to be spared along with her father's house. Then the spies agree. God has to be working in this situation to bring this to pass. In times of war it is common for innocent people to be killed unintentionally. It is also common for traitors to be killed swiftly. Rahab has nothing to lose and everything to gain by turning to God. God has also guided these spies to her and inspired them to make a covenant with her to save her.
God does save her and her father's house (take note, no husband has been mentioned). She does end up getting married to Salmon the son of Nahshon the Prince of Judah. This is mentioned in Matthew 1:5-in the Christ line! She is the mother of Boaz the kinsman to Ruth and they had Obed who had Jesse the father of David. God brought her before great men .
:16 A man's gift maketh room for him,
and bringeth him before great men.