Chapter 2 tells of spies sent by Joshua to Jericho. At this point the city was a fearful obstacle in the way of Israel taking over the promised land. Jericho lay across the Jordan, still to be crossed by Joshua shortly after Moses’ death. The spies enter the city. To get information they came to the seedy part of town and went to a whore house run by Rahab. The local authorities heard there were spies were there and came after them. The prostitute, Rahab, was afraid but not stupid. She’d heard of the God of Israel. Everyone in town had. She hid the spies and sent the authorities on a wild goose chase. She then told the spies how the people were afraid of Israel, but made them promise to spare her house and family when the men came back in exchange for not turning them in or tipping off the locals. The trade was a no-brainer for the spies, so they cut a deal. The next few chapters deal with crossing the Jordan, then in Chapter 6 we see the prostitute kept her end of the bargain and when Jericho fell her family was spared.
Joshua 2:8-9 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. Rahab heard and believed Israel’s God was a real threat. She and the people knew of God’s promise to give their land to Israel. It wasn’t what God said that scared them, though. There were many gods and none evoked this kind of reverence. It was what God did that mattered. They saw or otherwise heard reliable news of what happened in other places when the locals got in the way of Israel and their God.
Joshua 2:11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. They knew what God could do and they were afraid. In this verse we see Rahab reveal more than fear. She, a common woman, recognized Israel’s God, YHWH, is sovereign on earth and in heaven. To come to the realization there is one with absolute authority humbled her. Beyond that, it brought fear to the people of her town.
Joshua 2:18-21 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Then, if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. Everyone looks for security and protection. Whores are no different. In fact, one like Rahab was street-smart enough to know her best bet for her ultimate survival lay with YHWH instead of the men of her city. We don’t know how much Rahab really knew about this invading force, but she placed trust in these men. Trust wasn’t enough, though. She boldly made an oath. In exchange for her salvation she would obey the request to help God. In chapter 6 we learn she was faithful in her obedience to their request and for her obedience she and her whole family were spared death among the ruins of Jericho. Rahab had to have faith in God, but she also had to obey.
The Good News of Joshua 2
Joshua 2:23 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. I read this chapter a few times through before I heard that little voice telling me to carefully consider this particular verse. It is a verse I skimmed at first. Most people would, I suspect, give it little thought. The men reported what happened to Joshua. Big deal, right? That was their job, after all. Right? Yes, it was. That is the point.
Mt 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The last words spoken by Jesus to his disciples included his proclamation of authority. Rahab also proclaimed God’s authority. Jesus told his disciples to go and (overly simplified) tell the Good News. The spies came and reported good news. The disciples of Jesus acted on what they were told to do, so did Rahab.
Ps 79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! Rahab put her faith in God and was delivered, saved from destruction. It wasn’t merely faith of the heart, but an act of faith. No act on its own results in the salvation of the soul, but we have general commands as self-proclaimed believers and specific instructions as given by the Holy Spirit. It is all for the Glory of God. Pious acts don’t save, but faith does. Rahab acted in the faith. The King of Jericho heard about the power of God, but chose to confront him in his own glory. God is God, but your response is your choice. You can be a whore or a king. Which will it be?