And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
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. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 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. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 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.
They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 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. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”
(Joshua 2 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
(Psalm 123 ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 124 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the LORD will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!
(Psalm 125 ESV)
Something to Consider
Joshua 2: In preparation for war, Joshua sends spies into Jericho to gather intelligence about the people there and to examine the layout of this hostile territory. In God’s sovereign provision, these two spies encounter the only person in the region that would offer them any protection whatsoever. In fear of the One True God of Israel, Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute from Jericho, puts her life on the line in order to preserve the lives of these two spies from Israel.
After being thoroughly protected under the care of Rahab, the two spies make a promise to “deal kindly and faithfully” to her. On the surface this seems to be disobedience to God’s command to deliver the Canaanite people over to “complete destruction” (Deuteronomy 7). However, the grace displayed towards Rahab reveals the way in which God’s judgement and justification isn’t a matter of one’s ethnicity but rather a matter of one’s faith and allegiance to Him as God. This is the unchanging message found throughout the Scriptures - those who come to faith in our Lord and swear their total allegiance to Him as God will be spared His judgement.
Rahab had heard of the many and miraculous ways God had provided and protected His people. Rahab believed and was fully convinced that God’s promises to His people would be fulfilled. Rahab knew that God’s coming judgement was inevitable, and she was sure that there was no way of escaping His judgement except to submit to Him and join His people. Rahab’s heart had “melted” in the fear of our Lord which is what led her to be spared by the grace of our Lord.
Although a Canaanite prostitute from Jericho, Rahab was spared from the judgement of God and remarkably finds herself as a distant mother of the One who would ultimately "deal kindly and faithfully" to those who possessed the same kind of faith that she possessed. She finds herself in the family tree of the coming Christ (Matthew 1) and is remembered throughout Scripture for her sincere faith (Hebrews 11) and her sacrificial good works (James 2).