Verses 8–21

The matter is here settled between Rahab and the spies respecting the service she was now to do for them, and the favour they were afterwards to show to her. She secures them on condition that they should secure her.

I. She gives them, and by them sends to Joshua and Israel, all the encouragement that could be desired to make their intended descent upon Canaan. This was what they came for, and it was worth coming for. Having got clear of the officers, she comes up to them to the roof of the house where they lay hid, finds them perhaps somewhat dismayed at the peril they apprehended themselves in from the officers, and scarcely recovered from the fright, but has that to say to them which will give them abundant satisfaction. 1. She lets them know that the report of the great things God had done for them had come to Jericho (Josh. 2:10), not only that they had an account of their late victories obtained over the Amorites in the neighbouring country, on the other side of the river, but that their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, and passage through the Red Sea, a great way off, and forty years ago, were remembered and talked of afresh in Jericho, to the amazement of every body. Thus this Joshua and his fellows were men wondered at, Zech. 3:8. See how God makes his wonderful works to be remembered (Ps. 111:4), so that men shall speak of the might of his terrible acts, Ps. 145:6. 2. She tells them what impressions the tidings of these things had made upon the Canaanites: Your terror has fallen upon us (Josh. 2:9); our hearts did melt, Josh. 2:11. If she kept a public house, this would give her an opportunity of understanding the sense of various companies and of travellers from other parts of the country, so that they could not know this any way better than by her information; and it would be of great use to Joshua and Israel to know it; it would put courage into the most cowardly Israelite to hear how their enemies were dispirited, and it was easy to conclude that those who now fainted before them would infallibly fall before them, especially because it was the accomplishment of a promise God had made them, that he would lay the fear and dread of them upon all this land (Deut. 11:25), and so it would be an earnest of the accomplishment of all the other promises God had made to them. Let not the stout man glory in his courage, any more than the strong man in his strength; for God can weaken both mind and body. Let not God’s Israel be afraid of their most powerful enemies; for their God can, when he pleases, make their most powerful enemies afraid of them. Let none think to harden their hearts against God and prosper; for he that made man’s soul can at any time make the sword of his terrors approach to it. 3. She hereupon makes profession of her faith in God and his promise; and perhaps there was not found so great faith (all things considered), no, not in Israel, as in this woman of Canaan. (1.) who believes God’s power and dominion over all the world (Josh. 2:11): “Jehovah your God, whom you worship and call upon, is so far above all gods that he is the only true God; for he is God in heaven above and in earth beneath, and is served by all the hosts of both.” A vast distance there is between heaven and earth, yet both are equally under the inspection and government of the great Jehovah. Heaven is not above his power, nor is earth below his cognizance. (2.) She believes his promise to his people Israel (Josh. 2:9): I know that the Lord hath given you the land. The king of Jericho had heard as much as she had of the great things God had done for Israel, yet he cannot infer thence that the Lord had given them this land, but resolves to hold it out against them to the last extremity; for the most powerful means of conviction will not of themselves attain the end without divine grace, and by that grace Rahab the harlot, who had only heard of the wonders God had wrought, speaks with more assurance of the truth of the promise made to the fathers than all the elders of Israel had done who were eye-witnesses of those wonders, many of whom perished through unbelief of this promise. Blessed are those that have not seen, and yet have believed; so Rahab did. O woman, great is thy faith!

II. She engaged them to take her and her relations under their protection, that they might not perish in the destruction of Jericho, Josh. 2:12, 13. Now, 1. It was an evidence of the sincerity and strength of her faith concerning the approaching revolution in her country that she was so solicitous to make an interest for herself with the Israelites, and courted their kindness. She foresaw the conquest of her country, and in the belief of that bespoke in time the favour of the conquerors. Thus Noah, being moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, and the condemning of the world, Heb. 11:7. Those who truly believe the divine revelation concerning the ruin of sinners, and the grant of the heavenly land to God’s Israel, will give diligence to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold of eternal life, by joining themselves to God and to his people. 2. The provision she made for the safety of her relations, as well as for her own, is a laudable instance of natural affection, and an intimation to us in like manner to do all we can for the salvation of the souls of those that are dear to us, and, with ourselves, to bring them, if possible, into the bond of the covenant. No mention is made of her husband and children, but only her parents, and brothers, and sisters, for whom, though she was herself a housekeeper, she retained a due concern. 3. Her request that they would swear unto her by Jehovah is an instance of her acquaintance with the only true God, and her faith in him and devotion towards him, one act of which is religiously to swear by his name. 4. Her petition is very just and reasonable, that, since she had protected them, they should protect her, and since her kindness to them extended to their people, for whom they were now negotiating, their kindness to her should take in all hers. It was the least they could do for one that had saved their lives with the hazard of her own. Note, Those that show mercy may expect to find mercy. Observe, She does not demand any preferment by way of reward for her kindness to them, though they lay so much at her mercy that she might have made her own terms, but only indents for her Life, which in a general destruction would be a singular favour. Thus God promised Ebed-Melech, in recompence for his kindness to Jeremiah, that in the worst of times he should have his life for a prey, Jer. 39:18. Yet this Rahab was afterwards advanced to be a princess in Israel, the wife of Salmon, and one of the ancestors of Christ, Matt. 1:5. Those that faithfully serve Christ and suffer for him he will not only protect, but prefer, and will do for them more than they are able to ask or think.

III. They solemnly engaged for her preservation in the common destruction (Josh. 2:14): “Our life for yours. We will take as much care of your lives as of our own, and would as soon hurt ourselves as any of you.” Nay, they imprecate God’s judgments on themselves if they should violate their promise to her. She had pawned her life for theirs, and now they in requital pawn their lives for hers, and (as public persons) with them they pawn the public faith and the credit of their nation, for they plainly interest all Israel in the engagement in those words, When the Lord has given us the land, meaning not themselves only, but the people whose agents they were. No doubt they knew themselves sufficiently authorized to treat with Rahab concerning this matter, and were confident that Joshua would ratify what they did, else they had not dealt honestly; the general law that they should make no covenant with the Canaanites (Deut. 7:2) did not forbid them to take under their protection a particular person, that had heartily come into their interests and had done them real kindnesses. The law of gratitude is one of the laws of nature. Now observe here, 1. The promises they made her. In general, “We will deal kindly and truly with thee, Josh. 2:14. We will not only be kind in promising now, but true in performing what we promise; and not only true in performing just what we promise, but kind in out-doing thy demands and expectations.” The goodness of God is often expressed by his kindness and truth (Ps. 117:2), and in both these we must be followers of him. In particular, “If a hand be upon any in the house with thee, his blood shall be on our head,” Josh. 2:19. If hurt come through our carelessness to those whom we are obliged to protect, we thereby contract guilt, and blood will be found a heavy load. 2. The provisos and limitations of their promises. Though they were in haste, and it may be in some confusion, yet we find them very cautious in settling this agreement and the terms of it, not to bind themselves to more than was fit for them to perform. Note, Covenants must be made with care, and we must swear in judgment, lest we find ourselves perplexed and entangled when it is too late after vows to make enquiry. Those that will be conscientious in keeping their promises will be cautious in making them, and perhaps may insert conditions which others may think frivolous. Their promise is here accompanied with three provisos, and they were necessary ones. They will protect Rahab, and all her relations always, provided, (1.) That she tie the scarlet cord with which she was now about to let them down in the window of her house, Josh. 2:18. This was to be a mark upon the house, which the spies would take care to give notice of to the camp of Israel, that no soldier, how hot and eager soever he was in military executions, might offer any violence to the house that was thus distinguished. This was like the blood sprinkled upon the door-post, which secured the first-born from the destroying angel, and, being of the same colour, some allude to this also to represent the safety of believers under the protection of the blood of Christ sprinkled on the conscience. The same cord that she made use of for the preservation of these Israelites was to be made use of for her preservation. What we serve and honour God with we may expect he will bless and make comfortable to us. (2.) That she should have all those whose safety she had desired in the house with her and keep them there, and that, at the time of taking the town, none of them should dare to stir out of doors, Josh. 2:18, 19. This was a necessary proviso, for Rahab’s kindred could not be distinguished any other way than by being in her distinguished house; should they mingle with their neighbours, there was no remedy, but the sword would devour one as well as another. It was a reasonable proviso that, since they were saved purely for Rahab’s sake, her house should have the honour of being their castle, and that, if they would not perish with those that believed not, they should thus far believe the certainty and severity of the ruin coming upon their city as to retire into a place made safe by promise, as Noah into t 18a1 he ark and Lot into Zoar, and should save themselves from this untoward generation, by separating from them. It was likewise a significant proviso, intimating to us that those who are added to the church that they may be saved must keep close to the society of the faithful, and, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, must take heed of being again entangled therein. (3.) That she should keep counsel (Josh. 2:14, 20): If thou utter this our business, that is, “If thou betray us when we are gone, or if thou make this agreement public, so as that others tie scarlet lines in their windows and so confound us, then we will be clear of thy oath.” Those are unworthy of the secret of the Lord that know now how to keep it to themselves when there is occasion.

IV. She then took effectual care to secure her new friends, and sent them out another way, Jas. 2:25. Having fully understood the bargain they made with her, and consented to it (Josh. 2:21), she then let them down by a cord over the city wall (Josh. 2:15), the situation of her house befriending them herein: thus Paul made his escape out of Damascus, 2 Cor. 11:33. She also directed them which way to go for their own safety, being better acquainted with the country than they were, Josh. 2:16. She directs them to leave the high road, and abscond in the mountains till the pursuers returned, for till then they could not safely venture over Jordan. Those that are in the way of God and their duty may expect that Providence will protect them, but this will not excuse them from taking all prudent methods for their own safety. God will keep us, but then we must not wilfully expose ourselves. Providence must be trusted, but not tempted. Calvin thinks that their charge to Rahab to keep this matter secret, and not to utter it, was intended for her safety, lest she, boasting of her security from the sword of Israel, should, before they came to protect her, fall into the hands of the king of Jericho and be put to death for treason: thus do they prudently advise her for her safety, as she advised them for theirs. And it is good advice, which we should at any time be thankful for, to take heed to ourselves.