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Joshua 2 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Rahab Helps the Israelite Spies

Joshua chose two men as spies and sent them from their camp at Acacia with these instructions: “Go across the river and find out as much as you can about the whole region, especially about the town of Jericho.”

The two spies left the Israelite camp at Acacia and went to Jericho, where they decided to spend the night at the house of a prostitute[a] named Rahab.

But someone found out about them and told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelite men came here tonight, and they are spies.” 3-7 So the king sent soldiers to Rahab’s house to arrest the spies.

Meanwhile, Rahab had taken the men up to the flat roof of her house and had hidden them under some piles of flax plants[b] that she had put there to dry.

The soldiers came to her door and demanded, “Let us have the men who are staying at your house. They are spies.”

She answered, “Some men did come to my house, but I didn’t know where they had come from. They left about sunset, just before it was time to close the town gate.[c] I don’t know where they were going, but if you hurry, maybe you can catch them.”

The guards at the town gate let the soldiers leave Jericho, but they closed the gate again as soon as the soldiers went through. Then the soldiers headed toward the Jordan River to look for the spies at the place where people cross the river.

Rahab went back up to her roof. The spies were still awake, so she told them:

I know that the Lord has given Israel this land. Everyone shakes with fear because of you. 10 We heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea[d] so you could leave Egypt. And we heard how you destroyed Sihon and Og, those two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River. 11 We know that the Lord your God rules heaven and earth, and we’ve lost our courage and our will to fight.

12 Please promise me in the Lord’s name that you will be as kind to my family as I have been to you. Do something to show 13 that you won’t let your people kill my father and mother and my brothers and sisters and their families.

14 “Rahab,” the spies answered, “if you keep quiet about what we’re doing, we promise to be kind to you when the Lord gives us this land. We pray that the Lord will kill us if we don’t keep our promise!”[e]

15 Rahab’s house was built into the town wall,[f] and one of the windows in her house faced outside the wall. She gave the spies a rope, showed them the window, and said, “Use this rope to let yourselves down to the ground outside the wall. 16 Then hide in the hills. The men who are looking for you won’t be able to find you there. They’ll give up and come back after a few days, and you can be on your way.”

17-20 The spies said:

You made us promise to let you and your family live. We will keep our promise, but you can’t tell anyone why we were here. You must tie this red rope on your window when we attack, and your father and mother, your brothers, and everyone else in your family must be here with you. We’ll take the blame if anyone who stays in this house gets hurt. But anyone who leaves your house will be killed, and it won’t be our fault.

21 “I’ll do exactly what you said,” Rahab promised. Then she sent them on their way and tied the red rope to the window.

22 The spies hid in the hills for three days while the king’s soldiers looked for them along the roads. As soon as the soldiers gave up and returned to Jericho, 23 the two spies went down into the Jordan valley and crossed the river. They reported to Joshua and told him everything that had happened. 24 “We’re sure the Lord has given us the whole country,” they said. “The people there shake with fear every time they think of us.”

Footnotes:

  1. 2.1 prostitute: Rahab was possibly an innkeeper.
  2. 2.3-7 flax plants: The stalks of flax plants were harvested, soaked in water, and dried, then their fibers were separated and spun into thread, which was woven into linen cloth.
  3. 2.3-7 gate: Many towns and cities had walls with heavy gates that were closed at night for protection.
  4. 2.10 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph “Sea of Reeds,” one of the marshes or fresh water lakes near the eastern part of the Nile Delta. This identification is based on Exodus 13.17—14.9, which lists the towns on the route of the Israelites before crossing the sea. In the Greek translation of the Scriptures made about 200 B.C., the “Sea of Reeds” was named “Red Sea.”
  5. 2.14 We pray. . . promise: Or “If you save our lives, we will save yours!”
  6. 2.15 wall: In ancient times, cities and larger towns had high walls around them to protect them against attack. Sometimes houses were built against the wall so that the city wall formed one wall of the house. This added strength to the city wall.

Joshua 2 New International Version (NIV)

Rahab and the Spies

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”

14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”

17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

Footnotes:

  1. Joshua 2:10 Or the Sea of Reeds
  2. Joshua 2:10 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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