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Joshua Sends Spies into the Land

Joshua son of Nun sent two spies out from Shittim secretly and instructed them:[a] “Find out what you can about the land, especially Jericho.”[b] They stopped at the house of a prostitute named Rahab and spent the night there.[c] The king of Jericho received this report: “Note well![d] Israelite men have come here tonight[e] to spy on the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this order to Rahab:[f] “Turn over[g] the men who came to you[h]—the ones who came to your house[i]—for they have come to spy on the whole land!” But the woman hid the two men[j] and replied, “Yes, these men were clients of mine,[k] but I didn’t know where they came from. When it was time to shut the city gate for the night, the men left.[l] I don’t know where they were heading. Chase after them quickly, for you have time to catch them!” (Now she had taken them up to the roof and had hidden them in the stalks of flax she had spread out[m] on the roof.) Meanwhile,[n] the king’s men tried to find them on the road to the Jordan River[o] near the fords.[p] The city gate was shut as soon as they set out in pursuit of them.[q]

Now before the spies[r] went to sleep, Rahab[s] went up[t] to the roof. She said to the men, “I know the Lord is handing this land over to you.[u] We are absolutely terrified of you,[v] and all who live in the land are cringing before[w] you.[x] 10 For we heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt and how you annihilated the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, on the other side of the Jordan.[y] 11 When we heard the news we lost our courage and no one could even breathe for fear of you.[z] For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below! 12 So now, promise me this with an oath sworn in the Lord’s name.[aa] Because I have shown allegiance to you, show allegiance to my family.[ab] Give me a solemn pledge[ac] 13 that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and will rescue us[ad] from death.” 14 The men said to her, “If you[ae] die, may we die too![af] If you do not report what we’ve been up to,[ag] then we will show unswerving allegiance[ah] to you[ai] when the Lord hands the land over to us.”

15 Then Rahab[aj] let them down by a rope[ak] through the window. (Her[al] house was built as part of the city wall; she lived in the wall.)[am] 16 She told them, “Head[an] to the hill country, so the ones chasing you don’t find you.[ao] Hide from them there for three days, long enough for those chasing you[ap] to return. Then you can be on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We are not bound by this oath you made us swear unless the following conditions are met:[aq] 18 When we invade the land,[ar] tie this red rope[as] in the window through which you let us down, and gather together in your house your father, mother, brothers, and all who live in your father’s house.[at] 19 Anyone who leaves your house will be responsible for his own death—we are innocent in that case![au] But if anyone with you in the house is harmed, we will be responsible.[av] 20 If you should report what we’ve been up to,[aw] we are not bound by this oath you made us swear.” 21 She said, “I agree to these conditions.”[ax] She sent them on their way[ay] and then tied the red rope in the window. 22 They went[az] to the hill country and stayed there for three days, long enough for those chasing them[ba] to return. Their pursuers[bb] looked all along the way but did not find them.[bc] 23 Then the two men returned—they came down from the hills, crossed the river,[bd] came to Joshua son of Nun, and reported to him all they had discovered. 24 They told Joshua, “Surely the Lord is handing over all the land to us![be] All who live in the land are cringing before us!”[bf]


  1. Joshua 2:1 tn Heb “Joshua, son of Nun, sent from Shittim two men, spies, secretly, saying.”
  2. Joshua 2:1 tn Heb “go, see the land, and Jericho.”
  3. Joshua 2:1 tn Heb “they went and entered the house of a woman, a prostitute, and her name was Rahab, and they slept there.”
  4. Joshua 2:2 tn Or “look.”
  5. Joshua 2:2 tn Heb “men have come here tonight from the sons of Israel.”
  6. Joshua 2:3 tn Heb “and the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying.”
  7. Joshua 2:3 tn Heb “bring out.”
  8. Joshua 2:3 tn The idiom “come to” (בוֹא אֶל, boʾ ʾel) probably has sexual connotations here, as it often does elsewhere when a man “comes to” a woman. If so, the phrase could be translated “your clients.” The instructions reflect Rahab’s perspective as to the identity of the men.
  9. Joshua 2:3 tn The words “the ones who came to your house” (Heb “who came to your house”) may be a euphemistic scribal addition designed to blur the sexual connotation of the preceding words.
  10. Joshua 2:4 tn Heb “The woman took the two men and hid him.” The third masculine singular pronominal suffix on “hid” has to be a scribal error (see GKC §135.p).
  11. Joshua 2:4 tn Heb “the men came to me.” See the note on this phrase in v. 3.
  12. Joshua 2:5 tn Heb “And the gate was to be shut in the darkness and the men went out.”
  13. Joshua 2:6 tn Heb “arranged in rows by her.”
  14. Joshua 2:7 tn Another way to translate vv. 6-7 would be, “While she took them up to the roof and hid them…, the king’s men tried to find them….” Both of the main clauses have the subject prior to the predicate, perhaps indicating simultaneous action. (On the grammatical point, see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 42, §235.) In this case Rahab moves the Israelite spies from the hiding place referred to in v. 4 to a safer and less accessible hiding place.
  15. Joshua 2:7 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied for clarity.
  16. Joshua 2:7 tn Heb “And the men chased after them [on] the road [leading to] the Jordan to the fords.” The text is written from the perspective of the king’s men. As far as they were concerned, they were chasing the spies.
  17. Joshua 2:7 tn Heb “And they shut the gate after—as soon as the ones chasing after them went out.” The expressions “after” and “as soon as” may represent a conflation of alternate readings.
  18. Joshua 2:8 tn Heb “they.”
  19. Joshua 2:8 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Rahab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  20. Joshua 2:8 tn The Hebrew text adds, “to them.” This is somewhat redundant in English and has not been translated.
  21. Joshua 2:9 tn Heb “has given the land to you.” Rahab’s statement uses the Hebrew perfect, suggesting certitude.
  22. Joshua 2:9 tn Heb “terror of you has fallen upon us.”
  23. Joshua 2:9 tn Or “melting away because of.”
  24. Joshua 2:9 tn Both of these statements are actually subordinated to “I know” in the Hebrew text, which reads, “I know that the Lord…and that terror of you…and that all the inhabitants….”
  25. Joshua 2:10 tn Heb “and what you did to the two Amorite kings who were beyond the Jordan, Sihon and Og, how you annihilated them.”
  26. Joshua 2:11 tn Heb “And we heard and our heart[s] melted and there remained no longer breath in a man because of you.”
  27. Joshua 2:12 tn Heb “Now, swear to me by the Lord.”sn To swear an oath in the Lord’s name would make the Lord the witness and guarantor of the promise attached to the oath. If the person making the oath should go back on the promise, the Lord would judge him for breaking the contract.
  28. Joshua 2:12 tn Heb “with the house of my father.”
  29. Joshua 2:12 tn Heb “true sign,” that is, “an inviolable token or pledge.”
  30. Joshua 2:13 tn Or “our lives.”
  31. Joshua 2:14 tn The second person pronoun is masculine plural, indicating that Rahab’s entire family is in view.
  32. Joshua 2:14 tn Heb “Our lives in return for you to die.” If the lives of Rahab’s family are not spared, then the spies will pay for the broken vow with their own lives.
  33. Joshua 2:14 tn Heb “If you do not report this matter of ours.”
  34. Joshua 2:14 tn Heb “allegiance and faithfulness.” These virtual synonyms are joined in the translation as “unswerving allegiance” to emphasize the degree of promised loyalty.
  35. Joshua 2:14 tn The second person pronoun is feminine singular, referring specifically to Rahab.
  36. Joshua 2:15 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Rahab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  37. Joshua 2:15 tc The phrase “by a rope” is omitted in the LXX. It may be a later clarifying addition. If original, the omission in the LXX is likely due to an error of homoioarcton. A scribe’s or translator’s eye could have jumped from the initial ב (bet) in the phrase בַּחֶבֶל (bakhevel, “with a rope”) to the initial ב on the immediately following בְּעַד (beʿad, “through”) and accidentally omitted the intervening letters.
  38. Joshua 2:15 tn Heb “For her house.”
  39. Joshua 2:15 tc These explanatory statements are omitted in the LXX and probably represent a later scribal addition.
  40. Joshua 2:16 tn Heb “Go.”
  41. Joshua 2:16 tn Heb “so that the pursuers might not meet you.”
  42. Joshua 2:16 tn Heb “the pursuers.” The object (“you”) is not in the Hebrew text but is implied.
  43. Joshua 2:17 tn Heb “We are free from this oath of yours which you made us swear.” The words “unless the following conditions are met” are not in the Hebrew text, but are added for clarification.
  44. Joshua 2:18 tn Heb “Look! We are about to enter the land.”
  45. Joshua 2:18 tn Heb “the cord of this red thread.”
  46. Joshua 2:18 tn Heb “and your father and your mother and your brothers and all the house of your father gather to yourself to the house.”
  47. Joshua 2:19 tn Heb “Anyone who goes out from the doors of your house to the outside, his blood is on his head. We are innocent.”
  48. Joshua 2:19 tn Heb “But anyone who is with you in the house, his blood is on our head if a hand should be on him.”
  49. Joshua 2:20 tn Heb “and if you report this matter of ours.”
  50. Joshua 2:21 tn Heb “According to your words, so it [will be].”
  51. Joshua 2:21 tn Heb “she sent them away and they went.”
  52. Joshua 2:22 tn Heb “they went and came.”
  53. Joshua 2:22 tn Heb “the pursuers.” The object (“them”) is added for clarification.
  54. Joshua 2:22 tn Heb “the ones chasing them.” This has been rendered as “their pursuers” in the translation to avoid redundancy with the preceding clause.
  55. Joshua 2:22 tn Heb “The pursuers looked in all the way and did not find [them].”
  56. Joshua 2:23 tn The words “the river,” though not in the Hebrew text, are added for clarification.
  57. Joshua 2:24 tn Heb “Surely the Lord has given into our hand all the land.” The report by the spies uses the Hebrew perfect, suggesting certitude.
  58. Joshua 2:24 tn Heb “are melting away because of us.”