Joshua 2

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1 And Josue the son of Nun sent from Setim two men, to spy secretly: and said to them: Go, and view the land and the city of Jericho. n They went and entered into the house of a woman that was a harlot named Rahab, and lodged with her.

2 And it was told the king of Jericho, and was said : Behold there are men come in hither, by night, of the children of Israel, to spy the land.

3 And the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying: Bring forth the men that came to thee, and are entered into thy house: for they are spies, and are come to view all the land.

4 And the woman taking the men, hid them, and said: I confess they came to me, but I knew not whence they were:

5 And at the time of shutting the gate in the dark, they also went out together. I know not whither they are gone: pursue after them quickly, and you will overtake them.

6 But she made the men go up to the top of her house, and covered them with the stalks of flax, which was there.

7 Now they that were sent, pursued after them, by the way that leadeth to the fords of the Jordan: and as soon as they were gone out, the gate was presently shut.

8 The men that were hidden were not yet asleep, when behold the woman went up to them, and said:

9 I know that the Lord hath given this land to you: for the dread of you is fallen upon us, and all the inhabitants of the land have lost all strength.

10 We have heard that the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea at your going in, when you came out of Egypt: and what things you did to the two kings of the Amorrhites, that were beyond the Jordan: Sehon and Og whom you slew.

11 And hearing these things we were affrighted, and our heart fainted away, neither did there remain any spirit in us at your coming in: for the Lord your God he is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath.

12 Now therefore swear ye to me by the Lord, that as I have shewn mercy to you, so you also will shew mercy to my father's house: and give me a true token,

13 That you will save my father and mother, my brethren end sisters, and all things that are theirs, and deliver our souls from death.

14 They answered her: Be our lives for you unto death, only if thou betray us not. And when the Lord shall have delivered us the land, we will shew thee mercy and truth.

15 Then she let them down with a cord out of a window: for her house joined close to the wall.

16 And she said to them: Get ye up to the mountains, lest perhaps they meet you as they return: and there lie ye hid three days, till they come back, and so you shall go on your way.

17 And they said to her: We shall be blameless of this oath, which thou hast made us swear:

18 If when we come into the land, this scarlet cord be a sign, and thou tie it in the window, by which thou hast let us down: and gather together thy father and mother, and brethren and all thy kindred into thy house.

19 Whosoever shall go out of the door of thy house, his blood shall be upon his own head, and we shall be quit. But the blood of all that shall be with thee in the house, shall light upon our head, if any man touch them.

20 But if thou wilt betray us, and utter this word abroad, we shall be quit of this oath which thou hast made us swear.

21 And she answered: As you have spoken, so be it done. And sending them on their way, she hung the scarlet cord in the window.

22 But they went and came to the mountains, and stayed there three days till they that pursued them were returned. For having sought them through all the way, they found them not.

23 And when they were gone back into the city, the spies returned, and came down from the mountain: and passing over the Jordan, they came to Josue the son of Nun, and told him all that befel them.

24 And said: The Lord hath delivered all this land into our hands, and all the inhabitants thereof are overthrown with fear.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 2      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua Chapter 2: Rahab hides the Israelite spies

Chapter 2 is the fascinating story of the prostitute Rahab, whose house is on the wall of the city of Jericho. Joshua sends two spies to see what Jericho is like, because Jericho lies opposite where they will be crossing the river Jordan. Rahab takes these spies into her house and hides them from the king’s messengers, who come and demand that she hand the men over. Rahab says the men have been and gone, and the king’s messengers leave. She then tells the men hidden on the roof that she knows that the God of Israel will give Jericho into the hands of Israel as he has made them victorious up to this time.

She asks them for kindness for everyone in her family just as she has been kind in hiding and so saving them. The two spies give her their promise and she lets them escape down a cord from her window on the city wall. The men tell her that their promise will be void unless she hangs a scarlet cord in her window and brings all her family into her house. Rahab agrees, and the men escape and return to Joshua, telling him everything and saying that God has given them the city.

There are several rich and important spiritual meanings in this very graphic story. First, we should appreciate that the spies do not seem to go anywhere else in Jericho than to Rahab! The point is, they don’t need to, because Rahab’s prostitution – selling her body for men to enjoy – represents the quality of the whole city of Jericho, which stands almost directly opposite where Israel will cross the Jordan. It must and will be taken. (See Doctrine of Life 46).

In this story, Jericho stands for a sensual life. It's the sort of life that comes into play when anything we know about God’s truth gets perverted and rejected as nothing. No truth, no values, no conscience, nothing! (See Arcana Caelestia 2973[6].) This is why the story involves the prostitute Rahab, because she pictures that level of life.

But Rahab sees herself for what she is and for what her city is, and she knows that with the God of the Israelites coming, there is no future for Jericho. She believes the future lies with Israel and their God.

So what we have in this story is a sinful woman whose mind and heart and actions turn towards repentance, and even a genuine worship and acknowledgement of God. For us, it is the picture of our unspiritual or natural life which is self-gratifying, hedonistic, pleasure-seeking and opportunistic. But hopefully for us it is also the picture of our wish and our intention to believe in and follow God (Arcana Caelestia 5639[2]). If we have that wish and work towards it, as with Rahab, it will eventually save us from ourselves and save everything about us (all Rahab’s family).

Next, we should look at these two men who are to spy out Jericho but who go in to Rahab.
Perhaps a better word than to ‘spy’ is to ‘espy’ which means to observe but even more to take a very long hard look at how a situation is. If we direct that to ourselves we are talking about real self-examination, about looking at how we have been and what we have thought, said and done, or not. We can only examine ourselves properly if we have begun to take on various values and truths, and look at ourselves in their light (Doctrine of Life 6).

There are two men, not one, and this is because our spiritual life involves a love for what is true and a love for what is good (Arcana Caelestia 5194). When we love and want to live by what is true, then things we know becomes things we feel and we have delight in them and doing them.

Lastly, note how these two men are hidden by Rahab high up on the roof, under her drying flax stalks. In the Word, anything up high is a picture of being closer to God, nearer to what is true (Divine Love and Wisdom 103). We see more high up! And the flax is the fibre from which our spiritual clothing – these truths again – can be made. And flax provides linen which was used for the high priest’s robes.

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