Joshua 2

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1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men from Shittim to spy silently, saying, Go, see the land and Jericho. And they went and came·​·into the house of a woman, a harlot, and her name was Raḥab, and they lay there.

2 And it was said to the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, men came·​·in hither this night from the sons of Israel to spy·​·out the land.

3 And the king of Jericho sent to Raḥab, saying, Bring·​·forth the men who came to thee, who have come into thy house, for to spy·​·out all the land they have come.

4 And the woman took the two men and she kept· it ·secret, and said, It is so, the men came to me, but I knew not whence they were.

5 And it was, when the gate was to be closed in the darkness, that the men went·​·out; I know not whither the men went; pursue after them in·​·haste, for you shall overtake them.

6 But she had brought· them ·up on the roof, and had concealed them with stalks of flax* arranged by her upon the roof.

7 And the men pursued after them the way of the Jordan over the fords; and they shut the gates when they who pursued after them had gone·​·out.

8 And they were scarcely laid·​·down and she went·​·up to them on the roof;

9 and she said to the men, I know that Jehovah has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen upon us, and that all those who dwell in the land are dissolved before you.

10 For we have heard how Jehovah dried·​·up the waters of the Suph sea from before you, when you came·​·out from Egypt; and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were across the Jordan, to Siḥon and to Og whom you doomed.

11 And we heard, and our hearts did melt and the spirit arose no more in any man before you; for Jehovah your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

12 And now, I pray you, promise to me by Jehovah, for I have done mercy with you, that you also will do mercy with the house of my father and give me a sign of truth.

13 And that you will let· my father and my mother ·live, and my brothers, and my sisters and all that they have, and will rescue our souls from death.

14 And the men said to her, Be our souls unto death instead of yours, if you tell not this our matter; and it shall be, when Jehovah gives us the land, that we will do mercy and truth with thee.

15 And she let· them ·down by a cord through the window; for her house was on the side of the city wall, and she dwelt on the city wall.

16 And she said to them, Go ye toward the mountain, lest the pursuers fall·​·upon you; and hide·​·away there three days until the pursuers be returned; and after this you may Go on your way.

17 And the men said to her, We will be innocent of this thy promise which thou hast made us promise;

18 behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt tie this line* of scarlet* twice-dyed thread in the window by which thou didst let· us ·down, and thy father and thy mother, and thy brothers, and all the house of thy father, thou shalt gather to thee to the house.

19 And it shall be that anyone who goes·​·out from the doors of thy house to the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be innocent; and anyone who shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if a hand shall be on him.

20 But if thou shalt tell this our matter, then we shall be innocent of thy promise, which thou hast made us promise.

21 And she said, According·​·to your words, so be it, and she sent· them ·away, and they went, and she tied the line* of scarlet twice-dyed in the window.

22 And they went and came toward the mountain, and sat there three days until the pursuers had returned; and the pursuers sought them in all the way, and found them not.

23 And the two men returned, and came·​·down from the mountain and crossed·​·over and came to Joshua the son of Nun; and recounted to him all that befell* them;

24 and they said to Joshua, Surely Jehovah has given into our hand all the land; and also all who dwell in the land have dissolved before us.


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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.