Joshua 2

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1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent from Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go, view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into the house of a harlot, named Rahab, and lodged there.

2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to-night of the children of Israel, to search out the country.

3 And the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that have come to thee, who have entered into thy house: for they have come to search out all the country.

4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men to me, but I knew not whence they were:

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went, I know not: pursue after them quickly; for ye will overtake them.

6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.

7 And the men pursued them the way to Jordan to the fords: and as soon as they who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

8 And before they had lain down, she came up to them upon the roof;

9 And she said to the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror hath fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token:

13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.

14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.

15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town-wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

16 And she said to them, Depart to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned: and afterward ye may go your way.

17 And the men said to her, We will be blameless of this thy oath which thou hast made us swear.

18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window by which thou didst let us down: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household home to thee.

19 And it shall be, that whoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.

20 And if thou shalt utter this our business, then we will be quit of thy oath which thou hast made us to swear.

21 And she said, According to your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

22 And they went, and came to the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers had returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.

23 So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them:

24 And they said to Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of 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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