Joshua 2

1 When we think of spying, we think of deception. Would God condone this? No, but deception is not what spying is about here. The men are to gather information about the enemy. Knowing your enemy is not a bad thing. On the contrary, in warfare it would be irresponsible not to know what your enemy's capabilities. It would also be irresponsible not to find out the weaknesses of the enemy. When going into battle you must count the cost and have a plan (Luke 14:31). God had commanded that Moses send out spies the first time (Num 13:2). Notice that Joshua only sent two spies. This could be because only two spies brought a good report the first time (Num 14:30).

We do not know why the men chose to lodge at the prostitute's house. Perhaps they found themselves trapped in the city (verse 5) and chose the place because it was out of the way and inconspicuous. God must have had a hand in it since Rahab turned out to be the only one in the city who accepted God's plan that Israel should capture the land.

2 Despite their efforts, the Israelite spies were found out.

Kings resided in each large city and controlled the region around their respective cities.

3 This crisis gave Rahab the opportunity to show where her allegiance was. She could either side with her own, worldly city or she could side with God and Israel.
4 Does God condone lying? No, God does not commend her for lying. In fact, we can see that up to this point Rahab is far from a paragon of virtue. However, what we see is faith working in Rahab's life (Heb 11:31, James 2:25). It is our faith in God that saves us. Rahab's faith was put into action when she furthered God's work by harboring the spies at risk to her own life. She is committing treason against her pagan town for the cause of God.
6 The presence of flax indicates that Rahab had a second occupation dealing with fabric making.
7 The King's officers took the bait and went out of the city to pursue the spies. They obviously did not search the house, since the spies would have likely been found on the roof.
9 This is Rahab's confession of faith. Just as God had promised, He was already at work defeating the people of Canaan. He brought a supernatural dread on them and they lost their courage.
10 First impressions do not always come by sight. For example, the Israelites' reputation preceded them. This was a mysterious people with God on their side. Neither man nor sea could stand in their way. Often rumors and stories can be exaggerated and bring unwarranted fear. In this case, however, the stories were true, and the people of Canaan had good reason to fear since they had made themselves subject to God's judgement.

The phrase "utterly destroy" here connotes the opposite of moral and physical sanctification. Instead of being set aside for God, these things were under "the ban" -- completely cut off from God. So why would God use people to carry out His wrath instead of something like a natural disaster? God certainly has a right to execute judgement any way He wants to. One possible reason for empowering the Israelites to do this is so that they will have a true feel for how God will ultimately treat all sinners -- they will be permanently cut off from Him.

11 The victories of the Israelites also proved to the surrounding nations that God was real and powerful. Who could hope to stand against them?

This is a powerful testimony on the part of Rahab. She was not simply pleading for mercy because she had been kind. She revealed that she had a true faith in God. The things she had heard about Israel were enough to convince her that God was real and that God could be merciful, even though her nation was about to suffer His wrath.

12 There is a time and a place for swearing. The proper context involves commitments such as marriage and life and death situations. When someone makes such a vow, it acknowledges the trustworthiness of God. There is no one or anything else that we can swear by because God alone is eternal.

Rahab graciously looks out for her entire family; she does not selfishly seek protection for herself only.

13 If it were not for this opportunity, Rahab's family would have been doomed. However, because of God's mercy, and Rahab's proper response, her family would be spared.

It is possible that this situation is ironic. Rahab's occupation up to this point would have given her a bad reputation in the city, and may even have made her an outcast in her family. However, when she accepted God, she became the protector of her family, and they would be the only ones to survive when the battle of Jericho was finished.

14 Rahab had protected the lives of the spies, and this, along with her faith, allowed them to extend their protection to her and her family. God had commanded Israel to kill everyone in the land, but exceptions could be made for those people who had faith in Him. As He did with Lot, God would spare those who had faith in Him (Gen 19:29). He would not destroy the just with the unjust (Gen 18:25).
15 According to Wycliffe, It is likely that Rahab's house was built into the west wall of Jericho -- overlooking the mountains the west, and away from the city gate to the east. Since she had a roof and an outside-wall window, the house must have been built on top of the wall. This allowed her to lower the spies from inside her house to the ground below. Since she obviously worked with flax, it is likely that she also worked with materials used in rope making. She probably had several long ropes lying around her house.
16 It was most likely that the soldiers would have assumed that the Israelite spies would have headed east back to their camp. Rahab counseled the spies to head west to the mountains. There they could hide effectively and then return to their camp once the search party had given up.
18 We know that God intended to destroy all the people in the land because they have refused to turn to God, but this does not mean that God is without mercy. Here, Rahab has cried out to God, and He has not ignored her.

It is unclear, but the scarlet cord may have come from the spies themselves. Nevertheless, the cord would make Rahab's house easy to distinguish. Instructions for sparing that house would be simple.

19 In the midst of battle, it would be easy to distinguish the family if they remained inside the house with the cord in the window. If they were outside, the soldiers would have no way to distinguish them from the doomed citizens.
20 The spies felt it was important that Rahab not divulge the contents of their discussions with her. It was actually in Rahab's best interest not to do so least she be convicted of treason by dealing with the town's enemy.
21 Rahab was immediately obedient to the message of salvation. The scarlet cord may be considered symbolic to the Israelite's Passover. In Egypt, the Israelites painted their doorframes red with the blood of a lamb and the angel of death passed by (Exo 12:22-23). Rahab placed a scarlet cord in the window so that certain death from the Israelite army would pass by.
22 Rahab's advice proved to be valuable in avoiding capture.
24 The particular news that the inhabitants of Canaan were afraid of the Israelites confirmed that God had already begun His work there in overcoming them. Joshua had renewed confidence that God would be with them as they went into battle.