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Bible study about Rahab the harlot

Bible study about Rahab the harlot

Bible study about Rahab the harlot

By John Chopores


Joshua 2:1 Ά And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

When doing anything, it is good to have knowledge of what is before you.

We know that she had faith: because of what Hebrews chapter 11 says. Cf. Heb 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (Her faith and peace helped being her into the Kingdom of God! Cf. Ro 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.).

Faith and peace are two of the fruits of the Spirit. Cf. Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,


Comments of others:

" The providence of God directing the spies to the house of Rahab.  How they got over Jordan we are not told; but into Jericho they came,  which was about seven or eight miles from the river,  and there seeking for a convenient inn were directed to the house of Rahab,  here called a harlot,  a woman that had formerly been of ill fame,  the reproach of which stuck to her name,  though of late she had repented and reformed.  Simon the leper (#Mt 26:6),  though cleansed from his leprosy,  wore the reproach of it in his name as long as he lived; so Rahab the harlot; and she is so called in the New Testament, where both her faith and her good works are praised,  to teach us,


1. That the greatness of sin is no bar to pardoning mercy if it be truly repented of in time. We read of publicans and harlots entering into the kingdom of the Messiah,  and being welcomed to all the privileges of that kingdom,  #Mt 21:31.


2. That there are many who before their conversion were very wicked and vile,  and yet afterwards come to great eminence in faith and holiness.


3. Even those that through grace have repented of the sins of their youth must expect to bear the reproach of them,  and when they hear of their old faults must renew their repentance,  and,  as an evidence of that,  hear of them patiently.  God's Israel,  for aught that appears, had but one friend,  but one well-wisher in all Jericho,  and that was Rahab a harlot.  God has often served his own purposes and his church's interests by men of indifferent morals. Had these scouts gone to any other house than this they would certainly have been betrayed and put to death without mercy. But God knew where they had a friend that would be true to them,  though they did not,  and directed them thither.  Thus that which seems to us most contingent and accidental is often over-ruled by the divine providence to serve its great ends. And those that faithfully acknowledge God in their ways he will guide with his eye. See #Jer 36:19,26." [MATTHEW HENRY].

" Joshua...sent...two men to spy secretly--Faith is manifested by an active,  persevering use of means (#Jas 2:22); and accordingly Joshua,  while confident in the accomplishment of the divine promise (#Jos 1:3),  adopted every precaution which a skilful general could think of to render his first attempt in the invasion of Canaan successful. Two spies were despatched to reconnoitre the country, particularly in the neighborhood of Jericho; for in the prospect of investing that place,  it was desirable to obtain full information as to its site,  its approaches,  the character,  and resources of its inhabitants. This mission required the strictest privacy,  and it seems to have been studiously concealed from the knowledge of the Israelites themselves,  test any unfavorable or exaggerated report,  publicly circulated,  might have dispirited the people,  as that of the spies did in the days of Moses.

… Her house was probably recommended to the spies by the convenience of its situation,  without any knowledge of the character of the inmates. But a divine influence directed them in the choice of that lodging-place." [JFB]. 


Joshua 2:3  And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

Comments of others: “V. 3. Probably  Israel had but one friend in all Jericho: and God directed them to her!  Thus what seems to be most accidental, is often over-ruled, to serve the great ends of providence.  And those that acknowledge God in their ways, he will guide them with his eye.” [Wesley.].


Jos.2:4  And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:

She showed her faith, by her actions! Cf. James 2:18  But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.[NKJV].

Comments of others:

"4-6. the woman took the two men,  and hid them--literally,  "him, "that is,  each of them in separate places,  of course previous to the appearance of the royal messengers and in anticipation of a speedy search after her guests. According to Eastern manners,  which pay an almost superstitious respect to a woman's apartment,  the royal messengers did not demand admittance to search but asked her to bring the foreigners out." [JFB]. 

“  V. 4.  And the woman-Or, But the woman had taken-and had hid them, before the messengers came from the king; as soon as she understood from her neighbours, that there was a suspicion of the matter, and guessed that search would be made.  And this is justly mentioned as a great and generous act of faith, Heb 11:31, for she apparently ventured her life upon a steadfast persuasion of the truth of God's word and promise given to the Israelites.  Whence they were-Her answer contained in these and the following words, was false, and therefore unquestionably sinful; tho' her intention was good therein.  But it is very probable, she being an Heathen, might think, that an officious lie is not unlawful.” [Wesley.].


Jos. 2:5  And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall 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.

Comments by othersV. 6.  Roof-Which was flat after their manner.  Upon the roof-That they might be dried by the heat of the sun.” [Wesley.].

7  And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.


Jos. 2: 8 Ά And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;

It was a common practice (in the middle east) during summertime, to sleep on the roof.


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

We see here that, she had a kind of faith! For she believed that the "Lord" was on their side and fighting for them!


Comments by others:

" And she said unto the men,  &c.] The two spies:


I know that the Lord hath given you the land; the land of Canaan,  of which she was an inhabitant,  and in which they now were; this she knew either by some tradition that was among them; or by divine revelation, a supernatural impulse upon her mind: or by observing what the Lord had done already,  in putting the land of the Amorites into their hands, which were one of the seven nations of Canaan; and by this it also appears,  and more clearly by what follows,  that she had knowledge of the Lord God,  the God of Israel:


and that your terror is fallen upon us; which was another token or sign by which she knew the land would be delivered to them; that they who were a formidable people,  and struck terror into others,  now were terrified themselves,  at the rumour of Israel being come to invade them; this was what the Lord said should be the case,  #De 11:25;


and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you; or "melt" {f},  like wax before the fire,  as Moses had predicted, #Ex 15:15." [JOHN GILL]. 

“Rahab’s faith is shown by this expression. What God willed she regarded as already done. To speak of the future as of a past already fulfilled is the usual language of the Hebrew prophets.”[Pulpit Commentary.].  


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

Comments by othersV. 12.  By the Lord-By your God who is the only true God: so she owns his worship, one eminent act whereof is swearing by his name. My father's house-My near kindred, which she particularly names, Jos 2:13, husband and children it seems she had none.  And for herself, it was needless to speak, it being a plain and undeniable duty to save their preserver.  True token-Either an assurance that you will preserve me and mine from the common ruin: or a token which I may produce as a witness of this agreement, and a means of my security.  This is all that she asks. But God did for her more than she could ask or think.  She was afterwards advanced to be a princess in Israel, the wife of Salmon and one of the ancestors of Christ.” [Wesley.].

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.

We see here, that she had a great love for her father and mother!

Comments by others:

" And [that] ye will save alive my father,  and my mother,  and my brethren,  and my sisters,  &c.] She makes no mention of any husband or children she had,  as harlots seldom have,  and which seems to confirm her character as such; and so Abarbinel observes,  that her father's house is only mentioned to tell us that she had no husband,  for she was an harlot and had no children,  and puts her father and mother in the room of an husband,  and her brethren and sisters in the room of children:


and all that they have; not their substance only,  but their children more especially,  the children of her brethren and sisters:


and deliver our lives from death; here she manifestly includes herself, and requests the saving of her life,  and the lives of all her relations,  when she knew the inhabitants of the city would be all put to death upon the taking of it: thus she provided for the safety of her family,  as Noah in another case and manner did,  #Heb 11:7; and indeed seemed more concerned for them than for herself;" [JOHN GILL]. 


Jos. 2:14  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.

Comments by othersV. 14.  For yours-We will venture our lives for the security of yours. Our business-That is, this agreement of ours, and the condition of it, lest others under this pretence, should secure themselves.  By which they shew both their piety and prudence in managing their oath with so much circumspection, that neither their own consciences might be ensnared, nor the publick justice obstructed.” [Wesley.].

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.



JOS 6:17 Ά And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

They did not forget the acts of kindness by Rahab.

She was saved by faith working through works. Cf. Jas 2:20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Jas 2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.