For Week Ending January 11, 2009
Scripture Text: Joshua 2:1-4, 12-14; 6:22-25 (NRSV)
Purpose: To discern God's truth in the face of competing claims.
(1)Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. (2)The king of Jericho was told, ‘Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.’ (3)Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.’ (4)But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from.(12)Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith (13)that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.’(14)The men said to her, ‘Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.’
(22) Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house, and bring the woman out of it and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.’ (23)So the young men who had been spies went in and brought Rahab out, along with her father, her mother, her brothers, and all who belonged to her—they brought all her kindred out—and set them outside the camp of Israel. (24)They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord.(25)But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family* has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
My Thoughts by Burgess WalterAs we begin our study in Joshua, there are few things we should be aware of; First the author of the book is Joshua, although many modern day scholars would have us believe it was written about 600 BC while the Jews were captive in Babylon. Second at the time of the writing there was a Book of the Law already written (1:8). I can accept that some parts were probably added later by some of the priests, such as Phinehas or Eleazar.
Joshua had been a personal attendant to Moses. He was one of the two spies that gave a positive report, when Moses sent the Twelve Spies to spy out the land of Canaan. Since Joshua and Caleb were the only two that survived the forty years in the wilderness from that generation that was punished for their unbelief, we can assume he was also older than the army which he formed to conquer the promised land. Josephus, the Jewish historian says he was 85 years old when he succeeded Moses. He spent about 6 years subduing the land, and the rest of his life settling and governing the twelve tribes. His rule over Israel, in all, covered about 25 years. He died at 110.
Modern day theologians have a problem with the seemingly ruthless way that God and Joshua deal with the Canaanites as well as the residents of Jehrico. But there is one truth that needs be realized. That truth is that God is the only one that is qualified to judge. The Canaanites were a heathen savage group of people that had no moral conscience. How God deals with the souls of those that were killed is His business and His alone. Also God did provide, to those that trusted and believed in Him, a way of redemption.
Our story today is about Rahab, a prostitute, that ran an inn or brothel, but we should not be too quick to condemn Rahab. Priestesses of the Canaanites religion were public prostitutes. Her profession was considered by the people among whom she lived, as honorable. And not disgraceful as it is now among us.
Rahab is rewarded for her faithfulness and her belief, not because she lied. Remember Moses was a murderer, and God used him mightily. Rahab was saved along with all of her family, or all that believed with her that the God of Israel, was the one true God.
Rahab's story is one of redemption, and Joshua is a type of Christ. Not only was she saved from the destruction but she was also redeemed and placed in a special place. Even though she was not a Jew, she became an important link to the Messiah. Rahab married an Israelite named Salmon, (Matt. 1:5). Caleb, the other good spy, had a son named Salmon, Rahab married into a leading family of Israel. She thus, became ancestress to Boaz, David and Christ. She is named among the heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11:31. God redeemed her because of her faithfulness, and belief when she said, “The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below”.