Joshua 2 tells the story of RAHAB, the one believer in Jericho,
who showed her faith by her actions that saved the life of the spies. She risked her life to welcome and protect God's people. Thus through her active faith she saved her life, possessed her land and gained an honoured position in the Kingdom of God as an ancestor of King David and King Jesus.(Matthew 1:5).
Joshua 2:1-4: “Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.” So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.
Joshua 2:5-6: “And it happened as the GATE was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof).”
Here it talks about the city having one Gate. No Gates had been found until a recent 1997 dig discovered it in the South of the City.
*At the Southern End, looking toward where the Gate was, higher up on the slope.
The interesting thing is that Rahab told them they went out the South of the city, which was actually the opposite to the truth, because as we shall see, she was hiding them in the house which was in the North side of the city.
The picture above shows the Southern Gate of Jericho up on the hill. Notice the steep slope leading up to it, consisting of white plaster surface that was slippery - called a Glacis. This was designed to make it very difficult for anyone to attack the city.
Joshua 2:7-11: “Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the GATE. Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the Land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the Land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
Rahab’s faith: she knew the story of the Exodus, what had happened 40 years before and that God was with them. Although she had been a prostitute, when she heard what God had done, she believed in the God of Israel, she gave that up and started her own clothing business. That is why when the spies found her she had stores of flax on her roof (v6). She was justified before God by faith and she proved her faith was genuine by a changed life and by the way she looked after the spies. As James 2:25 says: “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?”
We are justified before God by faith, but justified before men by our works. Her actions proved she had a saving faith in God.
Joshua 2:12-15: “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token,
and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” Then she let them down by a ROPE through the WINDOW, for her HOUSE was on the CITY WALL; she dwelt ON the WALL.”
*Rahab’s House on the Wall
Her house was built against the city wall. This again agrees with what we know from the archaeology of Middle-Bronze Jericho, the Jericho of Joshua’s time. All the excavations in different parts of the city show there was a two wall system: at the bottom was a 15 foot high revetment wall of field stones (with a trench around it), with a mud-brick wall above it, then a steep 35 degree slope (glacis) and another mud brick wall at the top of the hill.
It was indeed a very well-fortified city, just as the Bible says.
*The Walls of Jericho
There would be houses built in between the 2 walls. In fact the first archaeological team to Jericho in 1907-11, discovered some these houses standing in the north side of the city. These would be the cheapest houses in town, they had walls just one brick thick. In Rahab’s case her house was actually built against the outer lower brick-wall, so that it was actually part of the wall and so she could lower the spies on a rope through a window. So while they chased them out of the Southern Gate, the spies escaped over the northern wall, out of sight of their pursuers.
Joshua 2:16: “And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”
This is also the traditional Mt. Temptation, where Jesus was tempted by satan with all the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him. There’s a monastery up there now.
Joshua 2:17,18: “So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of SCARLET CORD in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.”
This is a wonderful picture of Salvation. When all around her were judged, Rahab was delivered from judgement by the Blood of the Lamb. It was Passover time, when all Israel put the Lamb's blood on their doors as a sign of faith in the Lamb of God who delivers them from judgement. Destruction came to all of Egypt, but those that applied the blood were saved. Likewise destruction and judgement was coming upon all Jericho, and the only salvation was through faith in the blood. We have seen she knew what happened at the Exodus, including the Passover Lamb, so she was given the chance to show her faith and identify with the people of God by doing something similar to what they did at the Exodus.
Rahab was told to hang a SCARLET rope out of her window, as her sign of faith. This represented her faith in the BLOOD, and as we shall see she was saved. We can only be saved from judgement through trusting in the Blood of Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. So when God destroyed Jericho, only her house stood! When judgement falls only those who trust in the Blood of the Lamb will stand and be delivered and spared.
In Joshua 2:19, the spies said to Rahab: “So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.” The scarlet cord marked a zone of safety that would be saved from judgement, so that anyone in her house would be saved from destruction. So that means when God caused the walls to fall down one section of the walls (and only one) would be spared and remain untouched, namely where Rahab’s house was. Amazingly this has been confirmed by the archaeology so that we know where she lived!
Joshua 2:20-21: “And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”
Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.”
And she sent them away, and they departed.
And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.”
Joshua 2:22-24: “They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there 3 days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”
Here they hid and waited 3 days,while the pursuers searched for them in the Jordan Valley according to Rahab’s word. When the coast was clear they returned to Joshua on the other side of the Jordan River.
Let us jump ahead to see what happened to Rahab:
Joshua 6:20: “So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the WALL fell down flat. Then the people went UP into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Joshua 6:21,22: “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city.... But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.”
Notice that although the whole wall had fallen down flat, the part of the wall where Rahab’s house was, remained intact and standing. God had seen her faith and saved her and her family. The one place of the wall that still stood had a red cord hanging down!
Joshua 6:23: “And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel.”
Joshua 6:25: “And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
As Hebrews 11:30,31 says: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for 7 days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
The archaeology gives a wonderful confirmation of this story. According to the Bible, Rahab's house on the wall was miraculously spared while the rest of the city wall fell. This is exactly what archaeologists found:
The North-Side of Jericho
The first archaeological team to Jericho in 1907-11, under two German archaeologists, Carl Watzinger and Ernest Sellin, discovered a whole section of these north-side defences of the Middle-Bronze City preserved. Unlike the rest of the city they were not destroyed, just as the Bible records. This is where Rahab lived. That is why we know she lived in the north. This picture (above) was taken soon after the excavation on the north side of the city. You can see on the bottom right the lower revetment wall at the base of the hill. Then you can see the houses, still intact, built on the slope leading up to the upper (inner) wall. You can see these houses are built against the city wall, just as the Bible describes. You are looking at Rahab’s house, preserved by God!
This plan of what they discovered shows how God preserved it for 2,500 years.
Be like Rahab, trust in the Blood of Jesus to save you and your family from destruction, and then show your faith by your actions and your confession of His Blood!
The preservation of the walls around the North-side is also shown by this picture (above) of a piece of the (Early) Bronze Age upper wall on the top of the Northern slope, which is still standing today on the hilltop!