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Joshua 2:1

    Joshua 2:1 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    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.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men as spies secretly, saying, Go, view the land, and Jericho. And they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lay there.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Then Joshua, the son of Nun, sent two men from Shittim secretly, with the purpose of searching out the land, and Jericho. So they went and came to the house of a loose woman of the town, named Rahab, where they took their rest for the night.

    Webster's Revision

    And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men as spies secretly, saying, Go, view the land, and Jericho. And they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lay there.

    World English Bible

    Joshua the son of Nun secretly sent two men out of Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, including Jericho." They went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and slept there.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men as spies secretly, saying, Go view the land, and Jericho. And they went, and came into the house of an harlot whose name was Rahab, and lay there.

    Clarke's Commentary on Joshua 2:1

    Joshua - sent - two men to spy secretly - It is very likely that these spies had been sent out soon after the death of Moses, and therefore our marginal reading, had sent, is to be preferred. Secretly - It is very probable also that these were confidential persons, and that the transaction was between them and him alone. As they were to pass over the Jordan opposite to Jericho, it was necessary that they should have possession of this city, that in case of any reverses they might have no enemies in their rear. He sent the men, therefore, to see the state of the city, avenues of approach, fortifications, etc., that he might the better concert his mode of attack.

    A harlot's house - Harlots and inn-keepers seem to have been called by the same name, as no doubt many who followed this mode of life, from their exposed situation, were not the most correct in their morals. Among the ancients women generally kept houses of entertainment, and among the Egyptians and Greeks this was common. I shall subjoin a few proofs.

    Herodotus, speaking concerning the many differences between Egypt and other countries, and the peculiarity of their laws and customs, expressly says: Εν τοισι αἱ μεν γυναικες αγοραζουσι και καπηλευουσι· οἱ δε ανδρες, κατ' οικους εοντες, ὑφαινουσι. "Among the Egyptians the women carry on all commercial concerns, and keep taverns, while the men continue at home and weave." Herod. in Euterp., c. xxxv. Diodorus Siculus, lib. i., s. 8, and c. xxvii., asserts that "the men were the slaves of the women in Egypt, and that it is stipulated in the marriage contract that the woman shall be the ruler of her husband, and that he shall obey her in all things." The same historian supposes that women had these high privileges among the Egyptians, to perpetuate the memory of the beneficent administration of Isis, who was afterwards deified among them. Nymphodorus, quoted by the ancient scholiast on the Oedipus Coloneus of Sophocles, accounts for these customs: he says that "Sesostris, finding the population of Egypt rapidly increasing, fearing that he should not be able to govern the people or keep them united under one head, obliged the men to assume the occupations of women, in order that they might be rendered effeminate." Sophocles confirms the account given by Herodotus; speaking of Egypt he says: -

    Εκει γαρ οἱ μεν αρσενες κατα στεγας

    Θακουσιν ἱστουργουντες αἱ δε ξυννομοι

    Τα' ξω βιου τροφεια προσυνους' αει

    Oedip. Col. v. 352.

    "There the men stay in their houses weaving cloth, while the women transact all business out of doors, provide food for the family," etc. It is on this passage that the scholiast cites Nymphodorus for the information given above, and which he says is found in the 13th chapter of his work "On the Customs of Barbarous Nations." That the same custom prevailed among the Greeks we have the following proof from Apuleius: Ego vero quod primate ingressui stabulum conspicatus sum, accessi, et de Quadam Anu Caupona illico percontor. - Aletam. lib. i., p. 18, Edit. Bip. "Having entered into the first inn I met with, and there seeing a certain Old Woman, the Inn-Keeper, I inquired of her."

    It is very likely that women kept the places of public entertainment among the Philistines; and that it was with such a one, and not with a harlot, that Samson lodged; (see Judges 16:1, etc.); for as this custom certainly did prevail among the Egyptians, of which we have the fullest proof above, we may naturally expect it to have prevailed also among the Canaanites and Philistines, as we find from Apuleius that it did afterwards among the Greeks. Besides there is more than presumptive proof that this custom obtained among the Israelites themselves, even in the most polished period of their history; for it is much more reasonable to suppose that the two women, who came to Solomon for judgment, relative to the dead child, (1 Kings 3:16, etc), were inn-keepers, than that they were harlots. It is well known that common prostitutes, from their abandoned course of life, scarcely ever have children; and the laws were so strict against such in Israel, (Deuteronomy 23:18), that if these had been of that class it is not at all likely they would have dared to appear before Solomon. All these circumstances considered, I am fully satisfied that the term זונה zonah in the text, which we translate harlot, should be rendered tavern or inn-keeper, or hostess. The spies who were sent out on this occasion were undoubtedly the most confidential persons that Joshua had in his host; they went on an errand of the most weighty importance, and which involved the greatest consequences. The risk they ran of losing their lives in this enterprise was extreme. Is it therefore likely that persons who could not escape apprehension and death, without the miraculous interference of God, should in despite of that law which at this time must have been so well known unto them, go into a place where they might expect, not the blessing, but the curse, of God? Is it not therefore more likely that they went rather to an inn to lodge than to a brothel? But what completes in my judgment the evidence on this point is, that this very Rahab, whom we call a harlot, was actually married to Salmon, a Jewish prince, see Matthew 1:5. And is it probable that a prince of Judah would have taken to wife such a person as our text represents Rahab to be?

    It is granted that the Septuagint, who are followed by Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25, translate the Hebrew זונה zonah by πορνη, which generally signifies a prostitute; but it is not absolutely evident that the Septuagint used the word in this sense. Every scholar knows that the Greek word πορνη comes from περναω, to sell, as this does from περαω, to pass from one to another; transire facio a me ad alterum; Damm. But may not this be spoken as well of the woman's goods as of her person? In this sense the Chaldee Targum understood the term, and has therefore translated it אתתא פונדקיתא ittetha pundekitha, a woman, a Tavern-Keeper. That this is the true sense many eminent men are of opinion; and the preceding arguments render it at least very probable. To all this may be added, that as our blessed Lord came through the line of this woman, it cannot be a matter of little consequence to know what moral character she sustained; as an inn-keeper she might be respectable, if not honorable; as a public prostitute she could be neither; and it is not very likely that the providence of God would have suffered a person of such a notoriously bad character to enter into the sacred line of his genealogy. It is true that the cases of Tamar and Bathsheba may be thought sufficient to destroy this argument; but whoever considers these two cases maturely will see that they differ totally from that of Rahab, if we allow the word harlot to be legitimate. As to the objection that her husband is nowhere mentioned in the account here given; it appears to me to have little weight. She might have been either a single woman or a widow; and in either of these cases there could have been no mention of a husband; or if she even had a husband it is not likely he would have been mentioned on this occasion, as the secret seems to have been kept religiously between her and the spies. If she were a married woman her husband might be included in the general terms, all that she had, and all her kindred, Joshua 6:23. But it is most likely that she was a single woman or a widow, who got her bread honestly by keeping a house of entertainment for strangers. See below.

    Barnes' Notes on Joshua 2:1

    An harlot's house - In the face of the parallel passages (e. g. Leviticus 21:7 : Jeremiah 5:7) the rendering advocated for obvious reasons, namely, "the house of a woman, an innkeeper," cannot be maintained. Rahab must remain an example under the Law similar to that Luke 7:37 under the Gospel, of "a woman that was a sinner," yet, because of her faith, not only pardoned, but exalted to the highest honor. Rahab was admitted among the people of God; she intermarried into a chief family of a chief tribe, and found a place among the best remembered ancestors of King David and of Christ; thus receiving the temporal blessings of the covenant in largest measure. The spies would of course betake themselves to such a house in Jericho as they could visit without exciting suspicion; and the situation of Rahab's, upon the wall Joshua 2:15, rendered it especially suitable. It appears from Joshua 2:4 that Rahab hid them before the King's messengers reached her house, and probably as soon as the spies had come to her house. It is therefore most likely that they met with Rahab outside of Jericho (compare Genesis 38:14), and ascertained where in the city she dwelt, and that they might entrust themselves to her care. Rahab (i. e. "spacious," "wide." Compare the name "Japheth" and Genesis 9:27, note) is regarded by the fathers as a type of the Christian Church, which was gathered out of converts from the whole vast circle of pagan nations.