Key Verse: “They said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.”
THIS CHAPTER BEGINS with Joshua sending out two spies into the land. “Go view the land, even Jericho.” (Josh. 2:1) They entered into Jericho and hid in a house belonging to a woman named Rahab. The king of Jericho heard about the presence of these two spies and, fearing that they had come “to search out the country,” commanded that Rahab bring the men to him. (vs. 2) Instead of obeying the king, Rahab hid the men upon the roof of her house. After the immediate danger of being captured by the men who searched for them had passed, Rahab spoke some very surprising words to them. “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.”—vs. 9
Why did Rahab do these things to help the spies that Joshua had sent into her land? We should call to mind that the Israelites had been miraculously led by God out of the land of Egypt. The news of this event had even reached Jericho. “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt.” (vs. 10) She then pleaded with the two spies to promise that her family would be protected from harm due to the kindness that she had shown to them. They would then make an agreement between them to insure the protection over the inhabitants of the household, the sign of which would be a “line of scarlet thread in the window.”—vss. 12-18
Following these events, the spies returned to Joshua to report to him what had taken place in Jericho, and how God had protected them from harm. During their absence, the people had been camped along the eastern side of the river Jordan, and their camp stretched for several miles. They surely presented themselves as a mighty host to those who watched them from the land across the river.
After hearing the report of the spies, Joshua acted quickly. “Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, … and lodged there before they passed over. (chap. 3:1) His directions were that the people should look out for the ark of the Lord, and that it, representing the Lord, would go before them. (Exod. 25:10; Josh. 3:3,4; 4:11) According to these directions, about three-quarters of a mile intervened between the ark and the people—it going to the north of them, and they following it within that distance. When the ark reached the proper place it stood, and its bearers the priests, walked down to the river until their feet touched the water. (chap. 3:13) The Israelites were intently watching what would happen next. To the astonishment of all, when the priests’ feet touched the water, the river began to shrink. As the priests walked further out into the river channel, the river grew smaller and smaller, until it was entirely dried up. The ark was now in the middle of what had just a short time ago been the Jordan River. Following Joshua’s directions, his people crossed the river quickly into the land of promise under God’s protection. (chaps. 3:15-17; 4:11-13) Truly, “He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.”—Ps. 107:7