Prophet Pearls #37 – Shlach (Joshua 2:1-24)

Prophet Pearls Shlach, Yehovah, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, Prophets portion, Shlach, Joshua, prostitute, Rahab, spies, Jericho, faith, Canaanite, Elohim, Septuagint, rabbis, tikvah, cord, hope, HaTikvah, national anthem, Israel, peace, Jerusalem, torah pearls, torah portion, torah portion shlach, torah pearls shlachIn this week's Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Shlach covering Joshua 2:1-24. In the story of the prostitute Rahab hiding the spies, Gordon and Johnson agree to disagree on their interpretations for Joshua’s motives for sending spies to Jericho. Was it simply prudent reconnaissance, or did it show a lack of faith? And how did a Canaanite prostitute know that Yehovah is Elohim?

Gordon explains how the Septuagint and the rabbis handle the singular pronoun in the statement “Rahab hid him” and gives his own explanation. Gordon also provides geographical context to the wild goose chase on which Rahab sent the King of Jericho. In honor of the word-of-the-week “tikvah/cord/hope” from the root qoof-vav-hei, Gordon sings HaTikvah—the national anthem of Israel. In closing, Johnson asks for strength like Joshua and peace for Jerusalem.

"And she said to the men: 'I know that Yehovah has given you the land...'" Joshua 2:9

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Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

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Related Posts:
The Original Torah Pearls - Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41).

12 thoughts on “Prophet Pearls #37 – Shlach (Joshua 2:1-24)

  1. I don’t know where Nehemia gets the idea that Spying = Evil. Can’t find anything in scripture that indicates it’s forbidden or a sin. Numbers 13 says YHVH told Moses to send the spies; it was only in the hearts and minds of the ten that clouded or spoiled their report. Intelligence gathering is just that. We see it all through history as a means of survival for nations and small groups. Connecting the dots, puzzling the pieces and the final analysis requires real knowledge, experience and discernment. Maybe it’s because the poor field operative that gets caught as a spy usually pays for it with his life – after being tortured – leaves a negative connotation with many people. Maybe if we translated the word as ‘scout’ rather than ‘spy’ some folks won’t get a bee in their bonnet.

  2. Assuming the spies were sent due to lack of trust in YHVH’s promise, what if Joshua’s heart was inspired to send the spies because YHVH knew Rahab’s heart was yearning for Him? So He inspired their sending to provide a means of salvation to one “lost sheep”?

  3. Lately I have been feeling very sad thinking how it seems like this business of spying by the Hebrew people and their descendants has endured down through the ages, even until our very own time. I just cannot wait until this dreadful behavior between nations comes to a stop … and most likely it will when Meshiach arrives. Come quickly!!!

  4. Since Nehemia and Keith are speculating on how it was known that the two Israelite spies were outed, and how Rahab knew Yehovah’s name, and what was about to happen to Jericho, let me add my own speculation about what possibly went down.
    The spies entered the city during daylight hours, unnoticed among the hustle and bustle of commerce activity. They stopped at the inn because it was a good place to get a meal, and to listen in on conversations and local gossip about goings on in the city, and the concerns of the citizens, etc. The spies also probably learned that the townspeople had heard about the Israelites and were very apprehensive.
    Now Rahab, being a harlot, does what a harlot does. She is not in the business for pleasure–it’s a means of survival (for herself and possiblbly her family, as well). She is sagacious, a good business woman, knows men well, and sizes up the two young men. Rahab sidles over to the visitors, serves them food, and strikes up friendly conversation with them. She knows how to put men at ease.
    One of the young men is quite taken with her (and young men do what young men do); he is seduced. He is so enarmored with this lady, enjoying her attention, that he holds back nothing. He confirms what the townspeople have been anxiously discussing; she believes him. Rahab, being a clever survivor, knows what she must do; she hides the spies.
    Meanwhile, word of two strangers in town has raised suspicion, and reaches the king, who sends his men to Rahab’s place of business, demanding that the men be brought out. She covers for them, saying that they had already gone before the city gate closed. She sends the king’s men off on a wild goose chase, and goes up to the roof where the spies are hiding.
    Rahab pours out her heart to the men, tearfully expressing her fears, and confessing that Yehovah (yes, in their pillow-talk, the young man had told her the name of Israel’s God) is indeed God in heaven and on earth–and then reminds them that she had saved their lives! (Shrewd move, Rahab! You go, Girl!) They strike a deal! “Our life for yours, if you do not tell this business of ours…”
    Rahab and her family are spared, and are brought back to the Israelite camp. Rahab no longer has to be a prostitute; after the triumph over Jericho, she marries the young man who was so taken with her that he divulged state secrets to her in Jericho; and then she went on to become the mother of Boaz. (Matt. 1:5; Hebrews 11:31)

    Pure speculation! May not be true, but could be.

  5. I’m thinking that sometimes we need to hear some encouraging words. Like Gideon overheard a man telling a dream about a loaf of bread! I find this humorous, but to Gideon I think this really strengthened him. Only because it was from Yehovah. Who knows, maybe these guys needed some encouragement and our Father saw in this woman something no one else could and saved her in this manner along with giving these guys some encouraging words. Yehovah is a great orchestra of amazing things.

  6. Now looking back at the original Torah portion when Moses went through a similar event in Numbers 13, I have to agree that sending spies is always a lack of faith. It is confirmed in Deuteronomy 1:19. It is the whole reason why Moses ended up never entering the promised land.

    Originally, the Lord commanded them to take the land – Canaan. He told them not to be afraid or discouraged…… They came up with the idea of spies. Spying the land brought discouragement and ultimately death and a curse on all the adults of the nation!

    For Joshua to continue this tradition made of man and allowed by the Lord, I can only imagine the Lord rolling his eyes in exasperation after 40 years and showing mercy through Rahab.

    • YHVH commanded Moses to send the spies in Numbers 13… Not sending them would be a lack of Faith and a lack of Obedience. Moses didn’t get to cross over because he struck the rock and was told to speak to it. If sending spies kept him out, how did Joshua get in?

  7. You know guys, everyone has moments of doubt. I think the more important thing is that YHVH can use even the most unlikely source to edify and encourage us when those moments of doubt occur. A wise man will search any source to find the truth that he seeks, and YHVH can use any vessel to provide it!

  8. Rahab hid them/him under the Flax. Flax is a plant that is dried,beaten,and spun into linen :0 Linen is used as a covering for God’s messengers. Angels,priests, called out.
    Unlike the events of Exodus.
    We get to see someone from outside of the multitude that came out of Eygpt who when given an opportunity to hear of the Lord’s Wonders and to leave the past ways behind accepts the opportunity to be a part of God’s people.

    Rahab willingly obeys without resisting, mumbling, or complaining.
    It doesn’t matter that she was a Harlot whether it was a physical and/or a spiritual harlotry. She was willing to take a risk. She put her faith into action voluntarily.
    She sided with The Lord over the earthly rulers of her own city.

    Unlike,the masses of Exodus.We have no record that a form of salvation was offered to anyone in Jericho other than those who were associated with Rahab.

    Even if the men had doubts. Rahab’s words are a reminder and a sign of the mission they are on. As she is repeating what the Lord had told to Joshua,and in turn what Joshua told them. It would have been a big mistake to have ignored it.

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