Joshua 2:1

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.

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men,.... Or "had sent" {p}; for this was done before the above order to depart: it is a tradition of the Jews {q}, that they were Caleb and Phinehas; but they were not young men, as in Joshua 6:23; especially the former; nor is it probable that men of such rank and figure should be sent, but rather meaner persons; yet such as were men of good sense and abilities, and capable of conducting such an affair they were sent about, as well as men of probity and faithfulness; two good men, Kimchi says they were, and not as they that went on the mission of Moses; these were sent from Shittim, the same with Abelshittim, in the plains of Moab, where Israel now lay encamped, Numbers 33:49, which Josephus {r} calls Abila, and says it was sixty furlongs, or seven miles and better, from Jordan:

to spy secretly; or "silently" {s}; not so much with respect to the inhabitants of the land, for it is supposed in all spies, that they do their business in the most private and secret manner, so as not to be discovered by the inhabitants, whose land they are sent to spy; but with respect to the children of Israel, that they might know nothing of it, lest they should be discouraged, thinking that Joshua was in some fear of the Canaanites, and under some distrust of the promise of God to give the land to them: the word for "smiths", and also for persons deaf and dumb, coming from the same root, have furnished the Jewish writers with various conceits, as that these spies went in the habit of smiths with the instruments of their business in their hands; or acted as deaf and dumb persons, and so as incapable of giving an account of themselves, or of answering to any questions put to them, should they be taken up and examined; their commentators in general take notice of this:

saying, Go view the land, even Jericho; especially Jericho, so Noldius {t}; the land in general, and Jericho in particular, because it was a great city, as Kimchi notes; of this city, See Gill on "Luke 19:4". Whether it had its name from the sweetsmelling balsam which grew in plenty about it, or from the form of it, being that of an half moon, is not certain, Strabo {u} says of it, that here was a paradise of balsam, an aromatic, and that it was surrounded with hills in a plain, which bent to it like an amphitheatre. They were not sent to spy the land, as the spies in the times of Moses, to see what sort of land it was, and what sort of people dwelt in it; but to reconnoitre it, to know where it was best to lead the people at first, and encamp; and particularly to observe the passes and avenues leading to Jericho, the first city in it, nearest to them, of importance. Ben Gersom thinks it was to spy or pick out the thoughts of the inhabitants of the land, what apprehensions they had of the people of Israel, whether disheartened and dispirited at their near approach, and what were their intentions, resolutions, and preparations to act against them, offensively, or defensively; and which seems not amiss, since this was the chief information they got, and which they reported to Joshua upon their return; though Abarbinel objects to it as a thing impossible:

And they went, and came into a harlot's house, named Rahab; they went from Shittim, and crossed the river Jordan, by swimming or fording, and came to Jericho; which, as Josephus {w} says, was fifty furlongs, or seven miles and a half, from Jordan; and they went into a harlot's house, not purposely for that reason, because it was such an one, but so it proved eventually; though the Targum of Jonathan says it was the house of a woman, an innkeeper or victualler; for Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret the word it uses of a seller of food {x}; and if so, it furnishes out a reason why they turned in thither, where they might expect to have food and lodging; though the Jews commonly take her to be a harlot; and generally speaking, in those times and countries, such as kept public houses were prostitutes; and there are some circumstances which seem to confirm this in the context; and so the Greek version calls her, and is the character given of her in the New Testament: her name was Rahab, of whom the Jews have this tradition {y}, that she was ten years of age when Israel came out of Egypt; that she played the harlot the forty years they were in the wilderness, became the wife of Joshua, who had daughters by her, from whom came eight prophets, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Maasia, Hanameel, Shallum, Baruch, the son of Neriah, Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, and some say Huldah the prophetess; but the truth is, she married Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah, See Gill on "Matthew 1:5":

and lodged there; that is, they went thither in order to lodge.

{p} xlvyw "miserat", Vatablus, Masius, Drusius.
{q} Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2.
{r} Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 2.
{s} vrx "silentio", Montanus, Munster; so Kimchi and Ben Melech.
{t} P. 277.
{u} Geograph. l. 16. p. 525.
{w} Ut supra, sect. 4. (
{x} And so R. Sol. Urbin. Obel Moed, fol. 24. 1.
{y} Shalshalet Hakabala, ut supra. (