The harlot Rahab perished not - See this account Joshua 2:1, Joshua 2:9, Joshua 2:11, and Joshua 6:23, where it is rendered exceedingly probable that the word זונה zonah in Hebrew, and πορνη in Greek, which we translate harlot, should be rendered innkeeper or tavernkeeper, as there is no proper evidence that the person in question was such a woman as our translation represents her. As to her having been a harlot before and converted afterwards, it is a figment of an idle fancy. She was afterwards married to Salmon, a Jewish prince; see Matthew 1:5. And it is extremely incredible that, had she been what we represent her, he would have sought for such an alliance.
Received the spies with peace - Μετ 'ειρηνης· The same as בשלום beshalom, giving them a kind welcome, good fare, and protection. After these words the Slavonic adds: Και ἑτερᾳ ὁδῳ εκβαλουσα, and sent them out another way.
By faith the harlot Rahab - She resided in Jericho; Joshua 2:1. When Joshua crossed the Jordan, he sent two men as spies to her house, and she saved them by concealment from the enemies that would have destroyed their lives. For this act of hospitality and kindness, they assured her of safety when the city should be destroyed, and directed her to give an indication of her place of abode to the invading Israelites, that her house might be spared; Joshua 2:18-19. In the destruction of the city, she was accordingly preserved; Joshua 2:6 is, that she had been a woman of abandoned character, and that she was known as such. That she might have been also a hostess, or one who kept a house of entertainment for strangers, is at the same time by no means improbable, since it not unfrequently happened in ancient as well as modern times, that females of this character kept such houses. It might have been the fact that her house was “known” merely as a house of entertainment that led the spies who went to Jericho to seek a lodging there. It would be natural that strangers coming into a place should act in this respect as all other travelers did, and should apply for entertainment at what was known as a public house.
(2) there is no improbability in supposing that her course of life had been changed either before their arrival, or in consequence of it. They were doubtless wise and holy men. Men would not be selected for an enterprise like this, in whom the leader of the Hebrew army could not put entire confidence. It is not unfair then to suppose that they were men of eminent piety, as well as sagacity. Nor is there any improbability in supposing that they would acquaint this female with the history of their people, with their remarkable deliverance from Egypt, and with the design for which they were about to invade the land of Canaan. There is evidence that some such representations made a deep impression on her mind, and led to a change in her views and feelings, for she not only received them with the usual proofs of hospitality, but jeoparded her own life in their defense, when she might easily have betrayed them. This fact showed that she had a firm belief that they were what they professed to be - the people of God, and that she was willing to identify her interests with theirs.
(3) this case - supposing that she had been a woman of bad character, but now was truly converted - does not stand alone. Other females of a similar character have been converted, and have subsequently led lives of piety; and though the number is not comparatively great, yet the truth of God has shown its power in renewing and sanctifying some at least of this, the most abandoned and degraded class of human beings. “Publicans and harlots,” said the Saviour, “go into the kingdom of God;” Matthew 21:31. Rahab seems to have been one of them; and her case shows that such instances of depravity are not hopeless. This record, therefore, is one of encouragement for the most abandoned sinners; and one too which shows that strangers, even in a public house, may do good to those who have wandered far from God and virtue, and that we should never despair of saving the most abandoned of our race.
(4) there is no need of supposing that the apostle in commending this woman approved of all that she did. That she was not perfect is true. That she did some things which cannot be vindicated is true also - and who does not? But admitting all that may be said about any imperfection in her character, (compare Joshua 2:4), it was still true that she had strong faith - and that is all that the apostle commends. We are under no more necessity of vindicating all that she did, than we are all that David or Peter did - or all that is now done by those who have the highest claims to virtue.
(5) she had strong faith. It was only a strong belief that Yahweh was the true God, and that the children of Israel were his people, which would have led her to screen the strangers at the peril of her own life; and when the city was encompassed, and the walls fell, and the tumult of battle raged she showed her steady confidence in their fidelity, and in God, by using the simple means on which she was told the safety of herself and her family depended; Joshua 6:22-23.
With them that believed not - The inhabitants of the idolatrous city of Jericho. The margin is, “were disobedient.” The more correct rendering, however, is, as in the text, believed not. They evinced no such faith as Rahab had, and they were therefore destroyed.
Received the spies with peace - With friendliness and kindness; Joshua 2:1 ff.
The children of Israel were to occupy all the territory which God appointed them. Those nations that rejected the worship and service of the true God were to be dispossessed. But it was God's purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live. All who, like Rahab the Canaanite, and Ruth the Moabitess, turned from idolatry to the worship of the true God, were to unite themselves with His chosen people. As the numbers of Israel increased they were to enlarge their borders, until their kingdom should embrace the world. COL 290.1
God desired to bring all peoples under His merciful rule. He desired that the earth should be filled with joy and peace. He created man for happiness, and He longs to fill human hearts with the peace of heaven. He desires that the families below shall be a symbol of the great family above. COL 290.2
But Israel did not fulfill God's purpose. The Lord declared, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?” Jeremiah 2:21. “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” Hosea 10:1. “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard. What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For ... He looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” Isaiah 5:3-7. COL 290.3Read in context »
The children of Israel were to occupy all the territory which God appointed them. Those nations that rejected the worship and service of the true God were to be dispossessed. But it was God's purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live. All who, like Rahab the Canaanite and Ruth the Moabitess, turned from idolatry to the worship of the true God were to unite themselves with His chosen people. As the numbers of Israel increased, they were to enlarge their borders until their kingdom should embrace the world. PK 19.1
But ancient Israel did not fulfill God's purpose. The Lord declared, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?” “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard. What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For ... He looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1; Isaiah 5:3-7. PK 19.2Read in context »
The marvelous providences connected with Israel's deliverance from Egyptian bondage and with their occupancy of the Promised Land led many of the heathen to recognize the God of Israel as the Supreme Ruler. “The Egyptians shall know,” had been the promise, “that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth Mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:5. Even proud Pharaoh was constrained to acknowledge Jehovah's power. “Go, serve the Lord,” he urged Moses and Aaron, “and bless me also.” Exodus 12:31, 32. PK 369.1
The advancing hosts of Israel found that knowledge of the mighty workings of the God of the Hebrews had gone before them, and that some among the heathen were learning that He alone was the true God. In wicked Jericho the testimony of a heathen woman was, “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” Joshua 2:11. The knowledge of Jehovah that had thus come to her, proved her salvation. By faith “Rahab perished not with them that believed not.” Hebrews 11:31. And her conversion was not an isolated case of God's mercy toward idolaters who acknowledged His divine authority. In the midst of the land a numerous people—the Gibeonites—renounced their heathenism and united with Israel, sharing in the blessings of the covenant. PK 369.2
No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple courts, that every soul may have free access to God. His love is so broad, so deep, so full, that it penetrates everywhere. It lifts out of Satan's influence those who have been deluded by his deceptions, and places them within reach of the throne of God, the throne encircled by the rainbow of promise. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free. PK 369.3Read in context »
[Sydney, N.S.W., Australia] February 4, 1893—Spoke in the Morning, Boarded Ship in the Afternoon—We rode in the cab to the church in Sydney, and I spoke from Hebrews 11 upon faith. The Lord strengthened me by His grace. I felt much strengthened and blessed. The Holy Spirit was upon me. Strength, both physical and spiritual, was given me in large measure.... 3SM 265.2Read in context »