The Bible – Old Testament
1 Then Joshua, son of Nun, secretly sent out two spies from Shittim, saying, “Go, reconnoiter the land and Jericho.” When the two reached Jericho, they went into the house of a harlot named Rahab, where they lodged.
But a report was brought to the king of Jericho that some Israelites had come there that night to spy out the land.
So the king of Jericho sent Rahab the order, “Put out the visitors who have entered your house, for they have come to spy out the entire land.”
The woman had taken the two men and hidden them, so she said, “True, the men you speak of came to me, but I did not know where they came from.
At dark, when it was time for the gate to be shut, they left, and I do not know where they went. You will have to pursue them immediately to overtake them.”
2 Now, she had led them to the roof, and hidden them among her stalks of flax spread out there.
But the pursuers set out along the way to the fords of the Jordan, and once they had left, the gate was shut.
3 Before the spies fell asleep, Rahab came to them on the roof
and said: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that a dread of you has come upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are overcome with fear of you.
For we have heard how the LORD dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and how you dealt with Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan, whom you doomed to destruction.
At these reports, we are disheartened; everyone is discouraged because of you, since the LORD, your God, is God in heaven above and on earth below.
Now then, swear to me by the LORD that, since I am showing kindness to you, you in turn will show kindness to my family; and give me an unmistakable token
that you are to spare my father and mother, brothers and sisters, and all their kin, and save us from death.”
“We pledge our lives for yours,” the men answered her. “If you do not betray this errand of ours, we will be faithful in showing kindness to you when the LORD gives us the land.”
4 Then she let them down through the window with a rope; for she lived in a house built into the city wall.
“Go up into the hill country,” she suggested to them, “that your pursuers may not find you. Hide there for three days, until they return; then you may proceed on your way.”
The men answered her, “This is how we will fulfill the oath you made us take:
When we come into the land, tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you are letting us down; and gather your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.
Should any of them pass outside the doors of your house, he will be responsible for his own death, and we shall be guiltless. But we shall be responsible if anyone in the house with you is harmed.
If, however, you betray this errand of ours, we shall be quit of the oath you have made us take.”
“Let it be as you say,” she replied, and bade them farewell. When they were gone, she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
They went up into the hills, where they stayed three days until their pursuers, who had sought them all along the road without finding them, returned.
Then the two came back down from the hills, crossed the Jordan to Joshua, son of Nun, and reported all that had befallen them.
They assured Joshua, “The LORD has delivered all this land into our power; indeed, all the inhabitants of the land are overcome with fear of us.”
1  Harlot: this is the regular equivalent of the Hebrew word, but perhaps it is used here of Rahab in the broader sense of a woman who kept a public house. Joshua’s spies hoped to remain undetected at such an inn.
Stalks of flax spread out: to dry in the sun, after they had been soaked in water, according to the ancient process of preparing flax for linen-making. In the Near East the flax harvest occurs near the time of the feast of the Passover (⇒ Joshua 4:19; ⇒ 5:10); cf ⇒ Exodus 9:31.
4  A house built into the city wall: such houses, which used the city wall for their own inner walls, have been found at ancient sites. The upper story of Rahab’s house was evidently higher than the city wall. It was through the window of such a house that St. Paul escaped from Damascus; cf ⇒ Acts 9:25; ⇒ 2 Cor 11:33.