Verse 1: And Joshua the son of Nun sent (or, had sent) (Num. 25:1) out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25) came into an harlot’s house, named (Matt. 1:5) Rahab, and lodged (Heb. lay) there.
[He sent (thus Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine), וַיִּשְׁלַח] Others: And he had sent (Vatablus, Masius, Drusius, Grotius, Lapide), that is, before the edict concerning the preparation of provisions (Drusius, similarly Lapide, Masius). The past in the place of the pluperfect (Lapide). In this way the passages in Joshua 1:11 and Joshua 2:22 are easily reconciled (Grotius).
Sent; or, had sent, as that tense is oft used. See on Joshua 1:11.
[From Shittim] It was in the plains of Moab (Lapide, Bonfrerius). It is called Abel-shittim, that is, the plains of Shittim, Numbers 33:49, as we said on Numbers 25:1. In that place now the town of Abila is visited, says Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 4:7 (Bonfrerius). The trees from this place were called Shittim, the timbe of which is the lightest, glossiest, and most beautiful of all (Lapide).
Shittim; called also Abel-shittim, Numbers 33:49.
[Two men as spies] Questions: Was this rightly done? For the first exploration yielded the worst results, Numbers 13:3. And there appears to have been an obligation to rest in the words of God (Masius). Responses: 1. It is to be supposed that Joshua did nothing without consulting God (Masius, Bonfrerius, Serarius); although not all things said by Joshua at that time are recorded (Bonfrerius). For God, conscious of our weakness, grants help readily. See a quite similar example in Judges 6 and 7 (Masius). God was going to direct this, and He knew all the blessings that were going to be reported (Bonfrerius). 2. What things God promises are to be hoped for with settled confidence, but at the same time special, painstaking labor also belongs to us. By His grace, God aids our efforts (Masius).
[Two] Why did he not send twelve, as previously? Responses: 1. Because then there was less suspicion (Serarius). The twelve, although many, were nevertheless able to deceive the inhabitants at that time secure; but now not even two are able to lie hidden in a city alarmed by fear. 2. The twelve were obliged to view the entire region; it did not belong to these to go beyond a few stadia (Masius).
[Men] Νεανίσκους, youths or young men (Septuagint), by which word they meant to denote their daring and vigor (Masius). Eminent men, as אֲנָשִׁים is a title/name of ἀρετῆς/rank (Drusius). The Hebrews maintain that these were Phineas and Caleb, which is not likely (Drusius, Masius, Lapide). But Joshua was unwilling to expose to the greatest peril except common men, although he sent cunning men, cautious and brave (Masius). A man as a spy is an expression like a man as a fisherman, a woman as a handmaid (Drusius). Spying, and Harboring of enemies, Joshua 2:4, and disclosing of enemy counsels, as in 2 Samuel 17:15, are distasteful things; yet not unlawful against the enemies of God, or of one anointed by God; for with such there is no kinship of the law of nations. And so the harboring is celebrated as an act of faith, Hebrews 11:31, that is, of a soul renouncing πολυθεΐαν/polytheism on account of the reported miracles. See Joshua 2:9-11 (Grotius). Although it is not lawful to make use of wicked treachery, nevertheless it has been esteemed the highest virtue of Emperors to conceal their own stratagems, but to search out the intention of enemies, and to anticipate their plans (Masius).
Two men; not twelve, as Moses did, partly because the people of Canaan were now more alarmed than in Moses’s time, and more suspicious of all strangers; and partly because those were to view the whole land, these but a small parcel of it. To spy, that is, to learn the state of the land and people, and what way and method they should proceed in. It is evident enough that Joshua did not this out of distrust, as the people did, Deuteronomy 1; and it is most probable he had God’s command and direction in it, for the encouragement of himself and his army in their present enterprise.
[Spies in secret, מְרַגְּלִים֙ חֶ֣רֶשׁ] Uncontracted it would be בְּחֶרֶשׁ, in secret (Drusius). [They take it variously.] Who might spy in, or with, silence (Munster, Vatablus, Montanus), that is, secretly (Jonathan, Vatablus), hiddenly (Arabic), covertly (Junius and Tremellius). Who might spy in being quiet, or in being silent, that is, without any noise (Vatablus, Munster). That is, so that the inhabitants of the region might not begin to perceive (Vatablus). This does not satisfy; for, since it is even the especial condition of all spies that they be silent, etc., it would be unnecessary to point this out (Masius). [Others thus:] Without the knowledge of the Israelites. There is a contrast between these spies and those of Moses, who were sent with the people approving (Masius, similarly Lapide, Malvenda). He does this, lest they murmur again, as they had previously done (Lapide). Others thus translate it, spying out the thought, and machination of the heart, namely, in their enemies. Thus the verb חָרַשׁ signifies in Proverbs 3:29; 14:22. Thus Rabbi Levi. But the noun חֶרֶשׁ, unless I am mistaken, is not thus taken (Masius).
Secretly; with reference not to his enemies, which being the constant and necessary practice of all spies, was needless to be mentioned; but to the Israelites, without their knowledge or desire. And this seems added by way of opposition unto the like action, Deuteronomy 1, where it was done with the people’s privity, and upon their motion; and therefore an account was given, not only to Moses, but also to the congregation; whereas here it was given to Joshua only, Joshua 2:23, which was a good caution to prevent the inconveniency which possibly might have arisen, if their report had been doubtful or discouraging.
[View the land, and Jericho] That is, especially Jericho (Vatablus). Such a sort of speech as is found in 1 Kings 11:1, he was loving strange women, and the daughter of Pharaoh; the title of Psalm 18, from the hand of his enemies, and of Saul; 2 Samuel 2:30, nineteen of David’s servants, and Asahel (Malvenda, Drusius). He adds in particular, Jericho, because in the taking of that city was placed the greatest importance for victory (Masius). It was the closest and most heavily fortified city (Lapide). It was the next place unto which the people were going to advance (Menochius). The name of Jericho was, either, from the crescent-shaped form of that plain; or, from the most pleasant smell of the balsam tree uniquely thriving there, according to Pliny (Masius), and Strabo, Solinus, Tacitus, and others [whose words Malvenda cites: There is likewise a description of Jericho in Malvenda and Masius]. According to Josephus, Jericho is one hundred and fifty stadia from Jerusalem (that is, eighteen and a half Italian miles [Lapide]), but sixty stadia from Jordan (that is, seven and a half Italian miles [Lapide, Masius]).
[Who proceeding, etc.] Question: But how were they able to pass over Jordan? Response: Innumerable ways were available to God for accomplishing this, indeed without a miracle (Bonfrerius). But they were able to cross over either by swimming, or by fording: for we read of the fords of Jordan, Judges 3:28; 12:5. And here in verse 7, as if the men of Jericho sniffed out when and how they had come to Jericho, they pursued them unto the fords of Jordan (Serarius, similarly Lapide, Menochius). Yet afterwards the river flooded in such a way that it was not able to be forded (Serarius). Question: But how were they able to slip by the watches of the Canaanites? Response: It is sufficiently apparent that they were settled, and foolishly secure (Menochius out of Serarius). If it be desired that miracles be devised, God could send in either blindness, as in Genesis 19:11, or lethargic sleep, as in 1 Samuel 26:12, or Panicy terror, or something similar (Serarius). Joshua was blessed that these two men do not so much as open their mouths to speak against his orders, but they without hesitation expose themselves to mortal dangers (Masius).
The land, even Jericho, that is, the land about Jericho, together with the city. Hebrews: the land and Jericho, that is, especially Jericho. So and is used 2 Samuel 2:30; 1 Kings 11:1; Psalm 18:1. They obeyed Joshua’s command, even with the hazard of their own lives, considering that they were under the protection of Divine Providence, which could very easily many ways secure them; or being willing to sacrifice their lives in their country’s service.
[They came into the house of a woman, a harlot, זוֹנָה] Question: What sort was she, whether an hostess, or an harlot? Response 1: They translate it an hostess, or an innkeeper (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Vatablus). Thus the Rabbis and many others (Malvenda). So called, because she prepares and sells food, from זוּן, to feed. These think that they follow the Chaldean translator, who renders it פוּנְדָקִיתָא/pundokita, from the Greek πανδοκία/pandokia/hostess, or πανδοκεύτρια/pandokeutria/hostess (Masius, Serarius). But they are mistaken: for the Chaldean thus translates זוֹנָה where it is taken for a harlot; as in Judges 11:1; 16:1; 1 Kings 3:16; Ezekiel 23:44 (Bonfrerius, Serarius). The Chaldean avoids the name of harlot for the sake of modesty, wherefore also in one place he translates זוֹנָה as a wandering woman, in another place as a treacherous woman, etc., but as harlot hardly one and again (Masius). Others are not satisfied by this translation. 1. Rahab received these out of hospitality, rather than out of the performance of her job, Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25. 2. In those ancient times, there were not, as there are today among us, innkeepers, as I taught on Tobit 5. 3. If she was an innkeeper, there would not have been such liberty of speech with the spies, nor so easy a method of hiding them (Serarius). Response 2: Others translate it harlot, or prostitute, etc. (thus the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Drusius, Grotius, Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, Serarius). Which sort of life, at that time and among those nations, was held as mean rather than scandalous; while the discipline of the Hebrews, even before the Law, was far different, Genesis 38:24 (Grotius). They approve this translation, 1. Because she is called πόρνη, a prostitute, in Hebrews 11:31 (Bonfrerius). 2. Because the ancient Greek and Latin Fathers with one voice thus settle the matter (Serarius, whom you should see). 3. Because, while she bargains for salvation with respect to all her relatives, she does not mention a husband (Masius, Serarius). 4. The word זוֹנָה always signifies this [as Serarius shows in the passages listed]. But against this opinion they object: 1. Salmon married her, a very distinguished man, son of Nahshon Prince of Judah, who certainly would not have married such a vile little woman (Bonfrerius, Serarius). Responses: 1. Therefore, some interpreters think that she was a different Rahab (thus Masius, certain interpreters in Serarius). But it is sufficiently evident that she was the same, and all the Fathers think so (Serarius). 2. The same might ask why he would marry a Gentile, and a worshipper of idols. But the praise of new Religion, and the change of life, and the glory of recent service wear away all infamy (Serarius). Objection 2: It is absurd, that the spies, honest men, turned aside to a harlot. Responses: 1. They did not know that she was a harlot (Bonfrerius, Serarius). 2. They turned in there, not for the sake of satisfying lust, but for the sake of discharging their business (Masius, Bonfrerius). For which he house was opportune, adjoining the gate and the walls (Bonfrerius). Nowhere was there a more suitable hiding place. Thus they were removing all suspicion from their reconnaissance. For not prudent men and spies, but the foolish, the idle, the dissolute, would go into a harlot. And formerly there were signs allowed to the apartments of harlots, by which they would prevent others from approaching. Add that their employment, haste, and trepidation would exclude all lasciviousness. Finally, these matters were conducted by a Divine instinct (Serarius). Objection 3: This would tend to the disgrace of Christ, who was born of Rahab. Response: Not one of the holy women is taken up into the genealogy of Christ, but those that Scripture reprehends; so that He, who had come because of sins, being born of sinners, might blot out the sins of all, says Jerome on Matthew 1. Therefore, she was a harlot, not common, but rather idolatrous, which sort were wont to prostitute themselves for the honor of their gods and goddesses (Serarius). [See more things in the author, if you please.] Response 3: She was both a hostess and an harlot (Lyra, Junius and Tremellius, Malvenda). Formerly among the ancients it was shameful to employ a femal innkeeper. See Casaubon on Theophrastus’ Characters, περὶ ἀπονοίας, concerning desperation, or lost confidence (Drusius). Everywhere in those regions female innkeepers were ill regarded, especially those that did not have husbands (Bonfrerius).
An harlot’s house; so the Hebrew word is used, Judges 11:1; 16:1; 1 Kings 3:16; Ezekiel 23:44, and so it is rendered by two apostles, Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25; such she either now was, or formerly had been; and such a person’s house they might come to with less observation than to an hostess, as some render it, or to a public victualling-house. And such a course of life was very common among the Gentiles, who esteemed fornication to be either no sin, or a very small and trivial one.
[And they rested (thus the Septuagint, Vatablus, Tigurinus), that is, for a while (Vatablus), וַיִּשְׁכְּבוּ] And they lay down (Jonathan, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Masius), that is, They turned aside as if for the sake of spending the night and taking their rest (Masius). They slept (Pagnine); they spent the night (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Cajetan in Serarius). Thus on the following day they were seen, and pointed out to the King. But the royal watchmen say, This night (they do not say, yesterday) they came in; and שָׁכַב simply signifies to lie, to lie down, to rest, to delay. Therefore, they rested there, but they did not sleep, nor spend the night (Serarius out of Jonathan and the Hebrews).
Lodged there, or, lay down, as the same word, is rendered, verse 8, intended and composed themselves to rest; but they were disturbed and hindered from their intentions upon the following discovery.
 Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֣ח יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ־בִּן־נ֠וּן מִֽן־הַשִּׁטִּ֞ים שְׁנַֽיִם־אֲנָשִׁ֤ים מְרַגְּלִים֙ חֶ֣רֶשׁ לֵאמֹ֔ר לְכ֛וּ רְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְאֶת־יְרִיח֑וֹ וַיֵּ֙לְכ֜וּ וַ֠יָּבֹאוּ בֵּית־אִשָּׁ֥ה זוֹנָ֛ה וּשְׁמָ֥הּ רָחָ֖ב וַיִּשְׁכְּבוּ־שָֽׁמָּה׃
 Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַח.
 Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁכְּבוּ.
 אָבֵל signifies a meadow.
 That is, Acacias.
 A stadium is a little more than a tenth of a mile.
 Hebrew: אֲנָשִׁים.
 חֶרֶשׁ/silently/secretly is derived from the verbal root חָרֵשׁ, to be silent.
 Proverbs 3:29: “Devise not (אַל־תַּחֲרֹשׁ) evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.”
 Proverbs 14:22: “Do they not err that devise evil (חֹ֣רְשֵׁי רָ֑ע)? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good (חֹ֣רְשֵׁי טֽוֹב׃).”
 Hebrew: יְרִיחוֹ.
 Here, יְרִיחוֹ /Jericho is being related to יָרֵחַ/moon.
 רֵיחַ signifies scent or odor.
 Strabo (c. 63 BC-c. 24 AD) was a Greek geographer and historian.
 Gaius Julius Solinus (third century) was a compiler of antiquarian curiosities.
 Hebrew: אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְאֶת־יְרִיח֑וַֹ.
 Judges 11:1: “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot (זוֹנָה; פֻנדְקֵיתָא, in the Chaldean; πόρνης, in the Septuagint): and Gilead begat Jephthah.”
 Judges 16:1: “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot (זוֹנָה; פֻנדְקֵיתָא, in the Chaldean; πόρνην, in the Septuagint), and went in unto her.”
 1 Kings 3:16: “Then came there two women, that were harlots (זֹנוֹת;פֻנדְקָאָן , in the Chaldean; πόρναι, in the Septuagint), unto the king, and stood before him.”
 Ezekiel 23:44: “Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot (זוֹנָה; פֻונדְקֵיתָא, in the Chaldean; πόρνην, in the Septuagint): so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.”
 Tobit 5 relates the preparation made for Tobias’ and Raphael’s journey to Media.
 See Ruth 4:20, 21; Matthew 1:4, 5.
 Numbers 1:4, 5, 7; 2:3.
 See Joshua 2:15.
 Little is known about the early life of Nicholas de Lyra (1270-1340). He entered the Franciscan Order and became a teacher of some repute in Paris. His Postilla in Vetus et Novum Testamentum are remarkable for the time period: Lyra was firmly committed to the literal sense of the text, as a necessary control for allegorical exposition; and he drew heavily upon Hebraic and Rabbinical materials. His commentary was influential among the Reformers.
 Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) began his career as Professor of Greek at Geneva and finished his career as a prebendary of Westminster and Canterbury. He was a learned critic, and he produced annotated editions of Greek and Latin authors. He was among those that sought a reunion between the Protestant and Roman churches.
 Theophrastus (372-287 BC) was a disciple of Aristotle and his successor at the Lyceum. Characters has been traditionally ascribed to him. It contains thirty sketches of moral types.
 שָׁכַב signifies to lie down, or to lodge.