Joshua 2:17: Rahab’s Covenant, Part 5

Verse 17:[1]  And the men said unto her, We will be (Ex. 20:7) blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.

The men said, or, had said; namely, before she let them down; it being very improbable, either that she would dismiss them before the condition was expressed and agreed; or that she would discourse with them, or they with her, about such secret and weighty things after they were let down, when others might overhear them; or that she should begin her discourse in her chamber, and not finish it till they were gone out of her house.  Objection:  They spoke this after they were let down; for it follows, verse 18, this—thread—which thou didst let us down byAnswer:  Those words may be thus rendered, which thou dost let us down by, that is, art about to do it; it being frequent for the preter tense to be used of a thing about to be done, by an enallage of tenses, as Joshua 10:15.

[We shall be innocent]  Or, we wish to be (Junius and Tremellius, Masius).  Deobligati erimus, we shall be freed, if it could thus be said in Latin (Vatablus), that is, loosed from the obligation of the oath (Bonfrerius).  Guiltless with respect to thine adjuration (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius).  This proviso and caution, made so carefully, teaches that an oath is not to be taken rashly nor broadly, but with all religion and precisely; so that you might not promise more, with all things considered, you find yourself to be able to bring to pass.  The Gentiles believing that to be perjury (although not committed, but only conceived in the soul:  see Juvenal’s[2] Satires 13, he answered a certain Spartan, etc.[3]), even to be atoned for by the posterity of the perjurer.  Hesiod:[4]  Ὃς δὲ κε μαρτυρίῃσιν, etc., but whoever in his witness, etc.[5]  In Hebrew, there is an Enallage of gender, שְׁבוּעָה/oath, which is feminine, is constructed with הַזֶּה/this, which is masculine (Masius).

Blameless of this thine oath, that is, free from guilt or reproach if it be violated, namely, if the following condition be not observed.

[With which thou didst adjure us (thus the Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), הִשְׁבַּעְתָּנוּ]  Thou didst cause us to swear[6] (Montanus); which thou didst declare upon us (Jonathan); with which thou didst call us to witness (Arabic); to which thou didst bind us (Pagnine and Vatablus in Lapide).  The words of which thou didst dictate to us.  See what things are on Leviticus 5:1 and Matthew 26:63 (Grotius).

[1] Hebrew:  וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ אֵלֶ֖יהָ הָאֲנָשִׁ֑ים נְקִיִּ֣ם אֲנַ֔חְנוּ מִשְּׁבֻעָתֵ֥ךְ הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִשְׁבַּעְתָּֽנוּ׃

[2] Decimus Junius Juvenalis was a Roman poet, flourishing at the turn of the second century.

[3] Juvenal tells of a certain Spartan that perjured himself, later repented, and yet was still punished for his earlier intention.

[4] Hesiod was a Greek Poet, living around the turn of the seventh century BC.  His work preserves a most ancient form of Greek mythology, as well as other pieces of an otherwise lost antiquity.

[5] Works and Days 282.  In this passage, Zeus is said to be a rewarder of those that keep faith, but perjurers and their offspring are punished.

[6] The Hiphil conjugation frequently conveys a causative sense.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 2:17: Rahab’s Covenant, Part 5

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith 22:2a: ” The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence; therefore, to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred.”

  2. Westminster Confession of Faith 22:4: “An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation. It cannot oblige to sin; but in anything not sinful being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt; nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics or infidels.”

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