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Rahab

by Nissan Mindel

Talks and Tales

  

Library » History » Joshua, The Judges | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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 It was a month after Moses' death, and the Jews prepared themselves for the invasion of Canaan. True, it was the "Promised Land," which G-d Himself had promised to the Children of Israel as "an everlasting inheritance." They believed this, but not so the inhabitants of Canaan, and so the Israelites knew they would have to fight for it.

Joshua, the eighty-two year old leader of the Israelites, had all the fine qualities required for his heavy task, but he remembered how great was his predecessor, Moses, who had failed once in his task, and had forfeited his right to lead the Jews into the Promised Land.

Joshua now sent an ultimatum to the inhabitants, giving them a choice of the following three things: 1)to leave the land, 2)surrrender and declare peace, or 3)to stand up and fight.

Joshua sent two spies, Pinchas and Caleb, to obtain first-hand information as to how the Canaanites were viewing the coming invasion. The men came to the inn of Rahab, in the wall of the fortifications of the city of Jericho.

As soon as the news reached the ears of the king, that two strangers had been seen entering the inn of Rahab, he at once sent messengers to Rahab to give up the men. However, when Rahab realized who the strangers were who had come to her inn, she quickly reassured them of her willingness to protect them. She told them that she was ten years old when the Jews left Egypt, and she had since then followed all that happened to them with the greatest interest and admiration. She had heard of all the miracles which G-d had performed to protect them and guide them throughout the forty years of their wandering through the wilderness, and she was entirely confident that G-d would be with them now in their attempt to take Jericho and conquer the whole country of Canaan.

Pinchas and Caleb readily pledged themselves to remember Rahab and her household
So sure was Rahab of the coming victory of the Israelites, that she begged the two spies to promise to save her and her household in the coming invasion.

"Come," she urged them. "Let me hide you on my roof where you will be safe from discovery. I shall keep your presence in my house secret, but for doing this for you, I ask you in return, to spare me and mine when you come here as conquerors."

Pinchas and Caleb readily pledged themselves to remember Rahab and her household and, as token and sign, they asked her to tie a scarlet thread in her window, so that it could be clearly seen by the Israelites when they reached the city-wall. This would indicate which was the house of Rahab, and all in it would thus be spared as they had promised her.

"You know," Rahab told Pinchas and Caleb, "I told the king's messengers that you had left my house and, if they hurried, they might yet catch you near the fords of the River Jordan. So I think you can rest here for the night, safely, without being disturbed. The Lord your G-d will surely be with you now, as He has been with your people in the past. I can tell you that all the people in this land are terrified when they talk about all that the Lord has done for you, and tremble at the thought of your coming. I know that the Lord has given you the land, and I acknowledge and believe in Him."

In the early dimness of the morning, Rahab let the men down from a window with a rope, and urged them to hide in the mountains for three days before returning to their camp. When they returned to Joshua they reported to him joyfully that "Truly, the Lord has delivered into our hands all the land, for all the inhabitants tremble before us."


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Joshua
1. Assumed the leadership of the Jewish people after Moses died in 1267 BCE. He split the Jordan River and led the Jewish people in their conquest of the Promised Land. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles Joshua's leadership.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Canaan
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."
Jethro
Moses' father-in-law.
Caleb
One of the spies sent by Moses to do reconnaissance on Canaan. Along with Joshua, and unlike the other ten spies, he gave a positive report.
Jeremiah
1. Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Jeremiah. The book is replete with prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.
Ezekiel
1. Major Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies which Ezekiel transmitted.
Tabernacle
Mobile sanctuary which traveled with the Jews in the desert, containing the Ark with the Tablets, and the sacrificial altars. When the Jews entered Israel, it was erected in the city of Shiloh where it remained for more than 300 years. It was buried when the permanent Holy Temple was erected in Jerusalem.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.