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25 March 2020 – Joshua 2:15-21

So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. – Joshua 2:15-21 

Adolph Harstad writes:

The faithfulness of Rahab does not end when she secures the oath she wants. With a rope, she lets the spies down through a window in her house. It seems that she lived within a chamber of a casemate city wall that was Jericho’s defense. Rahab urges the spies to head for the hill country toward the west, while the pursuers are searching toward the east, in the direction of the Jordan. It is this detail of her continuing faithfulness that James notes as a second proof of Rahab’s living faith: after “she received the messengers,” she “sent (them) away by another road” (James 2:25). The hills in the area have many nooks and caves or hiding. In caves a few miles to the south, the Dead Sea Scrolls remained hidden for about two thousand years, some in three-feet tall clay jars. Two clever agents, though twice as tall as those jars, could hide in similar caves for days without notice, especially with their pursuers chasing the wrong way. …

The spies state the conditions of the oath with great care. Oaths using the LORD’s name call for clarity so that they may be followed precisely. The importance of not violating such an oath is highlighted by the Second Commandment: “You shall not lift up the name of the LORD your God in vain, because the LORD will not deem innocent someone who lifts up His name in vain.” Later, a hasty oath carelessly sworn by Israel to the Gibeonites also calls for a clear understanding of the stipulations of the oath so that there will be no confusion at the critical time of attack in the chaos of battle. …

The function of the cord of scarlet thread may be purely practical. It may serve as an outstanding marker of the house that Israel will safeguard. Scarlet may have been an ancient equivalent of today’s “optic orange” (worn by hunters and highway workers for safety). The author mentions no further significance of the cord and its color, nor does the NT.

Nevertheless, Christian interpreters from the time of the early church down to the present have attached symbolism to the blood-colored cord and have associated it with the cleansing blood of Christ. The former “woman of scarlet” was “justified” or declared righteous through the scarlet-colored blood of the Lamb, whose sacrifice was prefigured by the sacrifices of the covenant nation of which Rahab became a member. Especially relevant may be the Passover lamb, since Josh 5:10-12 will narrate the celebration of the first Passover in Canaan, and St. Paul declares, “Christ our Passover, has been sacrificed.” The fact that Rahab’s family is kept safe in the house marked by the scarlet cord may also remind us of the first Passover, forty years earlier in Egypt, when the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintel marked and saved the families of Israel form the death of the firstborn.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 10

Q. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.