Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 2 – Bible Study Lessons in Joshua

Discussion Questions

  • Did God tell Joshua to send spies in to the land?
  • Was he taking initiative or being presumptuous?
  • Why spy out “especially Jericho?”
  • Why would they enter the house of a prostitute?
  • Why did Rahab hide the men? What does this show us about her?
  • Was she right to lie to the people who came looking for them? Why or why not?
  • What statement does she make starting in verse 9?
  • What can we learn about Rahab from this statement?
  • What do we learn about God and His plans from this statement?
  • What does the phrase “our lives for your lives” mean?
  • Who else would be saved beside Rahab? What principle can we learn from this?
  • When did she tie the cord in the window? Why did she do it so quickly?
  • What principles can we learn from the spies?
  • What principles can we learn from Rahab?
  • What does this story tell us of God’s character?


Hebrews 11:35 – Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.

James 2:25 – In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

Matthew 1:5 – Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse.

Colossians 3:9 – Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

Romans 11:6 – And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

John 1:16 – Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.

Isaiah 42:6 – “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.

Isaiah 49:6 – he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Exodus 9:16 – But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Joshua takes initiative – In the text there is no evidence that God told Joshua to send spies in to the land. God told him to “get ready to cross the Jordan river.” It seems that in Joshua’s mind sending spies was one way of “getting ready.” God’s sovereign power and supernatural miracle working on their behalf did not nullify Joshua’s responsibility to do everything he could to prepare well. (Proverbs 16:9.) The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Making plans and being prepared is not contradictory to living a life of faith and following God’s will in our lives. The problem comes when we make plans without seeking God’s direction or refuse to be open minded to change those plans or cancel those plans if God directs us otherwise.

Application: As long as we are seeking to follow God’s will, He appreciates initiative. Throughout the Bible we that believers should “walk” or “arise” or “run.” These are all action words. We are not to “float” or “sit” through life. If God has called you to something, get started!

2. A prostitute named Rahab – How many of you have ever met someone named Rahab? It is not a common name. Few people name their children Rahab. Why? Because in the Bible she is normally referred to as a “Rahab the prostitute.” Rahab is identified as a harlot multiple times. (Joshua 2:1, 6:17, 25, James 2:25, Hebrews 11:31.)

Many scholars/teachers/pastors have tried to argue that the word for Rahab could mean “innkeeper.” They argue that she was a business women who ran a simple business perhaps a lodge and restaurant.

Why do they argue this? Do you think Rahab was an innkeeper or a prostitute? Why? There is no compelling reason to conclude this. Rahab is a story of God’s grace, not a story of a good person deserving of salvation.

Some feel compelled to make this argument simply because being a prostitute is not a good thing. Thus many want to protect Rahab’s reputation. But the power of this story is that God would use someone like Rahab. I believe that is why her occupation is repeatedly stressed. God wants to teach us an important lesson. He can use Rahab. He can redeem Rahab. He can use use anyone. He can redeem anyone. If Rahab was merely an innkeeper the point would not be nearly as memorable. Rahab’s story gives hope to every sinner that they too can be redeemed and fit into God’s plan.

The Hebrew word “Zoonah” is used, which means harlot. In Greek (in the New Testament), “porne” is used. These words make it very clear that Rahab was a harlot. We don’t need to try to brush over her sins or her history. It should not be surprising that she was a prostitute. Even a “holy” nation like Israel often had prostitutes. A pagan place like Jericho would surely have many. This likely was considered a “necessary evil.” Rahab would have had a low social status like prostitutes do even today.

Because she had her own house, she could have had a duel business, both running an inn and also hiring herself out to sleep with visitors. The spies may have wished to find a quiet night’s rest out of the public’s eye in this “shady” area of town and rented a room at her house.

Rahab is identified in the Bible five times as a prostitute. Here are a few verses on this issue (Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Proverbs 6:20-7, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.)

Harlots were social and moral outcasts in Israel. They were the lowest parts of society. This is someone who routinely on a day to day basis sold herself for money to gratify others’ sexual lusts. As 1 Corinthians 6 shows, this life is incompatible with a life following after God. This lifestyle is never necessary either. God will always provide for His followers if they seek Him first. No believer has to turn to this life or any sin in order to provide for himself/herself. Unless we think we are better than her, see Matthew 5:27-28. Yes, Rahab was a sinner. But so are we all. We can’t reach God’s standard anymore than she could.

God is in the business of saving sinners. Her sinful past makes her faith in God and subsequent life transformation even more amazing. From Rahab’s story we will learn that God shows mercy and grace to save even the worst of sinners.

Rahab is one of only four women listed in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:5.) Bathsheba and Tamar are two others and are similar in that their impurity was also recorded in the Bible. Ruth was a Moabite. It is interested that all four of the women listed in Jesus’ genealogy would be looked on negatively because of their sins or nationality. It is like Matthew is showing us that Jesus was born of sinners and took on our own sin in order to save us from sin. At the same time it shows us the hope that even the worst sinners can be restored and used of God. Indeed the Savior of the world was descended directly from Rahab. He can redeem and transform the worst of sinners as well as turn their lives around and use their lives for His own glory.

In addition, Rahab was the mother of Boaz by Salmon (Matthew 1:5). Jewish tradition says that Salmon was one of the two spies. The spies were likely leaders of households, so Salmon would have been a very respected leader in the community. Rahab’s staunch faith in God and life transformation evidently won his heart so that like Boaz later on, he willingly looked past her nationality and past life and took her as his own.

3. Rahab’s lie –

In which verse or verses did Rahab lie (2:4-5)? What do you think about this? Did she have a good reason? Was her lie acceptable? Are there times when we should lie for a good reason? (1 Timothy 1:10, Colossians 3:9-10, Proverbs 12:22, Exodus 20:16.) Lying is sin with no exceptions. It is not surprising that she lied considering her environment and lifestyle. She was beginning to show a faith in God, but that didn’t mean her choices were all immediately right or she would be perfect right away. What could she or should she have done instead?

In this case, the lie seems to be well intentioned. Although God was beginning to work in Rahab’s heart, she was still heavily influenced by the culture around her. She had not yet learned of God’s perfect holiness and hatred of every type of sin. She had not been taught the Scriptures. But nonetheless, it was a sin. Some sins are committed in ignorance. Some sins are committed with good motivations. And some sins are committed intentionally. Do you know what all three have in common? They are sin.

How can we guard against committing sins in ignorance? What are some types of sins people commit, but perhaps have good intentions? What would you say to these people?

4. Rahab put others first – She took a great risk in sheltering the spies and hiding them. Although her lying wasn’t the right way to handle it, it shows that she was willing to die for her belief that God would give victory to the Israelites over her own people. She was willing to sacrifice her life for her belief in God. She joined God’s team. This came at great risk to herself. If her people found out, she could have been executed for treason.

Application: When we follow God sometimes it is necessary to take decisive action. Sometimes that action needs to be taken in the face of great peer pressure. And sometimes that action requires a great personal sacrifice.

5. Rahab’s statement of faith in verses 9-11 – This is what she is most famous for.

Joshua 2:9-11 – And said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Did Rahab have special information that other Jericho-ites did not have? No, they all heard of what the LORD had done for the Jews in Egypt. Her knowledge of the Lord was united with faith while the rest of the people in Jericho hardened their hearts and made up their minds to stubbornly resist until the last.

Application: Place your bet on the winning team – Rahab correctly believed that the Jews would defeat Jericho because of God’s power. Basically it was good against evil, the one true God against false gods. She believed that the power of the one true God would prevail. We must realize that God’s victory over Satan is assured. Good will prevail. The world may look bleak at times, but ultimately all of God’s prophecies will come true and He will finally judge all people who do not obey His Word. We can choose to follow God or the world. Following God will probably not be the popular choice, but it is the right choice and those who make the choice to follow Him with their lives will be rewarded.

6. Keeping promises – They kept their promises to Rahab even though she could not do anything about it one way or another. God wants us to be people of integrity. We should keep our word as the spies did to Rahab.

7. Through Rahab’s faith her family is saved – She was concerned for her family. Rahab helped the spies and could have asked for a lot of things in return: money, a home, a wagon, animals, etc. But her request was that her entire family could be spared. One person’s faith can have a positive influence on those around them. Can you give any other biblical examples? In like manner, one person’s sin can have a terrible negative effect on those around them. Can you give any biblical examples?

Application: We should use the influence we have for the good of others.

Here is the key lesson and applications from the life of Rahab:

God is in the business of saving even the worst sinners – To most people Rahab was a nothing. But to God, her soul was valuable. He loved her from creation, even in the middle of all of her sin. He chose to save her, Rahab, from before the beginning of the world. When Jesus came, He spent a lot of time and effort on these types of people, so much so that the Pharisees often criticized Him for it. (See Mark 2:13-17.) What are applications can we make from this?

Here are a few ideas:

A. Thank God that He saved you in the midst of your sin. Though our exact sins may be different from Rahab’s we are equally guilty. All of us have given in to the lusts of the flesh and eyes and the boastful pride of life. God loves us and redeems us in spite of all that. Righteous people don’t need saving.

B. God can save any of your relatives or friends no matter how bleak it looks. Maybe there is a friend or relative that you think is too hard hearted and will never change or believe. Don’t give up on them. God can save anyone no matter what they have done or how disinterested they seem to be.

C. No matter what bad habits you have now, there is always hope (1 Corinthians 10:13). If Rahab could change, you can change. It requires faith in a big God (Joshua 2:11). He is the God of heaven, meaning He has all power. And He is God on the earth, meaning He sees everything we do. He sees what we do and He cares about us as individuals and He wants to see our lives transformed.

Joshua Bible Study E-book: If this Joshua Bible study guide is helpful for you, get the whole updated Joshua study in one convenient e-book.

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