APOLOGY: I just realized that though I wrote this over a week ago, I never clicked on the ‘PUBLISH’ button. I am so sorry! Here is last week’s lesson to be followed tomorrow by lesson #3. Please forgive my ‘premature senior moment’!!
The second chapter of Joshua opens with an interesting statement that captures the attention of the Bible student.
The Joshua, the son of Nun, sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, ‘Go view the land, especially Jericho.’ Joshua 2:1
The children of Israel were then positioned on the eastern bank of the Jordan River opposite the city of Jericho. Joshua has already been told – as we saw last week – to take the people into the Promised Land. He had already instructed the people to prepare themselves for in three days they were to begin the crossing. His next move is to dispatch two men as spies to check out Jericho and bring back a report. Joshua is acting in his capacity of military strategist and commander.
However, Joshua is wise and shrewd. He remembers well what Moses went through years earlier for he himself was one of the twelve spies spent by Moses. The last thing Joshua wants is to go through the turmoil Moses dealt with when those twelve spies returned. So let’s look at the difference between these two events.
First, Joshua sent two men, not twelve and he did so ‘secretly’, which means quietly and without attracting attention. In fact, in Hebrew the word translated ‘secretly’ literally means ‘act like you’re invisible’. This is in stark contrast to Moses having sent twelve spies openly and publicly which produced no end of difficulties on their return.
From historical sources we are told that the two men sent were Caleb and Pinchas. You will remember that Caleb was the only spy, along with Joshua, who returned to Moses some 39 years earlier with a good report about the Land. This is the same Caleb, a man Joshua knows he can trust.
Who was Pinchas? Phinehas or Phineas – Pinchas in English translations – was a priest during the years of the Exodus and was a grandson of Aaron and son of Eleazar. He distinguished himself as a youth at Shittim with his zeal against heresy. He was displeased with the immorality with which the Moabites and Midianites successfully tempted the men of Israel to inter-marry with foreign women and to worship Baal. He personally executed an Israelite man and Midianite woman while they were together in their tent, bringing an end to the plague sent by God to punish the Israelites for sexually intermingling with the foreigners. At the time of Israel’s entry into the Promised Land, Pinchas was appointed the third High Priest and therefore he was an ideal person for Joshua to choose to send into Jericho with Caleb.
Secondly, Joshua sent them from ‘Shittim’, which was close to the bank of the river and therefore they could reach the city the same day. Moses, by contrast, sent the twelve on a long journey and you can just imagine the kind of conversations among the twelve along the way before they even got to their destination. Did Joshua and Caleb back then begin to stand against negativity and fear even before the twelve entered the Promised Land on their arrival? Very possibly. You know how people generally are – when facing an unknown we tend to imagine all the things that could go wrong, don’t we? It’s highly possible that ten of the spies went in with a preconditioned negative mindset. When you and I face a situation about which we have negative or apprehensive feelings, do those feelings not color how we see the situation? Of course they do.
Thirdly, Joshua gave the two men very specific instructions: “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” By contrast Moses gave the twelve a more generalized set of instructions.
So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab and lodged there. Joshua 2:2
What???? Is that not rather odd? Two godly men go into the house of a prostitute? What is going on here?
I’ll let you think about that til next week. I promise you – the answer to those questions will be very interesting!
Am I generally more like Joshua and Caleb who saw the good in the Land despite the challenges?
Or am I more like the those who expected the worst and therefore that’s exactly what they saw?
Shalom and blessings to you til next week!