Rahab’s name we know, but not the two spies

Joshua Bible Background

03.20.2017 – Old Testament: Jos 2.4–7

To read the Bible in a year, read Joshua 1–3 on March 20, In the year of our Lord 2017

By Don Ruhl

Many stories of the Bible provide one character’s name, but not another. For example, in the Book of Joshua, we watch Rahab receive the two Israelite male spies and hide them. Then the king of Jericho sent men to her to get the two spies, but the Bible says,

Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate (Joshua 2.4–7). 

The Bible hails her as a hero for her brave actions, risking her life to protect the lives of two unnamed Israelite men, because she had come to believe in their God, Yahweh.

What were the names of those men? The Bible does not say. However, the Bible does say the name of the woman who saved them; we know her as Rahab, and she plays a part in bringing the Christ into the world.

Knowing the names of the men does not move the story along, but knowing the name of Rahab shows her importance in Israel’s story and ultimately that she showed up in the genealogy of the Christ.


  • Can you think of other reasons why the Bible does not name these men?
  • Can you think of other reasons why the Bible does name Rahab?

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