“But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.” (Joshua 6:22-23)
The only men who knew what Rahab looked like or where she lived were the two spies, so Joshua sent them to get her safely out of the city, as they had promised her. In our modern world, it would not be uncommon for leadership to decide the spies had no authority to make such a commitment and ignore it. It is one of the reasons there is such distrust of the government today. Her family and all her belongings were carefully taken to the edge of the Israelite camp.
“And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:24-25)
Following God’s command, they totally destroyed everything except the metals by burning it. Nothing was to be salvaged except the things that were dedicated to God and Rahab’s belongings.
All of Jericho believed God would give Israel the victory. Most of the people did their best to prevent it from happening, trying to kill the spies, and locking the gates to keep them out. Believing the same thing, Rahab took a different course of action, reaching out to the spies for help. As a result, she and her entire family were saved when the rest of the people in Jericho died. At any time during the week before the walls collapsed, the rest of the city could have made the same choice but they refused, and consequently died.
In the New Testament, we find the same concept that the individual has the opportunity to choose salvation by repenting of their sin and accepting Christ, or damnation by depending on their own efforts to save them. A few, like Rahab, choose to trust God. She is one of the two women listed in Matthew 1 as one of the ancestors of Christ.
“And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.” (Joshua 6:26)
Joshua pronounced a curse against the city, saying that rebuilding it would cost the life of eldest son of the man who tried, and building the gates would cost the life of his youngest. The city was rebuilt about seven hundred years later by a man called Hiel during the reign of Ahab in I Kings 16:34. As prophesied, construction cost him the lives of his eldest and youngest sons. Archaeologists found the remains of the youngest son in the foundation of the gates, and of the eldest buried in the foundation of the city. God fulfills his word.
“So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.” (Joshua 6:27)
Jericho had been considered virtually impregnable. The Jordan at flood stage was almost impossible to cross. Everyone had been waiting to see how Israel would deal with such callenges, especially after Moses’ death. After seeing how easily Israel overcame both, Joshua’s reputation as a leader spread like wildfire. Obviously Israel had not lost their power under new leadership. While it cemented Israel’s commitment to follow him, it further demoralized their opponents.