Rachav's home was built into the wall of Y'richo, with an outward-facing window (Y'hoshua 2:15, M'tzudas David). This window had to be recognizable when the Jews destroyed the city, so they'd know to spare the people in her home (2:18). But the walls of the city came down before the Jews destroyed the city and spared whoever was in Rachav's home (6:20–23). What's going on?

(One can perhaps answer that, as the wall sank into the earth rather than "tumbling down" (as the song says) (Radak 6:26), perhaps Rachav's home sank as part of it, the rope that distinguished her home was visible above the earth (as its bottom end didn't sink into the earth), and they got her out through her ceiling (which she had access through, per 2:6). But that seems a slight stretch, and I'd love a source for it — or for another solution to this seeming contradiction.)


Biur haGra- she had 2 "houses", 1 inside the wall (bachoma) and another within the city against the wall (B'kir hachoma). It was in the latter that she stayed when the wall was razed as that was her main house (Beisa bkir hachoma). The one inside the wall was a place to hang out (yosheves- at times)

The Radak makes the same point without the 2nd house necessarily being attached to the wall, just in the city.

The Malbim takes a similar approach (without any of the above inferences), but says it was one house that protruded out of the wall and into the city.

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  • I don't have a copy of the Gra or Malbim here, but the Radak (2:15) seems to be saying the opposite of what this answer attributes to him: he says that one might have thought that she had two houses, so the pasuk tells us clearly that she not only had a house in the wall (possibly living mostly elsewhere) but lived in the wall. – msh210 Jan 24 '11 at 6:21
  • According to this answer, the Gra says that when the city was captured she was not in her home in the wall. How does that comport with 2:18, where the rope had to be tied to the very window she let the spies out of, which was on the outside surface of the wall (2:15, M'tzudas David)? That seems to imply clearly that her house in the wall — or, at least, one of whose walls is the city wall, which would present a problem when the latter sank — is the one that was spared. – msh210 Jan 24 '11 at 6:46
  • The gra dosent have to agree with the other Meforshim also it seems that the Radak and the Metzudas Dovid both say it was tied after the Jews came into Eretz Yisroel and captured the city, the Malbim disagrees and says it would have caused people to notice this strange symbol – SimchasTorah Jan 24 '11 at 7:08
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    In 6:5 Radak explains that not the entire wall fell, just the part that was facing the Jewish army - while Rachav's house was on a different side of the city. As for Malbim, he seems to be saying that only part of the house was built into the wall; when it fell, she was in a different part of the house. – Alex Jan 24 '11 at 15:09
  • @msh re Radak: You're right. I was reading it as haya efshar to answer your question and agreeing to to the Gra's diyuk. But since Alex brought in the Radak's actual answer to your question, my reading is obviously wrong. – YDK Jan 24 '11 at 16:02

I don't know if there's any source for the following, but perhaps it's just this:

The red string was tied in the window in order to mark the house. When the wall came down, of course the window - and the string with it - disappeared, but the Jews could still remember easily enough which house it was (especially if indeed it was the only one built into the wall). The wall coming down didn't necessarily destroy Rachav's house as a whole - it had three other sides, after all; it just would have been something like this (first example I could find). So Rachav and her family were still inside the house, and Pinchas and Kalev were able to go and bring them out from there.

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Alex notes in a comment:

In 6:5 Radak explains that not the entire wall fell, just the part that was facing the Jewish army - while Rachav's house was on a different side of the city.

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