As the people near the Jordan and prepare to enter the land, God’s chosen leader send’s spies to gather intelligence. Unlike forty years earlier, when Moses had sent out twelve spies publicly, this mission will be very different. This will not be the people’s spies, but the leader’s personal spies. Joshua was not about to relive that. He secretly chose and sent two men with instructions to concentrate on Jericho. In Joshua 2 we can follow this mission.
The differences are evident from the beginning. In the first mission twelve men were chosen, one from each tribe, to spy out the land and bring back information on the people, the land and the strength of the cities. The tribes knew spies had gone out and saw this group as being their eyes and ears on the ground. They believed their report was for the purpose of determining whether they should try to take the land. This time was different—the people had nothing to do with picking, or sending out the men. They were hand selected by the man who would lead them into the land—a man, who had been one of the twelve earlier spies, and had been one of two not cowed by what they found. The people were not to be allowed to interfere with plans and were to be given no excuse for disobedience.
This mission also differs because he only sent two men. The earlier group of twelve was unwieldy, but probably necessary because they were to spy out the whole land. This small band was to concentrate on the first target—Jericho. With two there is less chance of the herd mentality when it comes time to report. Joshua was not going to risk another forty years in the desert. Another benefit of sending two—the two were able to get into a city and speak to the people. Twelve strangers showing up are likely to set off alarms so the earlier party probably had to stay outside the cities, simply seeing their strength from without. They had no way to determine the morale of the enemy as this smaller detachment did.
The conclusion of the spy mission is the most telling. While the first mission concluded with fear that they would be unable to take the land. This smaller, more direct, secret mission reported to Joshua: “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting because of us.”