The first time her name was mentioned in the Bible was in Joshua 2:1 when Joshua, Israel’s leader at that time sent two of his men as spies to the city Jericho. They lodged in the house of a harlot / prostitute, named Rahab.
Why did men of Israel lodge in the house of an harlot? I would assume that these spies thought that lodging in the house of a prostitute was an ideal disguise – since her illicit reputation would serve as cover for their(spies) real mission in Jericho. How these spies located Rahab house is not known, but I can only assume she was a popular harlot in Jericho / perhaps these men were just directed to her residence randomly, after making enquiries for any harlot’s lodge. Their cover was however blown as even the King of Jericho had to lend his weight behind the issue and send official word to Rahab, instructing her to deliver the spies into the hands of his(Kings) men.
In summary, Rahab, a prostitute provided accommodation for the spies, and hid them from the King and his men who must have come searching for the men afterwards. She gave false information to the Kings men, who immediately launched a pursuit towards Jordan, after the men she hid on the roof of her house. She must have given them(2-spies) food and water, and provided them concrete information on how best to make their escape in the morning. As a result of her action, she and her family members were saved/spared by Joshua and his men when Israel warred against Jericho, defeated it and broke down its walls.
To be specific, her name was mentioned just a couple of times with reference to her action in the book of Joshua.
(Jos 2:1) And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
(Jos 2:3) And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
(Jos 6:17) And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
(Jos 6:23) 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.
(Jos 6:25) 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.
(Heb 11:31) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
(Jas 2:25) Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
What is interesting about Rahab?
ONE: Hebrews 11:31, one single positive action in her entire life earned her a good mention among the great men of Faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses etc. It is also worthy of note that Rahab is the only female/woman Faith hero whose name was mentioned(listed) in the list of all male names, – at least before Hebrews 11: 33-40 (a summary of great acts of Faith of every other person). One single action in her life resulted in the sparing of her own life and that of her entire family.
TWO: I do not mean to be a kill joy, but
- it is not stated if Rahab showed kindness to anybody before / after the event with the spies. It can however be assumed she was a naturally kind person, especially when strangers came calling. Perhaps that’s why she stood her ground and even told a lie just to offer protection for the spies.
- It is not also stated if Rahab continued her harlotry business even after the event with the spies. If she did, I would have wondered why she is still included in the list of those that had Faith, considering God forbid his own people Israel to engage in such an abomination(harlotry). Or perhaps, she was a harlot in her past and the reputation just stuck – just an assumption, but the Bible says she was an harlot(present tense).
She later informed the spies that they(people of Jericho) were indeed afraid of the Israelites, having heard of the mighty works of God on their way coming. She even enumerated some, such as: how Israel came out of Egypt, the parting of the Red sea, the defeat of the Amorite Kings, etc.
In Verse Joshua 2:11, Rahab confessed that the God of Israel was God of Heaven and Earth:
Jos 2:11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
It is assumed that based on the stories of conquer she heard about Israel, she began fearing God, little by little, no wonder she took the opportunity to help the Israel of God, risked her own life and that of her own family in her own country, just to protect the spies.
This is why she wasted no time in requesting that the spies return the favor, that she and her family members be spared whenever Israel commenced war against Jericho. It is very interesting also that she confessed the victory of Israel over Jericho even before the war began.
Jos 2:12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token.
Unfortunately, whenever I hear exhortations on Faith in Church or over the radio, Rahab is mentioned in just a passing (perhaps just because her name is included in the Faith related verses), while the main Faith examples are Abraham, Moses, Jacob, etc. It makes me wonder if her action is considered “not so great or not so important” in Christendom; or perhaps because she is female; or perhaps because she doesn’t have a covenant-with-God history like: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I do not think such reasons are justified for why Rahab is usually mentioned in a passing. The point is that one single action of her entire life was counted as her righteousness.
And whenever I think about Rahab, I sort of compare it to the story of the widow who gave a very little offering, just two mites, but which was considered great in Heaven, coz it was all she had.
Luk 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
Luk 21:2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two
br>Luk 21:3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
Luk 21:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had
Can we immediately conclude that if this widow had more finances, she could have increased her offering? Applying the same principle to Rahab, perhaps if she was more God-of-Israel enlightened, she could have manifested a greater kind of Faith to really rival the Faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Rahab and her family members were the only survivors of Jericho. It is interesting to note that Rahab pleaded specifically for the life of her father, mother, brethren, brothers and sisters, and all they have in possession. Perhaps she had shared her new found fear of God with the above members of her family? Perhaps they also feared God too or perhaps not – its not stated.
But it would be more interesting, don’t you think if she was the only one that had the fear of God – and if all other members of her family got saved because they were her immediate family. I would compare this to the story of Achan in Joshua 7, who brought death of his own family members(who might have not been privy to his evil plan). because of his deceit:
Jos 7:24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
Jos 7:25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.
Jos 7:26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.
A similar case is that of Ananais and Sapphira in Acts 5. With these in view, I would rephrase the quote: “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, to state “one man’s meat is his family’s meat”, and vice versa.
pic culled from dwellingtheword
The two spies made her a promise to spare her life and that of her family members if she guaranteed that she would not disclose what they had come to do in Jericho to anyone, after they were gone.
Jos 2:14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
They told her to make sure she binds a scarlet thread on her window and gather her family members inside her house when they(Israel) arrive to battle with Jericho. In fact, they concluded that anyone found inside her house would be saved – just to make sure there were no last minute running around of her family members when the war started. They again repeated the agreement that if she told anyone of their business after they were gone, their promise to protect her and her family would cease to exist.
It is also noteworthy that Joshua made sure the spies kept their promise with Rahab and her family. The army was commanded to spare only Rahab, and “all that are with her”. Joshua 6: 17, 25.
James 2:25 says Rahab was justified by works when she received the spies and helped them to escape. We can assume that if Rahab had not played her part so well, the spies might have been caught and killed.
Now the floor is open for your comments:
- To whom less is given, less is expected: Rahab, a harlot, had Faith. It looks as if she put her Faith in the God of Israel even in her abominable occupation, and thereby became a woman of Faith.