Rahab’s story and the story of Israel’s defeat of Jericho are some of the most compelling in the Bible. Rahab was a prostitute living in an evil pagan city, yet she is listed in the lineage of Christ! Through her we are shown that God will use any means to fulfill His plan and redeem one who was lost.
Rahab’s story begins at the end of Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert. All the nation of Israel was camped on the opposite side of the Jordan River from Jericho. They knew they would have to defeat Jericho in order to make their way into the Promised Land. Jericho was a great yet evil city. It was very well defended with thick, high walls. It was also very pagan; they did not worship the Lord in Jericho.
So, Joshua, the leader of the Israelites assigns two men to cross the Jordan and scout out Jericho. These two men are in great danger going into Jericho. The people of Jericho knew by then what the Israelites were about, they knew what happened in Egypt before they left. They knew about the parting of the Red Sea and these things struck fear into their hearts, though most of them probably wouldn’t have admitted it. So the city was ready to defend itself from these seemingly aimless wandering invaders.
The two scouts somehow end up in an interesting place, hiding in the home of a harlot, a prostitute, our girl Rahab. It makes me wonder, how did they end up there? What process of events led them to the home of a prostitute? It’s obvious the Lord had His hand in everything. While the spies are in her house somehow the king found out they were there so he sent some soldiers down to investigate. Rahab told the men that the Israelite men were there but had gone; meanwhile they are hiding in the thatch of the roof.
The bravery it must have taken for Rahab to stand up to the soldiers and hide the spies is amazing. She probably would have been put to death if the king found out she was harboring enemy spies. In Joshua chapter two it tells us that Rahab believed in the power of the Lord, that He was behind all the miracles surrounding the Israelites.
“…and she said to the men, ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11
She then makes a request which shows either how much faith she had in the Lord or how much she wanted out of her terrible existence, or both. She asked the men to spare her and her family when they defeat the city. They agree and tell her to gather her whole family into her house, and then hang a scarlet thread from her window so it can be differentiated from other windows. After this Rahab lets them down from her window (her house was in the outer wall of the city) and tells them to run into the hills and hide for a few days so they won’t be pursued.
Rahab brought her family into her house and they wait and watch while the Israelite army marches around Jericho once a day for six days. Can you imagine watching that? How crazy it must have seemed by the sixth day! But on the seventh day they march around seven times, then shout and blow horns. At this, the walls come tumbling down, totally destroyed except one house. The Israelites take the city, burn it and kill everyone and everything living in it, except Rahab and her family.
“However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” Joshua 6:25
After this conquest Rahab marries an Israelite man, Salmon. They have children one of which happens to be none other than Boaz, whom we have seen before in the story of Ruth.
“Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, Jesse was the father of David the king.” Matthew 1:5-6
The lineage of Christ never ceases to amaze me! He could have had the greatest kings and warriors fill his ancestry, but instead it is full, for the most part, of common people, and many times people of bad reputations according to the world’s standards. This shows us that anyone can be saved, as long as they have faith. Christ accepts everyone, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or not done, who your parents are, or what circumstances you were born into. All you need is faith alone in Christ alone.
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” Hebrews 11:31