WOMEN CHARACTERS OF THE BIBLE (2) – RAHAB
Rahab was a woman of Jericho and she was a harlot. The story of how she got God’s favour through faith and, consequently; saved her father’s household from trouble is one of the great lessons.
After the death of Moses the prophet, God commanded Joshua to lead the children of Israel to the land of Canaan. Before they started to go to Jordan, Joshua sent two men to spy out the city of Jericho. The two men came to Jericho and lodged in the house of Rahab. (Joshua 2:1) The house where she lived was beside the wall of the city. – Joshua 2:15
When the king of Jericho heard that two men of Israel came to search the land, he sent to Rahab to bring them out. She hid the men in the roof of her house and said that two men truly came to her but she did not know from where they came. She said further that when the gate of the city was to be closed, at dusk; they went out but where they went she did not know. She urged the men of the city to pursue them quickly on the way to Jordan in that they would overtake them. (Joshua 2:3-5.) So the men pursued them, as she advised, and the gate was shut.
Rahab then came up to the spies of Israel on the roof of her house and said: “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of Jordan. Sihon and Og whom ye utterly destroyed. 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.” – Joshua 2:8-11
She begged the spies to swear by the LORD that as she had dealt kindly with them, they in turn would deal kindly with her father’s house, and save alive her father and mother, her brothers and sisters, and all who belonged to them. The men told her that if she did not reveal their mission then they would deal kindly and faithfully with her when God would give the land to Israel. – Joshua 2:12-14
Then Rahab let them down over the wall by a rope through the window and advised them to go unto the hills and hide there three days until the pursuers of Jericho had returned; then afterward they could go on their way.
The spies assured her that they would keep their oath. They said that when Israel would come into the land she should hang out the very rope in her window and gather into her house her father and mother and brother and all her father’s household. They said to Rahab: “And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.” Rahab answered: “According unto your words, so be it.” – Joshua 2:15-21
After the spies had gone away Rahab bound the scarlet rope in her window through which she let them down.
The time came that Joshua led the children of Israel to capture Jericho. The whole city was burnt down but Rahab and all in her father’s household were spared according to the oath of the spies because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. – Joshua 6:20-25
The most impressive thing about Rahab was her faith in the almightiness of Jehovah, the God of Israel and of all the world (Psalm 89:11), which made her take sides with the Israelites. It is not enough for anyone to claim to have faith in God; what is important is the work of righteousness by which the claim can be justified. Thus James the apostle wrote concerning Rahab, to wit: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:20, 24-26
It must be pointed out clearly that prostitution is a sin (Leviticus 19:29, Deuteronomy 23:17, 18, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) but women who indulge in that life of sin can repent and obtain the mercy of God as Rahab did. Prostitutes who repent of their sins and serve God are better than hypocrites. And Christ told the Pharisees: “…Verily I say unto you. That the publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you…” – Matthew 21:31
Though Rahab was originally a woman of a mean character, her faith in God brought her to fame for which she was greatly rewarded. She became one of the faithful women of old who will inherit God’s Kingdom. St. Paul said. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, After they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” – Hebrews 11:30, 31
And so the emphasis from the good example of Rahab is on faith and good works.