I think for the most part when we come to Joshua 2 we tend to skip over Rahab in the Bible profession or avoid the story of Rahab entirely. She’s an unlikely vessel, in the hands of God, sadly when we try to whitewash it a bit we lose so much encouragement and hope for our lives.
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Who Was Rahab In The Bible?
We have to wonder why God would choose to highlight the story of Rahab in this chapter of Joshua. Surely there was someone more qualified than this bad girl of centuries past, anyone, more qualified. Less messy. Someone, with a better reputation. Someone with their lives put together, that didn’t have baggage to carry. Someone who wasn’t a prostitute…
We look for a Snow White or Cinderella or maybe an Esther, perhaps a Deborah- but instead, we get Rahab which means insolence, contemptuous, ill-mannered, uncivil, disrespectful, and offensive. Rahab in the Bible name was drawn from the pagan god ra from Egypt, and yet God picked her out of the masses to step into her life and do something amazing. Can you find any more of a misfit to take the lead in this story? Anyone less equipped? But God places her in the lead, in all of her unlikely, messiness and sets her in just the right place to play a huge role in the battle of Jericho.
The Bible doesn’t go into Rahab’s story, or what brought her to this place, what events or choices brought her to this work. We don’t know the burdens she bore or the scars she wore. Joshua 2 opens and Rabab in the Bible is thrust on the scene with no backstory. We sadly don’t know what pivotal thing had changed in her life so that when we meet her she has hidden the spies on the roof of her house an act that was treasonous and would have cost her life.
How To Pronounce Rahab
Rahab in the Bible name is pronounced raa-haab. The first part “ra,” is the name of an Egyptian god. As an Amorite, Rahab was part of an idolatrous people that worship false gods. Her name means “insolence,” “fierceness,” or “broad,” “spaciousness.”
Rahab In The Bible Scriptures
Joshua chapter 2 drops us into the middle of a story as Joshua is preparing to move the people of Israel forward but before he does he sends out spies to go ahead and survey the land ahead:
Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. Joshua 2:1 NIV
It’s unclear why the spies sought out Rahab’s house or how word got back to the King of Jericho but it does tell us that the King was informed of their presence at Rahab in the Bible’s home.
The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” Joshua 2:2-3
Rahab in the Bible has two choices, be loyal to her King and turn these spies in and most likely save her own life. Or hide them and trust in the God of these men. We don’t know what stirred her to make the choice she did, but for whatever reason, whatever the stirring in her heart she chose to side with the Israelites.
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Joshua 2:4-7
Rahab in the Bible lied to the King telling him that the Israelite spies and already escaped knowing that if they didn’t believe her or searched her home she and likely her family could be put to death.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” Joshua 8-14
Can you even imagine what Rahab in the Bible must have been feeling as she climbed to the roof, the doubts that must have fought in her heart as she wondered if she had done the right thing. Rahab’s story might feel familiar to many of us, as she removes her faith from physical things like the walls in which she lived and placed it the God of Israel.
So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. Joshua 2:15-21
The Story Of Rahab In The Bible
When we reach Joshua 2 verse 9 it’s obvious that something has changed for Rahab in the Bible as she declares boldly that the Lord has given the Israelite’s this land, but she goes further than just that, her eyes could have told her that. The Israelites have been wandering the desert for 40 years, the stories of the Lord’s provision and protection have been spreading this whole time, so now that we reach this point everyone has retreated in fear to Jericho, Rahab’s town, and shut the gates behind them. This is the same Jericho that in just a few chapters its walls will fall. Rahab in the Bible goes on to say, “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” This is a heart change, not just what her eyes have seen.
Rahab knew what she was, she could have allowed her worth, her identity, her past -whatever had brought her to this place- to stay chained to that life. She could have continued living the same old way, kept staying in her comfort zone, remained in Jericho, trusting in the walls of her city, remained just one more woman forgotten in the annals of time. But something happened in that stronghold, in the walls of Jericho, in the weary hours of the night, so that the idolater could recognize the voice of the one true God. Something softened her heart, and opened her eyes allowing her to be grafted into the family of God.
What Did Rahab Do In The Bible?
Rahab in the Bible heard His call and stepped out of the status quo, the normal she had been living for so long and into His purpose for her life. Not after she’d gotten her life worked out or cleaned up, He called her out of the mess and used her for a purpose that would impact all of the generations to come to the end of time. Not by accident, not by chance, but by divine plan. Rahab risked her life to help Joshua’s spies by hiding them on her roof.
The Life Of Rahab In The Bible
This moment in Rahab in the Bible life is no surprise to God, He knew it was coming since before Rahab in the Bible was born, every day He looked at her living out of the same mistakes, the same broken choices and He knew that this day was coming. It had been set in stone at the begining of time. I wonder did God count each step that took her closer to this meeting, did He shush heaven and direct their attention to this moment, this encounter that would set her on a new path and bring her into the family of God.
We are so quick to declare our mistakes to large, our messy lives unusable. We look at the choices we regret, the places we’ve stumbled, the places we’ve fallen short of the mark, and label them too big, too bold, too messy for God. But God doesn’t see it as we do. No mistake, no past, no scar is to big for Him.
Perhaps like the woman in the New Testament with the issue of bleeding Rahab in the Bible was desperate, something had to change, she couldn’t live like this anymore. Rahab in the Bible had heard the reports of what the Lord had been doing, she had witnessed the terror that went before the Lord’s people- when the Lord is with you it doesn’t matter what is in front of you it will part-.
Characteristics Of Rahab In The Bible
Rahab in the Bible knows what’s coming, she’s frightened, she knows what this God of the Israelite’s can do, and she is daring to hope. She can’t see the whole picture, she doesn’t know that she ends up in Jesus’s family line. All she knows is that she is risking her life for people she has never met, she’s betraying everything she has ever know and placing her faith in the one true God. Rahab in the Bible has mercy on these men who have arrived at her home and need some place to hide, she provides for them and gives them hospitality in her home.
How Rahab From The Bible Can Impact Our Lives
Perhaps we aren’t told all of Rahab in the Bible story so that we all find a bit of ourselves here. A piece of that insecurity we’ve kept buried for so long whispering doubt to our heart- “He can’t use you,” “You’re too broken,” “You’re too messed up,” too “unforgivable” to have worth. Perhaps it’s a word that was planted in your heart as a child, declaring you worthless, purposeless, or unwanted.
We see our messiness and maybe we can identify with this woman. Maybe we aren’t in the same situation, our scars aren’t exactly the same, but we connect with this woman in the Bible who dared. Dared to challenge what everyone saw her as and instead of being only known as the harlot Rahab in the Bible steps up and becomes one of the few women known by name in scripture.
Why Rahab’s Story Is Important
God didn’t change Rahab in the Bible before He used her. He didn’t wait until she had cleaned up her act- instead, He meets Rahab in the Bible where she was, like the woman at the well in the New Testament, and draws her into the greatest story. God likes to use unlikely heroes, broken vessels, to proclaim His goodness. He puts us in places, we don’t belong, perhaps so it’s all the more obvious that it is His hand. He uses broken vessels, and unlikely, imperfect people so that when He pieces us back together there is no mistaking His fingerprints.
Sometimes the very thing we are trying to skip over is what God is trying to use to set the stage. No matter how bad you’ve messed up, how messy your life has gotten, what titles you’ve been carrying like Rahab in the Bible He can take them all and replace them with a new name, son and daughter, treasured, loved, called, equiped.
God Used Rahab In The Bible
The same God that hung the stars in the sky, set the boundaries of the ocean, and parted the Red Sea, and dried up the ground so His children could walk across on dried ground looked down at Rahab in the Bible and said you are perfect, you are going to take this one, I am going to use you in ways you never imagined and I have a destiny for you that will change the world. How incredible is that?
The creator of the heavens and earth looked down and pinpointed one insignificant, messy woman and placed her in a role that would change the world and He’s looking at you too.
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