Who was Rahab in the Bible?Many people are familiar with the story of the Israelites marching around the city of Jericho to bring down the walls. However, less well known is the account of Rahab recorded in Joshua 2:1–24, 6:2–5, and 6:20–25. Just as the Israelites' faith in God led to their victory, Rahab's faith saved her family and played a key role in the Israelites' success over Jericho.
Forty years after the Israelites had left Egypt, they were finally able to leave the desert and enter the Promised Land. However, the Promised Land was under the control of other nations. The Israelite leader, Joshua, sent two spies to survey the land, especially the city of Jericho, before they sought to overtake it. The spies lodged at the home of a prostitute named Rahab. However, the Israelites' reputation from defeating the Egyptians and the Amorites preceded them, so when the king of Jericho heard that spies had come into his city, he sent men after them.
Rahab,a prostitute with in a house on the outer wall of the city, was an unlikely protagonist in the Israelites' epic defeat of Jericho. A humble and intelligent woman, she believed in the power of the Israelites' God. She told the spies, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. … the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" (Joshua 2:9, 11). Therefore, she hid the spies on her rooftop and told the guards that they had already gone. Once it was safe, she arranged to help the spies escape if they promised to spare her family when they besieged the city. "'Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.' And the men said to her, 'Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you'" (Joshua 2:12–14). She lowered them by a rope out of her window and advised them to spend three days hiding in the hills until the guards returned to the city. They told her to put a scarlet cord in her window and keep all of her family inside of her house and that they would be spared. When the Israelites attacked Jericho, they killed everyone except Rahab's household and she and her family joined the Israelites.
In Hebrews 11, Paul lists Rahab as an example of faith (Hebrews 11:31). It was her belief in the sovereignty of the God of Israel that motivated her to help the spies and to leave behind the world she knew. James talks about Rahab's faith being proven by her actions (James 2:25). Rahab is the first Gentile recorded in the Bible as having converted to Judaism. In addition, she is a great example of the power of God to transform us from our sinful state into the person He wants us to be. She shows that with forgiveness there is no need to live in guilt and stay in our sinful ways. Once she joined the Israelites, Rahab married Salmon from the tribe of Judah, their son Boaz married Ruth, and their descendant was Jesus' earthly father Joseph (Matthew 1:5). It is very fitting that Rahab is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ whose sacrifice would reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God.
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