Bible Women: Rahab (the harlot)

This study is taken from the book of Joshua, Chapters 2 and 6. Rahab was a woman who demonstrated great faith, to the salvation of herself and her family. In Joshua 2:1-2, we have Joshua sending two spies into the walled city of Jericho, “to spy secretly..to view the land, even Jericho” and they “came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there”.

Someone must have seen the men come into the city and enter Rahab’s house, and they knew they were of the “children of Israel” and that they had come to search out all the country. V2 “and it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold there came men in hither tonight out of the children of Israel to search out the country.” We are not told whether or not the spies knew Rahab was a harlot, but it was surely the divine intervention of God that they came upon the house of a harlot, where it would not be unusual for men to go. Nevertheless, the king of Jericho sends word to Rahab V3 “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” (Joshua 2:3). But V4 “Rahab took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were” and she further told them “when it was dark the men went out: wither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.” But V6 Rahab “had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.” And the king’s men V7 “pursued after them the way to Jordan.…”

Before the spies had laid down V8 “she came up unto them upon the roof” and in Vs 9-11 Rahab gives the reasons for her actions. “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 Jordan, Sihon an 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“. Rahab knew and believed that the LORD had given them the land, that the inhabitants were terribly afraid, and that they had heard about the parting of the Red Sea, and what had befallen the Amorites. Then she makes the great confession of faith; “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath”. Rahab, who is a Gentile, believes in God and exhibits saving faith. As Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”.

In return for hiding the spies Rahab asks V12-13 “therefore I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD since I have shown you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”. This they promise, V14 “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.” and then a most marvelous thing: Joshua 2:15-19 She lets them down by a cord and tells them to hide for three days. And this is a scarlet cord. V18 “Behold when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee”. V19 “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.” Is this not a type of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? The spies tell Rahab to bind that same scarlet cord in the window so that when Jericho falls, Rahab and her house will be saved, but only those who remained in the house. In the same way, it is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that redeems us from our sins. 1 Peter 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

And so Rahab agrees V21 “according unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.” I wonder what the people of the city thought when they saw the scarlet cord in Rahab’s window? For now Rahab and her family are separated from the city, as we, who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, are separated from the world. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”.

We next hear of Rahab in Joshua 6 – after the miraculous fall of the walls of Jericho. What terror that must have struck in the hearts of the people of that city. (Joshua 6:1-20). Before the city is utterly destroyed, Joshua sends the two spies, whom Rahab had protected, to go to her house and bring out Rahab, her father, mother, brethren, and all that she had, and they brought them out. Joshua 6:22-23 “..Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. 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 the last we read of Rahab in the book of Joshua is V25 “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.”.

But the greater truth is that God saved Rahab because she believed in the God of heaven and earth. Is this not a lesson? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…”.Acts 16:31.

In the story of Rahab, she is referred to as a harlot a number of times. Now why does the Lord bring out that fact? Numbers 32:23 says “…...be sure your sin will find you out“. In God’s eyes, being a harlot is a sin, and even though Rahab was greatly blessed by God, she is first known as Rahab the harlot. How will we be remembered?. What name will we be known as? The mercy of God is shown in the fact that any sinner, no matter their sin, who only believes the gospel, and receives the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, will be saved. 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Rahab was greatly blessed in that she is named in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ, (Matthew 1:5) and there she is known simply as Rachab, the mother of Boaz who married Ruth. And a lesson for us. What blessings will the Lord bestow upon us when we will only believe and obey?

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