Rahab was a prostitute living in Jericho at the time of the Israelite conquest. It is likely that her house was actually built into the very wall of the city. Her home would have provided lodging for men traveling to the city as well as other services she would offer them for a price. Given the number of men coming and going from her home, Rahab would have been in a position to overhear more news than the average woman in Jericho.

We are first introduced to Rahab in Joshua chapter 2. For those of you familiar with the story, Joshua has just sent 2 spies into the city of Jericho to get a view of the land. Upon entering the city, they go directly into Rahab’s home. Sooon after their arrival, the king of Jericho is alerted to the spies’ presence and demands that Rahab bring them out.  It is at this point, the story takes a surprising turn. Rahab, citizen of Jericho, lies to her own king. She tells him that yes, they had come, but they had already left just before the city gates closed at sundown. She urges him to pursue them and overtake them.

Content with her answer, the king leaves her alone and sends men to chase down the spies.

Meanwhile, on Rahab’s roof, the spies are hidden amongst stalks of flax that she has drying in the sun. Rahab has just saved their lives.

No doubt relieved and amazed at what she has just done, the spies listen as Rahab explains her actions. She tells them that the Canaanites have all heard how the Israelite God dried up the Red Sea for them to cross. They had heard how the Israelites had wiped out 2 powerful kings and armies who should have easily defeated them. She said that when they heard these things, their hearts melted. They were all living in deep fear and dread of what was going to happen. She told them that she knew that God was giving them this land. She declared to them that the Lord their God was God in the heavens above and on the earth below. She asked for mercy.

I can’t imagine how shocked the two men must have been to encounter such faith in their own God coming from a Canaanite woman, much less from a harlot. She was the least likely person on earth to profess belief in the Holy God of Israel, yet here she was, living in awe of their God and practicing a faith that could have endangered her own life.

The spies assured her that they would spare her and those of her family who would gather inside her home when the Israelites took Jericho if she did not give them up to the Canaanites. They asked her to leave a scarlet chord hanging out the window of her house. Those inside her home would be spared.

Rahab’s home would be marked with a red chord. Just a streak of red standing out against an earth colored wall. To an approaching multitude of Israelites, it might look very much like a home prepared for Passover. 

Rahab had faith. She would need it. Though her entire city had been devoted to destruction, her home had been marked, because of faith. And so she waited. She waited 3 days as the spies hid in the hills. She waited 3 more days as Israel once again consecrated itself to the Lord. She waited one more day as they miraculously crossed the Jordan. She waited up to 10 more days as they healed from a second wave of circumcision. She did not know when they were coming. She only knew that they would come. She believed that they would. And so she waited. And then they came, marching…marching…marching around the city. The steady marching of an army followed by priests with trumpets, followed by the Ark of the Covenant. What must the residents of Jericho have thought as they witnessed this scene? What did Rahab think?

Did they listen day after day to the footfalls of the army of Israel, surrounding their city?Did they wonder at the sound of horns playing as they marched. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for Rahab and her family, waiting in her home, knowing that at any moment, everything would change… knowing that Jericho’s destruction would be her rescue. The residents of Jericho would see this same scene play out for 6 days in a row. Men of war, silently marching around their city, priests of their God blowing horns, and that mysterious shining ark they carried on poles between them. What kind of a battle plan was that? Jericho’s wall was massive. They brought no battering rams, and build no siege ramps. How would they breach the wall? Their plan made no sense.

Then came the seventh day. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times. The priests blew their trumpets, and Joshua commanded, “Shout to the Lord for He has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab, the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live…”  Think about that for a moment. At one of the greatest moments in the history of God’s people, while the land promise was being fulfilled, Joshua, the next leader of Israel, whose life was so often a foreshadowing of Christ, cries out for his people to spare a Canaanite prostitute. He calls her by name to be spared. 

As the trumpet blasts sounded once again, and the people of God all began to shout, the battle plan was made clear. They would not breach the wall. Their God would shatter it. The Bible says that the wall fell down flat. The Israelites would walk right in and destroy the enemy. All but one household. Rahab. In the midst of the chaos and bloodshed, they came for her. The book of Joshua says, “So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and all who belonged to her.” They brought them to a safe place where they would watch the city of Jericho burn to the ground.

Rahab’s story is our story too. We were all devoted to destruction because of the sin that dwells in us. We did not deserve rescue. We were the enemies of a holy God. But God, in His Mercy, allowed us to hear of Him. And at some point, we believed. And we were saved- not by a scarlet chord in our window, but by the crimson blood that Jesus shed. We are marked as His. We are safe. Because of Jesus, through faith, we go from harlot to pure and spotless bride. We go from enemy to daughter. We go from death to life.

I love Rahab’s story. It is such a beautiful picture of what God can do with a life given to Him. He does not just save us to spare us judgment. He makes us family. He gives us a name, a purpose, and a place. Rahab’s story does not end with her outside the camp, watching her old life go up in flames. Rahab eventually marries an Israelite man named Salmon. If you look at the geneaology in Matthew chapter 1, you will see that Rahab bears a son named Boaz. Yes, that Boaz. Rahab’s son Boaz would grow up to have compassion on another desolate, foreign woman who would join the people of God. He would eventually marry that foreign girl. Her name would be Ruth.






*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:The Gospel

2 thoughts on “Rahab: A Harlot’s Faith

  1. I had the honor of playing Rahab in a play about 8 women in the linage of Christ. What a great study it was to learn of this women of faith who had every reason to reject the spies. Her faith came only by hear say, she had only heard about God and trusted. Love this post.


  2. The stories of Rahab and Ruth are fascinating in that both were outsiders to the Jewish race and both became ancestors to the Messiah. While I’m familiar with the story of Jericho’s capture, I was carried along nicely by your suspenseful treatment of the story. Thank you for this post!


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