Women of the Word | Rahab

Most women in the Word are overlooked by readers. This is not surprising when we consider how few pages most of these women comprise. But this does not mean that they were overlooked or ignored by God…

In fact, when we explore these biblical women’s lives and Kingdom changing roles, we discover that while we may overlook them, God never did!

Join us as we discover the story of Rahab, a woman who went from a life of sin to being in the lineage of Jesus!

Women in the Word

Out of the thousands of biblical figures, only a small percentage are female. This is not a criticism by God toward women, nor is it any reason for us to suppose He does not use women. In fact, when we explore the stories of these women, we discover an entirely different view…

From Leah to Abigail… Ruth to Deborah to Esther. Every woman who chose to follow God was used mightily for His Kingdom purposes! They often faced difficult or dangerous times, and yet, they chose paths of Godly courage, obedience, and love. These women stood strong in their faith in God no matter if they were in seasons of plenty or lack. And as a result, God not only provided them as biblical examples of faith, but He blessed them and their descendants abundantly!

“…for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token,”

—Joshua 2:11-12

Rahab, an Unlikely Choice

We all know the story of Jericho’s walls falling down… of how Joshua and God’s children obeyed Him, quietly marching around the city once a day for six days except for the sound of trumpets, and then marching seven times on the seventh day, ending with a shout and the walls falling down!

Yet, what of one woman who lived near an upper wall of the city? Do we remember the story of Rahab?

Rahab was a woman few people today would believe to be destined for change or honor. She was essentially a harlot or prostitute. But God went on to use her in ways only a few people ever were!

Silhouette of a woman sitting by a window against a desert sky background, representing the story of  Rahab.

The Story of Rahab

Rahab did not begin her biblical journey in a profession we would consider Godly or even wholly respectable. She was known as a harlot, and while some would prefer to hide this fact, it is actually an important part of her journey.

But there was more to Rahab than this. She also worked to make linen. She was a daughter, a sister, and she never stopped caring about her family. She was a woman who, while following a path different from the one she would end up on, was an open vessel… willing to change. She was a woman God saw as she would become… righteous!

So what took Rahab from a life of harlotry to being known by many in the Scriptures as a woman who was found righteous in the eyes of God?!

Well, while there was obviously something in Rahab ready to shift before this moment, the physical manifestation of it is largely in her reaction to the Israelite spies in Jericho…

At that time Rahab was living in a home along the walls of Jericho—an upper residence with roof access but likely no street-level access. Her family, parents and siblings primarily, lived also within the city but, perhaps due to her profession, did not live with her.

Now those associated with harlotry at this time, at least in places like Jericho, were not usually viewed as harshly as they usually are today, but even so, it was not a path that led to great belonging. There would always be those who shunned her. She would not possess as many opportunities to marry as women who supported themselves in other ways. Her family and friends would likely not have been too eager to enter her home for fear of what others might think or say. 

Yes, the men who visited her would likely have been known to all due to her high up entrance, but even if they were shunned for their actions this would bring her no help. 

Was it, perhaps, these things that made her so eager to help the spies in Jericho? Was it her readiness to cease being who she was and instead become who God created her to be? No matter the reason, she had heard about the great God of the Israelites, of how He had taken them out of Egypt, and she was ready to follow!

When the two spies entered her home she was taking a risk to house them. After all, people could see the men who entered her house, and while perhaps disguised in some way, Rahab would have known how likely it was that their true identities and purpose would be told. That her plan to save them, herself, and her family might fail… ending in the deaths of not only the spies, but herself as well. Yet she chose to help them. She understood who their God was and the importance of being on His side!

So when these spies came into her home, she housed them. What is more, when the king sent word to tell her that he knew these men had entered her house, and that he wanted her to hand them over… she did not. Instead she told the king’s men that the spies had escaped before the gates had shut, when in reality they were on her roof, hidden in the flax she used to make linen. What is more, she prompted those who were seeking the spies to go search for them outside the city.

Rahab’s bravery and pure faith in God were keys to saving her and her family. For when Rahab went to the spies, she confessed that their God was Lord in Heaven and on earth, and she sought their kindness for saving their lives… that when the city was destroyed by God, she and her family might be spared just as they had been.

The spies agreed on three conditions: one, that no one would tell of their plans; two, that she would bind a scarlet cord to her window; three, that all of her family would be inside of her house during the attack, for they could not guarantee the lives of any who left her home.

Rahab agreed to these terms and let the spies down with a rope from her window, telling them where they should hide for three days to remain safe… allowing them to return to Joshua and later destroy Jericho. Meanwhile she set out the scarlet cord from her window, echoing the saving blood of the Passover lamb that had been and would come.

Due to her obedience, Rahab and her family were spared when Jericho was destroyed and even allowed to live with the Israelites; accepting their God. But this is hardly the end of Rahab’s story. Because God had more in store for her!

Rahab went on to marry an Israelite. Tradition holds from many rabbis that she married Joshua himself, but the New Testament gives her a different husband. Salmon, who was one of the spies Rahab saved…

But that is not all. Salmon and Rahab went on to have a son, Boaz, who, with Ruth, went on to have a son, Jesse, who had a son named, David, who went on to become king… this lineage going all the way until we reach the King of kings, Jesus our Messiah!

This means that Rahab is one of the few women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus, and shows how God can redeem and use anyone! Jew, Gentile, man, woman, the Lord is the One who redeems them all!

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“Faith provided a way of escape for Rahab the prostitute, avoiding the destruction of the unbelievers, because she received the Hebrew spies in peace.”

—Hebrews 11:31 (TPT)

“And the same is true of the prostitute named Rahab who was found righteous in God’s eyes by her works, for she received the spies into her home and helped them escape from the city by another route.”

—James 2:25 (TPT)

The story of Rahab began with her living one life, a life of sin away from God, but it ended with her choosing to follow God! It ended with blessings, and honor, and righteousness for Rahab, for she chose the better path! We all can make that same choice. No matter where our story begins we can choose God, even when the path is difficult or we feel unqualified. We can be redeemed, restored, made righteous, and experience all the blessings God has readied for us! Our Redeemer is waiting…