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Who Was Rahab, Why Her Courage Is Important Today

Updated on April 4, 2011

Not Among The Greats

She is not thought of in the same circles as Mary, Elizabeth, The Woman at the Well, Naomi or Ruth. Her story is not like that of Delilah, nor is she akin to the unfaithful wife of Hagar. She is not the vision outlined in Proverbs 31.

Rahab is a prostitute and a known liar!

What can a prostitute and a liar teach us?

Her story can be read in Joshua, she is referenced in Matthew, Hebrews and James.

She may have looked similar to this...
She may have looked similar to this...

Supporting Scriptures

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Joshua 2:2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.

Joshua 2:3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, 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 2:4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they [were]:

Joshua 2:5 And it came to pass [about the time] of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

Joshua 2:6 But she 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.

Joshua 2:7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.

Joshua 2:8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;

Joshua 2:9 And she said unto the men, 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.

Joshua 2:10 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 and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

Joshua 2:11 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.

Joshua 2:12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:

Joshua 2:13 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.

Joshua 2:14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, 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.

Joshua 2:15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house [was] upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

Joshua 2:16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.

Joshua 2:17 And the men said unto her, We [will be] blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.

Joshua 2:18 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.

Joshua 2:19 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.

Joshua 2:20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.

Joshua 2:21 And she said, According unto your words, so [be] it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

Hebrews 11:31   By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

James 2:25   Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent [them] out another way?

An Act of Betrayal

Rahab betrayed her own people. The Israelites were seeking to take Jericho, and Rahab had the opportunity to stop them, but she didn't. Rahab found herself in a position many teachers claim never happens--she had to decide between God's plan and the plans of earthly authority. Yet, this section reminds us of something else, as well. We tend to expect women to be either entirely good, or entirely bad. The church accepts the foibles of man, while either denying women have foibles or seeing the foibles of women as a sign of ungodliness. Much like Jacob and his divining rod, Rahab proves she is a cracked vessel even as she operates in great faith. She steps out in faith--and lies to do it. Certainly, the Lord isn't instructing us in situational ethics, rather, the Word demonstrates that women are human too. We are capable of great acts of faith, just like men. Equally, we are capable of great acts of error, just like men.

How we might think of her today...
How we might think of her today...

Not Our Daughter

Rahab knew, better than anyone else, that she lived on the outside of society. Everyday she, and women like her today are frowned upon, sneered at, dismissed, on the receiving end of jokes, and even despised. Likely, their only friend is another prostitute.

Rahab and her counterparts, have something that some of us never find, or dare I say, cast aside?........Yes, we do, maybe not YOU, but some of us....take God's Grace for granted.

We do not want our daughters in the streets, used and abused.....of course we do not! We protect them from such things.

Who among us, has ever said, " if only my daughter had the faith of Rahab" ? I confess, not me.

This has not changed through time.........
This has not changed through time.........

What Was Right About Rahab?

We know the story of faith Lot was spared.

It is the same story retold with Rahab.

A paid lover, a liar, a traitor.

WHO among us would want to be Rahab?

When the chips were down, and her back was against the wall, Rahab never floundered.

She knew the truth of herself.

She acted with courage, bargaining only for the safety of her immediate family. She had the capacity of loving others and holding them more dear than herself.

She illustrates for us, the dramatic lesson......God's Grace is unlimited. It is extended to all.

Faith first, then reward.

This is the moral of Rahab's story.

How many times must be be told? How many times will we discard those who can show us greatness?

Rahab is important to us today, as a testimony, to how faith in God, can change our lives. We can go from broken to healed. We can go from outcast to inheritor. Her story is, timeless.

Confess to ourselves and to God and allow Him to take over!

Rahab, should be considered among the great teachers of humanity.

She may have been cold, brutal, calculating.........she may be guility of much, still, she felt, she loved, she trusted despite the odds against her.

Trust,  and love..........despite the odds.  Perhaps her gift really is this simple.


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    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town


      Thanks for your graciouss comment.

      Not only have I been loved, but I also

      have been corrected~~

      Be well, hope to see you again.

    • Psalmist4M profile image

      Psalmist4M 6 years ago from the Shelter of His Wings

      Wonderful writing! I know His grace and am also a personal testimony to His boundless love. I appreciate your insightful expository.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town


      It is by " His Grace", that any of us do.......anything.

      To acknowledge that fact, alone, requires a testimony of faith.

      God Bless You and Yours..............

    • annaw profile image

      annaw 6 years ago from North Texas

      Wonderful Hub my dear. It is by hIS Grace that I have been able to go on in the face of adversity and the unforviness of the world. It is by HIS Grace that I can rise everyday with hope of a better tomorrow. I have done some things that I regret more than I can tell you, the one saving Grace is that I have been forgiven by the one who gives life. Scripture tells us judge not lest we be judged.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town


      Thanks for your kind words....

      Glad you found your way to my hub!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 6 years ago from UK

      Beautifully written and thanks for bringing to light this little known chapter. A nice discourse on faith and redemption.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town



      Yes, He does often start with the

      underdog......Moses, a murderer,

      David, a warrior, Stephen, a youth,

      He has certainly done wonders with me!

      Thanks for dropping in. Hope to see you again.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      beautiful hub!! Rahab has always interested me because of the line leading to me it proves God sent his son directly through extremely HUMAN humans :) too cool!!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town


      Good to see you again.

      Thanks for clearing up that lineage.

      I was aware, but was not clear on the family I did not want to mislead the story.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Thank you Fiddleman!

    • panguerita profile image

      Rita Hanks 7 years ago from Little Elm, Texas

      Hi, onegoodwoman,

      What a blessing to find this truth you are bringing to light for many! I see things I personally have not seen in her story before, really a good story as you say to teach humanity. I would add only one thing and that is not to try to compete with your account, but to add one great thing I also have learned from her story. She was King David's grandmother! A harlot produced one of the mightiest kings Israel had ever known. She is the Rachab in the Matthew 1 genealogy listing the descendents of Jesus. (Matthew 1:5 and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse) Boaz's (book of Ruth)name was also spelled differently. She was also living proof that when we believe God's prophets, we prosper, just as he promises us we will! Thank you for this very enlightening hub!

    • profile image

      Fiddleman 7 years ago

      Excellent hub