Saturday, October 3, 2015

Women in the Life of Jesus: Rahab

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.  Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.  Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.  Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, 
Matthew 1:1-5

Scriptures where she is mentioned: Joshua 2:1-21, Joshua 6:17-25, James 2:25, & Hebrews 11:31

Her story:

Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.  And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

 So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.”

 Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.  And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)  Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof,  and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.  For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.  And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for theLord 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, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you"  Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.  And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”

So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear,  unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.  So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will beguiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”

Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

The story continues in Joshua chapter 6 when the Israelites take the city of Jericho.  Rahab and her entire family are saved as the city is destroyed.

My thoughts:

Rahab was a harlot. The Hebrew and the Greek words seemed to indicate this as being accurate, which is good news. It means there is forgiveness and redemption for those who are caught in that life. Some sources have indicated that she was an innkeeper, but that is not what the original text says. The scriptures repeatedly refer to her that way.

Rahab was a very brave woman.  She welcomed spies into her home.  And when the King of Jericho (who knew who she was) sent men to bring them out, she lied to them. (Yes, I know lying is not good, and I don't condone it.)

She already knew who the Israelites were.  But most importantly she knew who God was.  She had heard heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea, and she says in verse 11:

...for the Lord your God, He is god in heaven above and on earth beneath.

She believed in God.  She knew who He was and she had faith in Him.

In Hebrews 11:31, she is listed in the "Hall of Faith" with many other men and women of God. It says of her,
By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

In the New Testament book of James, James is discussing faith and works and how they are connected.  In James 2:25, James commends Rahab, indicating that her actions demonstrated her faith, and she was justified.

I think her actions and the fact that she listed in both of those passages of scripture should cause us to pause and rethink what faith is.

As I was reading her story, it occurred to me that Rahab's story is another picture of Jesus.  She's symbolic of the Gentiles being engrafted into the Jewish nation through the scarlet cord. That scarlet cord she hangs in her window to signify to the spies that she wants to be saved, is symbolic of Jesus.  He is our salvation.

Her story also reminds me of the scripture in Acts 16:31,

So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Rahab is the second woman listed in the genealogy of Jesus.

To read more posts in this series, go here to Women in the Life of Jesus.

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