A Canaanite Among the Covenant People: The Story of Rahab

by Emmalie Ellis, DBU Student

Day 2 of Advent

Today's Reading

Joshua 2

As the walls came tumbling down, it was Rahab - a Canaanite prostitute - who stood, unharmed, amidst the wreckage of Jericho.

This story is one that many of us know well. How many times have we read the story of the prostitute in Jericho who hid the two spies? How many times have we visualized the scarlet rope cascading out of Rahab’s window? How many times have we simply glazed over the true redemptive power of the Lord showcased in Joshua 2?

The Word of the Lord says that “Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying, ‘Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.’ So they left, and they came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and stayed there” (Jsh. 2:1). Of all the houses in all of Jericho, it was at Rahab the harlot’s home that the pair of spies came to a halt. Then and there, Rahab was faced with the most impactful decision of her life: to save these men or to hand them over to the king of Jericho.

This wasn’t the first time that Rahab had heard of these Israelites. Word spread like wildfire, and it was well known that the God of Israel did not allow for unrighteousness to go unpunished. Imagine Rahab’s fear when she- unclean and unholy- was in the presence of the men whose God had very recently dried up the Red Sea and struck down two Amorite kings (Jsh. 2:10).

Within our own lives, it is easy to mistake our filth as a barrier between us and God’s ability to make an impact through us. This, though, was far from the truth in Rahab’s story. God took Rahab just as she was and transformed her life to honor and glorify Him. Rahab hid the spies in her own home and counseled them on where to go from there. On that day, Rahab showed kindness to the very men she knew could destroy her. Knowing that only the God of Israel could save her and her family, Rahab asked the two spies to spare them upon their return. Per the orders of the spies, when the time came for Jericho’s destruction, she cast out a scarlet cord from her window, and “the young men who had scouted went in and brought out Rahab and her father, mother, brothers, and all who belonged to her” (Jsh. 6:23). Rahab went on to marry Salmon of the tribe of Judah with whom she had a son: Boaz, who we more commonly know as “the kinsman redeemer” (Ruth 4).

In Proverbs 9, we are taught that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Rahab’s fear and reverence of the Lord sparked within her a faith that would one day secure her place in the genealogy of the coming Messiah. Placed not only in the very lineage of Jesus Christ, Rahab’s name is also listed within the “Great Hall of Faith” in Hebrews: “By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed” (Hebrews 11:31).

God, whose cup of mercy and grace overflows upon us, took a dirty sinner, a woman outside of God’s chosen people the Israelites, and molded her life into a testimony of deliverance and redemption.

During this Christmas season, rest in knowing that the Lord is capable of using you for His Kingdom just as you are. Just as Rahab was spared, it is by the grace of God that each of us are made new in Christ. Hallelujah to the baby who came on that starry night, for He and He alone is capable of righting the deepest wrongs, cleansing the filthiest of rags, and redeeming each and every one of us. Praise be to God!