The Bold and the Brave: Rahab
One of the bravest, and boldest women in the Bible is without a doubt Rahab. Risking her life to protect Israelite spies, Rahab's actions demonstrate an incredible dose of faith in God - we love this post and hope you do too!
I get weird looks when I say that one of my biblical heroes was a prostitute. Although I should probably say one of my biblical heroines. This lady was both bold and brave, and her story never ceases to inspire me.
We all know the story of the fall of Jericho, right? Joshua 6: the Israelites walk round the city for seven days, on the seventh day they do so seven times, blowing their trumpets and shouting… and the walls come tumbling down. It’s a classic Sunday school story. What fewer people know, however, is the story of Rahab and the Israelite spies. But the fall of Jericho wouldn’t have happened without her.
You’ll find Rahab in Joshua 2. She’s a prostitute, and according to Israel’s laws, this woman was the lowest of the low.
And yet when two Israelite spies appear in her city, trying to work out how they can conquer it, she helps them. Instead of obeying Jericho’s king, she hides these men in her house and lies to the authorities, sending them on a wild goose chase across the desert.
Then comes the best bit. Rahab goes up to the men that she’s hidden on her roof, risking her own life by doing so, and says this:
‘I know that the LORD has given this land to you … For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below’
(Joshua 2:9, 11)
Wow. For these words to come out of the mouth of a non-Israelite prostitute is completely unprecedented. This confession of faith in Joshua 2:11 has wording which is matched in only two other places in the whole Old Testament: the confession of Moses in Deuteronomy 4:39, and the confession of Solomon in 1 Kings 8:23. This woman, this prostitute, this ceremonially unclean, broken woman of the world has just made a confession of faith in Yahweh which puts her up there with the likes of Moses, friend of God (Exodus 33:11), and Solomon, the wise King (1 Kings 3:12).
Not only that, but by bravely hiding these Israelites spies from the authorities and preventing them from being captured and killed she is characterised as doing that which is at the very heart of the covenant between Israel and Yahweh. Her actions are completely in line with the deeds and quality of life that was supposed to distinguish the Israelite people from people like her. These actions and this confession leads her whole family to safety and results in her joining the Israelites after Jericho falls.
This story gets even better (would you believe!) when you compare Rahab’s actions to those of Achan in Joshua 7. I’ll leave you to read it for yourself, but suffice to say that Achan, a descendent of the tribe of Judah and greatly respected Israelite, does the exact opposite of what is required of him and ends up being stoned to death. The point is this: Rahab is the most unlikely person to confess faith and act in accordance with Israelite laws. Achan should have been the poster boy for good practice. And yet it is Rahab whose actions are commended, and who ends up being part of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1.
We have many things to learn from Rahab, but I’ll limit it to two.
Firstly, I’m inspired.
She was bold in her confession of faith in the one true God and brave in her actions, risking her life for the lives of the spies who were coming to destroy her city, and she was saved from destruction. I pray that we too will be known as bold in our faith and brave in our actions.
Secondly, she reminds me not to write anyone off.
Rahab was the unlikeliest of women to profess faith, and who’d have thought a pagan prostitute would find her way into Jesus’ genealogy?! And yet. And yet, God uses the most unlikely of people, the most broken of women, for his glory and to advance his purposes. I pray that you would discover this in your own life, and in the lives of those around you.
Nell is Culture Projects Leader at LICC (link: www.licc.org.uk) and a recent graduate in theology from Durham university. Last summer she wrote a book about finding your own faith whilst growing up in a Christian home, which is coming out on 23rd June 2017. You’ll find her blogging over at www.musingsofaclergychild.wordpress.com.