23 November 2014

Women of the Bible: Rahab - The Noble Harlot

In the History of the Jews, Rahab was a Canaanite Harlot Who Believed.  The genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew mentions five women. One of them is Rahab.

{Before you read this I have a couple of questions that are not answered in the Bible about Rahab, but it would be interesting to know the answers. QUESTION:  When the spies entered Rahab’s house or “business”, she told them she believed the account of an incident that had occurred 40 years ago.  It was not breaking news on CNN.  So … how old was Rahab?  Was she about 50 years old?  Was she older than 50?  Older than 50 and turning tricks?  (“Turning tricks” means still servicing customers.) ANOTHER QUESTION:  Because of her actions in hiding the spies, she saved her father, her mother and her brothers.  Would you not say her family was incredibly trusting and really had a lot of confidence in her?  But she was a whore!  Hoes get no respect!  Her family put their lives in her hands? To think of it, the story of Rahab is a remarkable story!]
 

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(Image credit: Tissot_The_Harlot_of_Jericho_and_the_Two_Spies.jpg )


Rahab (alternately spelled Rachab) was a Canaanite harlot who lived in Jericho . Her house was on the city wall. Though forty years has passed and Moses, the great Jewish leader and prophet who led the Israelites out of Egypt had died, Rahab spoke to the Jewish spies who came to her house, about the parting of the Red Sea as if it were a current event. (The writers impression.) She mentioned the event along with another happening, the destruction of Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites and informed the spies that the people of Jericho were afraid for their lives, as was she.

Unlike the inhabitants of the land of Jericho, Rahab's heart did not melt. Rahab had decided (because she believed the reports about Jehovah, God of the children of Israel) that since the destruction of Jericho was as certain to become an historical event as had the other two events she referenced, she could only bargain for her life and those with her, and hope that the Israelites would honor the agreement. The Jewish spies promised her protection. They agreed that when they attacked the city of Jericho, she and whoever was in her house with her their lives would be spared. This they promised because Rahab had risked her life by hiding them from the kings messengers and helped them to escape. When the Israelites captured Jericho they kept their promise to Rahab.

Indeed Rahab was afraid but her survival instinct seems to have overruled her fear. Or was it her faith? The kings messengers could have discovered her secret and what would have been her end? The Jewish spies could have just as easily broken their promise and what would have been her end? Why did she do what she did? Was it fear? Or was it faith? Faith in a God she had only heard reports of, about incidents she had not witnessed. No scriptures for her to read. No prophet to guide her. No one to teach her the difference between the gods she likely had been taught to worship versus Jehovah.

In Christian (New Testament) scriptures, Rahab is listed as one of the heroes of faith (Heb 11: 31) and commended for her example of faith (James 2: 25). Rahab was accepted as a proselyte (convert) to the Judaism and became an ancestor of King David, the beloved second monarch who ruled over the united kingdom of Israel. Though Matthew the Apostle and Saint Luke both trace the lineage of Jesus, only Matthew mentions Rahab a prostitute who became the wife of Salmon and the mother of Boaz, the grandmother of Obed, the great grandmother of Jesse, who was the father of David, King of Israel. (Matt 1: 5, 6) 



References:

  • The scriptural references provided can be used to piece together Rahab's real life story. JOSH 2: 1; 6:17, 25; MATT 1: 5; HEB 11: 31; JMS 2: 25
  • "Seekers of the Promised Land." Great People of the Bible and How They Lived. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association, 1974.
  • Youngblood, Ronald F., F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995. 

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