Jericho’s wall dweller – Rahab
Rahab lived a colourful life as one of only a handful of Jericho residents who God spared when He destroyed the city. She lived approximately 1425-1350 BC as a resident of Jericho which was one of the oldest cities of that era with a population of approximately 2500. Her home was incorporated into the structure of the main outer city wall.
It all began when “Joshua sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there” (Joshua 2:1). As the story goes in the book of Joshua, Rahab hid the spies under cover on the roof that evening. Meanwhile, the king of Jericho had heard about the spies and sent men to Rahab’s house to hunt them down. But Rahab lied to them about how she had sent the spies away. So off they went on a wild goose chase in search of the spies.
Rahab explains to the spies that she had “heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites… whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Jos 2:10-11).
Fear had rightly ignited faith within Rahab. She understood that persisting in unbelief would only end in certain death by the hands of Israel’s army. Her mixed fear of the Lord and Israel’s army motivated her to do something that no one else in Jericho had thought of – negotiate. That night Rahab made a deal with Israel’s spies that in return for her hiding them and later helping them to escape, they in turn would spare her and her family when Israel attacked Jericho. “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall” (Jos 2:15).
God orchestrated Israel’s most unusual victory over Jericho. Israel’s priests and people marched around Jericho exactly as the Lord had instructed for a week. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, then “the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown… and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, …and they captured the city” (Joshua 6:20).
All except the section of the wall where Rahab lived fell. The “spies went in and brought out Rahab and …all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it” (Joshua 6:23-24). Rahab lived in Israel for the remainder of her life.
According to James 2:25, “was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” James’ point is this, Rahab combined her belief that Israel’s God was the only one true God (Jos 2:11) with her actions by assisting Israel’s spies. Her belief motivated action. That is a sign of true faith which also qualified Rahab to be included in the list of faith heroes of Hebrews 11:31.
Rahab stands out as a monument to God’s indiscriminate grace. The same mercy that stepped into a prostitute’s life, transforming her to become an ancestor of Christ, is still available today. Rahab’s story is one of courage rising above fear, of faith in action, and determination in never turning back to her old life.