Rehab the Sex Worker Who Saved The People Joshua 2: 1 – 21
Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, ‘Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.’ Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.’ But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.’ She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof. So the men pursued them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords.
As soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. As soon as we heard it, our hearts failed, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.’
The men said to her, ‘Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.’ Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the outer side of the city wall and she resided within the wall itself. She said to them, ‘Go towards the hill country, so that the pursuers may not come upon you. Hide yourselves there for three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterwards you may go on your way.’ The men said to her, ‘We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down, and you do not gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your family. If any of you go out of the doors of your house into the street, they shall be responsible for their own death, and we shall be innocent; but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you in the house, we shall bear the responsibility for their death. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be released from this oath that you made us swear to you.’ She said, ‘According to your words, so be it.’ She sent them away and they departed. Then she tied the crimson cord in the window.
Like many people in the Bible, Rahab is a survivor. She does what she needs to in order to protect her family, because a change is coming to Jericho and she is wise enough to see it in the distance and we can read her story today.
God uses the most unlikely people, in order to accomplish his purposes. This passage reminds us that God can use anyone, of any standing in society, despite our sensibilities or prejudices or judgement. Rahab took in the spies who arrived in Jericho, from Joshua, and hid them from the authorities. Rahab convinced them that the spies had left, in the opposite direction, so that the authorities were “confounded. This enabled the ones given sanctuary and hospitality to escape and return to Joshua, telling of the way Rahab had helped them and the agreement that was made, to ensure the safety of Rehab’s family would be assured.
A precious red cord of protection; reminding the Israelites of the way their first-born children had been saved by the blood smeared on the doorpost and lintels of their houses, so that salvation would come to those innocent children and, ultimately, the whole people as they walked through the Red Sea, in God’s escape plan for them.
This life changing story had travelled to Jericho and set fear into the hearts of the people and their courage to fight evaporated. Rahab was able to negotiate liberation for herself and her family, by seeing God’s hand at work. Salvation is open to all people, irrespective of their background or standing in society. Each person is given the opportunity to turn to God, and welcome him into their lives. This is the work of salvation, and shows how God can use any life, our life, to bring his purposes to fruition. Let us be true to God; and hang on tight!
God of salvation, your plans to save your people do not depend on our wisdom and understanding, but yours. Give us the trust we need, to believe in this truth, which will change us all, each day. Amen.
The Rev’d Sue Chapman, Hove and Portslade Pastorate, East Sussex