We first meet her in the pages of The Book of Joshua Chapter 2. Before crossing the Jordan, Joshua, the leader of Israel who replaced Moses, sent out two men to spy out the land of Canaan, especially Jericho. Along the thick wall of Jericho lived a harlot named Rahab. What good thing can one say about a harlot, in our modern language, a prostitute? But let’s consider Rahab. She had a house on the city wall near the gate. Her sinful “trade” must have brought her prosperity to be able to maintain a lodging house. We can assume that she was not your ordinary prostitute who earned just enough to get by. Some write-ups about her say that she was a very beautiful woman. Maybe she was selective with her customers and only bedded those who were wealthy and powerful. Or those who came to trade in Jericho and lodged in her house.
We can also assume that she had other business enterprises such as flax (found on her roof where she hid the spies) and linen (the scarlet cord she tied on her window). Rahab, then, might have been a hardworking and shrewd businesswoman as well.
So, the two spies came to Jericho and lodged in Rahab’s house. When the king learned about it, he sent men to Rahab, demanding her to turn them in. But Rahab had hidden them, then bravely faced the king’s envoys, diverting them from her house to the fords.
Rahab voluntarily supplied the spies with inside information: that the heart of all Jericho had melted when news of the overwhelming victories of Israel reached them; that they knew God had given them the land. She herself acknowledged Israel’s God, saying, “For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (v. 11). She then made a pact with them, in return to her kindness to them, that they would spare her and all her father’s household when they come to conquer Jericho.
Some commentaries say that one of the two spies was very well be Salmon, a prince of Israel of the tribe of Judah.
The next time we see her, it was the day the walls of Jericho fell (see Joshua 6). Joshua commanded his two former spies to bring out Rahab, all her father’s household, and their belongings as they had sworn to her. We can imagine Salmon thundering across smoking rubble to save Rahab and all her loved ones. They were brought to safety, outside of Israel’s camp, then later on were embraced to the fold and became a part of the people of God.
So, Rahab was brave, discerning, and was loyal to the God of Israel rather than to her king. We can also see that she was fiercely faithful to her family, courageously forging a pact with Israel to save them. I want to believe that she had maintained a close relationship with her family despite her shameful profession. Maybe she steeled her heart to do what she needed to do to be able to help her family and raise them up from poverty. And so, her family accepted her and loved her for her sacrifices. (I can say these things because I had written a similar testimony about a sister in Christ in my book Quiet Strength).
Many generations passed and she would be mentioned again by James and the writer of Hebrews. Her harlot label had stuck, not to reproach her, but to let readers know that she was the same Rahab who had hidden the spies. The label is her one-word testimony. She was included in the roster of the Heroes of Faith in Heb. 11 and James wrote how she was justified by her works (James 2:25), just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3). And she was accepted in the beloved.
But it’s not really Rahab’s heroism and subsequent salvation that I want us to talk about, but her personal life after the fall of Jericho. Specifically, her love life.
Amid the somewhat monotonous reading of the Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, we see the name Rahab. We learn that Salmon had married her and became one of the ancestors of the Savior. Wow. Salmon, a prince of Israel, had married Rahab the harlot.
When Israel adopted Rahab and her kin and they dwelt among them, she couldn’t have continued her sinful profession. For Israel, adultery meant death. No, just as the walls of Jericho had crumbled into heaps that would never be rebuilt, so had Rahab’s old sinful life. It was buried in rubble. When she set foot in Israel’s camp, she was a new creation in the Lord.
Salmon probably fell in love with her the first time he saw her. More than her extraordinary beauty, he was probably drawn by her character. Rahab’s story is a beautiful story of second chances. Don’t we all need them? Yes, beauty for ashes.
For those of us who had lived sinful and shameful lives, though not necessarily of the same magnitude like hers, we can see the threads of her story woven into ours. It could have been promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, etc.
But our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has saved us and has accepted us in the beloved.
…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace… (Eph. 1: 4-7)
The saddest thing that could happen is for our labels to stick in our minds and in the minds of those close to us or who knew us, like a scarlet letter emblazoned across our chests. A for adulteress, for example. They may even tease us (thinly-veiled mocking) about our old life.
And when those people who matter to us most don’t seem to forget, and you feel it in every fiber of your being that that is the case, the wound they create could be so deep.
Do you think that Salmon lived with Rahab all the days of their lives loving her one moment, then despising her the next because he just couldn’t forget her past? Do you think Rahab lived the rest of her life walking with an invisible label stuck to her? H for harlot?
My answer: No to both questions. There is one proof that Salmon loved and honored Rahab the moment he accepted her into his life to be his wife ’til death parted them: Boaz. Maybe they had had other sons and daughters, but Boaz was the son mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy. We can see how honorable and loving Boaz had grown up to be. We can read his and Ruth’s beautiful love story in The Book of Ruth. If Salmon and Rahab’s household was riddled with distrust and strifes and hurts, Boaz could not have grown up into an honorable and kind gentleman, could he? The way he loved and cherished Ruth proved how he was greatly influenced by his father who led by example.
If the people in your life insist to see you as your past, don’t be offended anymore. It’s really their problem, not yours.
The Word of God does not dwell richly in them. Just believe what the Bible says: We are holy and without blame before Him in love. Accepted in the Beloved. Live thus, therefore, refusing to be pulled down by people who are just probably insecure or have nothing better to do. Courageously carry out God’s purposes in your life, and just like Rahab, raise children that will become honorable, Christ-loving men and women.
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Journey with Jesus,