Book of Joshua and Rahab. Did God really intend for a prostitute to be in the family tree of His son, Jesus Christ?
Always in the details, and known to punctuate His Word with twists and turns, God purposefully put a woman who was considered to be unworthy in society’s eyes into the position of being a highly regarded child of God.
By intentionally including Rahab, the prostitute into Jesus’ ancestry, God guaranteed that His Masterplan would unfold just as He planned, pointing forward to demonstrate that all people who repent and have faith and trust in Him are welcomed into His family.
The story of Rahab, taken from the Book of Joshua, can be considered to be one of the most evangelical of all of the Old Testament.
With parallels to the book of Revelation, Rahab’s story clearly foreshadows how believers can only be saved from a broken, chaotic world through belief in almighty God, and His son Jesus Christ.
With the city of Jericho burning, and the fortress walls crashing around her, Rahab was faced with doing only one thing, being to have faith in the one, true God. With a rope dangling from the window of her house to identify her as believer to the Israelites, Rahab had hope that its scarlet color was the identifying sign that would guarantee her salvation.
We today are still saved by scarlet – the scarlet blood of Jesus Christ.
Just as the scarlet rope saved Rahab, we as Christians have hope in the scarlet blood of Jesus Christ for our salvation.
We too live in a world that is broken and literally crashing down around us. However as believers, we are baptized in the blood of Jesus, standing firm in the hope for eternity.
As written in the book of Revelation, eternity for believers will be spent in a relationship with the Lord in His creation of the New Heaven and New Earth. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial atonement for our sins, our broken relationship with God will be restored, and His Masterplan to save humanity will finally come to fruition.
With the overarching theme of repentance, the story of Rahab with her sordid background can be applied to our lives today. As is emphasized throughout the Bible, due to His amazing grace, God is accepting of all people if they repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith. Everyone has the opportunity to be welcomed into God’s fold.
In this installment in the series Ancestry. Jesus titled “Scarlet Still Saves” we take a behind the scenes, contextual look at the very interesting ancestor of Jesus Christ, Rahab the prostitute.
Putting Rahab’s story into the context of the day we will see how a pagan-worshipping Amorite prostitute went from living a lowly, unworthy life to being transformed to living the life God meant for her all along.
Risking her life to protect the Israelite spies who were on a reconnaissance mission to Jericho, Rahab gave the Israelites the spiritual edge they needed to fully put their trust in God and conquer the Promised Land.
Through her courage and faith in the Lord, Rahab the prostitute converted from being a pagan worshipping Amorite, to a woman who loved and had tremendous faith in the Lord.
We will see how once known as Rahab the prostitute, she is now known as Rahab the redeemed to become a child of God. Through God’s grace, and Rahab’s repentance and trust in the Lord, she has become His child, worthy of His love and welcomed into His family.
Similarly, with our repentance and trust in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, He will be our God and we will be His children.
“Behold I am making things new.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
The Book of Joshua and Rahab is truly an example of God using the Implausible to accomplish the Impossible.
It is important to get a grasp of the context to fully understand the story of Rahab, so background is provided as follows.
Putting it all into Context
Who was Rahab?
- Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute living in the city of Jericho in Canaan
- So what can we possibly learn about God by studying a prostitute?
- She was singled out by the Call of God to be separated from her pagan worshipping (Amorite) people
- Rahab demonstrated a remarkable understanding of the sovereignty of the true God
- Rahab also served as a spy for the king, delivering up valuable information she had gleaned from her conversations from visitors to the city of Jericho
Rahab stepped out in faith to follow God
- She was a courageous, wise-beyond-her-years, spirited woman with a tremendous trust in God
- Rahab offered chesed (kindness, grace which was not expected to be re-paid) to the Israelite spies at the brink of the second generation Israelites entering of the Promised Land
- She extended protection to the spies, and risked her life by doing so
- The Israelites were afraid and tentative of entering a city such as Jericho with its fortified wall, powerful people and defenses
- The people were giants; the walls were even more gigantic!
Rahab occupies a very special place in the story of God’s people
- Rahab’s faith in God is contrasted with that of the fears and lack of faith of the Israelites some 40 years earlier who had been liberated from slavery in Egypt (Numbers 13: 25-33; 14:30; Deuteronomy 1)
- The ‘first generation’ of Israelites who left Egypt in the exodus were denied entrance by the Lord into the Promised Land due to their lack of faith and obedience
- Before the first generation Israelites set out to enter the Promised land, twelve spies were originally sent to scope out the land to get a look at the enemy and surrounding land
- Of the twelve spies, only Joshua and Caleb believed that they could succeed in conquering the Promised Land, and tried to persuade the Israelites to trust in God
- The other ten spies did not trust in God and talked the people out of entering Canaan
- Rahab experienced God’s liberation and coming judgement, even though she never experienced the miracles that God had provided to the Israelites during the Exodus
God had given instructions concerning the conquering of the people in the land of Canaan:
- Deuteronomy 7:1-3, 4-6
- Moses, delivering instructions from God, commanded the people to wipe out the Canaanites, make no covenants, and avoid marrying them.
- Canaanites (Amorites) were a pagan religion that worshiped fallen angels and demons and the Moon god, Sin. They worshipped multiple gods/goddesses, displaying idols of the deities around their land.
- God clearly said that idolatry was forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:15-31)
- Joshua was chosen by God to deliver God’s battle plan for recapturing the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:24)after Moses and the first generation were forbidden to enter the Promised Land due to the people’s disobedience (Deuteronomy 3: 23-29).
Joshua ~ chosen by God:
- Joshua had been called by God to be strong and courageous, and go forth and inherit the land sworn to their Israelite ancestors
- Joshua trusted God and contrasted with most of the Israelite’s lack of faith
- Joshua was called to lead the “second generation” of Israelites in conquering the Promised Land 40 years after the first generation failed under Moses’ leadership
- Joshua was a great military leader!
- He understood the fate of the previous generation to take possession of the Promised Land
- He understood his men’s fears due to their fathers’ failure
- He encouraged his men to be strong, and they followed him willingly
- He was prudent and prepared, and had served under the auspices of Moses
- He sent two spies ahead to gather information about the Promised Land ~Especially Jericho
Why was conquering Jericho so important?
- The conquest of Jericho would stand in sharp contrast to the first generation Israelites original failure to enter the Promised Land 40 years prior (Numbers 13-14, Deuteronomy 1) after exiting Egypt
- This would be their first battle to conquer the land of Canaan
- Located in the fertile Jordan Rift Valley, almost 900 feet below sea level
- Well protected by mountains, near the Jordan River and Dead Sea
- Abundant water supply!
- Underground fresh water springs (Elisha springs) that produced about 1000 gallons/minute
- A fortress and an oasis in the heart of the Promised Land with about 2000 inhabitants
- Oldest city known to mankind
- Protected by double walls built about 15 feet apart with houses built right into & between the walls
- Retaining Walls ~ 12-17 feet tall, 4-6 feet thick
- A mud brick outer wall 6 feet thick, 20 feet high (Bryant Wood, 1999)
- Aqueducts through the walls supplying water
- Canal around the city
- Self-sufficient with agriculture (wheat and barley) and livestock
- Protected from entry ~ gates would close at night
- Would be a tremendous military accomplishment to conquer Jericho, as well as a spiritual one
- “The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord” (Joshua 6:17)
- Was a powerful and ancient city in the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, promised by God to the Israelites through His Covenant with Abraham
- Was now under Canaanite rule! (Amorites)
- Did NOT believe in our one true God – were polygamists and paganists
- Moon worship ~ false, man-made powerless gods of Canaan
- Wicked, evil practices of child sacrifice and idolatry
- Canaanites were enemies of the Israelites
Deuteronomy 20:1, 16-18; 9:1-8; 7:1-6
- The Lord’s destruction of Jericho with its people would signify victory over those who worshiped false gods
- As the first city to be taken in Canaan, Jericho would be wholly dedicated to the Lord as first fruits (Lev 23:10)
- The people of Israel were to leave NO survivors (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)
- “But in the cities of peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction.”
- Rahab had a house (“Inn”) nestled in the wall near the entry gate of the wall surrounding Jericho
- The house had a high roof with a great vantage point over the city
- Rahab was the ‘inn-keeper’ …well, sort of
- Rahab is the Hebrew word for prostitute (also known as a “zoonah”)
- Greek word for her name was “porne”
- In any language she was a prostitute and not considered worthy!
- Her house was near the city entrance gate allowing “visitors” to the city easy access for visitation
- Rahab had many obstacles to overcome
- She was a Canaanite, and therefore considered to be an enemy of the Israelites!!!!!
- Along with being a prostitute, she served as a spy for the king of Jericho due to her customers and to the proximity of her Inn to the front gate of the city
- She was a woman
- Lived in a culture that had low regard for women
- She was a prostitute and considered to be unworthy, even by the Amorites, but especially by the Israelites
- She was a Canaanite, and therefore considered to be an enemy of the Israelites!!!!!
- Rahab therefore had many negative expectations to be overcome when interacting with the Israelites
Despite these obstacles, Rahab appears six times in the Bible (OT and NT) in a positive way!
- Ruth 4
- Joshua 2 and 6
- Hebrews 11:31 ”Hall of Faith”
- Matthew 1:5
- James 2:25
And most importantly, Rahab is in Jesus’ family tree.
Other Ebooks by Dr. Jana Jones McDowell
Jana Jones McDowell DVM, DAVCA, DAVECC has spent a lifetime practicing Veterinary Medicine and former Professor at a College of Veterinary Medicine.
A Christian, Dr. Jones began her research into Biblical studies a number of years ago, focusing on “context.”
Her research revolves around the “context,” with the study and application of the Judaica Books of the Prophets and the Hagiographa (A new English translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text and commentaries by Rashi and other Rabbinical scholars), and the books of the Midrash Rabbah. The basis of this was the exegesis of the Hebrew bible with application to the origins of Christianity.
Now retired, Dr. Jones spends time researching and applying the depth of her studies into books and as a student of the Israel Bible Center, studying deeper into Jewish context and the application to Christianity.
Dr. Jones and her husband, reside in the southwest with their horses, bengal cat named Ravi and their border collie, Sarah.