Who is Rahab in the Bible?
Though the story of Rahab and the two spies may not be as well-known as the other stories about the Israelites’ journey to Canaan, it still plays a significant role in determining the victory of the chosen people in conquering the promised land. Moreover, through this story, we’re also able to take away many great lessons about faith that are applicable to our lives today.
The story of Rahab (Jos 2) takes place during the time when Joshua was the leader of the Israelites. During this time, Joshua sent out two spies to explore the city of Jericho, the first city in Canaan that the Israelites planned to conquer. So the two spies went out and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab.
Knowing that the Israelites were spying out his land, the king of Jericho requested Rahab to turn in the men. However, instead of obeying the king, Rahab hid the two spies under the flax on her roof, and lied that these men already left and she had no idea where they went.
Risking her life
As for the reason why she was willing to risk her life to do such a thing, Rahab explained in her conversation with the two spies:
“We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”
Just as she wished, the men agreed to repay her kindness by sparing her family’s life when the Israelites took over Jericho. As a sign of their promise, they gave her a red cord, instructed her to tie it to her window, so that the Israelite soldiers would be able to see it and not harm the people inside the house.
It turns out that the Israelites were able to take over the city of Jericho later on, and all of the people inside the city were killed. However, because in the story of Rahab, he had previously helped the two spies, her whole family was saved and included among the Israelite community at that time.
God Always Fulfills His Promises
The Israelites conquering the promised land is not a random event that just so happened to take place, but it was all part of God’s covenant with His people since the time of Abraham.
In Gn 22:17, God promised Abraham that his descendants will be “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. [They] will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through [them] all nations on earth will be blessed.” God granted these blessings to Abraham and his descendants because Abraham had obeyed His commands and kept His laws faithfully (Gn 22:18, Gn 26:5.)
The cascade of events that follows serves to make this promise a reality. Though it took over 400 years between the time of Abraham to the time of Moses and Joshua when the Israelites finally stepped foot on the promised land, God never forgot a single word he spoke to Abraham.
Just as He had promised, God guided the Israelites and helped them gain victory in all the battles they took part in. If it wasn’t because of God’s guidance, such a small and weak group of people would never have been able to defeat such powerful nations.