"Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, 'Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.' So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night." Joshua 2:1
With one exception, every time Rahab is mentioned in the Bible she is identified as “Rahab the harlot or prostitute.” Old Testament and New, her profession is clearly linked to her.
The Bible links others to their profession as well. For instance, Simon the tanner, Matthew the Publican, and Caiaphas the High Priest.
Some were known for their politics, like Simon the Zealot, while others were noted by a physical ailment or characteristic. Simon the Leper was identified by a defiling, incurable disease, while James the Less earned his name either by being very small or very young.
How about you? Is there an identity link--a name--you are trying to live down…or live up to? Has the world pigeonholed you in a place or reputation you don’t want?
Rahab’s way of life was not honorable. Her neighbors were accustomed to strangers coming and going at odd hours. Her house was the one place in the city where the spies had a hope of lodging without calling attention to themselves.
But God had other plans. Someone spotted them and alerted the king who sent a message demanding their surrender. When questioned about the spies, Rahab responded with a half-truth and sent the king's soldiers on a wild goose chase.
Hmmm. She’s a prostitute and a liar. We don’t know if a code of ethics existed in her culture. However, she wasn't Jewish and she wasn't under the Law. Yet something in her was seeking salvation.
The people of Jericho were frightened of the Jews because of what God had done for them. They knew He had delivered His chosen people from Egypt by parting the Red Sea approximately forty years earlier. They had heard of Israel’s subsequent victories as they wandered in the wilderness.
“For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.” Joshua 2:11-13
She asked for salvation based on her faith that God is the supreme God and He had given the Israelites the land. God gave her what she asked for…and so much more.
God healed Simon the Leper and Jesus became a guest in his home. Jesus called Matthew the Publican (aka 'hated tax collector') to be one of his twelve disciples and he wrote the first New Testament Gospel.
In the book of Matthew, we learn there were three women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus. The first was Tamar, who played a prostitute in order to have her father-in-law, Judah, obey a commandment of the LORD. The second is this Rahab, who married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz. The third is Ruth, a Moabite—a people forbidden to be admitted to the assembly of the LORD. Ruth married Boaz and gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of King David. Three women marked by sin, yet God sees them worthy to be in the human lineage of his Son, Jesus Christ. Oh, and please note—Matthew is the only one who states simply, “Rahab”, as her name.
The mercy of God looks at us and sees us through the gracious sacrifice of Jesus—totally righteous. No matter our earthly name or reputation, He has a new name in mind for each one of us.
I’ve pondered what I’d like my earthly identity to be…humble…righteous…wise…generous…victorious, certainly not doubter…discouraged…self-focused or failure. Left to my own choosing, I think I would choose “Marilyn the forgiven.” I’ll know for sure when I get to heaven.
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17
by Marilyn Allison