Women in the Bible: Rahab, Protector of Spies
Written by Jenn Arman | June 11, 2012
Who is Rahab? Here’s a short list: Rahab was a prostitute, protector of spies, direct ancestor of both King David and Jesus Christ and a selfless woman of God.
Rahab’s story is found in Joshua 2. The Israelites, now led by Joshua, are on one side of the Jordan river; on the other side is the Promised Land. Joshua has heard from the Lord and in three days, the Israelites will cross the Jordan to begin the journey to conquer the Promised Land. Joshua has decided to send two spies into Jericho to scope out the situation.
The Bible tells us that Rahab lived in the city of Jericho and that she was a prostitute. She may also have been an innkeeper because the Bible says the spies came to her house and lodged there. Jericho was a city, not a tiny village, so its defenses were pretty strong. There was a great wall surrounding the city and, of course, soldiers protecting it. The king of Jericho is informed that Israelite spies have infiltrated the city and he dispatches soldiers to find the spies.
Rahab knows that soldiers will be searching for the spies, so she hides them on the roof of her home under some stalks of flax that she put up there to dry. When the soldiers come with a message from the king, Rahab not only lies to the soldiers to protect the spies, she also misdirects the soldiers. The soldiers take her bad directions, continue looking for the spies and end up getting locked out of their own city for the night!
If the spies had been caught, they would’ve been killed. If it was discovered that Rahab hid them and lied, she (and possibly her whole household) would’ve suffered the same fate.
Once they’re safe, Rahab goes to speak with the spies. She confesses that the God of Israel is the only God in heaven or on earth, tells the spies that the people of Jericho are terrified of the Israelites and negotiates a treaty with the spies to save her family. It’s important to note that when Rahab negotiates for her family’s lives, she does so with very little concern for herself. She asks that her parents, siblings and their households be saved, only briefly mentioning herself at the very end of the agreement.
What can we learn from Rahab?
- Rahab believed in God because of what she’d heard, not because of what she had seen. She had faith that what she’d heard was true. Often we demand that God demonstrate miracles or give us signs to keep our faith strong; Rahab’s faith was strong based on nothing but what others had told her.
- Rahab took a huge risk based on nothing but her faith in God. Now we call this a “leap of faith.” Sometimes God doesn’t show us the whole plan, He simply asks us to do our part–we have to choose to obey with nothing but our faith in God to support us.
- Rahab was faithful to her promise to protect the spies and keep their secret. Rahab had integrity! This is the quality that so often determines how non-Christians view Christians. Breaking commitments or promises affects the way people view us and everything associated with us; we need to be faithful to our promises!
- Rahab was selfless. She protected the spies before they promised her protection from the battle. When she asked for protection, she asked for her family before herself. Rahab’s thoughts were always for others first. This is something I really need to work on! How often do we think of ourselves last?
When talking about women in the Bible, it’s so important to remember that they didn’t just cook, clean and care for children. They did those things, but they also led lives filled with adventure and risk. When these women did something for God, they put everything on the line and that often meant life or death for them. Whatever your dreams and goals are, God wants to make your life an adventure, so surrender everything to Him and let the adventure begin!
PI girls, how were you inspired by Rahab’s story?
By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace (Hebrews 11:31).