There are a couple of peculiar facts about a woman named Rahab, one being her dubious career.  Her home was built into a wall and many scholars agree that she ran an inn of questionable repute from her home, with nighttime traffic constantly taking place.  She was written about as being one of the four most beautiful women of her time.  The second odd fact about her is her bloodline.  She is named in the direct ancestral bloodline of Jesus!

Rahab’s story is found in the book of Joshua, chapters 2-6.  There’s a man named Joshua who is told three times by God to be strong and of good courage, as he was about to move the Children of Israel into Jericho – a very old city, and the lowest point in the world – next to the Dead Sea.  They would have to cross the Jordan River in treacherous waters.  He was to prepare food, move forward by night, arm strong warrior men, and…send two spies to the house of the harlot, Rahab, to scout out the enemy and the land.  

Perhaps, since there was so much traffic in and out of her house, the spies wouldn’t attract attention. However, these guys were spotted, and the King demanded of Rahab to know who the men were and where they were!

Let’s first look at Rahab’s qualities, before we finish that story.  She was an astute business woman, she knew how to negotiate a contract, she was brave and strong, an excellent judge of character, smart and forward-thinking, loyal and loving and ALREADY had a strong faith in the God of Israel.  Read Chapter 2:8-11 and realize that Rahab knew who the spies were; why they were at her house, that she could trust them and that she was chosen to help them! 

Back to the story…

Rahab hides these spies on her roof underneath the drying wheat and barley stalks that were there, because it was harvest time.   In verses 9-11 she makes a profession of her faith in God to the men.  She then boldly and bravely negotiates for her life and all that is hers, so that she and her household will be spared.  She tells the men how to escape by being lowered down on a scarlet cord from her window!

When the King’s men came to capture the visitors, she confessed that she had seen them but that they had left a short time go, and if the men hurried they could catch up to them.  However, the gates of the city were locked down til morning (as was the custom) and she had given the visitors instructions to escape to the mountain and wait three days.  The plan worked!

That scarlet cord of escape is often said to be symbolic in many ways – it showed that Rahab’s home was an inn of nighttime activity – BUT it also represented the thread or the blood of the Lamb – that saves us all from death! That cord meant safety and salvation for Rahab and her family, and it was physically an escape for the men, so they could accomplish God’s plan.

Joshua and the people were then able to cross over the river, march around the walls of the city of Jericho until they fell, and all inhabitants were killed – EXCEPT for Rahab and her family!

Even though this woman was of ill repute, she had a faith that saved her out of destruction – and was escorted into the promised land and lived there.  She married, gave birth to a son named Boaz who married Ruth, who gave birth to Obed that had a son named Jesse – who had a son named David. This fulfilled the scripture that said Christ would be from the lineage of David!

This woman Rahab would be an unlikely candidate perhaps by our own standards, for being chosen and then succeeding; yet she played a pivotal role in the success of the nation of Israel and in continuing the bloodline of Jesus!

Our past doesn’t matter. It’s why Jesus came.  God uses those he trusts, regardless of who we are or what we have done.  God REDEFINES our past and makes us his chosen sons and daughters.  From bad girl to beautiful bride, from harlot to heroine, that’s Rahab! She could have remained in shame, sin and hopelessness, but Jesus in her bloodline came to conquer all that.

  • Romans 8:1 says we have no condemnation in Christ.

  • I John 1:19 says if we confess sin, he forgives.

  • I Peter 1:3 states we have hope in the resurrected Christ.

  • John 8:34 says those in Christ are free!


Finally, in the New Testament in Hebrews 11:31 we read again about Rahab, the harlot, that ended up in the Hall of Faith – a strategic woman honored by God.  She was not out of His reach, and neither are we.  God’s grace extends to us ALL.


From Harlot to Heroine
by Debbie H

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