Joshua 2:1, Rahab the Harlot, part I of II

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

//Could Rahab be the most famous prostitute in the Bible? Let’s be clear about one thing: Rahab is no back-alley whore. She dwells in a high tower atop the fortifications of the city and has access to a private roof. When the men of the city come to her asking about Joshua’s spies, she admits to harboring Israelites and points out the direction they left. There is no distrust by the men, no insistence upon searching her home. She is treated with respect, more like a queen than a peasant.

Secretly, as we know, Rahab hid the Israelite spies on the rooftop until she could lower them down to safety outside the walls. Rahab knows that their mighty military leader, Joshua, will be coming for battle soon, and she asks to be spared. The spies tell her to hang a scarlet cord in the window to identify her home.

What was Rahab like? Some legends claim she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her very name, Rahab (which means “proud, arrogant,”) evokes images of bewildering, untamed chaos. Recall that Rahab is also the name of the beast God destroys to overcome the primordial chaos in the beginning of the world:

The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces. By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent. –Job 26:11-13

Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over? –Isaiah 51:9-10

Into the lair of Rahab came Joshua. Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, Joshua! Tomorrow, the rest of the story.

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