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Joshua Chapter 2 (ESV)
Rahab Hides the Spies
1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.
Jericho was a walled city that controlled passes leading up into Canaan’s central highlands. Two spies who slipped into the city were sheltered by Rahab, a prostitute who very likely, as was quite common in those days, operated an inn. Rahab hid the spies and asked them to spare her life when Israel took the city.
Was it ok for Rahab to lie? Besides, Rahab made her living through immoral behavior. Some wonder if it is fitting to include Rahab, a prostitute, as a main character in the story of the conquest. Even more unsettling to some is the fact that she later married a prince in Judah and became the great-grandmother of King David.
We do not say that prostitution is ok because Rahab did it. Neither should we say that lying is ok because Rahab did it. God rewarded Rahab for her faith. But she, like us, made mistakes. We all have to strive toward purity, and repent when we fail. We can learn from Rahab’s mistakes as well as from her obedience
This incident shows us that in Old Testament times as well as today, everyone can receive salvation through God’s grace. This also reminds us that our past does not stand in the way of a personal relationship with God.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all my iniquity, who heals all my diseases, who redeems my life from the pit, who crowns me with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies me with good so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Ps 103:1-5)