I am not so sure there are myths involved, as it is more a case of suppositions. My interest in Rahab started long ago, as I heard the stories, but rarely ever read the story for myself. If you follow my posts, then you would know that I have gone through some dark times. I suspect that the sentence, “train up a child in the way that they should go” played a role in this freedom and understanding that I now have, for I knew that I needed to plant my heart and mind firmly in God’s word. Sadly, when I started doing that, I found myself bored and confused; it was difficult to focus, and I kept hearing this voice in my head, saying, I have read this before. Anguished by this lack of motivation I talked bluntly and plainly to God about the situation, and I asked Him to make Himself real to me. I don’t remember when my attitude changed, but it was shortly after that prayer. Soon after, I found myself seeing these Bible characters as real, with flesh and blood. Things quickly changed and I could see them struggle just you and I do.
Rahab was one of those characters. It has been several years since I last looked at Rahab, but my interest resurfaced recently as our men’s group watched and listened to Francis Chan teach on the book of James, a book that references Rahab and her faith.
Look at what James had to say about the dear lady.
James 2:25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
As typical with men, there is the subtle laughter as they try to adjust their thinking to accept the fact God would use someone like a whore. I cannot remember the question asked, but I immediately began talking about this amazing woman and what she did. I then asked, how would I know any of those things, because I read through the Bible; that, and I have studied these characters multiple times as they are integrated into our lives as believers, at every turn.
This story of Rahab, like most everything else in scripture, has a background, and for us, that background comes primarily from the camp of Israel. So let’s quickly look at that.
Moses has died, and the leadership role is now being passed to Joshua.
The entire first chapter of Joshua is essentially a directive to be strong, but there is an astounding statement that seems to make them invincible.
Joshua 1:3 CJB I am giving you every place you will step on with the sole of your foot, as I said to Moshe (Moses).
The connotation is, in battle. Consider how they, through the ten spies, step on the land of Canaan. Did they completely take the land God spoke of? No, and yet, in the long run, God’s word is still valid, for the ground has been given to Israel. (Still today, there is bitter disagreement and fighting over this.)
Chapter one ends with a uniform agreement on the part of Israel’s fighting forces.
Joshua 1:17-18 NASB “Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the LORD your God be with you as He was with Moses. 18) “Anyone who rebels against your command and does not obey your words in all that you command him, shall be put to death; only be strong and courageous.”
I am not sure how to perceive this. Would the fighting men kill anyone that resisted one of Joshua’s directives? The next plan we see is this,
Joshua 1:10-11 NASB Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11) “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.'”
I always assumed that Jericho was one of the first cities Israel conquered, however, when you look at a map which indicates the traditional path that Israel took into the promise land. The chart shows them traversing north along the Eastern side of the Jordan and then crossing above the Sea of Galilee and then dropping down south on the Western side of the Jordan, into Jericho.
As a visual learner, I now have the placement of Jericho square in my thinking, and it is the next stop.
Joshua 2:1 NASB Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab and lodged there.
This ugly tale is where we first meet Rahab. Without a doubt, our introduction leaves something to be desired, as she is a harlot. What are the problems with this introduction? We immediately start assigning personality traits, personal habits, and a lack of intelligence and integrity; all of which are things we cannot discern as yet.
Let’s start dissecting this.
“then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”
Jericho was not the only thing on their list. The more they moved through the land, the greater their chances of being seen. The idea that Jericho was the top of Joshua’s list was evident.
Secretly is the Hebrew word cheresh, and can also mean silently.
Webster’s dictionary tells us that secretly is defined as: Privately; privily; not openly; without the knowledge of others.
“So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab,”
You are a stranger, in a strange land, and, you may not speak or read the same language, yet, you come into the house of a harlot. Think about that for a moment. I brought this up before the men that morning. A short time later, one of the men pushed his electronic pad at me. On it, was an etching found in stone, in front of a building that had been dug out of the ashes of Pompeii. It was overtly sexual and easily identifiable. It required no additional explanation, and the implications could easily mean a house of whoredoms.
Working from the premise that we have no other information to build this story on, there is NOTHING in scripture that defines how the spies would have known this.
If we lack documented, historical information, then all we have is conjecture, and sadly, inference opens the door to Rahab pandering these new men in town. Taking this debauchery one step further; what is there that explains why the two spies were going into her house? I want to believe that they were above self-indulgence, but it cannot be ruled out.
You should be thinking along the same lines as I am, about now. While finding a friendly voice in a strange place might be considered a Godsend, the spies still need to investigate, and this would allow them to move about freely for a short time. Quickly, they explained the grave nature of their business and how quickly they could kill her. But then, they are trying to gain an ally and temporary safety.
“and lodged there.”
Lodge is Hebrew word shâkab and means to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose.)
The intent is not to pass on more twisted thinking, but to make a point. We have sterilized God’s word to the point that we cannot see that these were people, with frailties, just as we all have. If you follow the scriptural text, you will not see judgment coming from God about their actions. However far this went is none of our business, but in our quick judgments and condemnations, we dispatch people, like Judas Iscariot, to hell, while condoning the actions of these men. After all, it was war.
Joshua 2:2 MKJV And the king of Jericho was told about it, saying, Behold, men from the sons of Israel came in here tonight, to search out the country.
Apparently, someone had seen them and knew where they came from. What was even worse, is that the Israelis had been seen going into Rahab’s house on the wall.
Joshua 2:3 MKJV And the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring out the men that have come to you, those who have entered into your house. For they have come to search out all the country.
The king has sent messengers, probably armed guards, willing to kill. The demand is to bring out the men that come to you. Okay, here is where things get a little confused.
Joshua 2:4 CJB However, the woman, after taking the two men and hiding them, replied, “Yes, the men did come to me; but I didn’t know where they had come from.
Think about what just happened. Messengers, capable of killing you, demand that you bring out the men that came into the home.
You want me to believe that the guards just stood outside and waited for her to return?
But if she was aware that this entourage was coming, wouldn’t she hide them before they started knocking?
So, she, knowing that they want these men, hides them and lies about where they are. Her statement, “ Yes, the men did come to me; but I didn’t know where they had come from.” To some degree this statement was right It wasn’t long before they revealed their mission to her. Consider how she with minimal information, made a life-changing decision to believe the Israeli spies.
She continues the deception.
Joshua 2:5 CJB “The men left around the time when they shut the gate, when it was dark. Where they went I don’t know; but if you chase after them quickly, you will overtake them.”
The Israelis were still in the house.
Joshua 2:6 CJB Actually she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them under some stalks of flax she had spread out there.
Does it make sense that they would merely take her word, No, or why else would she hide them under the flax?
Joshua 2:7 CJB The men pursued them all the way to the fords at the Yarden; as soon as the pursuit party had left, the gate was shut.
Not finding them, the king’s messengers go in pursuit.
Joshua 2:8 CJB The two men had not yet lain down when she returned to the roof.
As we wandered through the book section at our local warehouse store, I looked at a devotional journal that focused on women of the Bible. Rahab was listed, as she should be, but the author’s version of the story was what we come to expect when tradition rules our thinking; as it conflicted with what the Bible says.
How easy it is to twist a story.
Joshua 2:9-11 NASB and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted 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 utterly destroyed. 11) “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
Without this information, we could never adequately understand what transpired that made her heart turn toward the God of Israel.
What did she tell us?
I know that the LORD has given you the land.
This statement is a verbal demonstration of her acceptance.
That the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.
We see terminology like this all throughout the Bible. And yet, when you read the biblical stories, you come to find that in reality, it means quite a few. The number is significant enough to be on the alert for spies.
For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt.
Consider how many, choose to dispute or deny, the Red Sea crossing. Here is this woman, whom many would disregard, spelling out a common understanding and belief about Israel’s passage through the Red Sea, on dry land.
What you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, Sihon, and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
And lastly, the most impactful statement of all of them.
When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
When it comes to making a confession of who God is in your life, this would be it. Having written recently about Jonah, one of the things we learn of, is that Jonah was a sign. Can you see that God’s guidance and actions have been signs?
Many of you are aware of Rahab already. You may also be mindful that she becomes an integral aspect of the lineage of Jesus, our King.
In spite of your ugly titles or bad reputation, the God who knows the beginning from the end will find a way to draw you into the kingdom. You could not convince me that this woman did not have a changed heart; a change we like to call salvation.
Soon, the action will get more intense as Israel, following God’s directions, marches around the wall. This amazing woman will continue to play a miraculous role.