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by Wayne Blank
Assisted The Israelites
At the end of the Israelites' Wilderness Journey, just prior to their crossing of The Jordan River into the Promised Land, while they were yet encamped at Shittim in The Jordan Valley opposite Jericho, Joshua sent out two scouts to gather information about the strength of the opposing forces in the land. Rahab was a resident of Jericho who prevented their capture after they were discovered:
"And it was told the king of Jericho, "Behold, certain men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land." Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring forth the men that have come to you, who entered your house; for they have come to search out all the land."
"But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; and she said, "True, men came to me, but I did not know where they came from; and when the gate was to be closed, at dark, the men went out; where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them." But she had brought them up to the roof, and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords; and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut." (Joshua 2:2-7 RSV)
Why Did She Save Them?
"Before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, "I know that The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] 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. 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 that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for The Lord your God is He Who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath." (Joshua 2:8-11 RSV)
"Now then, 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, and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death."
"And the men said to her, "Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when The Lord gives us the land."
"Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she dwelt in the wall. And she said to them, "Go into the hills, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way."
"The men said to her, "We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours which you have made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down; and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father's household. If any one goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we shall be guiltless; but if a hand is laid upon any one who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath which you have made us swear."
"And she said, "According to your words, so be it." Then she sent them away, and they departed; and she bound the scarlet cord in the window. They departed, and went into the hills, and remained there three days, until the pursuers returned; for the pursuers had made search all along the way and found nothing." (Joshua 2:12-22 RSV)
The Fall of Jericho, Rahab Spared
The scouts then returned to Joshua and reported all that they found, including their promise to Rahab. The Israelites then crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, with The Fall Of Jericho the first military objective:
"So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses, with the edge of the sword."
"And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the harlot's house, and bring out from it the woman, and all who belong to her, as you swore to her." So the young men who had been spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her; and they brought all her kindred, and set them outside the camp of Israel."
"And they burned the city with fire, and all within it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of The Lord. But Rahab the harlot, and her father's household, and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive; and she dwelt in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho." (Joshua 6:20-25 RSV)
The Faith of Rahab
Rahab has been considered as an example of active faith, and despite whatever her past may have been before her turning to the true God, she was later considered among the righteous:
"By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land [see Where Did They Cross The Sea? and Is This How The Red Sea Parted?]; but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the Prophets - who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions [see Daniel In The Lion's Den], quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight." (Hebrews 11:29-34 RSV)
An Ancestor Of Jesus Christ
"and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king." (Matthew 1:5-6 RSV)
Fact Finder: Is God's offer of salvation available to all people, of all nations, provided that they repent and obey Him?