A Hero Named Rahab (Joshua 2)

One of the recurring themes of the Bible is God using the unlikeliest of people to do great things to further His kingdom and His causes. The second chapter of Joshua provides one of the best examples of this theme in all of Scripture as God gave a prostitute named Rahab a part in his plan to fulfill His promises.

Joshua 2 begins with Joshua doing something Moses had done years earlier: sending out spies (remember, Joshua himself was once a spy) and asking them to scout out the land on the opposite side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho, which was considered the strongest fortress in the land of Canaan.

When the spies arrived in Jericho, they stayed at Rahab';s home where, presumably, they would be safe. But when the king of Jericho was alerted that two men had come to spy on the land, he sent Rahab orders to bring the men out of her home and turn them over.

Rahab had hidden the spies in the house, but she told the king that, yes, they had been at her home earlier but that they had left and she didn';t know where they had gone. If they hurried, she told the king';s servants, they might be able to catch up with them.

With that threat taken care of, Rahab went to the hidden spies and told them, “I know the Lord has given you this land. We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt” (Joshua 2:9–10).

Rahab';s actions in saving the two Hebrew spies earned her mention in the New Testament — in the epistle to the Hebrews and the epistle of James. The writer of Hebrews pointed out that it was by faith that she did what she did (Hebrews 11:31), and James tells us that it was her actions that demonstrated that faith (James 2:25).

Rahab didn';t mince words. She and her family and friends in Jericho were terrified because they knew that Joshua';s God was supreme. But she then made one request, one the men were happy to grant since she had helped them out: “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families” (Joshua 2:12–13).

The men swore to her that she and her family would be safe, and Rahab let them out of her home through the window — but only after hearing their terms for keeping her and her family safe. After that, they hid out and waited for three days, avoiding the search party that was looking for them to return.

They then returned to the encampment and reported to Joshua what Rahab had told them.

Study Questions

What were the spies'; conditions for making sure Rahab and her family would be safe when Israel took Jericho? (Read Joshua 2:17.–20.)

How did the two spies know that the Lord had given the Israelites the land?

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