The nation of Israel is encamped across the Jordan River as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. Joshua sends two spies from Shittim into Canaan to ascertain the strength of the enemy. In Jericho the men enter the home of prostitute named Rahab. References to her in both Hebrew and Greek cannot reduce her title to “an innkeeper.” What she was is not as important as what she becomes.
It is a miracle any citizen of Canaan would help spies. The king of Jericho knows Israel has been on the shores of the river for many months. He learns spies are in Rahab’s home and demands she surrender them (Josh. 2:3). She lodges the spies, hides them, protects them, is loyal to them, advises them, and lowers them to safety. She tells the king they have already left. In return for these courageous actions, she requests protection for her family when Jericho is conquered. Rahab tells them her people have heard about the deliverance of the Israelites at the Red Sea and their victory over the Amorites (v. 10). She confesses Jehovah is Lord of heaven and earth. She realizes Jericho is doomed, for “the fear of your God has fallen upon all of us” (v. 11). She lowers the men to safety through a window with a scarlet rope. The spies tell her to tie this rope in her window when they come back to attack the city (v. 18).
Rahab is a woman of faith and action. Everything she does verifies her faith in Jehovah. After the walls of Jericho fall, Rahab and her family are spared (Josh. 6:17). She becomes part of the family of God and a Gentile ancestress of Jesus (Mt 1:5). The red rope by which the spies escape serves to illustrate deliverance through the blood of Christ. The presence of this same rope in the window of her home is emblematic of her faith in God (Josh. 2:18).
It’s true Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute. But when a person comes to God, He casts all their sins behind His back (Isa. 38:17). He removes our transgressions “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12) then buries them in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Regardless of one’s sinful background, anyone can be saved who express a similar hunger for God. The brave actions of Rahab show she is justified before God (Jas. 2:25). She ranks alongside the patriarchs as a heroine of the faith (Heb. 11:31) and is found in the lineage of our Lord (Mt. 1:5). She serves as a dynamic example that those with a hard past can be “washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).