Why Is Rahab, a Fallen Woman, Included in the Hall of Faith?

Brad Simon
Why Is Rahab, a Fallen Woman, Included in the Hall of Faith?

Quickly, the rumors spread through town, and soon everyone was panicking and living in fear. The Israelites had conquered Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings. They now sent two spies to investigate their land. Would Jericho be the next city they destroyed?

The people of Jericho had heard how the Israelites’ God had parted the Red Sea for them, brought plagues upon their enemies, and led them through the wilderness. When they heard the news of the spies, they lost heart and everyone’s courage failed.

Jericho was a small town strategically located on the main road leading east from Canaan. Here, many natural water springs irrigated the valley, providing an oasis for travelers in the middle of the desert. Double walls fifteen feet apart surrounded the city, protecting the inhabitants and safeguarding the water springs. They built houses into the walls, some providing lodging for weary travelers.

The Life of Rahab

Rahab stood gazing out her window at the ancient city of Jericho. She possessed great beauty and was a woman of even greater strength. Rahab provided lodging for travelers staying in Jericho and offered additional amenities to her male guest, who so desired. Despite being known as the “Scarlet Sinner,” because of her occupation, Rahab had a deep longing for something more.

She was not like the others in Jericho. Rahab had always felt a longing for something more, something greater than the life she had known as a prostitute in Jericho. Rahab heard the whispers sending shockwaves through Jericho. Rather than tremble in fear, it filled her heart with hope. Could this God, who delivered His people out of Egypt, provide her with the deliverance she so desperately desired?

Rahab and the Spies

As the two spies entered the city, they sought refuge in an unlikely place, Rahab’s guesthouse. While her establishment was a den of iniquity, it was also a place of secrets, making it the perfect hideout for the spies. They trusted Rahab to keep their presence hidden. Little did they know, God was already preparing her heart.

Rahab greeted the spies and listened intently as they spoke of their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their stories sparked hope in her, inspiring thoughts of escaping Jericho’s impending destruction.

The king of Jericho received word of the spies’ presence and sent messengers to Rahab, ordering her to bring them out. Fully aware of the grave danger that loomed over them, Rahab took a bold step of faith. She hid the Israelite spies on her rooftop under bundles of flax and lied to the king’s messengers about their whereabouts. She told them they had already left and if they hurried, they could catch them.

As the city gates closed for the night, Rahab approached the spies. With a trembling voice, she shared her newfound faith and asked for protection for herself and her family when Jericho fell. Rahab’s plea was more than a desperate request; it was a confession of her belief in the one true God. She knew salvation laid in her faith in the God of Israel.

The spies listened intently as Rahab continued, “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them — and that you will save us from death” (Joshua 2:12-13).

The spies, touched by her faith and trust, agreed to her request, and gave her specific instructions. They told Rahab to hang a scarlet cord from her window. It would be the symbol of her faith and a sign for the Israelite army to spare her household.

Rahab’s heart swelled with gratitude. She had made a choice, a declaration of faith in the God of Israel. It was a decision that would affect her life and the lives of her family forever.

That night, Rahab helped the spies escape through a window in her home by descending a rope to the ground below. The Israelite spies returned to Joshua and reported what they had seen in Jericho. Joshua was encouraged by Rahab’s testimony and her assurance of God’s favor. With newfound determination, he sought God’s guidance to capture the city.

The Fall of Jericho

The days grew long, and the nights were even longer. Anticipation of the Israelite invasion weighed heavily on her heart, but she clung to her newfound faith and the promise of salvation. Rahab watched from her window as the Israelites marched around the city.

For six days, the Israelites circled Jericho in silence, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Despite the growing tension in the city, Rahab felt at peace. She believed and trusted God to protect her and her family. With fear and anxiety surrounding her, God provided Rahab peace of mind and heart that surpassed understanding. As the prophet would write, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

As dawn broke on the seventh day, the Israelites began their march around Jericho. Following God’s command, they circled the city seven times. Then, they blew their trumpets, and shouted with all their might. The walls of Jericho crumbled, and the city fell, just as God had promised.

Amid the chaos and destruction, Rahab’s home stood untouched. The scarlet cord waving from her window, a sign of her faith, marked her home as a place of refuge. As the dust settled, Rahab emerged from the ruins, a woman transformed by her faith. She knew the God of Israel, who had heard her cry for safety, had delivered her from the city’s destruction.

The Israelites welcomed Rahab and her family into their camp. She abandoned her former life, her scarlet sins, and embraced the God of Israel wholeheartedly. Rahab married an Israelite man and became an ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ.

Rahab’s Faith

“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31).

Only two women are named in Hebrews 11’s “Hall of Faith”: Sarah, the wife of Abraham, and Rahab, the harlot of Jericho. Humanly speaking, Sarah and Rahab had nothing in common, but they both had exercised saving faith in the true and living God.

The most important thing about Rahab was her faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Rahab told the spies, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. … When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2: 8-11).

What a confession of faith from the lips of a woman who lived in a world of pagan idolatry!

  • Rahab believed in one God, not in the multitude of heathen gods.
  • Rahab believed He was a personal God. She called Him “your God.”
  • Rahab believed in a God who would work on behalf of those who trusted Him.
  • Rahab believed their God was not limited to one nation or one land, but was the “God in heaven above and on the earth below.”
  • Rahab believed in a great and awesome God!

Rahab’s Faith Was Active

“In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:25-26).

Rahab proved the reality of her faith by receiving the spies and risking her life by deceiving the king’s messengers. Her faith compelled her to protect the spies, even though it meant betraying her country. Her faith wasn’t passive. By her actions, the spies could tell that she was indeed a believer.

It is important to remember Rahab and her family were not saved because of her actions or by faith in the scarlet rope hanging from the window. Their faith in the God of Israel is what saved them. It was her faith in God that compelled her to protect the spies and hang the rope from the window.

Rahab’s story is a testament to God’s ability to redeem and transform lives regardless of their background or past mistakes. Her faith, courage, and obedience serve as an inspiring example for Christians today. It reminds us, when our world seems to be crumbling and falling down around us, God is there to protect us and bring us peace. His reach is limitless, and salvation is available to all believers.

Related Resource: FREE How to Study the Bible Podcast

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Matt Henry Gunther

Brad Simon has shared God’s Word for over forty-five years, with a unique blend of storytelling and Bible exposition. He is a retired Master Jeweler and relies on the God-given creativity that won him several national and international jewelry design awards to craft Biblical Narratives and Life Stories that are engaging and thought-provoking. Once a speaker, author, and publisher for the jewelry industry, now he is putting those skills to work to promote the beauty and appeal of God’s Word. Download a free copy of his devotional on prayer.