Based on Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22–25
Rahab felt a light breeze and looked toward the door. A man entered. She recognized him as he smiled at her.
“Would you like your usual room?” she asked.
“Yes,” he responded, “the usual.”
She knew he wasn’t there just for the room. He wanted what every man that came through that door wanted—her.
She smiled back at him, but inside she felt the bile rise in her throat. She was repulsed by her life. She had her own home and business, but at what cost? She felt empty inside.
After each of her customers visited, she felt like a piece of her soul was taken. She was well compensated for her work, but the things she bought with her earnings didn’t fill the void in her heart. In the beginning it was exciting to buy what she wanted with her own money. But now the food, pretty clothing, or little trinkets no longer satisfied. After their initial gleam faded, she felt hollow again.
Once she realized that her purchases could not bring happiness she sought meaning elsewhere. She went to the temple. She sacrificed to the gods. She gave them unspeakable gifts. But in return she received nothing good, only disappointment and more pain.
Today’s patron was more talkative than normal. He spoke of strange happenings outside their city of Jericho. An army was approaching. Though it wasn’t a large army, it was defeating their neighboring kingdoms with ease.
The patron went on to brag about Jericho. It was a well-fortified city. The walls were massive. And Jericho’s fighting men were fierce and skillfully trained. It would be impossible, unthinkable, for any army to overtake Jericho.
Rahab considered his comments, but noticed his eyes as he spoke. They betrayed his true feelings. And when this man, usually full of confidence and swagger, fell silent, she knew he was afraid.She'd heard of this coming army. It was the army of the Israelites. Rahab’s house was located inside the great wall surrounding Jericho, and its position allowed her to be informed of the news coming in and out of the city. She paid attention to the stories of the Israelites. It was said they had a god that traveled with them. During the day their god led them in the form of a cloud in the heavens, and at night he lit the sky with fire. Their god also performed miracles; he parted seas, freed the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, provided them with food and water in the wilderness, and destroyed their enemies.
She was intrigued by the Israelites and their god. Their god was unique. He seemed to care for his people. But she kept her thoughts secret. It would be dangerous to speak them out loud.
Then one day two men with foreign accents turned up at her door. They asked for rooms. She gave them lodging, but when she offered her additional services, they declined. She was surprised! And they acted differently toward her than the other men she was accustomed to. They kept a respectful distance and treated her with kindness. They were definitely not from Canaan. Then it dawned on her. They were Israelites!
Immediately she realized what she needed to do. She glanced out the window and noticed soldiers already climbing the pathway to her house. They must know the Israelites were there. She quickly found her two guests and told them they were in danger. She pled with them to follow her to the roof. They complied and she hid them under the stalks of flax that were drying in the sun.
When the soldiers reached her doorway, she was there to meet them. They asked where the men were. She said they had left. One soldier tightly grabbed her arm and yanked her close to him. “Where are they, Rahab?” She knew the soldier.
“I don’t know which way they went.” She answered. “Go after them quickly. You may catch them.” The soldier nodded, and left in pursuit.
She couldn’t believe the ruse worked and then started to tremble. What had she done? Her lies would be considered an act of treason. And yet, she felt she’d done the right thing. She trusted the two Israelite men, and she believed in their God. She went up to the roof and confessed to the Israelites her belief: their God was the true God—the only God—and ruler of the heavens above and the earth below.
Rahab helped the Israelites plan their escape and then made a request. She asked if they would spare her and her family when they returned to Jericho with their army. The men agreed. She helped them elude the searching soldiers and get away. And then Rahab waited. She waited to be saved by the Israelite army and her new God.
Written for the “Hebrews: Heroes of Faith” series for MSBC, Sunday, February 12, 2017.
All photos courtesy of pixabay.com