The Harlot of Jericho
(Joshua chapters 2 and 6)
by Susan E. Todd

Rahab was a prostitute. There is no denying it or pretending that it isn't true. It is a fact. That is the first thing that is said about her as a way of an introduction to who she is. (Joshua 2:1) And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Now when Joshua sent out these two men to spy out the land why do you suppose they went immediately to the house of a harlot when no doubt there were countless other inns or places they could have lodged in? Were they indulging themselves in a little pleasure before they carried out their assignment? Not a chance. Don't even think that!

Who would know better about her own city and the people that lived there than someone who knew everything that was going on in Jericho? Who would know all the latest gossip? Who could best get men to tell their secrets? A prostitute. Can God use a prostitute? Of course He could. Did He? In this case He did and she was rewarded in a way that only a few other women in the Bible who weren't Jewish were. We'll see how later.

So the first thing we notice about Rahab is that she was kind to Joshua's men. This was unusual because Rahab was an Amorite and, of course, the spies were Jewish.

The second thing she did was to turn her back on her own people. All of Jericho knew why the spies had come. (Joshua 2:2-3) And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

It was obvious that Rahab's house was being watched. Which I'm sure was not an unusual thing for a prostitute. After all, people were curious to see who was going there and gossip is a very popular pastime. So when the king of Jericho heard the news about the spies he immediately sent for Rahab to find out what was going on and what she knew. What he didn't expect was that her loyalty had shifted from him to the God of the Israelites.

(Joshua 2:4-5) And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. Rahab lied to protect the men of God.

Now a lot of people get upset with Rahab at this point for lying. But don't forget who she was. Rahab was a heathen woman. She was a prostitute. She was a sinner and she was not saved. Do you think for a minute that she had a guilty conscience about this? Don't count on it. It came very naturally to her. As a prostitute it was second nature. Does this give us the license to lie in order for us to accomplish something good? Not for a minute.

Listen very carefully. God did not bless Rahab for lying. God blessed her for her faith. (Joshua 2:6-8) But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; Rahab hid the men at her own house. She was taking a chance since her house was obviously being watched. But she now had the Lord on her side.

(Joshua 2:9-11) And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

What a testimony from a heathen woman. All the people of Jericho feared the God of Joshua's men because of the stories they had heard. But Rahab had something that the rest of the people did not. She had a "heart knowledge" of God and not just a "head knowledge." I believe that Rahab got saved. The first thing that a brand new Christian will do is to bring someone else to that same saving knowledge.

(Joshua 2:12-14) Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. Rahab cared for her family and wanted to save them. Rahab was a true soul-winner.

(Joshua 2:15-16) Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. Rahab told the men to stay hidden for three days.

(Joshua 2:17-20) And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.

Rahab was saved by the same scarlet thread that she used to help the men escape. It was literally a lifeline. What do you suppose was the significance of the cord being scarlet? I believe that it represented the blood of Christ, which is our only means of salvation.

(Ephesians 1:7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

(Joshua 2:21) And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window. Rahab believed the promise immediately. She was told to bind the cord in her window when the men came back but she did it as soon as they left. What faith. Is it any wonder that God blessed her?

(Joshua 6:17) And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. Rahab was saved by her faith and her works. (Don't forget, Old Testament salvation was by both faith and works.)

Look at James 2:25, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"

Let's look at Joshua 2:12-13 again. "Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death."

Rahab could have pleaded just for her own life. After all, she was the one who hid the spies, she was the one who had to face the king of Jericho and answer to him for letting the spies into her house, she was the one who lied and put her life in danger for these men, her house was searched, she did all the work. What did her family ever do for her?

Can you imagine the shame she brought upon her family for her "profession?"

Picture this: Rahab's parents meet some of their former neighbors at the market. These people used to live in the next tent about twenty years ago when Rahab and her brothers and sisters were little kids. They ask her parents, "How are the children?" "Oh," says her mother beaming, "Our oldest son is a doctor now. Our youngest son is a lawyer, he always was very smart, you know. Our two oldest daughters are married to fine young men and have several children each." "That's wonderful," the neighbor says, "And what about little Rahab. I remember her when she was this high." "Oh, Rahab, well she's a prostitute. We're so proud!!"

Do you think that is what her family said? I don't. Being a prostitute was something that brought shame to a family not pride or happiness. Rahab's family may have shunned her. We don't know. The Bible doesn't say. And it really isn't important. Don't read too much into what is not in the Bible, concentrate on what is there.

The point is this. No matter what the situation was with her family one thing is very clear. Rahab wanted to save them too. Not just her mother and father, but her brothers and sisters and their spouses and children, her grandparents if they were still alive, verse 13 says "and all that they have."

(Joshua 6:22-25) But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

RAHAB WAS A SOUL-WINNER. She started with her own family. That's a good place to start. Are you witnessing to your family? Are you bringing them to church? Notice I didn't say inviting them, I said bringing them. They won't come on an invitation. If you are a parent and have children that live with you they should be coming with you. You don't need their permission to bring them. You are in charge, right? I hope so.

Andrew was Simon Peter's brother. Look at his response when he "got saved." (John 1:40-42) One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Now look at Philip's response. (John 1:43-46) The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Rahab's family had to be in her house when the spies came back. She didn't have time to go and invite them to come over at their convenience. She had to bring them to her house.

Are you bringing people to Christ? Maybe you are afraid to witness to people. Maybe you don't feel confident enough to lead them to the Lord yourself. No EXCUSE! Bring them to someone who can.

Are you out handing out tracts? What are you doing when your church is out soul-winning? Maybe you work during that time. What other day during the week do you have some time to hand out a few tracts? You can do it while you are walking down the street, in a parking lot, waiting in the doctor or dentist's office, etc.

At the start of our ministry in the Ukraine I did all the printing of our gospel tracts. I had to print in a small bedroom of our apartment because that was the only place that we had available to do it. The constant smell of the ink fumes caused my miscarriage. I lost a baby so we could get the gospel message out to the Ukrainian people. Don't tell me you have other things to do. People are dying and going to hell every day. Jesus died for you and me and everyone else. Is it so hard to hand somebody a piece of paper that may save them from eternal damnation?

Let me remind you what the Bible has to say about soul-winning.

(Proverbs 11:30) The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

(Daniel 12:3) And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

(Ezekiel 33:1-6) Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.

Are you being wise? Do you want to be clothed in righteousness? Are you being a good watchman?

How was Rahab rewarded for her soul-winning efforts? Turn to Matthew 1:5, "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;" Rahab in one of four women, who were not Jewish, that were included in the Messianic line. Do you mean to say that there is a prostitute in Jesus' lineage? God didn't see Rahab as a prostitute, He saw her as a saved sinner and as a soul-winner.

(James 5:20) Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. That's a promise from God.

Be a soul-winner!