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Who Was Rahab in the Bible?

You may be surprised to learn that Rahab was an ancestor of Jesus. Discover how, despite being a harlot, Rahab found favor from God and survived the conquering of Jericho.
Christianity.com Editorial Staff
Who Was Rahab in the Bible?

"Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab" (Matthew 1:5).

Many first-time Bible readers are surprised to learn that the New Testament begins with a genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16), Jesus’ family tree. Those same readers are even more surprised when Rahab shows up on the list.

Most of us know about her. She is almost always mentioned by in the Bible as “Rahab the harlot." But that’s not all. Rahab was also a Canaanite-who were the hated enemies of Israel. Her most exemplary deed was telling a lie. Think about that. A Harlot, a Canaanite and a liar. You wouldn’t think she would have much chance of making the list, but there she is.

The Bible Story of Rahab

From the book of Joshua, when the Hebrews were camped at Shittim, in the Jordan valley across from Jericho, Joshua sent out two spies to examine the fighting force of Jericho. The spies hid in Rahab's house, which was constructed into the city wall. The men sent to seize the spies asked Rahab to bring them out. Rather, she covered them under bunches of flax on the roof, protecting them from being captured. Rahab said to 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. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 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. “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 2:9-13 NIV

After escaping, the spies agreed to spare Rahab and her family after conquering the city, even if there were to be a slaughter if she would designate her house by placing a red cord out the window.

When the city of Jericho fell, Rahab and her whole family were saved from the agreement of the spies and were included among the Jewish people.

What We Can Learn From Rahab

Rahab's life a great story with many lessons, but we mustn’t miss the point that Rahab was a harlot. That was her “trade.” The men hid there because people would be accustomed to seeing strangers come and go at all hours of the night. We also can’t deny the fact that Rahab told a bald-faced lie. Is there anything good we can say about her? Yes! She was a woman of faith. You don’t have to take my word for it. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith Rahab ...” She was a believer!

Many people are intimidated by Jesus Christ. They hook him up with a lot of religious paraphernalia-big sanctuaries, stained glass, beautiful choir, pipe organs, formal prayers, and all the rest. When they look at the trappings, it’s all very intimidating to them. To many in the world today, Jesus seems too good to be true.

This genealogy is in the Bible to let us know that he had a background a lot like yours and mine. He called himself “the friend of sinners,” and he said he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He said, “The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10)

The same grace that Rahab experienced is now available to you. I invite you in Jesus’ name to come and be forgiven. He’s already made the first move. The next step is up to you.

Excerpts for this Article taken from Rahab: Harlot, Liar... Ancestor of Jesus? by Ray Pritchard

Originally published April 01, 2019.