Prostitution? Rumours say it's the oldest profession in the world. Actually, the oldest profession is not harlotry by husbandry — honourable farming, from the time of Adam and Eve.
Scripture states that Rahab was a harlot or prostitute. Prostitution would have begun not long after Husbandry. The fire of sexual promiscuity was set alight soon after humans figured it out what cheating was. It would have started in the disobedient tribes of Adam & Eve's other children, and increased from there along with much perverseness.
Then came the flood to wipe out all sin, but it recommenced through Ham and his children. They were disinterested in a Godly way of life, instead choosing the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16 says, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Ham fathered Cush who then fathered the world's first antichrist, Nimrod, and also Canaan, who founded the Land of Canaan and all its spiritual and physical corruption. Rahab was from that region.
There are reasons why women enter prostitution
1. The love or need for money. Both greed and desperation cause us to do things we wouldn't normally indulge in.
2. Forced sex slaves. This has also been around 'since Adam was a boy.' When men realised they could use women to make money, they did so. Organised human trafficking for sex purposes now accounts for around 90% of all prostitution. These poor women for a variety of reasons have been conned into and then trapped in the abhorrent organised sex slave industry, smiling at the client while loathing themselves.
Either way, it is important for the Christian not to generalise how women end up in prostitution. Studies indicate that large numbers of them were victims of child sexual abuse more than anything else.
What was Rahab’s motivation?
Scripture doesn't allude to the basis of her decision to enter the trade. Some writers say she was merely an innkeeper and the harlot bit is a misinterpretation of the Hebrew term. The first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, mentions she was an innkeeper. However, Strong’s concordance directly indicates the original interpretation — harlot, as we know it, yet it makes sense that she was also an innkeeper.
We have the scenario in many western movies, where the town hotel was also the local brothel. This gives us a sound reason why the spies found her in the first place. Otherwise, it seems a bit odd that they would visit a prostitute’s house when on a holy mission for the living God.“Oh, excuse me, can you point me to the town harlot, er, um, I need some information.”
What was the story and the deal?
Joshua sent two spies from the other side of the Jordan River, to spy out the military capacity of Jericho. I suppose it would have been pointless sending twelve spies out, as the last time they did that ten of them returned with a false report. This time they realised two would be fine.
Cunningly, they made their way into Jericho and asked for the Inn. What they got was an Inn, a harlot and loads of information. However, like all communities that live in fear, someone dobbed them into the King. Soldiers were despatched to Rahab’s Inn to return with the newcomers for questioning.
Rahab hid them and told the soldiers another story which would take them on a wild goose chase out of the city for three days. I would think, being a harlot and possibly owning a brothel, Rahab would have been adept at telling those types of stories. You know, just an innocent face while she’s wiping down the bar,“no, they left earlier. If you hurry you will catch them.”
Joshua 2:9 speaks of her faith, as she says to the spies,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.
Jericho had been in fear for forty years, awaiting the arrival of this human caravan bound for Canaan. Forty years is a long time, but not when you are in expectant fear.
Joshua 2:12-14 explains the deal, with Rahab starting the negotiations and the spies countering with a proviso.Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew 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.
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.
V17-18 completes the deal. 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.
That result is precisely what happened. Israel came across a dry Jordan River, the banks of which overflowed at that time of the year, marched around the city until the Lord's Word was performed, then the wall collapsed. The slaughter took place, as it needs to with all sin, and Rahab's family were rescued. Joshua sent his two favourite spies to collect Rahab, her family and some goods.
Faith on a handshake deal. I really love the fact that both Rahab and the spies accepted this deal on a handshake. I suppose in the circumstances they could do nothing else, but even the terms of the deal were discussed and agreed upon merely based on the word of each other, and held sacred.
We might think the killing of people is so unnecessarily brutal, but not enough is written about the depth of wickedness in Canaan. We need to remind ourselves of some of their practices — Lucifer worship, sacrificing of children, incest, paedophilia, murders, thievery and every wickedness mentioned in the Law of Moses was happening in Canaan. Their people were despicable, which makes Rahab's story all the more remarkable.
Sodom and Jericho
This scene is identical to Sodom and Lot, years earlier. Lot was given safe passage out just before Sodom's destruction. Two angels came to warn him. Rahab was given safe passage out and two spies warned her. Lot despised all he had and didn't look back. He had to build a new life. Rahab despised all she had, leaving it all behind, to enter a new world with nothing but salvation and the clothes on her back.
Some underlying facts of the Rahab adventure
1. Rahab had made some good money, as she had a well-located house where people could see her place from inside and outside the city walls.
2. Scripture doesn't state whether she was divorced from her family or not. All it tells us is that she wanted them saved.
3. It seems clear that she was not married.
4. Were these Israelites bringing a whore into the camp? No. they were bringing in a forgiven heart with a past. The Law about whores was given 40 years earlier and reiterated very recently by Moses before he died. They were all well versed in it. Deuteronomy 22:21 states,Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
So they understood God's view of this type of sexual promiscuity. With that going on how do the leaders then make peace and sacrifice with God? God says, clean up your act first and then come and offer sacrifices.
This whore had the heart of a believer. How often have we misjudged people, often before we have met them, based on stories or their occupation? And how interesting the heart is. How refreshingly free that God can see it all, heal it all, and forgive it all.
Joshua properly left Rahab and her family outside the camp as they did with the unclean. Inside the camp, they were sanctified. (Joshua 3:5), and that needed to be maintained. When uncleanness or ungodliness entered the camp, God removed himself and Israel's warriors lost battles.
As Christians, this is of prime importance for winning our spiritual battles. Sometimes we feel as if we are too weak to resist sin. Well, these warriors had to make the same decisions as we do, and they were able to do it.
The battle strategy
It is interesting in this rescue scenario that, despite Joshua knowing God was with them and therefore on the balance of probabilities they could not lose, he still sent spies out into the land to determine Jericho’s military strength.
As Christians, this is important to note. We do not charge into spiritual situations without first asking many questions, putting it to prayer and working out a plan. God does the work but wants smart work from us.
Rahab lived in the Promised Land, long before the people of promise arrived. It was indeed the Promised Land for Rahab.
I think it is marvellous and typical of how the Lord works — His complete commitment to judging justly and not as we do so many times by our human sight — that he would allow the first person to be saved in the promised land to be a harlot. I just love that so much. God reaches down into places we don't even bother looking at.
It is mocking to ‘religions’ that Rahab is THE first person in history to be saved in the Promised Land. None of the religious men of the city converted or had their ear open to the call of God.
God can make the world from nothing, hold back the red sea, keep a generation alive on Manna, hold back the Jordan river, collapse the walls of Jericho and take the city. yet, the hardest thing God has to contend with is the human heart.
Indeed, the last shall be first. A person can be elevated to be the leader of society, a country or even the world, but nothing ranks higher than ‘SAVED.’
Eh 2:7-9 says,For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Rahab’s works were based upon her faith in the living God. She knew, just by hearing about the miraculous works of God that He was the Saviour. That was all she needed.
Long before Joshua arrived, her mind was on a pathway to the Lord. She believed. Despised by everyone except her clientele, and even by some of them, this woman of faith had a secret in her heart. The miracles were enough for her to believe. Nobody in that entire place could see what Rahab saw. Today we have many people in high places that cannot see like Rahab, despite their education, money and prestige.
Rahab saw with her spirit, not her eyes. Amongst a city full of fearful unbelievers, there she stood a hidden light. She could have lived her faith out aloud but it would have cost her her life. Now she is a light on a hill for us all to see.
Would Rahab have thought she would become so famous just through a simple act of faith?
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
God did not care what she had done in the past. He cared where her heart really was and where her dreams lay. Her works displayed her faith. We cannot judge by the sight of our eyes or by rumours.
Rahab saved all her family the same way those same Israelites saved their families forty years earlier — by the blood upon the doorposts and lintels of their houses. Except Rahab used cloth of similar colour — a scarlet sheet dangling from the window so her Saviour could see it. I wonder if she had heard that story as well and used the same principle?
James 2:25 testifies to her great faith says. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way?
2. It is recognised that this same harlot, Rahab, married an Israelite, Salmon, and became an ancestor of King David and of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:5-6 states, And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king;
When Rahab married Salmon, who was with Joshua's team, she went from a harlot to being related by marrige to the High Priest, Eleazer. Salmon's grandfather, Aminadab, was brother-in-law to Aaron, Israel's original High Priest and brother to Moses.
How wonderful are God's plans and acts! The last indeed shall be first with the Lord.