One of my abiding doubts which could never be clarified from those sermons i had heard from pulpits was: Why do the preachers always harp on her harlotry when talking about Rahab’s faith and why did God rehabilitate her and include her in the Hall of Faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11:31?
The niggling underlying doubt was, Did Rahab repose her Faith in God or did she obtain a favour from Joshua as a reward for having hidden and saved the lives of the two spies from Israel? If it was a contractual obligation on the part of Joshua to honour the assurances of the spies, where is the question of Faith?
This question was neither answered nor touched upon, probably the Preachers had to deal with the moral issue involved in dealing with a person whose references in the whole Bible is invariably juxtaposed with her profession of harlotry. Notwithstanding such a judgemental reiterative reminder, at least the preachers should have gone beyond the ‘moral fibre’ of Rahab.
In fact, in one of the sermons i had listened to, the Preacher had mentioned that Rahab was the mother of Boaz, which i not only found amusing but was seen by me as an attempt to hallow the profane, by downplaying the references to the profession of Rahab. In an attempt to debunk that hypotheses i had written a blog many years back, which had gained a lot of traction in Google searches and till date receives a first page listing!: https://movid.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/was-boaz-mother-rahab-of-jericho-2/
Many a time have i read the verses relating to Rahab, but the verse which escaped my sincere application of mind was the following verse:
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.
கர்த்தர் உங்களுக்கு தேசத்தை ஒப்புக்கொடுத்தாரென்றும், உங்களைப்பற்றி எங்களுக்குத் திகில் பிடித்திருக்கிறதென்றும், உங்களைக்குறித்து தேசத்துக் குடிகள் எல்லாரும் சோர்ந்துபோனார்களென்றும் அறிவேன்.
These were the words of Rahab, even before the priests had touched the ‘verge of Jordan’ or even before Joshua had met with the Captain of the Host of the Lord outside the plains of Jericho. Rahab had heard stories of what the children of Israel had done to the Amorite Kings and King Og.
These stories had inspired fear in the minds of the people of Jericho and Rahab predicts something which was to happen, she was not merely taking an assurance from those Israeli spies; Rahab was sure that the Israelites would take over Jericho and that the King of Jericho would be defeated, much before all these events were even to become a probability! At that moment, Rahab DOES NOT give any of the credit to the commanders or the leaders of the army but draws an inference from the preceding improbable events of the parting of the Red Sea thus:
10 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.
11 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.
12 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:
It is easy to be distracted by the constantly harped profession of Rahab, and miss this most important point.
These events, which were highly improbable and nigh impossible (possible only by hindsight – because it is written that it had happened) led Rahab to a conclusion: THAT IT CANNOT BE HUMAN EFFORT OR CHANCE. Even if the Red Sea had parted by chance because of certain types of tides and winds, how could such events like defeating the Amorite kings, favouring the Israelites happen consistently again and again?
It is that FAITH in the God of Israel which she believed in, which gets exalted in the Epistle to Hebrews. The fact that she sought temporal benefits of relief to her family, is not the basis of the text in the Hebrews, but her faith in the God of Israel which is the basis of the reference.
It is that FAITH which exalted Rahab to the Hall of Faith, enshrined in the Epistle.