Faith in unexpected placesJoshua sent two spies in to Jericho. They went to stay at the house of a prostitute named Rahab. Somehow word of their presence in the city leaked to the King of Jericho who sent soldiers to capture the men, but Rahab misdirected the soldiers leading them to believe that the men had already left, while she had hidden them on the roof of her house.
It was good spycraft for the men to go to the house of prostitute. It was a likely place for strangers to go and it was not unexpected to find strange visitors there. It was also a good place to pick up gossip and look for inside information. Unfortunately this cut both ways, because it is likely that one of the "regular" customers might have been a palace official who noticed the two strangers with strange accents who they identified as Israelites. This is probably how the king heard about them...
What is interesting about this passage is the role that Rahab plays. She is obviously an influential woman as the soldiers don't doubt her word or dare to search her place. Very often people in Rahab's position have a lot of influence because of the secrets they know. Many of her "customers" would prefer their connection to her not to be revealed. Also, people in Rahab's profession often develop a tough cynical exterior because they see men at their most unfaithful.
But Rahab surprises us. She protects the men and reveals great spiritual sensitivity. She reveals to the spies that God has already gone ahead of Joshua, placing fear and dread in the hearts of the citizens of Jericho. She also reveals a sophisticated theology. Whereas local religion depicted pagan gods as localised and shadowy, Rahab uses the covenant name of the Lord ("LORD") three times and she identifies him as "God in heaven above and on the earth below."
This is God's first word to Joshua. Here, unexpectedly, in a brothel of all places, the spies find a woman of faith and they find that God has already conquered the hearts of their enemies.
|But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them." 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. |
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you 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. 10 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. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. (Joshua2:4-11)