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Rahab was a woman referred to as the ‘Righteous Prostitute’ in the Bible because of the help she rendered to the Hebrew spies who were sent by Joshua to size up the enemies in the promised land.
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. HEBREWS 11:31 ESV
You rarely hear the word righteous used to describe a prostitute, but that’s how the Bible depicts Rahab (James 2:25). Though God did not condone her occupation, Rahab’s faith in God and her protective actions of the Hebrew spies made her righteous in God’s eyes.
When the Hebrew people were finally ready to take possession of the Promised Land, Joshua sent two spies into Jericho to size up the enemy (Joshua 2). The spies found safe refuge in the home of a prostitute, where it would not have been unusual for people to be seen coming and going. With such potential activity, the men found her residence a practical place to hide and spend the night. While at her home, the spies were buoyed by the city residents’ fear of the Hebrews and by the help extended to them by Rahab.
In exchange for her protection, the spies gave Rahab instructions that would keep her and her family safe during the upcoming battle. By following these directives, her life was spared when the city was ravaged. As her final reward, she received an honored place in Israel’s history; for in addition to New Testament references that laud her faith, some Jewish traditions indicate that Rahab became the wife of Joshua, the Hebrew leader.
The story of Rahab goes beyond the pages of Joshua and continues into the New Testament Gospels. Tucked in the genealogy of Jesus, we find an unlikely ancestor of the long-awaited Messiah: Rahab. By including unlikely women like Rahab (the prostitute) and Tamar (the woman who had a child with her own father-in-law), God revealed that the Messiah would be the Savior of all people the likable and the undesirables (Matthew 1:5).