Rahab (Joshua 2, 6)
“Ema, Ema!” cried the young boy as he came charging into the house. Two other boys and a young girl followed close behind.
“Abba says it’s almost Passover!” he yelled joyfully as the herd of children ran headlong toward where their mother stood, diligently scrubbing the family table.
“Yes, Jeremiah. It is.” Rahab said, continuing to scrub the table, “and there is much to be done. Have you and your brothers and sister finished caring for the lamb?”
The small assembly of children nodded seriously. “Yes, Ema. Abba helped us.”
“Good,” Rahab said, pausing for a moment to smile at her children.
“And Abba said, once we’re done with the lamb, we could come inside and you’d tell us the story.” Jeremiah said expectantly.
“Oh, Jeremiah, I have so much to do to get ready. There’s still so much to clean,” she sighed.
“But you can stop for just a little while and tell us all the story again, can’t you Ema?” said a strong, adult voice from the doorway, “Especially if we all agree to help with the cleaning that still needs to be done.”
Rahab looked intently at her husband and sighed. “oh, Joshua, really?”
He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his wife, “Yes, my love, your story is just as important as the one we’re going to tell tomorrow night.”
“Alright,” she said dropping the cleaning cloth on the table and lowering herself into a nearby chair, “but you all have lots of cleaning to do when I’m done.”
A cheer erupted from the children, joined by Joshua’s equally loud yell. They collapsed into a pile at her feet, resulting in a few moments of commotion as seating arrangements were negotiated. Once the dust settled, Joshua was found sitting with their daughter on his lap. The two younger boys sat crunched against him on one side while their oldest, Jeremiah, sat on the other. Joshua stretched out his arms and encircled them all in a great hug before turning his attention expectantly back to his wife.
Rahab drew in a deep breath, folded her hands in her lap, and closed her eyes. She sat silently for a moment, allowing the years to fall away until she was again sitting in the small room that had been her home in the city of Jericho so many years ago.
She opened her eyes and began to speak,
“The sun was sinking low in the sky when they arrived at my door. Hearing their knock, I opened the door, prepared to attend to the needs of those who sought me out.”
As she spoke those final words, she gave Joshua a knowing glance. The two of them had long ago crafted this language in order to conceal Rahab’s former profession from their children until they were old enough to be told the full story—she had been a prostitute.
Joshua smiled at her, squeezing their children tighter, and nodding his head for her to continue.
“I opened the door and the two men almost fell over themselves trying to get in. I leapt aside as they collapsed into a heap on my floor.”
“Close it! Close the door!” they whispered anxiously.
Confused, I quickly pushed the door closed, glancing out before I did to see what danger was lurking outside. The street was empty, there was no one there.
“How may I serve you?” I asked them.
“We need a place to spend the night,” one of them said, as he stood up and dusted himself off. “My name is Phinehas and this is Caleb,” he said, gesturing to the other man who still sat somewhat stunned on the floor.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” I said, smiling. Then, as I bent down to help the second man to his feet, something registered in my head. “Wait, Phinehas and Caleb? Those are Hebrew names.”
“Uhm, well, yes, I suppose they are,” said Phinehas, glancing apprehensively at Caleb who had taken hold of my outstretched hand.
“I know why you’re here,” I said, fear filling my voice as I dropped Caleb’s hand. “You’re here to destroy Jericho!”
The two looked intently at one another and then back at me.
“Don’t deny it. We all know your God has promised you this land, has promised you Jericho. We’ve seen and heard what has been happening. Didn’t you find it strange the city was so empty. The people are fleeing—they know what’s coming. They’ve seen how powerful your God is, how strong your armies are. More than half the city has escaped—and the King is furious! He has promised to hunt down any Hebrews that enter our town and hang them off the city walls for all to see!”
“That’s what we’d heard,” said Caleb, finally breaking his silence. “That’s why we need your help. We need a place to hide, and help getting out of the city before the King tracks us down.”
I stood there looking at these two men and wondering, was it worth the risk? And then a voice seemed to fill my mind, “Help them,” it said, “help them.”
“Alright,” I said, “come with me.” I took them up to the roof and hid them under the flax I had laid out to dry. “Keep quiet,” I said, “anyone who comes I’ll deal with.” And just as I was turning to leave another thought entered my mind.
“I’m saving you,” I said, “I need you to save me. Me and my family. Promise me you’ll keep us safe no matter what comes.”
The two men looked at each other again and nodded. Caleb reached down and pulled a long, crimson thread off of his shirt. “Here,” he said, “take this. Keep it safe. When you hear our armies are coming, tie it outside your window. Then you and your family lock yourselves inside. We’ll make certain no harm comes to you.”
I nodded, and took the thread, tying it around my wrist for safe keeping. The next morning, I lowered them out the window and watched them as they ran for the hill country.
“The end,” Rahab said, preparing to stand up and return to her cleaning.
“Wait! Did it work?” cried Jeremiah, “Did you use the thread? Did it keep you and your family safe?”
Rahab bent and kissed her eldest on the forehead.
“I don’t know, my son, you tell me” she said as she pulled up her sleeve, revealing a worn crimson thread wrapped delicately around her wrist. “You tell me.”
Questions to ponder
What was your favorite part of the story?
Where did you see God in the story?
What is God inviting you to try on today in light of the story?
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