Rahab: Redeemed and Restored

Posted on August 19, 2020


By David Ettinger

This fictional story is based on the biblical account in Joshua Chapters 2 & 6.

Rahab had not visited her parents’ home in more than five years, and yet, here she was standing outside of their door. She was about to knock, but quickly pulled her hand back. She was uncertain. Would they slam the door on her? Would they invite her in? Would they throw their arms around her in a magnanimous gesture of forgiveness?

Knowing, however, that this was no time for doubt or conjuring up visions of her past, Rahab took a deep breath, stretched out her arm … and knocked.

The door opened.

It was her mother.

She gasped.

There was a terrible silence.

And finally …

“Rahab …”

Her mother took two slow steps toward her daughter and gingerly placed her arms around her neck. Rahab was grateful. She wanted to embrace her mother as tightly as she could, but knew that would be going too far. Instead, she raised both arms and barely grazed her mother’s back.

It had been so very long since she felt her mother’s touch. The last time had been five years back when she told her parents that their home was too crowded with siblings and that she wanted to branch out on her own. They did not approve of their 19-year-old daughter’s decision, preferring that she accept one of the suitors who had sought to marry her. But she disliked them all and refused to subjugate herself to a man she knew she could never love.

So, after kissing her mother good-bye, Rahab left her parents and made her way to the opposite end of little Jericho. It did not take her long to discover that there wasn’t much for a single woman to do to make a living. Well, there was one. Prostitutes were able to make their own way in life, so, after a few months when both her money and food were gone, Rahab made the best use possible of her youth and good looks and began her new life as a harlot.

It proved prosperous.

And it cost Rahab her family.

Upon discovering Rahab’s life “choice,” her parents dispatched their oldest son to bring her back home. She refused. They disowned her.

Now, five years later, she had returned.

“Are you and father well?” she asked.

Rahab’s mother began to cry softly.

“We are … my daughter.”

“May I come in?”

Rahab’s mother nodded and the two sat. No one else was home.

“Mother,” Rahab struggled, her words prepared, but her nerves making them difficult to utter. “I come to you on an urgent matter.”

“What has happened, Rahab?”

“Yesterday, two Hebrew spies came to me – they were on a mission from their God.”

Her mother shuddered. Like everyone else in Jericho, she feared the Israelites who were amassed 7 miles east of the city beyond the Jordan River. They all knew about these strange people whose God had parted the Red Sea for them and had later given them victory over two powerful kings. The people of Jericho knew they were Israel’s next target and that they could not stand against them.

“Mother,” Rahab continued, “I have bargained with these men. Their God has decreed destruction for our people and our city …”

Rahab’s mother began shaking. Rahab quickly rose and held her tightly by the shoulders.

“But we will be spared, mother,” she assured her. “I hid the spies from the king’s soldiers and kept them safe. In return, they have guaranteed the safety of our entire family. But only if we all gather in my home on the wall. I am to put a scarlet cord in the window. When the army of Israel sees the cord, it will know not to destroy whoever is inside.”

The family consulted and the matter was settled.

It was an odd sensation for Rahab to see her parents, brothers, sisters, their spouses and their children walk through the door of her house. She embraced all of them as they entered, each greeting her with varying degrees of amiability. But they had believed her. As they settled in, she talked with them about the past five years and asked their forgiveness for shaming the family. She told them how much she loved them and that she would never return to such a life again.

They forgave her. After all, their lives now depended on her.

For six days, the armies of Israel marched silently around the city walls of Jericho. The family was baffled by this strange behavior, but at least it gave them time to talk. And get reacquainted. And heal. And reconcile.

On the seventh day, the army of Israel marched around the city seven times, trumpets and rams’ horns blaring throughout the processions. The army then stopped and disgorged a shout that rocked the entire city. Suddenly, Rahab’s home began quaking and swaying. The family huddled together and held each other. Outside, there was the sound of crashing stone and piercing screams. Smoke from the destruction seeped in through the window where the scarlet cord hung.

Two men burst through the door; Rahab recognized them as the spies.

“Come now, all of you,” they ordered. “The entire wall is destroyed except for this one slab. Our army will destroy this city, but all of you are safe. Come with us now.”

The spies led the family out of the crushed city as Israel’s soldiers surged passed them, swords drawn. The family never looked back at the carnage behind them, but kept following the spies through the shallow waters of the Jordan and into a sheltered location outside the Israelite camp.

One of the spies approached Rahab.

“Woman, your family will be safe here. We thank you what you have done for us. God has delivered your family and you may all live among us if you so choose.”

With that, the spies returned to battle.

Rahab’s father came to her.

“My daughter,” he said, his words melting her heart. “You have saved your family and we are grateful.”

He held her tightly in his arms and began to weep. He was joined by the entire family. The former harlot – the disgrace of her parents and siblings – had at last risen from the ashes of her sinful past. Her shame was over. She had never felt so loved in all her life.