Rahab in the Bible: Profile, Story and Lessons

by Crystal McDowell · Print Print · Email Email

Have you ever watched a movie with a brave hero or heroine? I’m always drawn to that deciding moment when they weigh their choices—sacrifice or submit. They could sacrifice their lives or they could submit to fear. Rahab’s story is one of sacrifice, redemption, and hope for each of us who want to be that hero or heroine in the Christian faith for our families and/or community.

The Story           

Joshua sent spies to Jericho and they lodged at the house of Rahab, the prostitute. Her quick thinking gave them time and opportunity to get back to their camp. In return, she asked that they would spare her family from death. The spies guaranteed safety as long as her family remained in her home during the onslaught and scarlet rope was in her window. When the city of Jericho was being taken, Rahab and her family were rescued and led out to a place outside of the camp. Rahab later became the wife of Salmon, the great-great-grandmother of King David, and an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Believers can glean from Rahab’s life as she was a woman of faith, courage, and love.

Woman of Faith

Faith is the opposite of fear. “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). Rahab’s fear could’ve led her to turn the spies over—perhaps leading to their death. However, Rahab made the choice of faith in the face of fear and it led to the deliverance of her family.

Faith requires action. “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction” (James 2:25). Rahab’s faith was tested by what she did more than what she thought or felt about the situation. She could’ve passed on helping the spies; yet “faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Her actions defined her faith in God.

Faith gets the attention of God. “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31). Rahab confessed her faith in God before anything was done for her. She couldn’t know for certain that her family would be spared, but she had faith. It is impossible for anyone to please God without faith in Him.

Questions to ponder: What do you think Rahab was doing in the time between the spies’ departure and the fall of the city? How do you demonstrate your faith on a daily basis?

Woman of Courage

It takes courage to overcome the past. “So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there” (Joshua 2:1). The Bible doesn’t hide the failings of people and Rahab’s reputation was tainted by her sinful past. She had to put her past behind her in order to move forward in God’s plan for her life.

When the city of Jericho was being taken, Rahab and her family were rescued and led out to a place outside of the camp.

When the city of Jericho was being taken, Rahab and her family were rescued and led out to a place outside of the camp.

It takes courage to assume risk. But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof” (Joshua 2:6). Rahab had no foreknowledge that the spies were to lodge at her inn. It was dangerous for her to hide the spies as well as trusting in her family to secrecy. Her act of courage came at a great risk of life and death.

It takes courage to change the course of your life. “They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel” (Joshua 6:23). Rahab’s family had only pagan rituals and religion as their guide. Their life destiny took a completely different course from what they’d ever experienced in Jericho.

Questions to ponder:  How do you think Rahab was able to convince her family to go along with the plan without betraying her? What courageous acts of faith have you undertaken lately?

Woman of Love

Love protects family. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death” (Joshua 2:12-13). Rahab’s first concern was for the safety of her family. Since she was unmarried and without children,  Rahab could’ve saved herself and avoided the risk of involving family members.

Love covers a multitude of sins. “Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed,  Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David” (Ruth 4:20-22). The first mention of Rahab’s husband, Salmon, is in the book of Ruth. Rahab, the former pagan prostitute, gave birth to a son that would lead to the most influential Israelite king, David. Her great-great-grandson would pen heartfelt songs of praise, worship, and prayers to God that are still used to this day.

Love can be felt down through the generations. Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (Matthew 1:5, 17) Who would’ve thought Rahab would be mentioned in the lineage leading to Jesus Christ? Her faith in the God of the heavens and earth continued down the line of generations to Joseph and Mary. The influence of our faith in God will continue if we remain steadfast in our prayers.

Questions to ponder: What do you think Rahab and her family were taught about God when they were set aside the camp? What are you doing today to secure a godly seed until Jesus comes back?

Rahab is a heroine for all believers who need a greater measure of faith, a strong dose of courage, and a larger capacity to love others. Meditate on Joshua 2 and learn from her extraordinary example to experience a deeper level of spiritual growth in Christ Jesus.

Read about another woman of the Bible here:

Samaritan Woman at the well

Resource – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek Hill April 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This is a wonderful article Crystal. I have learned much from you today and I appreciate your knowledge on Rahab’s family life. God bless!


Crystal McDowell April 6, 2013 at 12:08 am

Thanks Derek! I love Rahab more after studying her story.



Patricia Schneider April 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Great article, Crystal! Always enjoyed reading about Rehab…her faith, her courage, her love for her family, and her lineage to Jesus Christ! Thanks for sharing this!
Your sister in Christ, Jesus…Patty


Crystal McDowell April 6, 2013 at 12:10 am

All glory to God! Isn’t it encouraging to look at the women in the Bible and see them as REAL women struggling with REAL issues? There’s so much to gain from Bible study.

God bless! Thanks for your words of affirmation.



Jack Wellman April 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

To see how God has regard for the lowly and to reflect on my past life, God’s grace is even so much more amazing than words can describe. My own beloved wife is more than I deserve for I have been the greater beneficiary of her unconditional love…much of what is reflected in the story of Rahab. Well done Crystal. Thank you.


Crystal McDowell April 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Thanks Jack!


Edem Akpan April 14, 2013 at 11:57 pm

This is a great lesson of faith to believers. It does encourage the believers not to give up their faith and hope. Thanks so much. May God bless you and continue to prosper your ministry.


Crystal McDowell May 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Thank you for your words of encouragement.


Chikanma John July 10, 2013 at 2:14 am

the difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how we approach them. truly,God is the impossibilities specialist. He is not a one way traffic God.the story of Rehab tells that God is still interested in both good and bad ones only if we can open our doors for Him.thanks for your captivating words and encouragement.


Crystal McDowell July 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

Thank you for your encouragement and insight. God bless!


Pauline October 1, 2016 at 9:58 am

Thank you for the article on Rahab,
It also reminds us that Regardless of our history, Jesus never sees us as unworthy, that is a love beyond all understanding, praise God!


Jack Wellman October 1, 2016 at 10:35 am

Thank you Pauline. Very well said.


Godspower Ugboh November 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

The moment we say yes, God transforms us and redeems us from our horrific past. The moment we yield to his will, He changes the world through us no matter what challenges may be out there. Rehab’s story of unparalleled faith is a blessing to those who want to take the “risk” with God. Thanks for the beautiful article.


Liezl February 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I have found this very helpful as I am preparing to lead our Ladies biblestudy on Rahab. I would like to ask permission to share your insight and work with them. Thank you for your time and studying of the scripture to bring us clear understanding.
In Christ Liezl


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