She was dressed for the evening. Her house on the wall was a hotspot for travelers who wished to procure her services. Painted lips, drawn brows, dimpled cheeks, dimmed light, a glass of wine and some perfume. The perfect magnet, the perfect recipe no man could resist. She was into the oldest profession known to woman-kind. Her name, Rahab.
Ready for business that evening, Rahab heard the knocks on her door. Two men walked in briskly, unusually. She was used to having one customer at a time, though she had often had a few men come around asking for paired service. Maybe these two were the sort that wanted that kind of service. She wasn’t one to be rude, so she let them in as she bolted the door behind them. She would happily tell them that she wasn’t of that sort. Maybe refer them downtown to her colleagues. Maybe ask one of them to wait outside while she attended to the first one. For now, she would offer them some wine and see what they wanted.
The two men sat in the living room as they thanked her for taking them in. They seemed tense, their eyes scanning everywhere in her apartment. One looked towards the bedroom which was just behind where he sat. The other looked down the corridor to where the stairs was. The thought of the flax on the roof crossed Rahab’s mind as her eyes caught the eyes of the fellow looking at the stairs.
It would still be a bit wet, she thought to herself. Thankfully, it didn’t rain today. With some hope and a bit of sunshine in a couople of days, the stalks of flax on the roof would be completely dry. She would go up the stairs to bring them down after she had attended to these two strange men.
Peace be unto you, they both said. Rahab’s heart skipped a beat. Was that an Israeli accent she picked in their voices? She knew that accent well. She had worked the streets at a time before coming to own her own brothel, her home as it were. While she was still on the streets of Jericho, she had cause to serve men from different parts of the world and the Isrealis were always distinct. Circumcision was their trademark. She came to learn that it was a covenant their ancestors made with their God, the same God whom the entire Jericho was now afraid of.
Just last week in the marketplace, she overheard the women talk about a certain God of the Israelites who made a complete spectacle of Pharaoh, Og and Sihon. Three powerful kings and their kingdoms, all conquered by the God of the Israelites. The fear was palpable in the air as even one of her regular clients, a great warrior of Jericho, only asked for a back massage. He couldn’t perform, he said. When she prodded him, it was the same trepidation she had heard of at the marketplace that overwhelmed him. The Israelites and their God. She got a little nosy and asked what name the God of the Israelites was called.
Yahweh, he said.
What sort of name was that? Rahab’s curiosity spiked once again as she now served the two gentlemen a cup of cold water each. They had refused to have any wine. What kind of man didn’t need wine? Definitely not one who sought her specialties. These ones were men on a mission. There was something different about these men.
It was in their eyes
The way they looked at her. Never had any man looked at her that way. With compassion. All her clients had a certain hunger in their eyes, a passion that screamed their wants. These ones had a loving fierceness in theirs. An energy that spoke of their confidence, yet that energy was wrapped in a ball of empathy. Not the pity type, but the type that said we’ve-been-where-you’re-at without using any words. And then, out of nowhere, they broke the silence.
We are spies from Israel, sent to view the land.
Rahab immediately froze. Her face flushed with a gush of blood. Treasonable Felony of the first order! She knew the consequences. The death penalty held for anyone who colluded with Jericho’s enemies.
While she contemplated what response to give her unwelcomed visitors, another set of knocks badgered the door.
Who is it?
–Rahab, it’s me.
She knew the voice very well too. It was her unable-to-perform, back-massage client. The warrior. She sensed he wasn’t alone as the knockings on the door suggested.
Please give me a few minutes to dress up Sir
She hurried the spies up the stairs and hid them with the stalks of flax on the rooftop. She feared for her life, but for theirs more. What the king of Jericho would do to them if they were caught was no where near humane. She would buy them some time to allow them escape, or so she thought. She hurried back to the door, feigning as though she was just getting dressed and putting on her red lipstick, the magical one her mother passed down to her.
Rahab took a deep breath as she felt this inexplicable calm on the inside of her. She checked herself up in the mirror that stood in the hallway. Only then did she notice the change in her own eyes too. It was the same loving fierceness that exuded from the eyes of the spies. She now carried the same power in her own eyes. She felt no fear whatsoever. Complete confidence.
She opened the door to the warrior and his two aides, with a welcoming smile.
Where are the men who came to you to stay the night in your house? he asked with a fair certainty in his voice that they were still around, adding that, they’re spies; they’ve come to spy out the whole country
Rahab acted surprised. She admitted that the two men did come to her, but claimed she didn’t know where they’d come from.
At dark, when the gate was about to be shut, the men left. But I have no idea where they went. Hurry up! Chase them-you can still catch them!
They believed her without hesitation. After all, she had no reason to lie. Her eyes exuded such confidence they took her words as golden truth. Wasn’t she the ‘custodian‘ of the secrets of all men in Jericho? Many great men had let their tongues slip destiny secrets in the heat of passion whilst with her. Secrets she often traded for rewards from the king. Call her a Confidential Informant and you won’t be far from the truth.
She bade the trio farewell as she turned the flower pot outside her door upside down – a sign that meant she had closed for the day. She bolted the door securely behind her as she came back into her home. What an evening, she thought to herself.
Hurrying to the rooftop, she ran to the spies. They’re gone, she whispered.
The spies were very thankful. She had just saved their lives. And according to them, they now owed her their lives. She knew they were going to come back to conquer Jericho. She knew the power they carried. The few minutes they had spent in her house had shown her the power of their God. The word on the lips of everyone in Jericho was of fear of their victory over Jericho, a victory that was sure to bring Jericho to her ruins.
Rahab wanted out! That was her request of them as they asked her how they could repay her. She had had enough of the life she lived, she wanted better. She deserved better. A better life.
Our lives for yours, they promised. But Rahab knew men; she knew that men were full of promises, especially when they had gotten what they wanted from a woman. She had been in that spot too many a time and though she trusted these two, her survival instincts kicked in immediately.
Promise me by Yahweh, by your God, she said. Give me some tangible proof, a guarantee of life…not just for me, but for everyone connected to me
In that instant, Rahab remembered even her younger brother whom she hadn’t spoken to in ages. Though they had their differences, she didn’t wish him death. Oh, and her mother! Her mother who never approved of her profession. And yes, her uncle, the same one whose shameful act of abuse was the trigger for her choice of occupation. Every family member came to her mind. She would save them all, if she could. And yes, she could. This was a once in a lifetime blank cheque.
There then presented the bigger task. Hiding them on the rooftop was the first step. But getting them out of Jericho required tact. Rahab had a plan. Her house was adjoining the city walls and these two looked like they were good at climbing. All they needed was a rope. A sturdy one with which she could let them down through her window. The two spies came prepared. They had a scarlet rope in their rucksack. And it was perfect for the job. Who went about carrying a ‘red‘ rope around? These two obviously. But they seemed to be having a discussion about it amongst themselves. The red rope seemed to be the bone of contention Rahab gave them some minutes before she interrupted.
What’s the matter, Sirs?
They had a strange request of her.
Hang this red rope out the window through which you let us down and gather your entire family with you in your house, they said. When we come back, we will look out for this red rope and we would spare everyone in the house with you. If we don’t see the rope, we are not bound by this oath
It was a pact. A covenant. But on what basis? On the basis of a rope? What was so special about the red rope they had brought?
There was no time for them to explain it to her. She just had to trust them on their word.
The scarlet rope was the saving grace. Rahab clung to the hope that the spies will keep their end of the bargain as she kept hers by putting the rope out on the wall, a sign that showed that she identified with the God of Israel.
And He sure identified with her as well. When on day 7, the people of Israel went round the city of Jericho seven times and gave a loud shout at the seventh time, the wall of Jericho came crumbling.
Where was Rahab’s house? You bet. It was on the same wall of Jericho. How come her house didn’t come crashing when the walls of Jericho fell down flat? The Scarlet Rope.
The spies were sure to look out for Rahab. Her entire household was preserved because she hid the spies in the stalks of flax. One action of faith preserved an entire family. And then, God in His infinite grace, gave Rahab an eternal inheritance.
Matthew 1:5-6 KJV
And Salmon begat Booz of Rahab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;  And Jesse begat David the king.
David’s great grandfather was born to Rahab. Christ Jesus came through the same woman whom today would be considered a reject. She chose the God of Israel and He came through for her well.