Rahab welcomes the Israelite spies into her home, protects them, and declares her belief that their God, YHWH, is the true God. Rahab is clearly a hero—a Canaanite prostitute hero. Considering that, were she an Israelite, Rahab’s vocation would cause her to be stoned according to Leviticus’ laws, one would be rightfully perplexed at her elevation. What does it mean that the book of Joshua treats Rahab as a hero, and one who will become even greater in the story that God is telling (Matthew 1:5)?
I offer one simple reflection. Rahab’s story proves that God receives with grace anyone who seeks YHWH in truth. Rahab certainly grew up worshipping false gods, but she reveals her openness to the truth by recognizing that the true God is the one who rescued Israel from Egypt and defeated the Amorite kings. Rahab is shown kindness (Joshua 6:17), but more importantly, she models the proper response that the peoples of the nations should give to Israel and their God. Unsurprisingly, Jesus, the descendant of a prostitute, will be a friend to them when they come to Him desperate for His salvation (Luke 7:36-50). God welcomes those who genuinely desire His mercy no matter their origins or stations in life.