By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace – Hebrews 11:31
Why do women become prostitutes? Some do it as a means of supporting themselves while for a vast majority, it is best option they have. Many of them struggle with being poor and destitute compounded by limited work options. Sometimes, they are the only breadwinners and they need the income. Some of women have admitted that they are attracted to the profession by the amount of money they can earn while they are still young. Others see it as a way to pay for their university education and further advancement. Most of them intend to leave the business once they have earned the amount they want or need.
There are those who see themselves as helping men save their marriages by providing what is lacking at home. Others help to get rid of the loneliness men experience when on business trips. Some women turn to prostitution because they were sexually abused in their childhood.
Streetwalkers are addicted to drugs and many were forced into prostitution against their will. Sex trafficking is the prevalent evil, money-making business of criminals who kidnap and enslave girls. Girls as young as ten-years of age are taken from their countries and sold into prostitution far away from their native homes.
Prostitution is rarely by choice and when a woman sells herself, it is done out of necessity. Why was Rahab a prostitute? Was it out of necessity? Poverty? Or simply to earn a livelihood? Whatever the reason, God had other plans for her life.
Rahab’s life changed when two spies went to Jericho where she and her family lived. They went to her house where they lodged. No doubt, God had sent them there. Somehow, the king of Jericho found out and he sent a message to Rahab to bring the men out. She hid them and sent word to the king that the men went to her but she didn’t know where they came from. She said that while it was dark and the gate was about to be shut, the men left and she had no idea where they went. “…pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.”
After the men left, the city gate was closed. She went up onto the roof where she had hidden the two spies and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
The men promised that if she didn’t divulge their business to anyone, they would deal kindly with her when the Lord gave them the land. So, she let them down by a rope through a window. Her house was situated on the city wall. She advised them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”
The men told her to tie a red cord in the same window where she let them down and to make sure that her family was in the house with her when they returned. Rahab swore to do what they told her and after they left, she tied the cord. The two men went to the mountain and stayed there for three days until their pursuers returned Jericho after having unsuccessfully trying to find them. The two spies returned safely to Joshua and told him everything which had transpired. They believed that God had delivered the land into their hands based on what Rahab had told them about all the inhabitants of the country being fainthearted because of the people of Israel.”
Before the city of Jericho was burned, Joshua told the two spies to bring Rahab and her family out as they swore to her. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwelt in Israel because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. She ended up marrying Salmon, an Israelite and they had a son, Boaz (Matthew 1:5).
Rahab is mentioned in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:31). James, the brother of Jesus said of her, “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (James 2:25).
Rahab is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus because she was the great-great-great grandmother to King David. She believed in the God of Israel and He spared her life. It took great faith and courage to hide the two spies. Rahab, the harlot had become a heroine. God’s plan for her was to rescue her and her family from certain destruction. God wants to rescue women like Rahab who are caught up in the world’s oldest profession because they can see no other way out of their situation.
Sources: Open Society Foundations; Mental Help