Who Was Rahab in the Bible? Her Story & Significance

The story of Rahab in the Bible is interesting and truly remarkable. This is a woman who went from being a harlot to being a heroine of God’s people and later being included in the lineage of Jesus Christ!

Because of her courage and bravery, Rahab ends up saving not only the Israelite spies but ultimately saving herself and her whole family. Her life is transformed as she allows the Lord to lead and guide her, thereby changing the trajectory of her story.

It’s an inspiring story of redemption by the grace and mercy of the Lord. This is a woman who played a significant role in the story of the children of Israel. Her story gives us hope, inspires, encourages, and strengthens our faith in a loving and gracious God. 

Rahab was the mother of Boaz, a man who went on to marry the famous Ruth in the Bible, becoming her kinsman redeemer. Rahab made a name for herself and became a part of history. Let’s take a deep dive into her beautiful story. 

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Who Was Rahab in the Bible?

In the Book of Joshua chapter 2, we meet an unusual heroine by the name of Rahab who plays an important part in God’s plan of redemption. Her story continues in Joshua 6. She was a Canaanite prostitute who lived in the city of Jericho, part of the Jordan Valley. 

The Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River, and under the leadership of Joshua, they were getting ready to cross over and possess the promised land of Canaan. The city of Jericho was a fortress city that stood in their path. 

Joshua sent two spies to investigate the land. When they arrived in Jericho, they went to the house of Rahab. Rahab’s house was upon the city wall of Jericho and doubled as an inn and lodging. (Joshua 2:15) It was strategically positioned to welcome visitors into the city, so it’s not strange that the Israelite spies landed there first.

The king of Jericho heard that spies had come into his city and sent men to Rahab’s house to bring the Israelite spies to him. But Rahab lied and said that they had been there but had left. However, she had hidden them under stalks of flax on her roof. 

She told them to make an oath with her that when they came back to destroy the city, she and her family would be saved. They told her they would do so and that she should put a red scarlet cord on her house so that her family would be protected. 

Rahab proceeded to let the Israelite spies down by a cord through the window. She then advised them to go and hide in the mountains for three days then come out once the king’s men who pursued them had given up and were long gone. They trusted her advice and did so. Finally, they came out and went back to the camp of Israel. 

When the Israelites finally destroyed the city of Jericho, the two spies brought out and saved Rahab and her entire family. 

Rahab went on to become the wife of Salmon, an Israelite from the tribe of Judah, who became the father of Boaz. Boaz married Ruth, and he became the father of Obed, who became the father of Jesse. 

King David’s father was Jesse, and from that lineage came Joseph the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. It had already been prophesied that Jesus Christ would come from the house of David, and indeed Rahab was in that lineage as the great-grandmother of King David!

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Rahab in the Bible Verses

In the Old Testament, we have women like Esther and Ruth who have entire books dedicated to their lives. Then we have those like Sarah or Rebekah who had many chapters written on them. But then many remarkable women like Rahab are only mentioned in a few passages of scripture. 

How many times is Rahab mentioned in the Bible? In both the Old Testament and New Testament, she is mentioned a total of 10 times. These are the key passages where we see her: 

Joshua 2:1

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Joshua 2:3

And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

Joshua 6:17

And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

Joshua 6:23

And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.

Joshua 6:25

And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Psalm 87:4

I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.

Psalm 89:10

Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

Isaiah 51:9

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?

Hebrews 11:31

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

 

James 2:25

Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

Characteristics of Rahab in the Bible

Rahab was a risk-taker. She hid strangers and defied her own king. She could have paid the price with her own life if the spies had been caught in her house, but she was willing to take the chance. 

She loved and cared for others. Since she was the one who helped the spies she could have asked them to spare her only, but she loved her family and asked if they could be spared, too, in the upcoming battle. 

Rahab’s faith is one of her most admirable characteristics. After only hearing of the mighty deeds of the God of Israel, she believed and trusted Him. 

She was obedient and helpful, loyal to the spies and their God. She was a selfless woman who was resourceful and quick-thinking. When the spies came, she quickly thought of where to hide them, how to help them escape, and how she and her family could be saved in the future. 

Rahab’s faith is one of her most admirable characteristics. After only hearing of the mighty deeds of the God of Israel, she believed and trusted Him. 

What Does the Story of Rahab in the Bible teach us?

By faith, Rahab’s name is one of two women mentioned in Hebrews 11, which is popularly known as the Hall of Faith, a collection of Old Testament heroes and heroines. The other woman was Sarah. 

This makes Rahab a woman we need to understand, learn from, and apply those lessons in our own lives. These are the valuable lessons from Rahab in the Bible. 

1) The story of Rahab in the Bible teaches us to be brave.

The prostitute Rahab teaches us to be brave. She could have been killed for hiding the spies but risked her own life to help God’s people. In the end, her whole family was spared from destruction. God rewards and blesses us when we are brave for Him. 

2) Rahab teaches us that anyone can be redeemed. 

There are some people we may think are so sinful that they’re beyond God’s forgiveness and redemption, but that’s not the case. A harlot, a liar, and a worshipper of false gods ended up in the lineage of Christ! 

The Lord can save anyone. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ, and His blood cleanses us from every sin imaginable. We are saved by His grace, not because we are worthy. Anyone can leave their past behind and take up a new life in the kingdom of God. 

3) Rahab’s story teaches us to have faith 

In Joshua 2:9-11, the harlot Rahab gives us an explanation of why she had chosen to help the Israelite spies. She mentioned that she knew the Jewish people had been given the whole land of Canaan and would be victorious in taking over her city.

She had heard of the Red Sea miracle where the Lord had split the water of the Red Sea so that the children of Israel could escape slavery in Egypt. The kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og had been defeated and slain by the Israelites. All this put great fear in the hearts of the inhabitants of the land.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

Because of what she heard, not even what she saw or experienced, she believed in the God of Israel. She confessed that He was the true God of heaven and earth. She therefore chose to align herself with the Jewish people, instead of her own people. 

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20:29

Rahab’s faith is an inspiration and teaches us to trust fully in God who is all-powerful and all-knowing. 

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4) The Story of Rahab in the Bible teaches us to have good works

Rahab not only believed and had faith in God, but she followed through with good works. She helped the Israelite spies to hide and even gave them an escape plan so that the king’s men didn’t catch them. 

She teaches us that good works must follow our faith in God. We must be aware of the needs of those around us and help when we can. 

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James 2:18

Significance of Rahab in the Bible

Rahab is significant as she symbolizes sinners like us who need God’s grace and mercy. Praise God that He forgives our sins when we place our faith in Him alone for our forgiveness and salvation. And not only does He give us salvation, He also gives us a new life. Rahab’s story shows how God transforms lives completely. 

God’s plan is to give us hope, peace, and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and we see His faithfulness to do just that in Rahab’s life. Her story shows that the grace of God is now extended to both the chosen Jewish people, as well as, the Gentiles. In Christ, we are all one and heirs of the kingdom of God. 

Learn More About the Story of Rahab in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into her story, you’ll want to check out this story of Rahab in the Bible study that comes with free resources! 

FREE! Character Bible Study on Rahab

Download these Rahab Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

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Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!



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Tinashe Jaricha is a child of God, saved by His amazing grace. Her passion is to encourage moms to grow in Biblical knowledge. She shares Christian living tips and resources at Our God Is With Us.


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