The Amazing Rahab

Joshua “secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land,’ he said, ‘especially Jericho’” [Joshua 2:1 – 24].  Joshua, one of the 12 spies sent to scout out the land of Canaan over 40 years before [Numbers 13:1-16], was now sending out spies.  And thus began an exciting spy story.  

Having been a spy, wouldn’t Joshua remember how difficult it was for 12 foreign spies to move about in Canaan without being discovered?  Was that why Joshua sent only two spies instead of 12?

 When the 12 spies were sent out, the Bible listed all their names [Numbers 13].  Why were Joshua’s two spies not named?  Because not naming one’s spies publicly is in the best traditions of espionage?  Or was there another reason?  In omitting the names, was Joshua trying to preserve the marriages and reputation of the two spies, since they spent a night in a prostitute’s home?  Would you want your names recorded in your nation’s official history as having  “entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there” [Joshua 2:1, NIV]? 

 Josephus, the Jewish historian, called Rahab an “innkeeper”.  This is a possible meaning based on the Hebrew root word zun [“feed”] instead of zana [which denotes harlotry and fornication], but the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament found little evidence that a word based on zun was in use in that era.

If Rahab was a prostitute, why did she have a large pile of flax stalks drying on her roof?  Flaw was used for making fine white cloth and linen.  Was she supplementing her ill-gotten income?  Or was she trying to break away from her disreputable profession?

Wasn’t it touching how much she loved her parents, brothers and sisters [Josh 2:13], and wanted to save them from the Israelites?  If she was so very loving towards her family, how could they have allowed her to become a prostitute?  Was there no other way for her to earn a living?  Was she the eldest child of sickly or handicapped parents?  For it was she who negotiated with the two spies, and she alone let them down a rope to escape from Jericho.  What a loving, caring, capable and strong woman Rahab was.

Now Joshua “secretly sent” out the two spies.  Why was the word “secretly” used whereas it was not used when Moses sent out the 12 spies?  Well, it could be because Joshua had experience as a spy and knew that spy missions should be kept secret.  However, there was another reason.

The same day the spies entered Jericho, the king there was told, “Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land” [Josh 2:2].  What?  The spies were discovered so soon?  Either they were betrayed by someone in the Israelite camp, or the internal security apparatus in Jericho was very efficient.  The latter was certainly true, for the location of the two spies was known.  So now we see how important it was for secrecy?

The matter was so serious that the king himself sent a message to Rahab, ordering her to bring out the spies [Josh 2:3].  Why did the king want them to be brought out?  Well, houses in the Middle East, even today, have small rooms, and armed men charging in at night would have to fight in a confined place in the dark.  Many could get injured, or killed, including some by their own people.  In the dark, wouldn’t innocent people in the house get hurt too?

But even before the king’s message came, Rahab had already hidden the two men [2:4]!  Why?  Was it because she knew that the city’s security system was very good?  Or had Rahab noticed that the king’s men were watching her house?  In either case, we know that Rahab was a careful person aware of security matters, and no bimbo. 

She was also quick-thinking and a smooth liar, wasn’t she?  She freely admitted, “Yes, the men came to me” [2:4], but she quickly covered herself by saying that, “I did not know where they had come from”.  Then, realising her mortal danger if the men searched her house, she immediately moved them out of her house and out of the city! “At dusk, before it was time to close the city gate, the men left.  Go after them quickly!  You may catch up with them!”  Wasn’t it really clever of her to mention dusk, when it was turning dark fast and any person watching her house might easily miss the departure of the two spies?

So convincing was Rahab that the king’s men ran off, got the city gate open and went in supposed pursuit of the spies.  Rahab gave an Oscar-winning performance.

But Rahab had no intention of remaining in danger any longer.  Before the spies could lie down to sleep, she went to the roof and drove a hard bargain with them to save her whole family when the Israelites attacked Jericho.  Then she got them out of her house.  But what was most amazing was her declaration that “I know that the Lord has given the land to you…. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you…. for the Lord your God is God of heaven above and on the earth below.”  Wasn’t this a declaration of belief in the God of Israel?  Wasn’t that why God allowed her whole family to be spared and did not punish Israel for sparing them?

Now if a prostitute knew all about Israel’s God and believed in him, did the king and the rest of the population not know all that too?  If they had believed in God like Rahab did, would God not have spared them too?  Unfortunately, they did not turn to God like Rahab did, and perished. 

Which of the following words describe Rahab?

Hard-working?  Diversified?  Filial?  Loving?  Caring?  Capable?  Observant?  Quick-thinking?  Decisive?  Cool under pressure?  Good foresight?  Alert?  Aware?  Great actress?  Good negotiator?  Strong?  Traitor to Jericho?  Believer in Yahweh?  Shrewd?  Skilled liar?  Planner?  Daring?

BGST Council, Faculty & Staff

Wish All Of You A Joyful Christmas

& A Blessed New Year!


Chapel on 15 December was taken by Mr Bernard Chaing who is working toward the M.Div at BGST. He shared his testimony of conversion and spoke on the topic “Amazing Love of God”.


Chapel Speaker on 29 December will be Dr Aquila Lee.

Heroes & Lovers:

Courage & Love in the Bible


For those who have enjoyed “Thinking Points” by Mr Mickey Chiang, you will be thrilled to know that a book of fourteen articles have been printed.  

In this slim volume (96 pp), you will discover how enjoyable reading the Bible can be, when done with a questioning mind and a bit of background knowledge.

By using series of little questions in each article, and liberal doses of humour, the author challenges you to look beyond the obvious and to see the biblical heroes and heroines in a fresh new light. Through them all you will catch glimpses of the Almighty God who picked ordinary men and women and used them in extraordinary ways.

Do you need lessons on how to woo your lady? And who is Mister X? Get your copy, read on and find a new dimension in your understanding of some of the most oft-read stories in the Bible.

The book which will be retailing at $6 at other bookstores will be sold at our Library to the BGST community at a special price of $5 each. This book will make an ideal gift during this festive season. Come & get your copies!

About the Author: Mickey Chiang is the first Singaporean Master of Divinity graduate of BGST. He also writes the “Family Life” column in IMPACT magazine. Over 1,000 of his humorous satirical articles seeking to improve society have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. His books include: How to Pass Examinations; the humorous Bird’s Eye View of Singapore; Fighting Fit: The Singapore Armed Forces; and From Economic Debacle to Economic Miracle. Since 1989, he and his wife Mei Ling have been helping children from low-income homes in Bukit Merah.


BGST Library & Office will be closed from 1pm on Christmas Eve and will resume operation on 27 Dec, Monday.

A Blessed Birthday to…

 Mrs Penny Teo  20/12
Ms Lim Sio Leng  23/12

Ms Adelene Ho  23/12

Mr Beh Soo Yeong  24/12

Dr Chan Shaw Yan  24/12

Mr Jack Lim 24/12

Mrs Lily Gay  24/12

Mrs Rina Lai-Teo  26/12

Mrs Alison Ng  C H  26/12

Mr Ho Kok Inn 27/12

Ms Kuah Leck Ping 28/12

Mr Lim Wei-en  28/12

Dr Bob Foo  29/12

Mrs Joyce Go  29/12

Dr Ng Liang Wei  30/12

Dr Douglas Milne  1/1

Mr Andy Lew  1/1

Dr Sally Wong  2/1

Elder Victor Wee  2/1

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