"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

A Righteous Gentile – Rahab

May 7, 2011

in Rachav


By Rachav


I have had different people ask me, who was Rachav? (she is also known as Rahab.) And some want to know why I chose to be known by this Jewish name. This lady played a key role in ensuring the safety of the spies sent by Joshua to spy out the land of Israel, before entering in to conquer it.

There are several Noahides who played a key role in one way or another in helping to ensure that Israel’s existence as a nation was established.

Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent from Shittim two spies secretly, saying, Go, see the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and they lay down there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, men have come hither to-night from the children of Israel to search out the land.

Somehow the king of Jericho found out that two spies from Israel had entered the city. So of course he instituted a search for them. Apparently his intelligence people had done their job pretty well because he knew that the spies had gone to Rachav’s house. Rachav was an innkeeper, some say that it was a brothel. Rachav however knew that the children of Israel had been given the land, by G-d, so she hid the two men upstairs, in the stalks of flax which she was drying out. Linen is made from flax, so it is symbolic that Rachav hid the men in Flax.

The woman of valour is described in proverbs.

Proverbs 31:24 She maketh body linen and selleth it, and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laugheth [at] the coming day. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and upon her tongue is the law of kindness.

How aptly this description fits Rachav, as we shall see.

Joshua 2:3 And the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that have come to thee, who have come into thy house: for they have come to search out all the land. 4 And the woman had taken and concealed the two men; and she said, Yes, the men did come unto me, but I knew not whence they were; 5 and it came to pass when the gate had to be closed, at dark, that the men went out: I know not whither the men have gone. Pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had taken them up to the roof, and secreted them under the stalks of flax, which she had laid out on the roof.

During World War II there were some Gentiles who acted like Rachav and who hid the Jewish people, when the Nazi Stormtroopers were looking for them, but just as in Jericho, they were all too few in number. Some people are bewildered by the fact that Rachav lied to protect these men, they think that we must tell everyone all that we know.

This story about Rachav, however, tells us that sometimes we need to conceal the truth, especially to save a life.

Proverbs 28:12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory; but when the wicked rise, men conceal themselves.

Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.

Rachav used wisdom, and the law of kindness was indeed upon her tongue when she misdirected the king’s men and told them that the spies had already left. The people of Jericho were wicked, which is why HaShem had called for the destruction of their city. Only those who came under the roof of Rachav and were protected by the scarlet cord, the symbol of the promise made to Rachav that she and her household would not perish when the city walls fell.

Joshua 2:7 And the men pursued after them the way to the Jordan, to the fords; and when they who pursued after them had gone out, they closed the gate. 8 And before they had lain down, she went up to them upon the roof; 9 and said to the men, I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard that the LORD dried up the waters of the Red sea before you when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and to Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 We heard [of it], and our heart melted, and there remained no more spirit in any man because of you; for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

When Israel defeated the Amorites, it very close to Jericho, so of course Rachav knew very well what had happened to the Amorites when they refused to allow Israel to pass through their land, because the inhabitants of Jericho had a ringside view.

Numbers 22:1 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan [by] Jericho. 2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites….. v21 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, 22 Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink [of] the waters of the well: [but] we will go along by the king’s [high] way, until we be past thy borders. 23 And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 24 And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon [was] strong. 25 And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof.

From what Rachav had to say to the two spies, she knew very well that God had been with the children of Israel and giving them the victory over the Amorites, and Sihon and Og.

Joshua 2:12 And now, I pray you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that ye will also deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a certain sign, 13 that ye will let my father live, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that belong to them, and deliver our souls from death. 14 And the men said to her, Our lives shall pay for yours, if ye do not make this our business known; and it shall be when the LORD shall give us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.

Notice that Rachav was sworn to secrecy about her relationship with the children of Israel, and her part in concealing the spies from the kings of Jericho’s men. Rachav also gave the spies directions about where they should go to hide for three days before returning the the camp of the children of Israel. Then she let them down by a scarlet line which she tied in the window. This scarlet line became the “sign” by which the children of Israel would know which house belonged to Rachav. Of course Rachav’s house was in the outside Wall of Jericho so that it was easy to lower the men out of the city from that window without the men having to go through the city gates and take a chance on being discovered.

Joshua 2:15 And she let them down by a cord through the window; for her house was upon the city-wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. 16 And she said to them, Go to the mountain, that the pursuers may not meet with you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; and afterwards go your way. 17 And the men said to her, We will be quit of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind in the window this line of scarlet thread by which thou hast let us down; and thou shalt gather to thee in the house thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household; 19 and it shall be, that whoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, — his blood shall be upon his head, and we shall be innocent; but every one who shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be upon our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou make known this our business, we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us swear. 21 And she said, According to your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet line in the window.

The scarlet line or cord by which Rachav helped the spies to escape Jericho undiscovered, was the same cord which she then left hanging in her window. The word for this cord is tikvah which also means ‘hope’and the hope for Rachav was the promise made to her that her family would be spared when Jericho was conquered by Israel.

22 And they went, and came to the mountain, and remained there three days, until the pursuers had returned; and the pursuers sought them all the way, and found them not. 23 And the two men returned and came down from the mountain, and went over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and related to him everything that had happened to them. 24 And they said to Joshua, Of a surety the LORD has given the whole land into our hands, and even all the inhabitants of the land faint because of us.

Jericho – by Boruch Nachson – Boruch Nachson is a Chassidic artist living in Chevron, Israel.

He is known for his use of bright, vivid Acrylic paints and his

ability to give form to mystical concepts. (phone: 972-2-961-032) Click ‘Back’ to continue.

Most people know the story of Joshua and the seven trumpets, and how the children of Israel marched around Jericho seven days, once on each day, blowing trumpets (Shofars). But on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times, blowing the trumpets, all the while the camp of Israel was eerily silent.

Joshua 6:10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall [any] word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

Joshua 6:12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the re-reward came after the ark of the LORD, [the priests] going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. 15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.

Because Rachav kept her promise, she and her family and everyone who came to find shelter in her inn were protected when the Walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

Before God gave Jericho into the hands of the children of Israel they had besieged the city for a period of six months. Before they could be given the land though the Children of Israel who had not been circumcised during their wanderings in the wilderness needed to circumcise those who had been born during that forty years. All of the original generation who had left Egypt, except for Joshua and Caleb and died.

Numbers 26:65 For the LORD had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

Joshua 5:2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4 And this [is] the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, [that were] males, [even] all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people [that were] born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, [them] they had not circumcised. 6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people [that were] men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Joshua 5:7 And their children, [whom] he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. 8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. 9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, [Art] thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but [as] captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and prostrated himself, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy. And Joshua did so.

Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, [and] the mighty men of valour.

This seige lasted for six months, from the time of Passover, until the seventh month. According to Jewish sources during the seven days of the Feast of Succot (Tabernacles) beginning with the 15th Tishri, till the 21st of Tishri the priests with seven trumpets (shofars) marched around the city sounding the Shofar, on the seventh day of Tishri – Hoshanah Rabbah, they marched around the city seven times, and the walls of Jericho fell.

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. 24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that [was] therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

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

According to Jewish sources, Joshua married Rachav.

Her conversion, and marriage to Yehoshua: Megillah 14b

Her descendants, who were Kohanim: Megillah 14b

Her descendants, who were Prophets: Megillah 14b

Rachav was one of the 4 most beautiful women in the world: Megillah 15a

Chuldah the Prophetess, Yirmiyah, Baruch and Neryah, Sharya, Chilkiyah, and Chanamel as descendants of hers: Megillah 14b

How the mention of Rachav’s name was enough to gain the attention of men who knew of her: Megillah 15a

Source: Mordechai Torczyner’s WebShas

Rachav was twelve years old when the Jewish people left Egypt and remained a harlot for the next 40 years. At the time the Jewish nation entered the land of Israel, Rachav realized the divinity of Hashem and recanted her evil ways. She then converted to Judaism and married Joshua.

For her righteous act of harboring and saving the two Jewish spies, Rachav merited having eight prophets descend from her lineage including the great Jeremiah.

Source: Torah from Dixie’s People of the Book


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