A lesson – Joshua 2:1-6
Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.” But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.” She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof.
Women were not normally included in genealogies in the ancient world. Luke included no women in his version of Jesus’ genealogy. Matthew on the other hand, included five. And each one of those five women are remarkable. By including any women, Matthew would have been making a statement. By including THESE women, he is making an even bigger statement.
One of those women is Rahab. Rahab’s explicit inclusion in Jesus’ family tree is utterly amazing because of her profession. For Rahab was a prostitute.
Rahab lived and worked as a prostitute in the city of Jericho in the years immediately following the Exodus. The Jewish people were finally in the Promised Land, and Rahab assisted them in capturing Jericho. She hid Israelite spies in her home, and when the authorities of Jericho came to find them, Rahab hid them and helped them escape.
Honestly, Matthew could have left her out of the first chapter of his Gospel and no one would have even noticed. That he included her though says something about how Matthew sees the message of the Good News of Jesus: it is for everyone. For Matthew, anyone with any background, with any marks against them whatsoever, can make a contribution to the Kingdom of God. Absolutely anyone can be an example of faith.
Even Rahab. Even me. Even you.
God of mercy, we thank you for your unwavering grace and forgiveness; help us to forgive others as you have forgiven us, and give us eyes to see them not with prejudice, but as you see them and love them. Amen.