So Two Israelites Spend the Night in a Brothel… [Sunday Review]

Our kids learned about Rahab and her incredible faith in God on Sunday. But of course there were some details our lesson skimmed over in the pursuit of being age appropriate. So let’s look at the story with a little more depth.

First of all, Joshua sending more spies to check out Canaan seems like a poor choice at first glance. He was in the first group to do this, and the disastrous results left himself and Caleb as survivors of an extra 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Regardless, Joshua takes the risk and sends two guys (seems he at least realized less is more) to check out the first city they would come across, Jericho, and the area surrounding it.

The two spies logic in the story is sound, but a little suspect. From our familiarity with fantasy and the old west and spy thrillers, we all know that the best place to get info is usually the bar or inn. They say that in wine there is much truth. The spies apparently came from an even older school of thought that said, “If you wanna know what’s going down, talk with the ladies who sleep with the powerful and in-the-know.” So, they went to the brothel. We also have the hindsight of the Bible’s wisdom literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesisates, etc.) that implies that the foreign prostitute is a dangerous person to associate with. Still, the two spies merrily, but carefully, skipped into the local brothel probably run by our intrepid heroine, Rahab.

The spies, whose only active decision at this point was to visit a brothel, find themselves taking a backseat in their own heroic spy story to Rahab, who covers for the two of them. She even takes the initiative to hide the spies up on the roof and lie through her teeth to throw the city guards and the ruler of the city off of the spies’ trail.

Again, we really forget just how surprising this story is. We’ve heard it so many times, it kind of loses its punch. Let’s put it this way, how would you react if two male missionaries were trying to evangelize a region hostile to Christianity and took refuge in a brothel in order to escape the authorities? We’d all probably have a few follow-up questions, right?

Despite the questionable motives of the spies, they find a believer in Rahab who glorifies the God of Israel and declares His power and miracles and asks for her family to be spared. I mean, what else are the spies gonna do but agree? They give her a red rope to tie in her window as a sign to not mess with anyone inside. The spies return to Joshua delivering an encouraging message of the Canaanite’s fear and awe in the face of their God’s actions in Egypt and at the Red Sea. Once again Joshua is reminded that he can be strong and courageous because God is with him.

This story should be surprising. It should make us pause and think about what it means that a foreign prostitute saved these spies and encouraged God’s people. It should make us really think when we hear the speech Rahab gives concerning her knowing that God is the true God.

And yet, we pass over this story as if it were just the way things are. And then in real life we’re surprised when God works through unlikely people. We’re all pretty unlikely candidates to be on God’s invasion squad. Have you taken a good look at us? We’re not exactly [insert favorite branch of miliary’s elite force here]* are we? No, we’re more like the rag-tag militia group George Washington had to keep in line long enough to fend of the British… and that’s if we’re being really generous.

But we can take a lot of hope and encouragement from Rahab. No matter our gender, race, class, place of birth, or opinions on sweet tea, God can use any one of us to make a difference. The catch is, like Rahab, we have to acknowledge God and be willing to follow His lead.

How are you encouraging your children to serve regardless of their gifts? Do you encourage your child’s talents, interests, or uniqueness? How do you model treating every one you meet as a person made in the image of God?


* What, you think I’m gonna tick anyone in the military off by listing a particular one here? I don’t need that kind of fight in the comment section.


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