Judges 1:1-24 NIV
Rahab and the Spies
1Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
2The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”3So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
4But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”
6(But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)
7So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
8Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9and said to them, “I know that The Lord Has Given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10We have heard how The Lord Dried up the water of the Red Seaa for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.b 11When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for
The Lord your GOD Is GOD in Heaven above and on the earth below.
The Lord your GOD Is GOD in Heaven above and on the earth below.
12“Now then, please swear to me by The Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
14“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
15So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.
16She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
17Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
21“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”
So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them.24They said to Joshua, “The Lord Has Surely Given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
The Book of Judges covers a period of about three hundred years reaching from the death of Joshua in 1367 BC until the days of Samuel (c. 1064-1044 BC).
According to the Book of Joshua (Joshua 2:1-7), when the Hebrews were encamped at Shittim, in the "Arabah" or Jordan valley opposite Jericho, ready to cross the river, Joshua, as a final preparation, sent out two spies to investigate the military strength of Jericho.
The spies stayed in Rahab's house, which was built into the city wall. When soldiers of the city guard came to look for them, she hid them under bundles of flax on the roof. After escaping, the spies promised to spare Rahab and her family after taking the city, even if there should be a massacre, if she would mark her house by hanging a red cord out the window. Some have claimed that the symbol of the red cord is related to the practice of the "red-light district".
The soldiers sent to capture the spies asked Rahab to bring out the spies (Joshua 2:3). This is in strict keeping with Eastern customs, which would not permit any man to enter a woman's house without her permission.
Rahab told the spies (Joshua 2:9-13):
“I know that The LORD Has Given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how The LORD Dried Up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for The LORD your GOD Is GOD in Heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by The LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.”
The point wherein she covers the spies with bundles of flax which lay on her house-roof (Joshua 2:6) is an "undesigned coincidence" which is supposed to validate the narrative. It was the time of the barley harvest, and flax and barley are ripe at the same time in the Jordan valley, so that "the bundles of flax stalks might have been expected to be drying just then". When the city of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:17-25), Rahab and her whole family were preserved according to the promise of the spies, and were incorporated among the Jewish people.
RAHAB in the New Testament
Rahab (Greek: Ῥαχάβ rachab ) is also mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as one of the ancestors of JESUS (Matthew 1:5). This can be found in the Genealogy of JESUS in chapter 1. In the King James version of this genealogy, her name is spelled Rachab. She married Salmon of the tribe of Judah and was the mother of Boaz.
Some Christian scholars have theorized that the Rahab described in Joshua is not the same person as the Rahab mentioned in JESUS' Genealogy. This is based on linguistic and textual evidence. The Jewish Talmud states that Rahab of Jericho married Joshua Bin Nun, a descendant of Joseph. For Christians, this can also be seen as an argument against her being the same Rahab in the Matthean genealogy - unless she married twice, to two different Israelite leaders of different tribes. This is possible, but not very likely (see Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews). Rahab who married Joshua was ancestress to Huldah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophetesses and prophets. Rachab (Ῥαχάβ - no Ῥαάβ with Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25) who married Salmon was ancestress to King David, all the kings of Judah, and JESUS.
Elsewhere in the New Testament the Rahab of the Book of Joshua is mentioned as an example of a person of faith (Hebrews 11:31) and good works (James 2:25), but these use another Greek word - Ῥαάβ and it is coupled with the term harlot.