Rahab. Prostitute. Are the two even separable? I asked the Mummy Meditations Facebook community to do a mind dump on what they knew about Rahab and number one was the information that she was a prostitute. Imagine having to carry that label around for so so long – we’re even talking about it thousands of years after she has died! Imagine being known in history for the worst part of your past life, even when the rest of your life was lived in relationship with God.
It is for this reason, that I wanted to start off our new series looking at this verse below. Lets wipe that slate in our minds clean of anything we THINK we know about Rahab, and instead lets step into her shoes and see what she is really like.
” …Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse…” Matthew 1:5
worth enough to mention
First I want to point out something huge in regards to this verse. It is that Rahab is mentioned. Not just because its Rahab, but because she is a woman! Women just weren’t mentioned in genealogies, it wasn’t the done thing. When you look back through the whole of the old testament, whenever there is a genealogy (you know – the bits where it lists who begot whom and who was the father of that guy over there) it is just the males that are talked about. I guess in a way it makes it easier to follow (there are 50% less names so lets be thankful for that!!), but that is what makes this instance at the beginning of Matthew so fascinating.
The women in this genealogy are important enough to mention, and God wants it noted that these special women are in Jesus’ line. Whatever we might think of Rahab ,God wanted her included and wanted to make note of her. He didn’t want to hide the fact that she was Boaz’s mother, but he wanted to shine a light on it and make it well know. Rahab was worth enough to God to mention.
worth enough to become part of the jewish nation
Rahab is well and truly included in this verse – she is not an outcast or an outsider, but is part of the Jesus’ line. If we were to only read this one verse about Rahab then we would probably assume that she was a normal Jewish woman, who married a normal Jewish man and raised a child in their Jewish home. Nothing out of the ordinary is happening here, and no attention is drawn to the fact that Rahab wasn’t originally Jewish. I love this inclusive nature of God, that anyone who has faith can become part of His family, and Rahab was certainly welcomed in. This all seems so normal and run of the mill that we could almost forget what we already know….
worth enough for her past to be forgotten
If we didn’t know Rahab from Ruth, then we wouldn’t have any idea that she had been a prostitute. At this point she has been forgiven and her past is no longer what she is defined by – she is defined by being the mother of Boaz and one of Jesus’ ancestors. What a joyful place to be in! As I stepped into Rahab’s shoes, I felt this freedom come over me. We know Rahab’s past because we have read other parts of the bible, but Rahab is worth more to God than that, and he has forgiven her just as he forgives us. Her past will always be there, and as we look at it in more detail we will learn so much about Rahab’s character and God too, but as we start this series we know that she was worthy of God’s love and her place as an ancestor of Jesus. That is enough for me.
imagine a world without rahab
One final thought that came to me as I set off for the Captivated mum’s conference on Saturday where we were looking at Ruth, is what would have happened to the world if Rahab hadn’t been part of God’s story? Boaz wouldn’t have been born and we wouldn’t have this amazing story of Ruth who was also a foreigner brought into God’s family. It would have been a very different story indeed. As a foreigner in God’s family I for one am very grateful that Rahab was included in this verse and in the line that leads to Jesus, as it means I can be included too.
We dive right into the thick of the story of Rahab next week, where Naomi will be leading our discussion and thoughts on the following verse:
“But 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. 5 At 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.” Joshua 2:4-5
Do join us over in the Facebook Group for free resources and questions to prompt our thinking this week.