While the Hebrews of the Exodus were still camped in what is now Jordan, their leader, Joshua, sent two spies to scout the fortified border town of Jericho.
The spies went straight to the house of a prostitute, Rahab, And they spent the night.
Why they went there, the Bible doesn’t really say. Perhaps they felt it would be a good place to get information while keeping a low profile, since strangers often spent the night there. If so, their strategy didn’t work. Someone slipped out and told the king where the spies were and why they came.
Rahab got word of the leak. What she did next put her life in jeopardy. She hid the spies under layers of flax drying on her flat roof. When the soliders arrived, she said the spies just left and if the soldiers hurried they could catch them. So the soldiers chased nothing into the night, five miles to the Jordan River and back again.
Rahab’s house was built into the city wall, so she used a rope to let the spies escape from her window, but not before getting their promise to spare her extended family during the coming attack. The spies asked only that Rahab mark her home with a scarlet rope dangling from the window.
The spies kept their promise. Rahab and her relatives lived among the Israelites.
In a New Testament shocker, Rahab seems to show up in the family tree of Jesus. She’s listed as the mother of Boaz. That would have made her the great-great-grandmother of King David. It’s uncertain if this was the same Rahab, but Jesus’ family tree does include other women of questionable background-Tamar, who slept with her father-in-law, and Bathsheba, who committed adultery with David.