But It’s Against the Rules

Consider the story of Rahab in Joshua 2:1-21 and 6:25. According to the Bible, Rahab the harlot does what’s right, even though she broke the rules. God had rescued the Israelites from Egypt after afflicting the Egyptians with a series of ten plagues, the last being the death of all the firstborn sons. Now, after forty years of wandering about the wilderness, Joshua was ready to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. However, this was a land already occupied by the Canaanites. God wanted the Canaanite to be exterminated.

Arriving at the natural border to the land of Canaan, the Jordan River, Joshua sent some men across to the other side to check out the land: to spy on it. The spies soon arrived at one of the larger Canaanite cities, Jericho, and wound up in the home of a prostitute named Rahab. They learned from her that the Canaanites well-knew what the Israelites had done to the Egyptians, and to the small kingdoms on the eastern shores of the Jordan. They were terrified of the vast numbers of invaders and knew they would arrive any day now.

Word of the spies arrival had reached her government, and so she hid the spies in a well and sent the soldiers on a wild goose chase looking for them. Meanwhile, she extracted a promise from the Israelite spies that she and her family would be protected when the inevitable siege and destruction of Jericho transpired.

Good to their word, when Jericho fell, Rahab and her family were rescued and welcomed into Israelite society.

Ordinarily, betraying your people and your country is considered an evil thing to do. Ordinarily we would call people like Rahab traitors. Those who betray countrymen, like Benedict Arnold are forever hated, to the extent that in the United States, few would ever think to name their child Benedict, any more than they’d name him Judas. And yet Rahab is praised for her actions.

Sometimes, it seems, doing the wrong thing is the best thing you can do–suggesting that ethics is a lot more complicated than most people would like to imagine.

Send to Kindle

About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
This entry was posted in Bible, Religion, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *