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She is Called Women of the Bible Study Vol. 3


A Woman Who Feared God Only

By Lia and Thiago Dantas, Missionaries in the Amazon

Who was Rahab in the Bible? A Canaanite prostitute, Rahab was not someone you’d expect to be cast as a biblical hero. But when Rahab showed mercy to others—even though she had not received much mercy in her own life—she discovered that God was already loving her and showing mercy to her. God would ultimately weave the story of Rahab’s faithful courage into the family tree of Jesus himself.  


Lord, I am dust. I find no mercy around me, and the world is at war. But I want your peace. In awe, I see your deeds, and I trust. Like Rahab, my life is held by a red rope and I am safe. Jesus welcomes me and he shows me mercy. My life is transformed, and I find peace in Christ’s city.  Amen. 

Key Scripture

Joshua 2-6; Hebrews 11

“But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6:25).

Introduction to Rahab from the Bible

Rahab was a Canaanite and a prostitute. She was not valued by her people, and she had no view of a better life, one with hope. In Jericho, her hometown, Rahab heard about the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Lord’s deeds were known in that place, for the Lord had dried up the water of the Red Sea and had delivered the land of Canaan and its kingships into the hands of Israel.

Rahab and the Spies Make a Deal

The spies of Israel encounter Rahab in Jericho, and she shelters them in her house. The king of Jericho—a very powerful man—speaks to Rahab, and she speaks back. She deceives the king and saves the spies.

Before they leave, Rahab and the spies make a covenant. “Our life for yours!” Rahab receives the promise of deliverance. She and all her household will be spared when Israel invades Jericho.

Joshua, the leader of Israel, fulfilled the promise. The Israelites destroyed everything and everyone in Jericho, “But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared” (Joshua 6:25).

Digging Deeper: The Unlikely Story of Rahab

The story of Rahab describes one of Israel’s early saviors, a woman, a foreigner, a Canaanite. Prostitution was her stigma, but she turned out to be smarter than the king himself. Considered among the lowest by society, she acted with the bravery and mind of an army commander.

If you have a curious mind, you’re probably wondering how Rahab met the spies and brought them home. Later, Rahab would marry a man named Salmon. A Brazilian soap opera imagines that Salmon was one of the spies. In this imaginative take, Rahab and Salmon fall in love as Rahab saves the spies. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful story? But it wasn’t romantic love that moved Rahab’s heart to show mercy to the spies; it was actually fear. The text says that “the inhabitants of the land melted in fear” because of the things the Lord was doing for Israel (Joshua 2:9, 24).

Rahab feared the Lord more than her own king. 

Rahab had faith. In Hebrews 11:31, it says that Rahab did not perish with the disobedient because of what she did by faith. Her heart melted in fear of the Lord, but by faith, it was re-built strong again. 

How Rahab Is Related to Jesus

Rahab’s faith saves the spies, saves Israel, and saves her family. In the process, Rahab also gains a special role in God’s story. The gospel writer Matthew registers her in the genealogy of Kings David, Solomon, and Jesus Christ (1:5).

Rahab made it clear she was looking for a new homeland. She didn’t think of the land she was leaving behind. That life was miserable, cruel, merciless. She takes a step of faith and challenges everything that was imprisoning her in her old life. She desired a better country, a heavenly one where mercy was shown. “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called [her] God; indeed, he has prepared a city for [her]” (Hebrews 11:16). Faith and mercy were the path Rahab walked to enter the city.

She Is Called and We Are Called

God rescues Rahab’s heart so Rahab can rescue God’s people. God does this purely out of love—love for Rahab, one who was forsaken by her own people. Rahab carried the stigma and shame of prostitution. She had not received mercy from her society, so how could she learn to give mercy to others? Against all of her community’s indifference, God loved Rahab. The spies somehow crossed her way, and she had the chance to show mercy even when she hadn’t received it first. 

The same happens in our lives. We carry our shame everywhere, and it holds us back. But when God meets us in our path, we’re given a chance. “We love because [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The God who is Love teaches us how to love. Meeting Love means having our hearts melted in awe and rebuilt in love. Whatever life has caused you, whatever shame you carry, however broken your heart is, Love will mend it. Rahab had the most broken life, but God mended it. 

It is amazing to see God’s ways of acting. God chooses the lowest to humble the highest, so everyone might see that love’s true source is found only in the Lord. Rahab was weak; she belonged to the lowest in Jericho’s society. Who was she to be a savior? 

“God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).

If you feel lost in your life, know that God loves the lost and finds pleasure in transforming their lives and changing the course of their stories. Jesus invites you to come to him as you are, and he will do great things in you and through you. 

Rahab believed and she was received into God’s covenant. She left her merciless life when she showed mercy to others, and she found peace for her entire family by welcoming the spies with peace.

We are often like Rahab. We feel worthless or have no good prospects for the future. We are held back by our mistakes. We are labeled as worthless people, but God calls us to live a new story.

Many women’s experiences today enable them to understand Rahab’s experience in a unique way. But Rahab’s story is also a universal story. We have all felt “less than,” and we have all known moments of shame or weakness. God calls each of us to move forward, not to get stuck in those traps. God calls us to be strong and courageous, to act peacefully, to fear the Lord, and to trust in and act for a better future. 


While Jericho’s story is about destruction, Rahab’s is about reconstruction. 

God uses those God wants, where and how God wants. We must keep our minds wide open and our hearts sensitive to our Lord’s will.

In the middle of a tragedy, God creates new life. This is our life because of sin. Misery and death are our tragedy, and they affect every part of our being. But what God did through Rahab points to the redemption we find in Christ. 

God’s love for you is a promise of new life rising out of the ashes. The blood of Jesus’s sacrifice is our red rope. The world might be falling apart around you. Death threatens you. But do not fear what it can do to you if you hold the red rope of Rahab’s faith near your door. Jesus has you!

Discussion Questions

  • Think of a time when someone showed mercy to you. What was that like for you?
  • Who in your neighborhood/church/community is in need of mercy and love?
  • What surprised you in this Bible study session?
  • What do you hear the Spirit saying to you/your family/your church/your community?

Lia and Thiago Dantas serve as full-time missionary liaisons in the Amazon. In partnership with the Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian Church in Manaus, they help plant churches, train Brazilian missionaries, and reach people along the Amazon River. Lia is a midwife nurse, and Thiago is a trained lawyer. Both are graduates of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and are natives of Manaus, Brazil.

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This Bible study is from the third book in the Women of the Bible Study Series. Get the book to discover how Rahab, Lydia, Eve, Naomi, Achsah, Huldah, and more embraced God’s call for their lives.

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