Rahab, the Mother of Boaz

Today’s Reading: Joshua 2 & Joshua 6:15-25

The fourth chapter of Ruth ends with a family tree, a genealogy of the family of Boaz from Perez to David.

The first chapter of Matthew begins with a genealogy that extends from Abraham to Jesus. In Matthew 1:3-6 we find the same names found in Ruth’s list, but with a twist. Many who study the genealogy think it is quite significant that Matthew includes women – mothers of the family tree. What makes this inclusion even more fascinating are the specific women Matthew chooses.

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth…

We have already looked at the stories of two of these women. Ruth, the widow from Moab, an outsider who devotes herself to the people and the God of Israel, who is covered by the wings of the Lord and the love of her guardian-redeemer. And Tamar, twice a widow, despised by her father-in-law, but not forgotten by God who gives her a child and a place in his family history.

But what about the woman, Rahab? Who is she?

If you know anything about Rahab, you might be surprised to find out that she is the mother of Boaz – and the mother-in-law of Ruth! We naturally think of Naomi as the mother-in-law, the one to whom Ruth pledges her love and devotion. But rarely do we consider the mother of the second husband – Boaz’s mother, Rahab.

Rahab has quite a story.

Rahab the prostitute. A title that will stick with her forever, even when she becomes the wife of Salmon, the mother of Boaz, the mother-in-law of Ruth.

But the title will not define her. It is Rahab’s story that will define her. It’s almost as if the title becomes a necessary reminder, lest we forget where she came from in light of where she ends up. Because Rahab, the prostitute, will end up in the most prestigious hall of fame of the saints of faith – a woman remembered almost exclusively for her righteous deeds.

Her story is simple, but profound. She hides spies and it saves her life. The spies are from Israel, spies sent by Joshua to scope out the cities they plan to attack. Jericho is one of those cities.

Interesting that Joshua would send spies. He was once a spy himself, and it ended up in disaster. More than forty years earlier Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, the land God had promised to his people. That spy mission put the conquest of the promised land on hold for forty years while the people of Israel were banished to the dessert as a punishment for their lack of faith. Joshua and his buddy Caleb were the two spies who trusted God and so they alone were kept alive to see the promised land.

Now they are old men leading the charge, prepared to conquer the land God has promised. But first they send spies. Go figure.

Fortunately this mission ends better than the first, in part because of the incredible faith of a prostitute. A prostitute who has heard the stories of God and is convinced. She believes. She understands. This God of Israel is the one and only True God and he is going to win. Jericho will lose.

Rahab makes a quick decision to get on the side of the God of Israel.

The rest is history:

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. (Hebrews 11:31)

…was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? (James 2:25)

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David. (Matthew 1:5-6)