Hebrews 11:31
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies in peace, did not perish with those who were disobedient.
Faith Recognised and Rewarded in the UnworthyC. New.Hebrews 11:31
RahabA. Martin, M. A.Hebrews 11:31
RahabC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:31
Rahab's FaithDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:31
Rahab's FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:31
Sovereign GraceW. Burkitt, M. A.Hebrews 11:31
The Faith of a Heathen WomanW. Jones Hebrews 11:31
Believers and Unbelievers At JerichoD. Young Hebrews 11:30, 31
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not, etc. What did Rahab believe? What does the Bible teach us concerning her faith? She exercised:

1. Faith in Jehovah as the true and supreme God. She believed in him not simply as a superior and powerful local or national deity, but as supreme over all beings universally. This is her confession, "Jehovah your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath" (Joshua 2:11).

2. Faith in the fidelity and power of Jehovah to fulfill his purposes in relation to his people. "She said unto the men, I know that Jehovah hath given you the land" (Joshua 2:9); and therefore she was confident that they would actually come into possession of it.

3. Faith in the fidelity of the worshippers of Jehovah. She showed kindness to the spies, entered into an important agreement with them, and fulfilled her part of the agreement, evidently expecting them to fulfill their part (Joshua 2:12, 13, 21). Three aspects of the faith of Rahab are suggested by our text.


1. Rahab was an idolatrous Canaanite. She had not been blessed with parental instructions and home influences inclining her heart to faith in the true and holy God; but the reverse. She was the daughter of heathen parents, instructed in a loathsome and degrading idolatry, and belonged to a people whose "abominations and iniquities had become full, so that the land spued out its inhabitants, and the Lord could deal with them only in sheer destruction." Yet she believed sincerely and strongly in the living and true God.

2. Rahab was a known harlot. Whether she was such at the time she received the spies we know not, probably she was not; but if not then, she had been formerly, and was still known by the disgraceful title of "Rahab the harlot." But, as Bishop Hervey remarks, "it is very possible that to a woman of her country and religion such a calling may have implied a far less deviation from the standard of morality than it does with us; and, moreover, with a purer faith she seems to have entered upon a pure life." We should not have expected true religious faith in such a woman, much less conspicuous faith; but such faith she exemplified. Learn that the outwardly moral and respectable may be further from the kingdom of God than the openly disreputable. "A woman which was in the city, a sinner," was accepted by the blessed Savior much more than the prosperous, respectable Pharisee, Simon (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus said unto "the chief priests and the elders of the people... Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you," etc. (Matthew 21:23, 31, 32).

II. FAITH CLEARLY ENVINCED. Rahab manifested the reality of her faith:

1. In receiving the spies. She would not have shown courteous hospitality to any of the Israelites, who were dreaded and detested by her countrymen, but for her faith. "By faith Rahab received the spies with peace.

2. In concealing and delivering the imperiled spies at her own risk. (Joshua 2:2-7, 15, 16, 22.) Grave objection has been raised to the conduct of Rahab in telling a lie in order to conceal and protect the spies. We have no wish to apologize for falsehood; but the objection is not a reasonable one. Strict truth," says Bishop Hervey, "either in Jew or heathen, was a virtue so utterly unknown before the promulgation of the gospel, that, as far as Rahab is concerned, the discussion" of her conduct in deceiving the King of Jericho's messengers with a false tale is quite superfluous. The objection also overlooks a very precious truth as to the relations and dealings of God with man. "God demands not of the feeble at the beginning the great works of consummate faith; he beholds even in the imperfect act the faith which prompts it, if faith is actually operating in its performance." St. James inquires, "Was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way?" (James 2:25).

3. In entering into a solemn contract with the spies and carrying out the terms of that contract. The compact she agreed to was a thing of life or death to her; and she kept her part of the compact, and exhibited even to the end steady confidence in the fidelity of the two spies to their engagement. Her actions proved the reality and strength of her faith.


1. In the preservation of herself and her kindred when her fellow-citizens were destroyed. (Joshua 6:22, 23, 25.) "By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient." Her fellow-citizens had heard the reports of what God had done for Israel, and of the remarkable victories which the Israelites had achieved, but they believed not in the God of Israel. "They believed not that Israel's God was the true God, and that Israel was the peculiar people of God, though they had evidence sufficient of it." Or, as Alford expresses it, "The inhabitants of Jericho were disobedient to the will of God manifested by the signs and wonders which he had wrought for Israel; as is implied by Rahab's speech (Joshua 2:9-12)." And they perished. But Rahab and her family were saved.

2. In the honorable distinction to which she attained. She is exhibited in this Epistle as an example of distinguished faith, and by St. James (James 2:25) as an example of conduct consistent with her faith. And, far higher than these commendations, as the wife of Salmon and the mother of Boaz she became an ancestress of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our subject is full of encouragement for sinners to turn (o God by faith in Jesus Christ. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord," etc. (Isaiah 55:6, 7). - W.J.

1. Think what a moral mixture the human heart may hold, what a mass of contradictions it is! Rahab, loyal lover to her kindred, traitor to her king, gifted with insight above her fellow-citizens, yet exposing herself to the scorn of man, possessed of a crude faith, yet selling her honour for gain l Surely the warp of heaven and the woof of hell were never woven together more strangely. Surely there never was such a peculiar character thrown off from the loom of life. But no, such contradictions are common, and that may be one of the reasons why her name is left on record. How many men do you know who are of perfectly simple moral character, who act from one motive, who are dominated by a single passion, whose conduct, under given circumstances, you can infallibly calculate? How many saints do you know who bear on them no traces of sin? How many sinners who show signs of nothing else? The best have their weak points: the worst retain some features of good.

2. Observe how independent religion may be of morality, how strong a hold faith in God may have in those on whom righteousness have a most imperfect grasp. Rahab's faith still held; while of her morals the less said the better. This is the perplexity of the present time, that so many men are honestly and ardently in love with goodness, and are yet able to do without God; and the converse, that a man may have faith in God and yet be wicked. Religion and righteousness are two different things, though ultimately one. They satisfy different needs of our nature. We may seek God for shelter. A man finds the world crumbling beneath his feet and he hides himself in the Eternal; or he is oppressed by the meagreness of his range of vision, and he flees to Him in whom there is no darkness at all; or he is crushed by pain, or he seeks help from Him who bears the cares of the world, and who can bring peace in the midst of sorrows. But morality! That is the soul's working day and loins must be girded. Rest here means idleness, apathy, death, Moral progress must be struggled for; advance in purity implies a hotly-contested race. Religion brings rest; morality means toil. The noble, impassive soul, strong in affection but weak of will, makes much of religious help and consolation. He is not dishonest, but the ideal has never dawned on him of religion and morality clothed in double raiment, offering at the altar, body, soul and spirit.

3. Notice the power of even a rudimentary faith. In Rahab's case, a little religion went a long way. As some one says, faith is the one before the ciphers on the cheque presented at the bank of heaven. It is the beginning of all virtues. It may be crude at first, but it cannot continue so; for it brings the Spirit of God into the heart. The harlot Rahab, by her crude faith, stepped forth from the ranks of heathendom; and so the most disgraced child of man can be rescued from his sin, through faith in God.

(A. Martin, M. A.)

Some lessons of the story lie on its surface. How the publicans and the harlots may enter the kingdom of God before Sadducee and Pharisee — not in their sins, but washed from them, and inclined towards the possibilities of grace by the very fact that at least self-satisfaction is impossible — that at least boasting is excluded. Also we find here the recognition of a very imperfect knowledge and a very elementary faith, as having in it "the root of the matter" if it will but work. What was Rahab's knowledge, what was Rahab's faith, when she received the two Hebrew spies, hid them from discovery, and "sent them out by another way"? What Rahab knew was only this — that the God of Israel had wrought a great deliverance for His people, first in the exodus from Egypt, then in the wars of the march, and that evidently no power could stand against Him — she and her nation were foredoomed to discomfiture before this mighty God and this favoured race. Upon this small and elementary foundation of dogmatic truth was reared the superstructure of a changed and transformed life. She "received with peace," with friendliness and hospitality, the emissaries of the invading people, protected them with ready inventiveness from the instant search and pursuit of her king — and was herself, in the terrible slaughter of her countrymen, incorporated, with all her house, into the conquering race, to become the ancestress, as St. Matthew teaches, of king David, and of the Messiah Himself. It would be a mistake, at anachronism, to apply to a dweller in one of the old Canaanite cities, amidst the worshippers of false and cruel deities, destitute of one ray either of law or gospel light, principles of conduct and character which we owe to the revelation of all truth and all duty by our Lord Jesus Christ. The Epistle is contented to say only this, Behold in the example of this woman the working of that faith which grasps the unseen. Behold the action of faith upon evidence presented and upon an alternative of conduct. Behold the inference of truth honestly drawn, and the preference, on the strength of it, of the future to the present. Behold, St. James adds, how faith differs from opinion, and evidences its existence by the sign of work. The hearts of other inhabitants of Jericho were melting, she tells us, with the terror of Israel — she alone acted upon the conviction and added another element to the "great cloud of witnesses." We all see why the apostle should have singled out for mention the faith of this woman of Canaan. She was an instance of faith lifting a life out of the prejudices and partialities of birth and companionship, and making it willing, at the call of duty, to seek a new kindred and a new citizenship, amongst strangers, amongst aliens — if need be, amongst enemies. Her example is like that of Abraham leaving his birthplace, of Moses forsaking his palace — like these, yet, in degree, rising above them. For Abraham pitched his tent not amongst foes — and Moses, in renouncing the land of his adoption, returned to the citizenship of his birth and of his ancestry. She cast herself upon a hostile race, and had to unlearn every association, every habit, every feeling of the past. Thus might it be, at no distant day, with these Christians of Palestine. They were to suffer the sword of Rome to fall upon apostate Jerusalem — they were to raise no arm in her defence — on the contrary, when they saw her compassed with armies, when they saw the abomination of desolation stand in her holy place, they were to recognise the predicted token, and themselves to flee to the mountains. Christ must be more than country to those who would be worthy of Him.

(Dean Vaughan.)



III. A STABLE FAITH, which stood firm in the midst of trouble.


V. A SYMPATHISING FAITH. Desired mercy for her relations.


(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. She received no instruction from her parents.

2. She was not in a believing country.

3. Her means of knowledge were very slender; and there. fore, the food of her faith was comparatively scant.

4. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about her faith was that she should be a woman of such a character. She was apparently the most unlikely person to become a believer in Jehovah. She was a harlot, a woman that was a sinner, and universally known to be such.

5. The subject of her faith was difficult.


1. It was active mentally. When she believed, she began to think.

2. Her faith was active in her own sphere. Home duties are one of the very best forms of the activity of faith, especially in Christian women.

3. She did all this to the best of her ability, and she used her common sense.

4. She was also active at great risk.

III. RAHAB'S FAITH WAS MARRED WITH GROSS WEAKNESS. She lied unto the men who came to the door to seize the spies. There were, no doubt, in her conscience indistinct glimmerings of an idea that to lie was an evil thing, but, nevertheless, her surroundings prevented her clearly knowing it as we know it. To this very day among many orientals it is far more usual to lie than to speak the truth. You must judge individuals from their own standpoint, and consider their circumstances, or you may do them an injustice. I am not going to excuse Rahab's lie. A lie in Rahab, or in Abraham, is as bad as in any one else; but in this case there is this to be said, she had not been taught, as most of us have been, that a lie is a degrading sin. Her fault was by no means one which we can afford to throw stones at; avoid it carefully, but do not censure it self-complacently.

IV. Rahab's was A FAITH THAT WAS NOT ABOVE THE USE OF OUTWARD SIGNS AND SEALS. There are persons in the world who altogether despise the outward ordinances; they may be good, but they are not wise. Rahab first of all required from these spies an oath that they would preserve her, and next they gave her a token, a scarlet line, which was to be hung up in her window. This was the blood red flag of Israel. Was it not hoisted on the Passover night, so that the angel might pass by and deliver the people? She felt great comfort when she had placed the token in her window. She was not superstitious; she did not believe that anything mystical was in the red cord, but she put it there, because she had been told to do so. Now, the highest faith in Christ is perfectly consistent with the obedient use of Christian ordinances.

V. HER FAITH WAS SAVING FAITH. I have shown how it was grievously marred, but it was effectual notwithstanding. So, true faith in Christ, despite its weakness, will save us, separate us from the world, join us unto God's Israel, give us kinship with the Lord Jesus Christ; and what higher dignity is it possible to receive?

VI. HER FAITH BECAME WITH GOD ACCEPTABLE, SO THAT SHE WAS THE MEANS OF THE SALVATION OF OTHERS. Oh, I like this in Rahab, that she did not bargain for her own safety alone. Her sin had not hardened her heart as sin does in many cases. She thought of her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and her sisters. Now, wherever there is a real child of God there will be anxiety for his family. If you do not want to have)'our children saved, you are not saved yourself.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Observe here —

1. The person spoke of, Rahab, a Gentile, an Amorite, an harlot, who kept a victualling house in Jericho, and so was both harlot and hostess, defiled both in body and mind with idolatry and adultery.

2. What is spoken of her: she believed. Behold here a blessed instance —

(1)Of the sovereignty and freedom of God's grace.

(2)Of the power and efficacy of Divine grace, in calling and converting a person given up by her own choice to the vilest of sins; but no sinner nor sin is to be despaired of, in whose cure sovereign grace is engaged.

3. The effect and fruit of her faith, she received the spies with peace; that is, entertained them safely.

4. The benefit and advantage she received by her faith, she perished not; that is, when the credulous and idolatrous people of Jericho were destroyed, she and her family were preserved.From the whole learn —

1. That God is ready to show wonderful mercy to penitent sinners, if they return to Him and believe in Him, how great soever their sins have formerly been.

2. That true faith, wherever it is, will show itself by some eminent effect, and notable fruits of it.

3. That the rewards of faith are excellent and truly glorious; as she was preserved from the common ruin at Jericho, so shall all believers be saved from the wrath and destruction which shall come ere long upon the impenitent and unbelieving world.

(W. Burkitt, M. A.)


1. The character and circumstances of Rahab show that faith is not necessarily a Christian grace.

2. Her faith was but the reasonable acting of a thoughtful mind.

3. Its reality proved itself by works.


1. God's ready response to true faith, though it be characterised by ignorance and unworthiness.

2. This is seen in the remarkable preservation of Rahab.

3. And in her abundant reward for all her faith had hazarded in His cause.


1. It separated her in character and doom from all her surroundings.

2. It made her the means of preserving all her kindred.

3. It allied her, an outcast Gentile, with the people of God.

(C. New.)

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