The Testimony of a Mother Named Rahab

Title: The Testimony of a Mother Named Rahab

Bible Book: Hebrews 11 : 30-31

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Mother; Rahab



Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons. They all became ministers. At a family reunion, a friend asked one of the sons, “Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?” While the son looked at the father, he replied, “Mother!”

I’ve not come this morning to advocate women preachers, but I do believe that the Bible provides numerous portraits of honorable women who are as notable and capable as their male counterparts.

There is Eve, the first to be called “Mother.” There is Sarah who was forced to wait 90 years for the privilege of motherhood. There is Hannah, “a woman of a sorrowful spirit,” who desperately prayed for the privilege of motherhood. There is the gracious and kindly Ruth, whose unpretentious devotion to her mother-in-law has made her one of the most attractive figures in history. Even the Persian queen Vashti was a chaste woman in a corrupt court. Lemuel had apparently learned from his mother to recognize the ideal woman, and he wrote about those qualities and attributes in Proverbs 31. In the New Testament also, women have no less honorable mention. Time would fail to speak of the blameless Elizabeth; of the patient Anna; of the hospitable Martha and her sister Mary; of the anonymous widow whose liberality out of poverty evoked the commendation of the Lord, to say nothing of the “many others who ministered unto Him of their substance.” And of course there is the “highly favored” Mary, “blessed among women.” (From “The Ministry Of Women” by C.F. Hogg – from Shiloh 1)

As we read our text in Hebrews 11, we find an unexpected and surprising female hero. Rahab could easily have been the Mata Hari of Jericho and revealed the location and intention of the two spies which sought lodging in her household. But --- “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Heb 11:31). As we consider the testimony and story of Rahab tonight, I want to try and show that Rahab became a godly woman and a godly mother. First of all though, let’s consider ...

I. Let’s Consider The Testimony Of Rahab’s Sin

(Hebrews 11:31) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

A. Notice Her Condition As A Sinner

1. Her Sinful Condition Is Revealed Through Her Nationality

It is accepted by many of the writers that Rahab was an Amorite, and as an Amorite, she belonged to an idolatrous people. The Puritan preacher John Owen says she was “of that race and seed which in general was devoted unto utter destruction.”

2. Her Sinful Condition Is Revealed Through Her Name

She may have had some family connection to Egypt for this name “Rahab” is used 3 times in the scripture as a sort of nickname for Egypt. Then too, the first part of Rahab - “Ra,” was the name of an Egyptian god. This is very indicative of her heathenistic background. Also, her name means “insolence,” “fierceness,” or “broad,” which indicates that she had gone down the “broad” road of fierce destruction and demoralization.

B. Notice Her Career As A Sinner

1. There Is The Mention Of This Word “Harlot” In Connection To Rahab

She was a harlot. Five times she is connected with the mention of the word “harlot.”

Thrice in the O.T. - (Joshua 2:1) (Joshua 6:17) (Joshua 6:25)

Twice in the N.T. - (Hebrews 11:31) (James 2:25)

2. There Is The Meaning Of This Word “Harlot” In Connection To Rahab

Some have suggested that the term merely denotes a hostess or innkeeper, and that could be inferred in a casual reading of Joshua 2:1…

(Joshua 2:1) And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

But the meaning of the word “harlot” in Joshua 2:1 suggests something more.

harlot – Hebrew 2181. zanah, means to commit adultery (usually refers to a female); figuratively it means to commit idolatry. It is also translated in the Old Testament as “commit fornication,” “play the harlot,” and “whoredom.”

The New Testament usage of harlot comes from the Greek word “porne” from which we get our word “pornography.” It is a word that strongly points to her involvement in fornication and wickedness.

C. Notice Her Condemnation As A Sinner

Her sinful existence is further comprehended and compounded by the notification of her impending doom.

1. She Had Become Very Aware Of Her Impending Destruction

(Joshua 2:9) And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

2. She Had Become Very Afraid Of Her Impending Destruction

(Joshua 2:9-11) And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. {10}) For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. {11} And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Her testimony doesn’t end in the house of shame. No. God specializes in things thought impossible or unlikely. We find many unlikely candidates for salvation throughout the Word of God. We find the repentant thief at Calvary. What could he possibly add to the kingdom? He could not sing or teach Sunday school. He could not tithe or be faithful to church. He is about to die, but Christ considers this man kingdom material. And who would want a Christian killer to preach their next revival meeting? Well, God took a Saul and turned him into a Paul. A prostitute standing on the same plain with men like Enoch and Abraham and even Moses! Unlikely? Sure. Impossible? Not where faith is involved. Rahab moved out of Jericho’s house of shame into faith’s hall of fame. And with impending doom hanging over her head, our text says that she perished not with them that believed not (Hebrews 11:31). That brings us to our next thought and that is...

II. Let’s Consider The Testimony Of Rahab’s Salvation

(Hebrews 11:31) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

A. Notice The Plan Of Salvation In Rahab’s Story Hebrews 11:31

1. Her Fate Was Avoided

(Hebrews 11:31) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

perish – Greek 4881. sunapollumi, means to destroy (be slain) in company with.

2. Her Faith Was Applied

She Believed – She Received

Paul said in Ephesians 2:8, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. And we observe in Rahab’s situation, as in no other in the entire Bible, the fact that salvation is ---“by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). “She ...perished not with them that believed not” (Hebrews 11:31). Hence, she perished not, because she believed. We find no clearer illustration of saving faith.

B. Notice The Picture Of Salvation In Rahab’s Story Joshua 2 & 6

I may be going out on a limb here, but let me just mention some suggestive things in this story...

1. We Have The Trinity Of Characters Joshua 2:1

Like Christ and the Holy Spirit, there were two that came to where she was (Joshua 2:1), having been sent by Joshua, who like God the Father stayed. Some of the writers also suggest that Salmon, who is said to be Rahab’s husband in Matthew 1:5 was undoubtedly one of the spies who came to Jericho. If that is so, her bridegroom came to her, and then later came to deliver her out before destruction.

2. We Have The Token Of The Covenant Joshua 2:12-14, 18

(The scarlet thread of redemption)

This is a covenant which Joshua enforces – Joshua 6:22

C. Notice The Peace Of Salvation In Rahab’s Story

(Hebrews 11:31) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

The New Testament word “peace” means - a state of national tranquility because of the exemption from the rage and havoc of war. Peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord. Security, safety, - The tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot.

(Ephesians 2:11-13) Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; {12} That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: {13} But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Oh, blessed scarlet thread of deliverance!

It is strange that Rahab is found in Hebrews 11 with all of the heroes of faith, but it is also strange that we should find her in the legal paternal ancestry of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1.

“And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth...” (Matthew 1:5). Unquestionably, “Rachab” is the same person as Rahab, the harlot. And there is no reference to her harlotry here. For when a sinner becomes identified with Christ, the shame and stigma of sin is sterilized.

Now we’re talking about motherhood today, and we find in Matthew chapter 1 that Rahab was a mother. Somewhere way back in time, someone had called Rahab, “Momma.” We find here that Rahab had married Salmon, and in process of time, they had a son named Booz, or Boaz. Where else is Boaz mentioned in the Bible?

I suggest to you that Rahab was a good mother to her son Boaz. Moreover, I suggest that she was a godly mother. I say that because I believe that we can look at the life and character of Boaz and evaluate Rahab’s competence as a mother. Turn with me then to the book of Ruth where Boaz is a key character, and…

III. Let’s Consider The Testimony Of Rahab’s Son

A. Notice The Dignity Of Rahab’s Son

(Ruth 2:1) And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

1. This Verse Reveals His Valiance

mighty – [Hebrew gibbowr] powerful; by impl. warrior,:--champion, chief, X excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man.

2. This Verse Reveals His Virtue

wealth – [Hebrew chayil] a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength.

B. Notice The Disposition Of Rahab’s Son

1. Boaz was a Good Man Ruth 2:4, 14

He imparted kindness to those around him, even his servants.

2. Boaz was a Generous Man

We definitely see generosity in those “handfuls of purpose” (Ruth 2:16).

There is a Spanish proverb, which says that an ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. Could it be that a loving mother instilled these positive qualities in this man during the formative years of his childhood?

C. Notice The Devotion Of Rahab’s Son

1. He was Devoted to HONOR

In Ruth, chapter 4, we see the deliberations and dialogue of the two prospective kinsmen redeemers. To the greatest extent, Boaz shows a devotion to honor, particularly in desiring to raise up the name of the dead of the house of Elimelech.

2. He was Devoted as a HUSBAND

The godly example of his mother, Rahab, seems to have cultivated within Boaz a respect for womanhood. He loved Ruth as his wife and he is presented as a devoted husband.

Can I offer a speculative commentary? Could it be that when Boaz was growing up, Rahab would sit him on her lap and tell him the story of how God Almighty had destroyed her whole hometown and spared her life? Maybe tears swelled up in her eyes, and she began to worship and give thanks. I think Boaz was devoted to honor, and he was devoted as a husband; but I think too, because of that godly mama, he came to have a devotion for the Holy One of Israel.

So often, as parents, we question our adequacy and our ability. But if God can take an old harlot like Rahab and transform her into a godly mother, then BY FAITH, as we receive His Word, we can point our children to God!


A little boy asked his mother which of the characters in “The Pilgrim’s Progress” she liked best.

She replied, “Christian, of course; he is the hero of the whole story.”

Her son said, “I don’t, Mother. I like Christiana best, for when Christian went on his pilgrimage he started alone. But when Christiana went she took the children with her.”

—Sunday School Times

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