Live Blogging the Bible: Joshua 2
by Noah Lugeons
On the one hand, I’m happy to finally meet a women in the bible who doesn’t fuck anything up, get raped, get turned into a leper or perform any defensive penis surgery. On the other hand, she’s a prostitute that sells out her own hometown to a couple of strangers because she’s afraid of them.
Meet Rahab, everyone, somebody who would probably, in retrospect, wish they’d left her profession out of the bible. No before we get into the non-heroic actions of this biblical hero, I’d like to draw attention to an element of the story that never occurred to me until I actually read it. We all know the story, of course, but for those who don’t recognize the name, this is the story leading to the fall of Jericho. Joshua sends a couple of spies to scope out the city and when the king here’s of their presence, he sends his men to find them and kill them.
Rahab the friendly prostitute elects to hide the men, lie about their whereabouts, mislead the royal guard and assist them in their escape. In exchange, she asks that they spare the life of their family. And to the credit of the women and baby and elderly people murdering Israelites, they keep their promise.
So lets start at the beginning, shall we? Joshua sends a couple of spies into Jericho to check out the cities defenses. So where do they go? Straight to a whorehouse! This part is usually glazed over and I’m sure most Christians and Jews think that they just took refuge in a whore’s house when the kings men came after them, but that is clearly not the case. The king sent men to this whorehouse because he heard the spies were at the whorehouse. Straight from god:
Then Joshua, son of Nun, sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies saying “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there.
That’s the opening line of the story. It’s not until after that the king hears about their presence. Joshua sent two spies to check out the town and they decided to check out Rahab’s vagina first.
But that’s not the point. It’s just damn funny when you contrast it to the way these fundies feel about vaginas.
So the king sends his men, Rahab hides them in the roof of her house, misdirects the soldiers and sends them on their way. The spies go back and report everything to Joshua, then they have some dinner, cross the Jordan, circumcise themselves, observe passover and then attack the city. We might get into the pre-battle circumcision in a later article, but for now I’m just going to say I don’t recommend it as a military strategy. The reason I bring it up is that a bunch of shit happens between Rahab discovering that her hometown was about to be massacred and the actual massacre.
She had plenty of time to warn people. She had plenty of time to encourage her close friends to get the fuck out of Dodge. She had plenty of time to tell the king so that the city could be ready to defend the attack. But even failing all this, she also had a house that was a recognized sanctuary. The spies told her anybody in the house would not be killed, but anyone outside it would.
I’d like to think that if I was in that situation, you’d open my door after the battle and it would be packed like a fucking clown car. But we fast forward to chapter 6 and the only people in the house are her family. Really? Not one person outside the Rahab bloodline was worth sparing there?
I guess I shouldn’t complain. It’s one of the few acts in this book that isn’t horrible on every level. As bad as aiding in the genocide of your home town is, it’s the least reprehensible thing anybody’s done in the book of Joshua so far.