My Facebook feed reminded me that the weekly Torah portion was about Sarah. So naturally, I thought about Rahab. Okay, so maybe that isn’t the first dot most people would connect. But I made the connection because of their renowned beauty. Along with Esther and Abigail, Sarah and Rahab are listed in the midrash as the most beautiful women the world has ever known.
I like the story of Rahab. It gives me hope. I have a few things in common with her. So, no, I’ve never been a prostitute. But I’m a non-Jewish woman who is about to turn 50. And that’s when Rahab really started living; at age 50. Besides that, she helped the nation of Israel. And if you know me at all, well, then you know that’s my greatest desire, to play at least a small part in helping Israel.
Rahab was 10 when the Israelites left Egypt. While they wandered, she became a prostitute. Forty long years. There’s a bit of a lesson there. Basically, the world is waiting for the Jews to come into their fullness, so the rest of us can come into our fullness. Too bad the world doesn’t get that connection. When Israel thrives, we all do.
My Jewish friends who are teachers constantly remind me that the messages of the Bible are timeless and that the people spoken of in the Bible show the rest of us what to do with our humanity. They still hold up a mirror for us. Which is also what Jews and non-Jews are supposed to do for each other now – reflect light back and forth to each other as we remind each other who we are. I like that part of the story of Rahab the best. She was a mirror for the Jews and they were one for her, reminding each other who they really were. Both needed each other.
Or maybe it’s the ending of Rahab’s story that I like the best. The story ends in the Book of Joshua with the line, “Rahab the innkeeper, and her father’s household and all that was hers, Joshua allowed to live.” If you know the rest of the story, then you realize what a loaded sentence that is.
Joshua married Rahab. Uhh, yeah. Surprise ending.
I love that. At age 50 Rahab came back to life. Came back to her real self. The fact that Joshua saw a spark in Rahab, is a timeless reminder for the Jews to still see and believe there are sparks among the nations worth seeking and finding. Please, don’t give up on us. Even though the nations seem bent on destroying you. There are still scattered sparks here and there. Still trees capable of bearing some good fruit. Maybe. “You shall not destroy a fruit-bearing tree.” Hence, Rahab was spared. She converted and from her fruit came future households that included eight prophets and kohanim, including Jeremiah. Households that “Joshua allowed to live.”
And who can think of Joshua without connecting the dot to perhaps the most famous line associated with him? “Be strong and courageous.”
I hate that my Facebook feed also showed me all the fires burning across the Land. The Land Joshua entered to possess. A Land still full of his and Rahab’s descendents who perhaps need to be reminded of the same thing Joshua needed to be reminded of. “Be strong and courageous, do not fear and do not lose resolve, for Hashem your God, is with you wherever you will go.” Look hard into that mirror for just a moment and remember who you are. A strong and courageous people.