Bible women seem to find themselves as either all “good” or all “bad,” at least in the eyes of the world. Take Eve, for example. She’s bad. She ate the forbidden fruit. But why? Why would any woman, especially a smart one like Eve, even talk to a serpent? Maybe there’s a few reasons we’re not considering, a few good reasons. Maybe that quest for knowledge and independence isn’t such a bad thing. Of course God told her not to, and she did. That’s not good. But what if she hadn’t taken it? That old Garden would be getting a bit crowded by now…to say nothing of boring.
And then there’s my favorite, Rahab. She’s bad. She’s a prostitute in the old City of Jericho. We don’t know why. Women had few choices in those days if they were not married. And apparently Rahab wasn’t. But this is what I like: she finds a way out of that profession by using it to her advantage.
Rahab hides a couple of Joshua’s men (Joshua 2-6) on her roof top when the king’s guards are ready to rout them out and kill them. Saving their lives, she lets them down with a rope out of her window, helping the Hebrew people take the first step into the Promised Land. As a result, both her life and her soul are saved — and she winds up as one of Jesus’ more interesting ancestors. (There are four women that brought dynamic elements to Jesus’ family tree; Rahab is one).
St. Paul gets it right, although his language leaves something to be desired (I wish he didn’t note her profession so callously). He refers to her as both a harlot and a hero of the faith. He realizes that she found redemption. She found her soul. She had a moment to decide whether or not to support God’s people, and she made the right choice. Bless her.