Photo by Jan Brodsky/Collection Galerie der Bildenden Kunst, Litomerice, Czech Republic

Rahab tells the spies what to do in this crayon- and-ink drawing by Italian Giovanni Segantini (1858–1899). A Canaanite prostitute living on the edge of Jericho (her house is in the city wall), Rahab takes in the two Israelites Joshua sent to scout out the city and protects them. When the Canaanite king tracks the spies to Rahab’s home, she hides them on her roof (the top of the city wall, shown here). She assures the spies that Jericho will surely fall because God has given the land to Israel (Joshua 2:9)—a report the spies bring back to Joshua.

Throughout the episode, Rahab has the upper hand—she is wiser and more resourceful than all the other characters in the story, including the Israelite spies. She also possesses a fine knowledge of Israel’s history: She knows that the “Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea,” and she quotes the very song Moses and the Israelites sang beside the sea—a song the spies themselves should have known because they were there. As author Gary Rendsburg points out in the accompanying article, Rahab, like many other foreign women in the Bible, is more Israel than Israel.