Martina Reimann

The Prostitute Rahab waves goodbye to the two Israelite spies she has sheltered, in this painting by contemporary German artist Martina Reimann. The spies, having sought out the Canaanite Rahab in her home built into the walls of Jericho, learn from her all they need to know about the city to make Joshua’s planned attack a success. In return for her information and protection, the invading Israelites spare her when they conquer her city. (The scarlet cord hung in her window is a secret sign for the invaders to leave her house standing.) But still, Rahab was a harlot by profession. Why would Matthew take such care to name her as an ancestress of Mary? According to Schaberg, the answer may lie partly in the fact that Rahab’s faith showed itself in real actions; the New Testament Letter of James cites Rahab as an example of one who justifies themselves “by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:25).