Joseph’s sons sat at his feet, attentive and ready to listen. They loved when their father shared stories from Israel’s history. Joseph had something hidden behind him and waited until he had their full attention.
Mary and her daughters were busy with dinner preparations, but when Mary saw Joseph pull the scarlet cord out, her heart slammed in her chest. Instinctively she realized the story of the cord from this day forward would change her family.
“See this scarlet cord?” Joseph let the boys feel it before he continued. “I’ve taught you about Moses and Joshua, but tonight we will learn about a woman named Rahab. “
“Rahab the Harlot, Father?” James scowled.
“Yes, Rahab the Harlot.”
Mary dried her hands and sat nearby. Her eyes remained focused on her oldest son, Jesus.
“This very rope,” Joseph held it out so they could touch it, “is the scarlet cord Rahab hung out her window on the day the walls of Jericho fell flat.”
“That very cord? Amazing,” young Judas feigned his knowledge of history. “Tell us the story, Father.”
“Rahab hid the spies when they entered Jericho. She knew they would be discovered if she didn’t assist them.” Joseph paused to let their young minds process this. James didn’t disappoint him and quickly snatched at the bait.
“Why would Rahab help the spies, Father? They were about to destroy her city.”
Joseph winked at his son in pride. “Because Rahab knew it would be her only opportunity to save herself and her family. She even lied to the king of Jericho’s men to protect them. The spies climbed down this same rope from her window, but not before Rahab struck a bargain with them. She knew their God was the only true god and begged for the LORD to spare her family because she showed kindness to them.”
“Father,” Simon’s face contorted with his deep thought, “how is it that you have the cord?”
Jesus slowly turned towards Mary and locked eyes with her. Mary’s stomach churned and bitter bile stung her throat.
Joseph caught the exchange between Mary and her son.
“Well,” Joseph cleared his throat. “Rahab gave this cord to her firstborn son, Boaz, who gave it to his son, Obed. Obed chose to give it to his son, Jesse, and he gave it to his son, David the King. And we know that Isaiah prophesied the Messiah will come from the house of King David, so it is in every generation, the father passes this cord on to a son.”
“Today I pass this cord on to my oldest son.” Joseph stood and reached his hand out to Jesus and pulled him up to stand eye-to-eye. “Jesus, do you understand that this scarlet red cord represents the saving of lives?”
“Indeed, Father, I understand.”
In awe, the siblings watched the ceremonial-style exchange.
Mary shifted in her seat. Anxious to move on, she whispered, “The food is ready.”
Silence settled over the meal time like a sudden fog. Young Joseph’s query drew the family’s attention. “Father, I don’t understand. Are we of the house of David the King?”
“Yes, Son,” Joseph dipped his bread.
“And David the King is a descendant of…Rahab the Harlot?”
Mary stared at her food as her sons began to fully grasp their lineage.
“Yes, David is a descendant of Salmon by Rahab.”
“So we are also descendants of Rahab the Harlot?” Young Joseph’s words were barely audible.
Jesus watched his father struggle with the information his astute sons unburied through today’s history lesson. “The lesson we learned today is very valuable, Father,” Jesus intervened. “Rahab’s cord is a vivid reminder that the grace of our LORD can reach beyond His chosen people, the children of Israel, and embrace even one such as Rahab the Harlot. It is written by the prophet Isaiah: "Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Mid-chew, James stared at Jesus. “So we,” James swallowed and tore his eyes from Jesus to look at his father, “are descendants of the coming Messiah?”
Mary’s rapid pulse pounded. Surely the family could hear it. She closed her eyes, held her breath, and waited for the answer she knew would be verbally spoken for the first time in their home.
Simultaneously, husband and son spoke the one word answer. “Yes.”
*Author’s note: Scripture is quoted from Isaiah 1:18
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