FROM SLUT TO SAVIOR
The banging on the door below awoke her. Then it stopped and a minute later Nimra knocked and tiptoed in.
“Rahab,” she whispered. “It is Achab. He wants – ”
“Tell him ‘No.’” Rahab’s eyes were still closed, but her voice was firm.
Her servant stood beside the bed. “Are you sick? What’s wrong? This is the third time he’s come.”
“Just ‘No’!” Rahab said again. She buried her face in her pillow as she listened to Nimra’s footsteps patter down the stairs. Then she took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. What was she doing - turning away her best customers? Yet since that day...
She got out of bed and began dressing. But in her mind she was far away, living those events yet again.
The two men had appeared at her door like any other travelers. But very quickly she’d realized they were different. “So who are you then, and where are you from?” she’d asked with a coquettish smile.
“From there,” the younger one had said, waving his hand eastward.
“Ammon? Moab?” she’d persisted.
But the other glared and slapped a hand over his mouth, as if motioning his partner to say no more. Then she knew. They were Hebrews, members of that fierce nomad tribe with the powerful god that she’d heard stories of all her life.
“Come upstairs,” she said, and led them up to this room where she worked. But that afternoon, work was the farthest thing from her mind. For here at last were real flesh-and-blood members of the mysterious people of Yahweh.
How fitting that they should come to her, she thought, as they talked. She almost felt that Yahweh was her God too. For often, after a client had left, leaving her feeling empty and defiled, she would face what she was – whore, prostitute, slut – and in her unhappiness call out silently to the most powerful god that she knew: “Yahweh. Help!”
Guards at the door seeking those men had cut the conversation short. While Nimra went down, she’d hidden the men under piles of flax on the roof. After dark she’d helped them escape through the window, but not before they’d given her an amazing promise. For they were, she discovered, spies, who were doing a reconnaissance of Jericho before they came to attack. Because of her help, they would save her and her family. All she had to do was hang a red cord from the window and make sure her whole family was together in her house.
She’d hung the red cord immediately. But she still hadn’t told her family, although she was sure they suspected something.
Now weeks had passed. And though the city gates remained locked for fear of the Hebrew army – nothing. As day followed silent day, she wondered, when would they come? Would they even come at all?
As she put the final touches on her hair, she heard her mother talking to Nimra. A minute later her mother entered the room.
“Good morning, Rahab. You look beautiful. Busy today?”
‘No,” Rahab said quietly.
“Rahab, is it true what I’ve heard? Are you sending away the officials and the king’s men?”
“Yes.” Rahab looked down.
“Why? You have a talent with men. It’s your destiny. You can’t change what you are. A harlot is an old and honorable profession. And,” her voice became pleading, “your father needs your money and influence to save our family.”
Behind her mother’s words, Rahab heard other sounds - footsteps and faint, unearthly horns. Both went to the window.
Below them unfolded an unbelievable sight. Rows and rows of men marched by. Then came horn blowers, and the horn blasts grew deafening as they passed. Behind them were pairs of men with poles on their shoulders and sitting on the poles, a golden box. As the box moved, it caught sunlight and reflected blazing glory. “Yahweh.” The name slipped from Rahab’s tongue as she looked at it, and then away from the blinding light.
Following the golden box were more marchers. As Rahab scanned their heads, one glanced up, first at the cord, then to the window. His gaze caught and held hers. It was one of the spies!
They have come, she thought, feeling pure and light and indescribably happy. She paused for a minute, then turned toward her mother. Now she would tell her family. They would be saved, but not by her harlotries.
Copyright © Violet Nesdoly 2004