The Lie of Rahab – or is it?

In Joshua 2 we read about the harlot of Jerico, Rahab. She secretly receives two Israelite spies into her house and when the soldiers of the city come to search for them she lies to save their lives.

Now the question is whether she sinned or not? There are various views about it and we had many debates in the past over hypothetical situations, such as if we were hiding Jews from the Nazis. What would we say if they asked us? Should we be honest in such situations or lie. What would we do when facing evil?

During WWII the Germans used Jehovah’s Witnesses as barbers because they knew the JWs would never slit their throats. By not attacking evil these JWs allowed evil to continue to commit further crimes.

Judaism teaches that evil must be resisted by the strongest possible way. Lying is justified if it is to save the lives of the innocent from the wicked. Indeed, when life is in danger just about any law may be abrogated.

There were Karaite (a sect in Judaism that doesn’t accept the oral law) families in Russia who froze to death in the cold Russian winter because their fire ceased to burn over the Sabbath and according the Law one is not allowed to light the fire. They thought they were faithful to God, but were they? In times of famine the eating of unclean animals is permissable. The life of those created in the image of God is more important than the laws that were given for their benefit. If the laws led to their death, what benefit were the laws for them?

Therefore, Rahab’s lie was excusable. She sought to save the lives of the servants of the Most High whom she also decided to follow. Lying to save them was just, it was a righteous act.


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