Joshua 2: 2-6 The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab; “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them. (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) [Living Bible translation]
Flax: A plant of the genus Linum that is cultivated for its seeds and for the fibers of its stem.
Rahab: In Hebrew (“rachav” i.e., “broad” or “large”) see www.wikepedia.org.
One of the primary uses of flax in biblical times was to make linen. The word “linen” means “cloth from woven flax” or “made of flax.” See, www.etymonline.com. Linen was used as a burial cloth in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. The mummification cloth was flax seed cloth or linen wrapped many times over the body. Fine linen was also worn by the elite in biblical times. Because it was worn by the wealthy, fine linen was a valuable commodity. This may have been one of the reasons why Rahab, a (business) woman from Jericho who ran a “house” (King James translation) or “inn” (Living Bible translation) and who was called a harlot/prostitute, had flax drying on her roof. When the stacks of flax were woven into fine cloth linen, this would have been a great source of wealth and income. But Rahab willingly risked it all---she was willing to give it all up---the house, the linen income, her life—everything she had on her faith and belief that something better was coming.
Before the flax seed was her future—in essence her 401k. But now, the flax on the roof was just an excellent place to conceal the Jewish spies from the King of Jericho. Rather than dwell on what she could lose, Rahab acted on faith believing that the GOD who could open up the Red Sea for the Israelites and who defeated mortal kings, was the SUPREME GOD. (See, Joshua 2:11) Rather than fear what the King of Jericho would do to her, Rahab put her future in GOD’s hands.
In the city of Jericho, people may have counted Rahab “out” or considered her “low” in terms of “social” status and importance, but Rahab’s faith proved all of them wrong. In the end, Rahab, the Jericho Gentile, the “broad” ended up in the genealogy of Jesus Christ and even received a place in the biblical “Faith Hall of Fame!” See, Matt 1:5 and Hebrews 11:31.