Matthew: those first two women

Tamar Rahab   

rahabThese are the first two women listed in the genealogy of Jesus in the opening chapter of Matthew. My narrative below will not include their whole story, so I encourage you to read about them for yourself. I find them fascinating.

Tamar ~ Read her story in Genesis 38.

Long story short…she tricked her father-in-law, slept with him, got pregnant, and then called him out on it. So you could consider Tamar to be a deceitful, scandalous woman, with a less than pure sexual past. But I see a woman who did what it took, in a culture that put her at the mercy of men, to get justice and to survive in her world. I think it took courage and strength to do what she did. Either way, she is forever a part of the humanity of Jesus. Mentioned by name so all the world would know it.

Rahab ~ Read her story in Joshua 2.

She was a prostitute in Jericho. The synopsis of her story is this…

“However, Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, her father’s household, and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent to spy on Jericho, and she lives in Israel to this day.”   (v.25)

We aren’t told why Rahab became a prostitute. I have a firm belief that women do not sell themselves because they love having sex with strangers. There is a desperation factor behind prostitution. Something happened in her life that led her to do what she was doing, we just don’t know what it was. All we know for sure is that she knew what was coming.

“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of you.” (v.9)

She would have been a shamed  outcast among her people. But it also seems that she was a woman who loved her family, had a fear of God, and was willing to risk everything on two total strangers who were spies. That feels brave to me.

She is known as Rahab the prostitute. But she is more than that. {Dear Lord I hope all of us are more than the choices we’ve made!} She had a powerful role to play in God’s plans and in the history of His people. She has a place in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11), where she is commended for her faith, not condemned for her sin! And when we look back at the human lineage of Jesus, she is standing there.

They could just be names in a bible study, names that we don’t really relate to all that much today. But they were real women. They had real pain, real hopes, real needs. They weren’t any different than us, they just lived in a different place and time.

You and I could be Tamar. A woman treated unjustly, with nowhere to go for help except her own wits and courage. We could be Rahab, who, for whatever reason, was desperate enough to sell herself. A woman who likely paid the price for her desperation by becoming an outcast in her city.

I may not be an exact Tamar or Rahab, but I am a version of them. I have a less than stellar past, having done things that brought me shame. I have been treated unjustly, and felt backed into a few corners. I spent a lot of years living by my own wits, such as they were, before finally surrendering to Jesus. And even after that I continued to make some choices I am not proud to have made. Today, in our churches, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, we have our own versions of Tamar and Rahab.

If all we see of these two women are names in a bible study, in a genealogy we skim past, we will miss the treasure they hold out for us.

Our past does not disqualify us in the heart of God. 


Have you ever felt disqualified? Felt that surely God has passed you by because of things you’ve done?

Have you ever believed that someone else’s past disqualified them?


 Whether your past was 10 years ago, or yesterday, it does not disqualify you. Regardless of what you have done or why you did it, you are loved by God. You were born for such a time as this, and you have a part to play in His plans and purposes. He isn’t looking for perfect people, because there are none. He is looking for people willing to believe Him.

If you have made the decision to come under the Lordship and salvation of Jesus, then your past is covered by His blood and you are a new creation. Your past does not determine your future, and it certainly does not determine your worth. If you have not made that decision, then let today be the day!

Previously:  Matthew:  significance

Up Next:  Matthew:  the other 3 women