Lay out your fine tablecloth. Prepare your challah and wine. Set up your candles and place settings. Make this a fine Shabbat. Sanctify it and set it apart. Blessings to your family, Jewish on non-Jewish, this weekend. May your worship and family time be a blessing however you spend it.
What little spiritual depth I may have comes from close reading of God’s words. I know many who find their spiritual connection praying or doing deeds of kindness. These can touch my inner places at times, but I confess that the Bible is my Holy of Holies. I see the kavod HaShem (glory of the Lord) in it again and again, always in new places and new ways. I have been brought to tears and prayers of repentance and joy a thousand times reading and contemplating the spiritual truths of Torah, prophets, writings, and apostles.
I’m reading Joshua right now along with my congregation. I love the Biblical narratives. If you learn how to see their purpose and how they reveal God, they are as powerful as any other part of scripture. Many are stories easy enough for children to comprehend and spiritual records powerful enough to bring grown men to repentance and joy.
I was mightily moved today by a close reading of the story of Rahab the harlot and the spies of Israel. It is a story of covenant, a picture of God’s covenant kindness and faithfulness. It is a tale of a lowly woman made righteous when God comes to town. It is a tale of faith in God more than security inside impregnable walls, a choosing of spiritual community over the safety of home and neighbors, country and peoplehood.
The story is in Joshua 2:1-23 and 6:22-25. Don’t miss the scarlet thread in 2:18 or the way that Rahab asks for a covenant of kindness from the spies. What more could we want from God than a covenant of kindness, a scarlet redemption, a salvation on the basis of faith and reverence?
I offer the following reading of Rahab’s story as a meditation for this Shabbat. Read it with your family, with your children, your spouse, a friend, or by yourself. Let the power of Rahab’s faith, her desire for God’s covenant kindness, permeate your life as well. . . .
And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying,