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Hebrews 11 list a number of people that Hebrews 12:1 calls a "great a cloud of witnesses". Among them are the usual suspects: Noah, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. But there are also some lesser names, including Abel, Enoch, and Rahab:

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.—Hebrews 11:29-31 (ESV)

Joshua 2 gives an account of how Rahab welcomed them. (By the way, there's little evidence she offered them sexual favors.) She was afraid for her life because of the Hebrew's military victories and betrayed her home town when she hid the spies. Is that really a sign of her faith? Why isn't it the spies that are honored? Why was Rahab listed?

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I think this is a superb answer so I do not intent to supplant it, but perhaps supplement.

Rahab has a couple of notable mentions in the New Testament: Hebrews 11 (which you've identified) and James 2. James 2 is almost more shocking than Hebrews 11 since she's held on par with Abraham as an example of saving faith.

Looking back at the actual story in Joshua 2, I'm inclined to understand Rahab's inclusion in these two accounts as a function of her response. We see in vv. 8-13 that the fame of YHWH had spread to Jericho. The way the story is constructed, Rahab is the only one of the city who both trusted (had faith) that YHWH could achieve the results that YHWH expects and responded in a manner that accented to what YHWH was going to do - and assisted.

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don't forget she is in the line of David, and therefore Christ, too – warren Aug 31 '12 at 13:42
but how is that a demonstration of faith? – swasheck Aug 31 '12 at 14:06
it isn't necessarily - I was merely pointing-out she's included elsewhere and prominently, too – warren Aug 31 '12 at 14:18
Fascinating. I wonder who this RK Phillips character is. I can't find him anywhere and the link in Wikipedia is dead so I can't evaluate the source. – swasheck Sep 2 '12 at 3:54

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