Were Rahab and Jacob rewarded for lying? Bodie Hodge, AiG–U.S., explains why this is not the case.
I just read [the November 13, 2009] Feedback article about lies (A Righteous Lie?). I thought it was very informative, but have a question of my own to ask about it.
Hebrews 11:31 commends Rahab among the Old Testament saints for her great faith in the Hebrew God. That she saved the spies through lying is never mentioned in a negative connotation, to my knowledge. If her faith was great enough to get her name in the list of great saints, and her faith was what compelled her to lie, then is not her concealment and dishonesty okay?
In the same way, Jacob is never “told off” for being dishonest toward his ailing father. Isaac was obviously in sin for disregarding God’s instruction on who would receive the birthright, but Jacob obtained it through dishonest gain, and never (to my knowledge) does Scripture make mention of that.
These are just some questions that came up while reading that argument. Thank you for your ministry; God bless!
Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis. In Hebrews 11:31 (nor in James 2:25), the Lord does not even mention the lying of Rahab. She was commended for other things, but never for lying. See also A Righteous Lie?.
With Jacob, the issue of the blessing and birthright are pretty much one and the same. Esau despised his birthright so much as to sell it to Jacob. Birthright meant Jacob had a right to receive the blessing, and Jacob knew better than to let Esau take it out from under him after he purchased it, and so went along with his mother’s scheme. So, although he was not honest with his father (and this was a fault for Jacob), the blessing was his to receive due to the agreement between Esau and Jacob in Genesis 25:31–34. Isaac never repealed the blessing but reaffirmed it afterwards, and even the Lord gave his blessing to Jacob in Genesis 48:3.
But Jacob’s dishonesty, which demonstrated a lack of trust in God, came back to bite him, as he was forced to flee and became the victim of some firstborn-sibling–related scheming himself. At the end of his life, he even stated in Genesis 47:9, when speaking to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”
Had Jacob been honest with his father early on, how would things have been different? Although we cannot say for sure, it’s interesting to think about.
With kindness in Christ,
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.