The Symbolism Of Rahab’s Scarlet Cord

– by Prof Gerrie Bester

In the previous article, we learnt about hope and the Hebrew word, Tikvah. We know that it was this tikvah rope that Rahab hung from the window on the walls of Jericho as symbol of hope for life from the only living God of Israel. We have to understand that nothing is just put in the Word of God for no reason. Every Word from His mouth, included in His Word, forms part of His revelation to us, His bride.

Why was the cord scarlet?
The next question is why the cord that Rahab hung from the window in Jericho was a scarlet colour? Was it merely so that Joshua and His men could see the cord from a distance? Or is there a deeper revelation in this picture? As we study this Scripture in the Hebrew language, a whole new world of detail opens up. There is a reason why it was a scarlet cord that became the hope of life for Rahab and her family.

What is the significance of the worm?
The word “scarlet” used in Joshua 2:21 in describing this rope is translated from the Hebrew word Sha’niy. Although Sha’niy is indeed the word for the colour scarlet, it is not merely the colour scarlet – but a very specific worm called the scarlet or the crimson worm. This word is used a few times in the Bible. What is the significance of this scarlet worm in relation to the story of the hope of Rahab? First and foremost, we need to understand that the Word of God explains the Word of God. We do not need man’s opinion to explain or add value to the Word of God. His Word is sufficient and enough.

Is Jesus the worm?
When we read Psalm 22, which we all know is a prophecy that Abba Father gave to David about the crucifixion of Jesus (Hebrew Yeshua), we come to an unusual verse, which is going to blow your mind as we unfold the picture thereof. In verse 6 it says “but I am a worm, and no man…” Why would Jesus be referred to as a worm and no man in the prophecy of the crucifixion?

The life cycle of the worm
The word worm used in this Psalm refers to the same scarlet worm. It is called the scarlet worm because of its ability to secrete a scarlet coloured fluid, which was used in the scarlet dye for linen or wool in Biblical times. When you see the word scarlet or crimson in the Bible, it usually refers to this specific scarlet coloured worm. Looking at the life cycle of the scarlet worm however, we see an amazing revelation from the Word of Abba Father.

A life of sacrifice
When the scarlet worm is ready to give birth, it would find a tree or the trunk of a tree and plant it’s body firmly into the wood, never to leave again. The worm lays eggs under its shell, and the young would then be born. The body of the scarlet worm is used as protection and food for the young. Until the children are ready to live on their own, the scarlet worm gives “itself” in order for them to live. As the scarlet worm dies, it releases the scarlet fluid that stains the children scarlet red. They receive their identity as scarlet worms by the death of the one who gives them life. Ring a bell? The little ones would then go from that place and live in the “identity´ released over them. 

Understanding Scripture
After three days, the body of the mother worm turns white and falls from the tree trunk like a snowflake – pure white in colour. Within this phenomenon of nature lies the whole salvation plan of Abba Father. “I am a worm and no man” all of a sudden makes perfect sense. He gave His life for us on the tree (cross) of Calvary. His wounded, battered, and bruised body gives us life as we are “stained” by the Blood of the Lamb to become covenant children of the King when we are reborn! After three days, He rose again to overcome death giving us life in Him and cleansing us from our sins.

A deeper revelation
The prophet Isaiah refers to this same picture when he says that, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow, though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool” – Isaiah 1:18. The Hebrew word translated as scarlet in this verse is the word Shaniy – the picture of the scarlet worm. Though our hope (tikvah) lies in the promises of Abba Father over our lives, the foundation of this hope in Him is the Blood of the Lamb shed on Calvary. It is not just a cord . . . but a scarlet cord.


Article source: JOY! Magazine (November 2018)

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