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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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RAHAB (‘wide’). 1 . The story of this woman, called a harlot, of Jericho is given in Joshua 2:1-24 . The two spies sent out by Joshua to view the Promised Land come first to the house of Rahab, in Jericho. The king hears of it, and bids Rahab bring them forth; but she asserts that they have left her house and that she does not know where they have gone; she had, however, previously hid them among stalks of flax upon the roof. After their pursuers have left, Rahab comes to them, professes her belief in Jahweh, and adjures them to spare her and her kinsfolk when the attack on Jericho is made; this they promise shall be done; and after arranging that a scarlet thread is to be hung from her window, in order to denote which house is to be spared when the sack of the city takes place, the two spies escape from her house by a rope ( Joshua 2:1-24 ). The promise is duly kept, and Joshua spares her when the city is burned ( Joshua 6:22-25 ). In Matthew 1:5 Rahab is mentioned in the genealogy of our Lord.

2 . A name for the Dragon , applied also to Egypt. This name is not the same as that just considered, which is written Rachab in Hebrew, while this is written Rahab . It is the name given to a mythological monster who is frequently referred to in the Bible. In Isaiah 30:7 the old myth that Jahweh in the beginning subdued Rahab (= Tĕhôm , the ‘Great Deep,’ the Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] Tiamat ) is employed to show that Jahweh will in like manner subdue Egypt (cf. Psalms 87:4 ), and that it is therefore vain for Judah to trust to it. The words in RV [Note: Revised Version.] , ‘Rahab that sitteth still,’ imply that Rahab had been subjugated, but not annihilated, i.e. it was believed that Rahab was still living somewhere in the depths of the sea; the final destruction is referred to in Revelation 21:1 ‘And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more .’ The next reference to Rahab is in Isaiah 51:9-10 , a very important passage, which shows distinctly that Rahab, the Dragon, the sea or the ‘Great Deep’ ( Tĕhôm ), are all names for one and the same monster. The belief is also expressly stated that in ‘the days of old’ there was a conflict between Jahweh and Rahab, and that the latter was overcome. Further references to the Rahab-myth are to be found in Psalms 89:9-10 , Job 9:13 ; Job 26:10-11 ; it is important to note how in all these passages the myth is treated as well known, it is taken for granted that the reference is perfectly understood. [See, further, Dragon, Leviathan, Sea.]

W. O. E. Oesterley.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Rahab'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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