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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Rahab, 1

Ra´hab, a name signifying 'sea-monster,' which is applied as an appellation to Egypt in ; ; ; (and sometimes to its king, ; , comp. ); which metaphorical designation probably involves an allusion to the crocodiles, hippopotami, and other aquatic creatures of the Nile.

Rahab, 2

Ra´hab, properly Rachab (large) a woman of Jericho who received into her house the two spies who were sent by Joshua into that city; concealed them under the flax laid out upon the house-top, when they were sought after; and, having given them important information, which showed that the inhabitants were much disheartened at the miracles which had attended the march of the Israelites, enabled them to escape over the wall of the town, upon which her dwelling was situated. For this important service Rahab and her kindred were saved by the Hebrews from the general massacre which followed the taking of Jericho (; ; comp. ).

In the narrative of these transactions Rahab is called zonah, which our own, after the ancient versions, renders 'harlot.' The Jewish writers, however, being unwilling to entertain the idea of their ancestors being involved in a disreputable association at the commencement of their great undertaking, chose to interpret the word 'hostess,' one who keeps a public house. But the word signifies harlot in every other text where it occurs, the idea of 'hostess' not being represented by this or any other word in Hebrew, as the function represented by it did not exist. There were no inns; and when certain substitutes for inns eventually came into use, they were never, in any Eastern country, kept by women. On the other hand, strangers from beyond the river might have repaired to the house of a harlot without suspicion or remark. The house of such a woman was also the only one to which they, as perfect strangers, could have had access, and certainly the only one in which they could calculate on obtaining the information they required without danger from male inmates. If we are concerned for the morality of Rahab, the best proof of her reformation is found in the fact of her subsequent marriage to Salmon: this implies her previous conversion to Judaism, for which indeed her discourse with the spies evinces that she was prepared.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Rahab'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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