Rahab

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Rahab, (Heb. רחב rachav; i.e., "broad," "large", Greek: Ῥαχάβ or Ῥαάβ) was, according to the book of Joshua, a woman who lived in the city of Jericho in the Promised Land and originally worked as a prostitute.[citation needed]

Contents

Introduction

In Jericho, a prostitute (Biblical commentator Rashi claims she was a food saleswoman) named Rahab assisted Israelite spies by hiding them and telling the local authorities that she did not know where they went[1]. The spies, in return for her protection, promised to save her and her family during the planned military invasion as long as she fulfilled her part of the deal by keeping the details of the contact with them secret and leaving a sign on her residence that would be a marker for the advancing soldiers to avoid. She kept her word by hiding the spies when the city guard came to her house looking for them; the Israelites kept their word by sparing her family from the general massacre after taking the city: they recognized Rahab's house by a red cord hanging from her window. After the people of Israel conquered Canaan, she left prostitution, joined the Jewish people, and became a respectable married woman. She is the subject of a discussion in one section of the Talmud.

In the Old Testament

According to the book of Joshua (Joshua 2:1-7), when the Hebrews were encamped at Shittim, in the "Arabah" or Jordan valley opposite Jericho, ready to cross the river, Joshua, as a final preparation, sent out two spies to investigate the military strength of Jericho. The spies stayed in Rahab's house, which was built into the city wall. When soldiers of the city guard came to look for them, she hid them under bundles of flax on the roof. After escaping, the spies promised to spare Rahab and her family after taking the city, even if there should be a massacre, if she would mark her house by hanging a red cord out the window.

The soldiers sent to capture the spies asked Rahab to bring out the spies (Joshua 2:3). This is in strict keeping with Eastern customs, which would not permit any man to enter a woman's house without her permission.

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