Was Rahab Really a Harlot?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Tom Butler, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    In the book of Joshua, we're told that the spies sneaked into Jericho and went to the house of Rahab the Harlot.

    A footnote in my NIV points out that the Hebrew word translated "harlot" looks quite similar to the Hebrew word for "innkeeper."

    Did the King James scholars miss this one?

    "Innkeeper" makes a whole lot more sense. It explains better why the spies went straight to her place.

    So, Hebrew scholars, is there a case to be made for "innkeeper" instead of "harlot" to describe Rahab?
     
  2. TCGreek

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    I'll let the Hebrew guys deal with the OT, but I find the NT to be instructive here: James refers to Rahab as a harlot, porne, "a harlot, prostitute" (Jas 2:25). The same word is used in 1 Cor 6:16 to describe a "harlot," not to be joined to.
     
    #2 TCGreek, Nov 12, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2007
  3. Scarlett O.

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    Look at this quote that I found.

    "Prostitute(2:1).
    Some early Jewish sources call her an "innkeeper", since the Hebrew word used here also had that meaning. However the Greek of Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 means clearly "prostitute."

    Is there any way for you to check and see if this is true - that the Greek word clearly means prostitute? I don't have access to any etymologies.

    I've always thought that a brothel made a whole lot more sense. It's where men of all walks of life, from the homeless to the king, gathered not to be seen. It would have been a place where information could have been gathered about the town - which is why they went there - without them being overtly noticed. Most everyone else would be too worried about being noticed themselves.

    I've also felt like there is a familiar thread among the women listed in the genealogy of Christ.
    • Tamar - was neglected and abandoned by her in-laws and was forced into making the wrong decision of posing as a prostitute to get back into the family that she had married into.
    • Rahab - actually was a prostitute.
    • Ruth - God said in the book of Numbers that for the children of Israel to intermarry with the Moabites would be spiritual whoredom. Ruth was a Moabite woman.
    • Bathsheba - was treated like a common prostitute.
    • Mary - had the reputation of a prostitute in some people's eyes.
     
    #3 Scarlett O., Nov 12, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2007
  4. TCGreek

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    The pornos word-group always refers to sexual immorality (BDAG). Besides, we get our English pornography from it.
     
  5. Scarlett O.

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    Thanks for the clarification. I think that settles the issue.
     
  6. TCGreek

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  7. Deacon

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    I can’t guess why the NIV would add this note, it’s misleading.

    The Hebrew word is “zona”, meaning simply a prostitute.
    See Genesis 34 [LINK], ; the same word is used unmistakably in verse 31.

    Commentators of the past [see below] have attempted to soften the term “prostitute” but it reads as it is, the “house of a (female) prostitute”

    The providence of God directing the spies to the house of Rahab. How they got over Jordan we are not told; but into Jericho they came, which was about seven or eight miles from the river, and there seeking for a convenient inn were directed to the house of Rahab, here called a harlot, a woman that had formerly been of ill fame, the reproach of which stuck to her name, though of late she had repented and reformed.
    Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Jos 2:1).

    Now when he had pitched his camp, the spies came to him immediately, well acquainted with the whole state of the Canaanites; for at first, before they were at all discovered, they took a full view of the city of Jericho without disturbance, and saw which parts of the walls were strong, and which parts were otherwise, and indeed insecure, and which of the gates were so weak as might afford an entrance to their army. (6) Now those that met them took no notice of them when they saw them, and supposed they were only strangers, who used to be very curious in observing everything in the city, and did not take them for enemies; (7) but at even they retired to a certain inn that was near to the wall, whither they went to eat their supper; (8) which supper when they had done, and were considering how to get away, information was given to the king as he was at supper, that there were some persons come from the Hebrews’ camp to view the city as spies, and that they were in the inn kept by Rahab, and were very solicitous that they might not be discovered.
    Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (5.5-8). [LINK]

    Rob
     
  8. Alcott

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    What reason is there to think Rahab was not a hooker? Few businesses have been open to women throughout history, but one of those that has been from time immemorial is that of innkeeper, as well as the "world's oldest profession." Shakespeare's Mistress Quickly is one example of how the 2 were confused, sometimes without even the madam/innkeeper really knowing all that is going on. So really it's no surprise that a woman innkeeper would be somewhat expected to offer that particular service as a part of her business; it was simply too true in many [perhaps most] cases. And very likely this relation goes back as far, and further, than the times of Rahab and Joshua.

    In a related topic, though it's bad, many jobs that became available to women were associated with prostitution. Nursing certainly was; and running a tavern or a restaurant-- closely associated with innkeeper were-- [in the original radio Gunsmoke, "Kitty" was strongly implied to be a harlot, and "Doc" was there to do abortions for her]. Most of us have probably seen those lists of what was required of women school teachers in the 19th century-- no company with men, no smoking, wear at least 2 petticoats, et al-- these were the ideas of how to keep schoolmarms from having the "appearance of evil", any suggestion of which would cost them their jobs.
     
  9. standingfirminChrist

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    Joshua 2:3 Therfor the kyng of Jerico sente to Raab the hoore, and seide, Brynge out the men, that camen to thee, and entriden in to thin hous; for thei ben aspieris, and thei camen to biholde al the lond.

    James 2:25 In lijk maner, and whether also Raab, the hoore, was not iustified of werkis, and resseyuede the messangeris, and sente hem out bi anothir weie?

    Wycliffe 1384

    Seems the KJV agrees with Wycliffe. Rahab was a harlot, not an innkeeper.
     
  10. robycop3

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    No reason why Rahab couldn'ta been both an innkeeper and a prosty. After all, the "madams' of modern brothels were almost always prostys who'd grown too old to attract many johns.
     
  11. Salamander

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    I couldn't agree more.

    If I had said that it would have been deemed an attack and thus snipped.:laugh:
     
  12. Palatka51

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    That was great SFC. :applause: b
     
  13. Deacon

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    I read something recently that relates to how I think about the note in the NIV:

    Translation is an abbreviated form of exegesis:
    exegesis that does not have the space to explain
    or justify itself. — Adele Berlin

    I'm sure that many commentators of ages past have considered that Rahab may have been an innkeeper.

    Within the text it is an unwritten possibility.

    But as far as I can see, the note in the NIV at this point is conjecture, commentary or explaination.

    Sometimes rightly so!
    A bold statement without reasoning is a flame.
    You need to provide some proof or reasons for your statements.
    It gives the opportunity for other to disagree with your statement without attacking the messenger.

    Rob
     
    #13 Deacon, Nov 14, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2007
  14. webdog

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    Couldn't she have been the main mad'am...the one who runs a whore house?
     
  15. Salamander

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    I suppose you might use a vernacular that isn't so "streetwise", try brothal.

    I doubt you will though.

    Since some want my reason for saying the NIV can be misleading, it is their implication that Rahab was not a harlot when all the while only harlots ran inns in those days and in that culture.

    The NIV makes a blatant attack on the word of God in this particular area.

    There, is that REASON enough!
     
  16. webdog

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    I have no idea what "brothal" means...and I didn't realize they had "streetwise" language in the old west, where I remember those houses from. :)
     
  17. Salamander

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  18. robycop3

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    I suppose he meant "brothel" And many of these joints also served as inns as well, with many clients not seeking "special services".

    In many nations for many years, outright whorehouses have been illegal...but not INNS. Thus, the double nature of many of'em.
     
  19. robycop3

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    Sal, remember, we're dealing with events from the 1400s BC in reference to Rahab. "The times, they are a'changin'."
     
  20. dcorbett

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    I will exit, because you answered your own question. As my Mom always
    said, consider the source.


    Debbie Mc
     

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