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The most famous Rahab in the Bible is the prostitute of Jericho who hid the two Hebrew spies in Joshua 2. But there seems to be a different Rahab introduced in Job:

“God will not turn back his anger;
    beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.

—Job 9:13 (ESV)

By his power he stilled the sea;
    by his understanding he shattered Rahab.

—Job 26:12 (ESV)

Wikipedia suggests that the word רהב (rahab <7293>) ought to be translated as "proud". But most English translations translate it as a name, instead.

How should this Hebrew word be translated in Job? Can any connection be made to the woman who lived in the time of Joshua?

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4 Answers 4

Perhaps it's a case of YAPSM (Yet another primordial sea monster) in the Bible.

In recollecting from the only secular scripture class I've taken, which you may take with a grain of salt if you wish, there's Leviathan and Behemoth which represent crocodiles and hippos accordingly.

Rahab, is another sea monster, (s)he also makes her presence known in connection with the seas in

You rule the raging sea; you still its swelling waves.

You crush Rahab with a mortal blow; with your strong arm you scatter your foes.

Psalms 89:10-11 NABRE

But sheesh, it's hard to know when God is talking about tribes being destroyed or people being destroyed or ancient beasts being destroyed.

According to the Jewish Encyclopdeia a Rahab is an ocean dwelling dragonish sorta thing. Which is also known as Tiamat.


Which somehow reminded me of being 5 years old again playing Final Fantasy.

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Another argument for the mythical beast interpretation would be Job 26:13, which indicates by parallel language that Rahab is a serpent. I think this interpretation fits well with my overall theory of the book of Job. Thanks for the Jewish Encyclopdeia link and the Final Fantasy reference. I need to pick up a copy of that game. ;-) –  Jon Ericson Aug 27 '12 at 18:40
Great answer! Also, just to clarify that the woman's name Rahab is spelt רחב, i.e. with a heth, and so is unrelated to Rahab with a hei. –  Noam Sienna Jun 12 '13 at 2:46
Rahab is not a serpent, but a word meaning "haughty" that the Bible also ascribes to Egypt. If you substitute "Egypt" in Psalm 89 for "Rahab" you will see it makes sense in context. –  Bruce James Jun 12 '13 at 17:59
@BruceJames you're not saying Rahab doesn't mean Serpent in Job though are you? If so, do the other beasts and stuff have geographical counterparts? –  Peter Turner Jun 12 '13 at 18:05
@PeterTurner: Yes I am saying Rahab doesn't mean serpent in Job. See my Answer to this question. –  Bruce James Jun 12 '13 at 18:14

Rahab is indeed a sea monster, but not necessarily a mythical one as seems to be implied by some of the comments made on Behemoth and Leviathan. It is not at all impossible that dragons (AKA dinosaurs) existed among humans in centuries before ours. There is significant evidence in the fact that both the idea and image of dragons are world-wide, not limited to China and medieval Europe. They are all large and all reptilian. Some are sea dwelling (Leviathan), others land dwelling (Behemoth). Rahab itself seems to be a sea dweller.

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Hi Park and welcome to our site. This answer is perhaps too speculative for our site. It also doesn't directly address the textual issue, which involves the odd coincidence of the same word being applied to the woman who rescued the Israelite spies and some sort of sea creature. Perhaps you could source your information? –  Jon Ericson Jun 11 '13 at 21:10
@Jon you think thats too speculative? Doesn't Job fall waay before Joshua in the time-line? Wouldn't that kind of rule out the connection to the prostitute/other woman named Rahab? I think its a valid point that Park made about "dragons" ,aka, dinosaurs living alongside humans before the flood.. meh..I also think it could very well mean "proud" or "haughty" as well.. I dunno for sure though... I would like to know.. Satan is the father of confusion –  user5560 Jul 25 at 12:25
Dinosaurs died out long before the first humans were born. Every school child knows that. –  fdb Jul 25 at 23:58

I would follow the view of Rashi who at Job 9:13 says that Rahab would be the angel assigned to assist Egypt. Rashi understands this from the use of the word Rahav (רָהַב), which he translates as "haughty," in Isaiah 30:7. There it says: "And the Egyptians help in vain and to no purpose, therefore I called this, 'They are haughty (רָהַב), idlers." They were called "haughty," Rashi says, because the Egyptians said "Who is the Lord? ...." (Exodus 5:2). Rashi sticks to this view at Job 26:12 although there he is referring specifically to the Egyptians and not their angel.

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Actually and according to the Hebrew translation Rahab = Pride, so when you read the passage as it was intended, "and by His understanding He shatters pride"... this would make more sense in terms of Job talking as he is referring to himself.

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Bruce, welcome aboard and thank you for your input. Can you draw in parallel the use of this word in Is 30:7, Ps 87:4, Ps 89:11, or even Job 26:12, which is an apparent allusion to Egypt? The idea is to provide us analysis beyond casual first impressions. In other words, when we see the structure and use of the word, and compare and contrast its other uses, then we are can arrive at conclusions that appear more from what the text says than what we say. In this way, we lend more weight to our conclusions. Thanks. –  Joseph Sep 17 at 0:08

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