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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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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.

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
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    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
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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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When we look at Job 9:13, we see that the word “a” or the word “the” is NOT written before the word Rahab (this is true for versions NLT, NIV, ESV, NABRE, etc):

NIV: “Even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his (God’s) feet.”

If Rahab in this context meant haughty, narcissistic, or prideful, we would see either the word “a” or the word “the” before “Rahab.”

Example: “Even the cohorts of the Rahab cowered at his feet.”

Therefore we can deduce that Rahab in this context means sea monster, as according to Jewish lore.

(Job 3:8 also writes about the sea monster Leviathan without an “a” or “the” before it).

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