Isaiah 30:7 English Standard Version

Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”

Is this an allusion to Revelation 17:1

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.

What is the significance?


What is the meaning of “Rahab who sits still.”?

Isaiah 30:7 ESV

Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”

Rahab, a " symbolic sea monster," that symbolizes Egypt. *

Isaiah 51:9 (NET Bible)

9 Wake up! Wake up! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord![a] Wake up as in former times, as in antiquity. Did you not smash the Proud One? Did you not wound the sea monster?

Rahab --Some of the "footnotes" comments by NET Bible on Isaiah 51:9

Isaiah 51:9 tn This title (רַהַב, rahav, “proud one”) is sometimes translated as a proper name: “Rahab” (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). It is used here of a symbolic sea monster, known elsewhere in the Bible and in Ugaritic myth as Leviathan. This sea creature symbolizes the forces of chaos that seek to destroy the created order. In the Bible “the Proud One” opposes God’s creative work, but is defeated (see Job 26:12; Ps 89:10). Here the title refers to Pharaoh’s Egyptian army that opposed Israel at the Red Sea (see v. 10, and note also Isa 30:7 and Ps 87:4, where the title is used of Egypt).

What is the significance?

Egypt promises everything but does nothing. Judah’s alliance with her is a fatal mistake.

Is this an allusion to Revelation 17:1?

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.

It is not an allusion to 17:1, Why?

Who is the "great prostitute"

1/ She has committed acts of sexual immorality with the kings of the earth, including Rome, so it is not Rome as some say.

Revelation 18:9 NASB

“And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of sexual immorality and lived luxuriously with her, will weep and mourn over her when they see the smoke of her burning,

2/ The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her,

Revelation 18:11-12a,15 NASB

11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargo any more— 12 cargo of gold, silver, precious [i]stones, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet;15 The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning,

3/ The nations of the earth were deceived by her "magic spells"

Revelation18:23 NASB

23 and the light of a lamp will never shine in you again; and the voice of the groom and bride will never be heard in you again; for your merchants were the powerful people of the earth because all the nations were deceived by your witchcraft.


"the great prostitute"

It is not the nations of the earth for they have committed sexual immorality with her, it is not the merchants because they mourn over her, and she has deceived the nations of the earth with her " magic spells". All these point out to the false religions of the world.



The ESV comment on Isaiah 30:6-7 says this:

Isaiah mocks the Judean embassy carrying payment to the court of Egypt. The danger and difficulty of the journey, the expense of the purchase, and its disappointing outcome reveal the stupidity of the plan. Rahab is a poetical name for Egypt (see Ezekiel 29:3). Like a monster inhabiting the Nile, Egypt appears formidable but, in fact, just sits there.

The ESV comment on Isaiah 51:9 says this:

The helpless people wonder if God is as active as he once was. Rahab is Egypt (cf. Isaiah 30:7). The ancient oppressor nation is perceived as a monster of mythic evil, slain by the power of God.

Revelation 17:1, on the other hand, is about Babylon, a city who appears as a female prostitute. The ESV makes this comment:

Babylon represents the lust of godless societies for sensual pleasure and their rejection of all restraints... Many waters symbolises the many peoples and nations over which Babylon rules.

On the other hand, Rahab the prostitute (Joshua chapter 2) did not perish because she helped the people of God (Hebrews 11:31) and was justified (James 2:25).

"Rahab who sits still" represents the Egypt of times past who worshiped impotent deities and who was humbled by God. The Babylon in Revelation represents those religions of today who have committed spiritual adultery with powers and authorities who persecute God's people. The harlot in Revelation will be humbled by God in the future.

Source: ESV Study Bible notes


The name "Rahab" is used in two senses as listed by BDB:

רַ֫הַב noun [masculine] literally storm, arrogance, but only as names, v, infr; — absolute ׳ר Isaiah 30:7, רָ֑הַב Job 9:13 -

1 mythical sea monster (compare BartonJAOS xiv.1 (1891), 22 f.): ׳עֹזְרֵי ר Job 9:13; "" יָם Job 26:12; Psalm 89:11; "" תַּנִּין Isaiah 51:9.

2 emblematic name of Egypt, רַהַב וּבָבֶל Psalm 87:4; "" מצרים Isaiah 30:7.

This is significant because of the inherent play on words in Isa 30:7 -

  • Rahab (= storm, Egypt) sits still

That is, the storm that sits still is clearly intended as a jarring clash of meaning. Egypt is called "storm"; but Judah's reliance on Egypt for action will be disappointed because Egypt will be useless, Isa 30:1-5.

Apart from a single verb "sit", I see no connection between Rev 17:1 and Isa 30:7. (One normally need more than a single word to make a connection between two passages.)

In commenting on Isa 30:7, we have the following observations from the Cambridge commentary:

The general sense may be, “This proud boastful monster—its proper name is ‘Inaction’.”

The Pulpit commentary has:

Most translate, "Wherefore I name it" (i.e. Egypt) "Rahab, that sits still;" or "Arrogance, that 'sits still." Rahab, "pride" or 'arrogance," would seem to have been an old name for Egypt (Job 26:12; Psalm 87:4; Psalm 89:10; Isaiah 51:9), not one given at this time by Isaiah. What he means to say is, "Proud as thou art, thou doest nothing to maintain thy pride, but art content with sitting still." This he "cries" or "proclaims" concerning Egypt, as the most important thing for other nations to know about her.


This isn't Rahab from Joshua 2.

In BPT09, we read

Besta que nada faz

which means

Beast that does nothing

The "beast" spoken of here is the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos. We can read about it in Job 26:12 (NASB)

With His power He quieted the sea, And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.

or in Isaiah 51:9 (as Lesley also observes)

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, Who pierced the dragon?

In the context of Isaiah 30:7, the sea monster is used as a symbolic name for Egypt (so Egypt as a sea monster).

Is this an allusion to Revelation 17:1

No. The "great prostitute" in Revelation symbolizes Rome (Revelation 17:18). This goes in concordance with commentaries like that of Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

Rome clearly appears to be meant in this chapter. (...)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.