Kingdom Living

Was Rahab a Prostitute or an Innkeeper?

January 28th, 2010 · No Comments · Bible, Bible Study, Biblical Interpretation, God, Jesus, Joshua, Old Testament, Religion

Have you ever noticed the footnote in the NIV on Joshua 2:1 that says Rahab may have been an innkeeper rather than a prostitute? If that is true, imagine all the grief she is going to get in heaven when everyone keeps going up to her saying, “Oh…so you’re Rahab the prostitute!” and her constantly correcting people that she was really just an innkeeper. While the word for prostitute and innkeeper are similar there are many other clues that still points to Rahab being a prostitute:

  1. Joshua 2:1 calls her a prostitute. That is what the word means. Although innkeeper is similar it is not the word being used here.
  2. The suggestiveness of her name. The verb root of Rahab means “to open”. In Ugarit this word was used in reference to female anatomy.
  3. The Talmud talks of Rahab in a sexual way (Megillah 15a)
  4. The New Testament witness to Rahab as a prostitute (Heb 11:31 & James 2:25). This one pretty much puts the whole thing to rest. If the inspired New Testament writers refer to her as such then that is as strong a witness as you can get (right there with Joshua 2:1).

The beauty of it all is that God was able to use Rahab to complete his plan. Remember, she eventually became Boaz’s mother, the mother in law of Ruth, and great grandmother of King David, ending up in the lineage of Jesus. While the skeleton in her closet was her profession at the time of the battle of Jericho her fear of the Lord shown through more brightly.


No Comments so far ↓

  • nick gill

    How scary would it be for a woman named for (thus prolly dedicated at birth to) a pagan deity to trust the god of the Hebrew spies?

    I’m in awe of her faith.

    • mattdabbs

      It really is pretty impressive. What is amazing is she already recognizes her home is on God’s land. So she better get on the right side of the deed! (See Joshua 2:9)

  • john alan turner

    i think one of the main reasons people don’t want to believe she’s a prostitute is b/c we don’t like the idea that the 12 spies went to a whorehouse.

    • mattdabbs

      Actually 2 spies this time. But notice how it reads…this never hit me until this reading it this year,

      “1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” (Joshua 2:1)

      Huh? I think I missed how direct this was when I was a kid. Some have found innuendo here but it seems like that was their cover to stay hidden. If strangers came into town for a night and left wouldn’t it make sense that is where they stayed/what they came into town for? Who knows.

    • fromthericefields

      It was only 2 spies this time not 12, that was back when Moses was still alive and Joshua and Caleb with the other 10 went to spy out the land for 40 days before coming back with yummy fruits.

  • Frank

    Rahab was definitely a hooker. The NIV translators have a penchant for “fixing” things. This is a prime example.

  • Frank

    About 2:1, I think the whore house is meant to be ironic and funny. Virtually the whole story, including Rahab’s speech about God, which makes her sound like she’s been reading the Torah, comes across as like a western comedy. It’s like a scene out of The Frisco Kid.

  • Jerry Starling

    Why is it necessary to choose between prostitute and innkeeper? Weren’t many innkeepers also prostitutes?

  • jamesbrett

    I love the story of Rahab, because it so clearly demonstrates salvation by faith — yet the active demonstration of that faith is present. It’s amazing the trust Rahab can put in a God that is in so many ways foreign to her.

    But what might be more amazing to me is the faith she puts in the people of God, just because of their connection to him. She puts her life in the hands of spies, trusting them to be honest and faithful to their words in a way she doesn’t trust her own people… just because they (claim to) serve Yahweh.

    I just wonder if non-Christians today would be willing to trust the people of God like this… and why or why not?

  • raj

    Here is another thought … if you enter a town and need to keep a low profile, you would probably stay at a shady place, where records are not kept well.

    On the other hand, if you go to a well known place or an upscale 5 star place then they would probably know who you are, when you came, when you left, etc.

  • fromthericefields

    Hey thanks, I did a post about Fagan being an innkeeper but after some more research I think I stand corrected.

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