(1) (rachabh, "broad"; in Josephus, Ant, V, i, 2, 7, Rhachab; Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25, Rhaab): A zonah, that is either a "harlot," or, according to some, an "innkeeper" in Jericho; the Septuagint porne, "harlot"). The two spies sent by Joshua from Shittim came into her house and lodged there (Joshua 2:1). She refused to betray them to the king of Jericho, and when he demanded them, she hid them on the roof of her house with stalks of flax that she had laid in order to dry. She pretended that they had escaped before the shutting of the gate, and threw their pursuers off their track. She then told the spies of the fear that the coming of the Israelites had caused in the minds of the Canaanites-"Our hearts did melt.... for Yahweh your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath"-and asked that the men promise to spare her father, mother, brothers and sisters, and all that they had. They promised her to spare them provided they would remain in her house and provided she would keep their business secret. Thereupon she let them down by a cord through the window, her house being built upon the town wall, and gave them directions to make good their escape (Joshua 2:1-24). True to their promise, the Israelites under Joshua spared Rahab and her family (Joshua 6:16 the King James Version); "And," says the author of Josh, "she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day." Her story appealed strongly to the imagination of the people of later times. Hebrews 11:31 speaks of her as having been saved by faith; James, on the other hand, in demonstrating that a man is justified by works and not by faith only, curiously chooses the same example (James 2:25). Jewish tradition has been kindly disposed toward Rahab; one hypothesis goes so far as to make her the wife of Joshua himself (Jew Encyclopedia, under the word). Naturally then the other translation of zonah, deriving it from zun, "to feed," instead of zanah, "to be a harlot," has been preferred by some of the commentators.
(2) (Rhachab): Josephus, Ant, V, 1, 2, 7, so spells the name of (1) Septuagint and New Testament contra). The wife of Salmon and mother of Booz (Boaz) according to the genealogy in Matthew 1:5. Query, whether there was a tradition identifying (1) and (2); see Lightfoot, Horae Hob on Matthew 1:5.
(3) (rahabh, literally, "storm," "arrogance"): A mythical sea-monster, probably referred to in several passages where the word is translated as a common noun "pride" (Job 9:13), "the proud" (Job 26:12; compare Psalm 89:10). It is used in parallelism with tannin, "the dragon" (Isaiah 51:9). It is most familiar as an emblem of Egypt, `the boaster that sitteth still' (Isaiah 30:7 Psalm 87:4; compare Psalm 89:10). The Talmud in Babha' Bathra' speaks of rahabh as sar ha-yam, "master of the sea."
See also ASTRONOMY.