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Was Rehab A Prostitute

I've always believed Rahab was a prostitute. However, a footnote in the NIV suggests she may have been an innkeeper. A few other resources state confusion in translations, but cite she may have been an innkeeper which is why the spies were at her home. Can anyone shed any further clarification?

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The story of Rehab while being historically accurate also has a "remez/allegory/allusory" level which is Prophetic. That prophesies that Jesus will be hidden among the Gentiles for a time. The scarlet cord mentioned in the story is an allusion to the scarlet blood of Jesus shed on the cross and would remind jews of the lamb's blood of Passover.

All scripture has an allegorical level like this and is Prophetic on some level as Jesus said "I come in the volume of the Book for it was written of Me" and elsewhere "Before I spoke to you in Types and Shadows but now I speak to you plainly..."

Shalom, David
---David_Melchert on 1/1/12

The most important thing to note about Rahab...
she was not a Jew.
This teaches that heredity does not play a part in salvation or condemnation. ---Harold on 10/26/10

So this is your evidence she was not Israel lineage. Kinda lean, nothing to go on other than her name and possible occupation.

Matthew speaks and spells a different Rachab. She was not this women in Joshua who would have been pregnant at 60-115 years old.
Why look/cling for a crack in scripture?? Look for light, in the multitude of witness.
GOD don't make mistakes. If he loved a people, it's his right.
If I'm not this people....I'll be like Rahab faithful, and just fine with what GOD does.
---Trav on 9/7/11

Read in Joshua 2: 1-21, joshua 6:17,6022-25. Matthew 15, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:24-26. Hope thats helps you a little bite
---tee on 9/5/11

The distinction between a brothel and a hostlery has been fuzzy throughout history--to put it sweetly.

There are even hotels of questionable reputation today that serve these two-fold functions.
---Cluny on 10/31/10

many "innkeepers" supplement their income in ways that the Proverbs 31 women don't especially when times are tough.
---aka on 10/26/10

The word translated harlot in the KJV may also mean innkeeper, many of the inns in that time were also brothels, this would bring the travelers and keep them coming back.
The most important thing to note about Rahab is not her past, for all have sinned, but that is is an ancestor in the line of Christ and she was not a Jew. This teaches that heredity does not play a part in salvation or condemnation. It does not say if she ever believed in the coming Messiah, but she did fear for what the Jew's God had done and knew he could do it again.
---Harold on 10/26/10

If you look at the KJV it says in Joshua 6:17 specifically that Rahab the harlot. The red cord in her window was a direct link to what she was just as the red lights in most districts indicate the prostitution area.
---Lyn on 10/24/10

Strong Axe > in Leviticus chapter twenty-one > it says that *priests* > "the sons of Aaron" (Leviticus 21:1) > "shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced" (in Leviticus 21:7). Also > Deuteronomy 22:13-21 shows what was to be done to a woman who lied by saying she is a virgin, in order to fool a guy into marrying her. This can help us see that God's men wanted to marry women who were virgins and therefore not prostitutes, I would say.
---Bill_bila5659 on 8/19/09

wayne, you are correct! The only thing "wrong" in Ruth's situation was that she was a Moabitess. She did not commit any sexual sin according to the Scriptural account.Rahab was a prostitute, Tamar "played the harlot(prostitute)" and Bathsheba committed adultery with king David. The thing I see represented in all of the encounters of Scripture is that God will forgive and accept ANYONE who repents and turns from their sin, Amen?!
---tommy3007 on 8/19/09

A few commentators believed that she was an innkeeper, but in those times, it was common for prostitutes to run taverns. And Jericho was a very perverse town, Leviticus 18, Deuteronomy 20:16-18. She demonstrated a faith in the Lord by hiding the two spies, and God gives grace to those who have confidence in him. Please consider using the A.V. / K.J.V.. Many of the N.I.V. commentaries are unreliable.
Joshua 2, 6:17, 22-25, Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25.
---Glenn on 8/19/09

Do your soul a favor and return to KJV
---mima on 1/21/09

Pardon me Mima, but what is that letter on the end of that bible translation you have? Right its a V
it is just a verson as all the others are of the Orignial scripts. The KJV is full of translation errors just as the others are. But dont get me wrong I own a 1611 KJV, due to that is what I bought somefew years ago. That is my main source for reading. Though I know where the errors are and will search for any others that may be there. But I also use the hebrew to study by.

---Reuben on 8/19/09

Hi Julie, read Joshua chapters 2 and 6 for more on Rahab.

Also, have you ever heard of Biblegateway? If not, check it out. It's a great place to do a quick search if you ever need to in the future. I know how it is when you hear something really quickly, but can't jot down or remember where it can be found. Sites like this one, Biblegateway and a few others are very useful. Hope this info helps! :)
---AlwaysOn on 8/19/09

Hi, I was googling Rehab because the other day my Pastor mention her being a prostitute. I did not catch where in the bible she is spoke of. Would you happen to know? Thank you!
---Julie_Birdsong on 8/19/09

Joshua 6:17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent

This plainly calls Rahab a harlot. definition for harlot is=
"A woman prostitute"

Problem here is"a footnote in the NIV suggests"

Do your soul a favor and return to KJV
---mima on 1/21/09

Joshua 2:1, 6:17 and 6:25 mention Rahab as a harlot (Hebrew "zonah")
Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 mention "Rahab the harlot" (Greek "porne")
Both of these words mean "prostitute".

It's fairly clear that she was a harlot, and even if you don't accept accept that interpretation from Joshua, it's fairly clear that the New Testament authors did so.


Scandalous women in Jesus's lineage shows that God is no respecter of persons - he happily uses prostitutes, thieves, and even murderers.

(Also, where is the prohibition in Leviticus? I couldn't find it in KJV or NIV, perhaps it's worded differently?)
---StrongAxe on 1/21/09

One of the morals of the story that I like to teach my children is that it doesn't matter why you make the decisions you make....whether you want to blame the disfuntion of your family or any other option you use to justify your will be labeled for LIFE for those mistakes....doesn't matter how honorable she became....we still call her, REHAB the HARLOT! Period!....the bible uses those who believe, regardless of our past. GREAT SCRIPTURES
---Kimi on 1/20/09

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Rahab was listed in the lintage of Christ in Matthew Chapter 1. She is a GREAT example of the SAVING GRACE of GOD!
---Adam on 12/30/07

Stick to the 1611/1797 King James and you won't be confused.
---MM on 1/23/07

lDaniel, who do u think God is n who is Jesus and the Holy 'Spirit? Who is this Divine Trinity that we know of? My KJV tells me, it is Jesus Christ Himself in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All bibles dont tell everything about history and am sure u use commentaries, and read books that record things of the bible. Thats how I knew of Rahab. True or not, most important she had faith n got saved.
---jana on 1/15/07

Jana: "...her parents chose to go their way with their idols." What?! "Rahab...married one of the spies." What?!

That's not in the Bible. It's apparent you've allowed your imagination to run away with you. :)
---Leon on 1/15/07

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jana: I hope NO preacher ever told you that Rahab was "saved by her faith in Jesus Christ" as you said. The Israelites weren't told of Messiah until much LATER in history. Rahab was saved, as were any Israelites, because of her faith in God to provide salvation from her sin! Of course, those living now must believe in Jesus as their Savior; his death and resurrection, and trusting in Him to live their lives as Christians.
---danie9374 on 1/14/07

Mima: There's nothing to think over unless we allow our minds to wander into a carnal gutter. The spies came to Rahab's house (Joshua 2:1) for lodging. Verses 2:12-13 & 18 actually say the house was her father's.

True, Rahab was a harlot! Was she whoring in her father's house? There's only indication she was running the family lodge (inn) for her aged parents, no more or less. Her other activity likely wasn't done on the premises. Actually, I think she was looking for & found a way out of her sin.
---Leon on 1/14/07

Moabitw Sexual Temptres...thats wrong stateent. Ruth was not like that?
---amam on 1/14/07

daniel9374: Clarification, Moabite women were sexual temptresses.
---tonne on 1/13/07

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Leann: It is amazing how society looks down at prostitutes isn't it. The sad thing about this is is that society probably robbed them of their inheritances or their husbands and they have to survive somehow so they sell their bodies. Men also had many of them addicted to drugs and selling their bodies for drugs which is sad.
---tonne on 1/13/07

The Bible has people from all walks of life, some good, some bad, and some just ugly.
---tonne on 1/13/07

Rahab was not an inkeeper but stayed in the inn working 4 the king spying on whose coming in or out..she also was a prostitute saved by her faith in Jesus Christ. When the city fell, she n her family was saved however her parents chose to go their way with their idols. that is also like some of us 2day. Rahab stayed with the Israelites and married one of the spies..she became a true believer..
---jana on 1/4/07

The Moabites were sexual temptresses. The Israelites were forbidden to marry a Moabite.
However Ruths line was acceptable in the eyes of God. Just goes to show you God can do what he wants whenever he wants.
---tonne on 12/28/06

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I can see nothing scandalous in Ruth's life
---alanUKquent64534 on 12/27/06

TONNE: As Wayne said, why would describe Ruth in the manner you did?! She was a God-fearing WIDOW; who as far as everything written of her in Scripture, never sinned in any of her actions! Although we may be suspicious of Bathsheba possibly not making sure no one could see her, we really don't know the circumstances; she may have had clothes on! After Uriah was dead, it would have been odd for her not to accept marriage to the KING. David sinned, by coveting and essentially committing murder, not her.
---danie9374 on 12/27/06

Just curious, how do we see Ruth as having a "scandalous relationship" as it seems that she simply was following the advice of her mother-in-law who was very familiar with the laws and customs of her nation (Ruth was not) and Boaz says that everyone knows she is a virtuous woman. Just don't remember reading anything that would indicate that she was doing anything other than what would be proper. Thanks.
---Wayne87 on 12/26/06

Leviticus it states that thou shall not marry a prostitute because she has profaned her fathers house. However, in Hosea God tells him to go marry a prosititute. Evidently some women who were hookers or possibly deceived by men were acceptable in the Kingdom of God. It also states that outcasts and harlots into the Kingdom first.
---Tonne on 12/26/06

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The four women mentioned in the geneolgy of Matthew: Ruth, Bathseeba (Urriahs wife), Tamar and Rehab all had scandelous sexual relationships and they say Mary Magdelena did too. I beleive that the true people of the Bible were sabotaged by Satan and his fallen angels
---TONNE on 12/25/06

Hosea married a prostitute and God told him to and in Leviticus it clearly states that anyone in the priestly line will not marry a harlot for she profanes her fathers house. It also states that outcasts and harlots enter into the Kingdom before the perfunctory rightous. Yet the flesh condemns hookers.
---leann on 12/25/06

I find Wikipedia one-dimensional. Rahab's position was more than the title of a high paid call girl or 'stable' manager, high class business establishment for working girls. You get my drift.
---Cindy on 12/17/06

Danie, thank you for the correction. Yes, you are right...the NIV text does not say innkeeper, that word is only found in a footnote. I appreciate your insight and clarification on the topic, it is precisely what I was looking for. Again, thank you!
---AlwaysOn on 12/16/06

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Mima asked us to think about 'why were the Isralite spies at Rahab's place?' VERY SIMPLE: If you were a spy who went in to 'check out' the enemy's fortress, you certainly wouldn't want to arouse any suspicions! So you'd go to one of the places that MOST strangers to Jericho went! HOWEVER, as Jos.2:2 ff. says, WHEN they learned they were 'sons of Israel', that obviously didn't seem right to them, because they knew about their religion; so wanted to question them!
---danie9374 on 12/16/06

Yes! Rahab was a prostitute according to Joshua 6:17
---WIVV on 12/16/06

when she is spoken of in the book of Heb. and James, the word is prostitute as we know it today.
---buttons on 12/16/06

It has always been my belief that Rahab was a prostitute. Just another instance of how God uses people that the world would not find acceptable. Too often we do not have faith enough to believe that God uses ones such as Rahab. He offers salvation to all. Dana 9769
---Dana on 12/16/06

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After looking at this question I was reminded of once being asked this question by a preacher from Arkansas. He understood that Rahab was a prostitute and understanding that he asked me, what do you think these men were doing at her place any way? Think that one over.
---Mima on 12/16/06

Ferrar Fenton's version refers to "Rahab the Inkeeper", but he tends to use a rubber-glove-perfumed-poodle-people approach to the Bible that ill befits it.

The Bible describes people and life exactly how they are, warts and all.
---Jack on 12/16/06

PT.1 AlwaysOn: Your last post implies that 'innkeeper' is how the NIV translated harlot in the TEXT; that's not true, so let's be sure to make that clear. It was ONLY suggested as a possibility based upon the conjectures of some who found another Hebrew word meaning 'to feed' that MIGHT ALSO be considered the root of 'zanah'; but the word itself is used nowhere in Hebrew Scripture!
---danie9374 on 12/15/06

PT.2 After reading a sampling of the literature on this, I've found it's basically been written to explain WHY some Targumist, Josephus and others like him called Rahab an 'innkeeper' instead. BUT NONE of it points to there being any real difference between the two! They all conclude she was still a prostitute; albeit, perhaps a 'temple prostitute' instead of on her own. Only those involved in 'heated debates' about Bible versions seem to think it matters; trying to prove NIV note is correct or not.
---danie9374 on 12/15/06

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PT.3 What initially 'upset' me about this when I first encountered it (March, this year), was that it was presented as a 'morally different view' of Rahab which questioned the Inspiration of Scripture; regarding James 2:25 and Hebrews 11:31 calling her a prostitute (Grk. 'pornE'). Now I know that although many of these 'scholars' prob. don't believe in inspiration, their conjecture has no affect on what those NT books say anyway; their alternative still means she was considered a prostitute!
---danie9374 on 12/15/06

Thanks for the replies. I'm not done researching it, but I have found statements suggesting that, within the culture of her day, innkeeper and harlot were sometimes synonymous (sp). It's the "kind" of "inn" she was keeping that makes the two interchangeable. I don't normally read the NIV (and didn't find it in any other translations), but that one really threw me for a loop!
---AlwaysOn on 12/15/06

Yes. She was the propriertor of the Notel Motel.

Keep in mind that prostitutes were seldom self-employed entrepreneurs. Prostitution was intimately associated with fertility cults.
---Jack on 12/15/06

I am not sure whether the word 'harlot' meant the same thing that we mean when we use that word now or not, but whether she was a prostitute or not is not significant. She did what she did, it was not a case of what she 'was' but what she 'became'. She did God's will and was considered righteous.
---m.p.a. on 12/15/06

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In the King James version we find Rahab called a harlot many times. In Joshua 2:1, Joshua 6:17, James 2:25,and Hebrews 11:31. A word of caution here, more people are confused by the NIV than any other translation I know of.
---Mima on 12/15/06

Do you mean like a high paid call girl in NYC?
Rahab is mentioned many times. In Heb 11:31, she is included among the faithful and considered among the righteous.

Matthew 1:5-6 tells us she is an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

James 2:25 reveals her willingness to act on faith.
Rahab acknowledged the power of God. She had the courage to look death in the face and live.
---Cindy on 12/15/06

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