Troublesome Topic: The use of “Rahab” in Job

The word “rahab” that appears in Job, is not the same word as the feminine name Rahab in the story of the fall of Jericho. The lady’s name is written in Hebrew with a hard “ch” like what we find in Bach, meaning that “Rachab” would be a better rendering in English. The passages in Job, Psalms and Isaiah use a word that looks similar but is spelled with a soft “h”, therefore “rahab” is a better English rendering for this other word. The two words use different Hebrew letters because they come from different root words; the confusion has arisen because they appear the same in English with no difference in spelling. Both of them have “proud” as one of their meanings, but their full array of meanings is different. The lady’s name (Rachab) probably meant “proud.”

What follows will focus only on the word “rahab” which was not the feminine name. There are two passages in Job that use the word “rahab” –  9:13 & 26:12.

Possible meanings of “rahab”:

  • The proud (probably the intent of Job 9:13)
  • Egypt as a symbol of evil and pride
  • Sea monster (which was the symbol for Egypt)
  • Great serpent representing evil
  • The sea itself (in Job 26:12 the raging sea is quelled by God)

When the Bible uses this word as the name of a place it is probably Egypt. When it uses it in connection with the sea it is either the sea itself or a sea monster. When it points to an attitude, it is that of pride.

However, there is much overlap between these usages, so in some passages it is hard to pin down which meaning was intended, and sometimes a double meaning is appropriate.

Other passages that use the word ”rahab” are:

Ps 87:4

Ps 89:10,

Is 30:7

Is 51:9

This is the last lesson in this set of topical lessons about Job. Thank you for reading.