[b-hebrew] Rahab's Guests

CS Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 14 16:45:33 EDT 2003

On 7/14/03 12:33 PM, "Yigal Levin" <Yigal-Levin at utc.edu> wrote:

> At 01:57 PM 7/11/2003 -0700, CS Bartholomew wrote:
>> The pattern "wayyi$kebu-$ammah"  the verb followed by the particle are found
>> in Josh. 2:1, 1Sam. 26:5, 2Kings 4:11, 2Kings 9:16, Ruth 3:4.
>> Not clear to me that this has a sexual connotation even if it is found in a
>> context where this is possible. I wonder if the particle+suffix $ammah
>> weighs in favor of the sexual reading or against it?
> Hi Clay,
> Obviously not every use of the verb $kb means "to have sex", just like in
> modern English people can "sleep together" quite immocently. In 1Sam. 26:5,
> 2Kings 4:11 and 2Kings 9:16 the context makes it clear that no
> "hanky-panky" is involved. But the sexual innuendoes of Ruth 3:4 are quite
> clear. In the case of Rahab's "guests", as I said, the author is using a
> pun to show how the men "screwed up" - even if he doesn't mean it literally.
> Yigal


Well the question of the particle is still bothering me. Seems like the
particle $m limits the semantic range of the verb $kb. Please note that in
Ruth 3:4 only the first instance of $kb is used with the particle $m where
the subject is Boaz and he is just taking a nap which the context makes

The two particles which are often used with $kb when it means sexual
activity are (m  and )t. I do not doubt that $kb without any particle might
also be used of sexual activity but I wonder about $kb with $m.

> modern English people can "sleep together" quite immocently

Yes but "sleep together" would be $kb (m or  $kb )t, would it not?

At the end of the first century 1Clem. 12 does not even consider the sexual
connotation in Josh 2 worth covering up since he does not mention Rahab's
house like the MT and LXX do. 1Clem is making a hero out of Rahab and if he
thought there was something in this story that could be used against his
glowing account of the woman he certainly would have made the correct
editorial moves to clean it up. But he does not do this, so I would conclude
that the traditions concerning Rahab in Josh 2 were well established by his
time and he didn't even need to be concerned  about it since he edits out
the LXX reference to "house" in Josh. 2:1.

Clearly, Rahab tells the King's posse that these Israelites were "johns" and
that after providing her normal services (details omitted) they did the
normal thing johns do, they left immediately afterwards. Rahab's bold face
lie was ideally crafted to be 100% plausible and it worked.

That's my reading. 

BTW, I have nothing at stake in this. In fact I think 1Clem. is glossing
over the obvious opportunism and treachery of the woman. She knew that her
King (of Jericho) was a doomed man and she wanted to be on the winning side
to save her own skin. So she hid the spies, told lies, and professed faith
in the God of Israel because he was winning battles. Sounds to me like a
pragmatic street wise approach to life, nothing particularly admirable about
it other than the faith part.

Thanks Yigal,

Clay Bartholomew 

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