Saturday, June 11, 2011

Was Rahab a Harlot?

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Pentateuch
Parashah #37: Shlach L’kaha “Send on your behalf”
B’midbar (Numbers) 13:1-15:41
By: Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

In our Haftarah Portion Rahab is falsely accused of being a harlot when the word can also mean “Inn Keeper.” I feel via the language and text there is more evidence to conclude Rahab was an “Inn Keeper” rather than a “harlot.”

1.     She had a place to live in the wall near the gates which is an ideal spot for an inn. It is said that the wall was wide enough to race two chariots on the top of the wall. Harlots back then could be found in either the cities “red light district” or in a pagan temple. Not a residence within the wall. Most cities even back then didn’t want bad press and would not have a whore living so close to the city gates.
2.     Harlotry (the oldest profession) is a lucrative business, so why would she have to supplement her income by drying flax on her roof to sell? I have never heard of a hooker engaging in agriculture on the side to make ends meet.
3.     She had a family, parents, etc., that she wishes to protect which meant she was not disowned by her family as most harlots were.
4.     If she was a harlot what does that say about the character of the two spies staying with a known prostitute!?

In our Torah portion, though spies were sent out and resided nowhere and with no one, however all but two was seduced by a harlot. Yes! Shocking, isn’t it!? But you may say, “I don’t see that in the text!?” That is because the harlot is “fear.” Actually, fear seduces, claiming to be “logic,” then rapes you with utter terror and dread without any basis in fact and thus the 10 came back with an evil and fearful report. So just as the two spies in our Haftarah Portion DID NOT stay with a harlot neither did the two spies in the Torah Portion stay with the spiritual harlot of fear.

The two faithful that resisted fear was Joshua and Caleb. According to Jewish Tradition the two spies sent out by Joshua was Caleb and Phinehas. Phinehas you’ll remember resisted pagan seduction and slew the Prince of the tribe of Simeon, who was openly having improper relations with a pagan woman.

Notice Revelation 21:8 who is listed first of those to be cast into the Lake of Fire in the end? THE FEARFUL! Second is the unbelieving and the 10 spies did not believe they could take the land. Also listed is the whoremonger and spiritually the 10 spies had their fling with the harlot and rapist I call “FEAR.”

Whether a physical or spiritual whore, both are deadly.

Proverbs 5:1-8 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell. Lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life, her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them. Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:


Shabbat Shalom and Shavuah Tov!

-- Rabbi Yehudah