The Sacred Feminine in the Bible: RAHAB (Part 1)

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Chalice BookCoverNot long after Miriam’s death, Aaron passed away. Moses soon named Joshua as his successor, and then he, too, passed away.

The soul’s journey to Enlightenment, symbolized as the long ‘Return to the Promised Land’, is coming to an end. Just before Joshua and the Israelites enter the Promised Land, Joshua sends two spies on a reconnaissance mission. The spies set out for Jericho, according to the Bible, “and they came to the house of a harlot named Rahab and lodged there.”

Now why, of all places, would Joshua’s spies go to the house of a harlot? Doesn’t the Bible say that God hates harlots?

God does not hate anyone. A ‘harlot’ symbolizes the seductive sensations and desires that inflame our lower nature but leave the soul unsatisfied.

The name ‘Rahab’ means proud or arrogant, and it is a term that is sometimes used to signify the material domain of ‘Egypt’. Jericho, Rahab’s city, means Moon – which is another symbol for the illusory level of life that ‘Egypt’ also represents. The soul’s first mission in the Promised Land will be to once and for all completely destroy ‘Jericho’, so that no illusions or attachments remain and the soul can reach enlightenment.

But ‘Rahab’ means something else as well. Rahab symbolizes the primordial Chaos that was ‘vanquished by the Creator’ in Hebrew legends. For example, Isaiah will later say: “It was You that hacked Rahab in pieces, That pierced the Dragon. It was You that dried up the Sea, The waters of the great deep.” And Job will say: “By His power He stilled the sea; By His skill He struck down Rahab”. The Greeks will later tell the same story. In their version, the first goddess, Gaia, the transcendent Mother-principle, is Chaos. The first god, Uranos, who represents the Light of Reason, stills the turbulent waters and brings Order to Chaos.

According to another legend from the oral tradition in the Talmud and Kabbalah, Joshua was swallowed by a ‘sea-monster’ in his infancy, but at a distant point of the sea-coast the monster spewed him forth unharmed. So on a deep psychological level, we can see that Rahab was the sea-monster who spewed forth Joshua – in mythical terms, his ‘mother’. Later on, according to the legends, Joshua will marry Rahab (in her current incarnation as the ‘harlot of Jericho’), so she is also his ‘wife’. This is a recurrent theme in scripture and mythology. Eve was Adam’s wife, but she was also his Mother – since he calls her ‘the Mother of all Living’. In Greek mythology, some stories have Gaia as Uranos’ wife, while in other stories she’s his mother. The Sacred Masculine and the Sacred Feminine are wed in the ‘Above’ (prior to separation into the sexes). But for the Masculine to enter this world ‘Below’, he must come to birth through the Feminine and thereby become her son.

(Come back for Part 2 of Rahab’s story tomorrow)


You can read all my work on the Women in the Bible in “The Sacred Chalice”