Handling Several Other Matters


This lesson handles a couple other objections that some people raise in trying to argue that the Rahab in Matthew’s genealogy is not the prostitute of Joshua 2. The chronology to make this identification work does demand some long lifespans, but that is far from unprecedented in this exact period (compare Caleb still being strong and vigorous at the tender young age of… eighty-five – see Joshua 14:10-11). There is also the matter that neither Joshua nor other sources (like Josephus, for example, who repeats the story of the spies) states directly that Rahab the prostitute married Salmon. But the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence (that’s a classical logical fallacy). This lesson also ends with an attached exchange I had with my mentor about the transliteration of Rahab’s name in one of the earliest full NT manuscripts we have (Sinaiticus). The upshot: transliteration is so inconsistent it is best to not ever make great hay of it, here included.


“It’s not the same Rahab because the chronology does not work”

Quote from OutsideTheCamp.org

“[L]et us assume for a moment that Salmon did marry Rahab the harlot within a year or so of the fall of Jericho, and that Boaz was born a year or so after that. If such were the case, then Boaz would have been about 115 years old when he married Ruth! On the other hand, if we assume that Rahab was about 30 years of age when Jericho fell, and that Salmon did not marry her till 30 years or more later, then not only would Rahab have been at least 60 years of age and no longer able to bear children, but Boaz, even if born 30 years after the fall of Jericho, would still have been 85 years of age when he married Ruth… Thus all the evidence confirms the fact that Salmon did not marry Rahab the Canaanite harlot.”

This is an argument that deals with the chronology of Israel before the Davidic Kingdom. While scholars still debate some, the time spans are greater than normal life spans by our standards, but of course that means very little.

Here is what a friend and mentor of mine has to say about the matter (please see here, question/response 8):

Quote from Ichthys

“The chronology here has bothered some in the past, and some have tried to solve the “problem” of too much time between Salmon and David by suggesting that some names have been left out of the list and only the famous included. That, I think, is a questionable approach. Extremely long life-spans among Old Testament believers are certainly not unprecedented, even after the flood. Jacob lived to be over 130 years old (Gen.47:9), and given that Benjamin still seems to be a fairly young lad during the episode of Joseph’s time in Egypt, it seems that he must have been at least a hundred when Benjamin was born. We should therefore understand that the generation which entered into the land of promise and those immediately thereafter must likewise have been blessed with exceptional length of days and continued fecundity into old age (at least among the godly believers) which would be remarkable by today’s standards. After all, even before he entered into the land, Caleb could say in truth “So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then” (Josh.14:10-11 NIV). And Caleb was still active in the period of conquering the land for many years to come thereafter (cf. Judg.1:12-15). So the fact that between Salmon (who I would argue must have been one of the two spies whom Rahab protected) to Solomon’s reign we have well over four hundred years but only four additional males in the line (i.e., Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David) only seems problematic for those who wish to overlook these other biblical facts. David, for example, was the youngest of eight brothers (1Sam.16:10), so we are safe to conclude that Jesse sired him in his old age. And of course Boaz was also an older man when he married Ruth (cf. Ruth 2:1; 3:10). As I say, while this sequence would be remarkable in our day and age, it would have been much less so at the time – and what genealogy, after all, is more remarkable in every way than that of our Lord?”

“Neither Josephus nor Joshua mention a marriage between the prostitute Rahab and Salmon”


Joshua 6:25 states that Rahab was given land in the midst of Israel in return for risking her own life by hiding the two spies that were sent to Jericho. Josephus in his “Antiquities of the Jews”, Book 5 chapter 1, sections 2 and 7, records the same story but neither he nor Joshua make any reference to a marriage taking place between Rahab and Salmon. That deafening silence is itself the strongest proof that no such marriage did take place…

First off, Josephus is hardly a paragon of historical accuracy (ask any Classicist worth his salt). [Post hoc note: What I meant by this is the following: how likely do you think it is that a Judean prisoner-cum-turncoat granted amnesty under the emperor Vespasian would write things truly unfavorable to Rome? And again, how likely do you think it is that Rome was in reality as whitewashed as the portrayal coming out of Josephus’ mouth?] People always like to pull in Josephus as “proof” for something or other (most commonly, actually, to combat the ridiculous notion that Jesus Christ was not a historical person), but in fact it does not really matter what Josephus says or does not say because Josephus was not writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit (i.e., his writings aren’t in the Bible, so we can’t rely on them unconditionally). Like all historians, he is only as good as his sources, and he happens to be a bit more biased than most. [Post hoc note: For the reasons adduced above].

Disregarding the above, this is another classic example of the statement “the absence of proof is not the proof of absence.” Silence on an issue does not mean that you get to make the Bible mean whatever you want it to mean. For example, the Bible does not explicitly condemn abortion in so many words, yet most Christians have no problems identifying it as sinful even so.

Hopefully all this has answered your question. Do feel free to email back if you have more questions!

Steven asking Dr. Luginbill of Ichthys.com for clarification on the text of Sinaiticus

Hi Bob,

With respect to the actual email, I guess there actually is one thing I want to know myself. From some comparison of interlinears, it appears that the Textus Receptus has Ῥαχάβ in Matthew 1:5 instead of Ῥαάβ like NASB95’s textual base (Nestle-Aland 27th ed., I believe). I guess I just assumed this is what Sinaiticus must read since it seemed to make sense that the name would be the same in James 2:25, Hebrews 11:31, and Matthew 1:5, but when I checked the first chapter of Matthew, Sinaiticus reads (from the website):

ϲαλμων δε εγεν
νηϲεν τον βοεϲ
εκ τηϲ ραχαβ βοεϲ
δε εγεννηϲεν τον
ϊωβηδ εκ τηϲ ρουθ:
ϊωβηδ δε εγεννη
ϲεν τον ϊεϲϲαι·

For Matthew 1:5, This seems to match the TR, and goes against my whole argument. (I checked and it’s Ῥαάβ at the the other two occurrences in Sinaiticus). Is this right or wrong? How should I explain the occurrence of the χ in Rahab’s name to my friend if it is actually the correct reading?

Dr. Luginbill of Ichthys.com responding

Hi Steven,

On the text and the appearance of the names, it’s not at all unusual for there to be multiple spellings in Greek of less than common Hebrew names. Matthew, James and Hebrews were all written by different authors, so we have to allow for various transliterations – there was no absolute system. “Megiddo”, for example, is rendered dozens of different ways in the LXX. And even in the gospels we find different place names spelled in a variety of ways (sometimes causing confusion, as in is it Gadarenes or Gerasenes or Gergesenes?). The name in question involves the transliteration of the Hebrew cheth; since the Greeks don’t really have this sound, leaving it out is at least as common as trying to reduplicate it with the letter chi. In short, for anyone who has observed from much reading of the Greek and Hebrew the flexible way in which names of all kinds are rendered into the former from the latter, the difference here is not necessarily significant. That was what I took to be the gist of your argument, namely, that because different renderings are commonplace, we can’t necessarily make any hay off the difference here so as to posit two Rahabs from this variation alone. After all, there are a number of spelling variations between the genealogies in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three (it would be interesting to see how Luke would have spelled “Rahab”). Were I to venture a reason for the discrepancy here it would be to suggest that Matthew is trying to more closely duplicate the sound of the Hebrew original (which appears to happen at other places in his genealogy too, e.g., Boes vs. Boos and Salmon vs. Sala), while James and Paul have opted to go with the more traditional spelling of the name occurring in the LXX.

To the point of your request, I wouldn’t necessarily include the above paragraph in an apologetic text if the recipient were open to the idea of the truth. When it comes to the issue of communication, simplification is usually a superior strategy to overly detailed argumentation.