Rachav the Harlot

I’ve started learning perek yomi in the Nach Yomi cycle, and I couldn’t help but think about the story of Rachav the Harlot, especially its conclusion in Chapter 6. She winds up saving her entire family by bringing them into her whorehouse, the only place in town that remained safe while the Israelites were annihilating it.

I can’t help but wonder how her father felt about entering that place, or about what his reaction must have been when she implored him to find ‘sanctuary’ there. The place which must have symbolized, for them, nothing but shame and ridicule, winds up being the very source of their own salvation. There seems to be a great lesson and a delicious irony in that.

I was also struck by the fact that a deal to keep this particular Canaanite family was struck and kept. What about the obligation to wipe out the 7 nations? How could such a ‘political’ solution be honored? Shall we just ignore the Torah, then? Well, perhaps it’s significant that in the very first battle in the conquest of the land, realpolitik intrudes upon the pristine and ideal world of text.

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