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Her Identity   

Q. Is the Rahab that married Salmon in Mathew 1:5 the same Rahab that aided the spies in the Old Testament? King James has a different spelling. The genealogy is a little long - about 133 years. Was Salmon the way Rahab made it into the linage of Christ?

(V.P. from Grants Pass, OR)


Thanks for your question.

Mother of Boaz&Wife of Salmon who Aided Spies

Rahab is the same woman who aided the spies in Joshua Chapter two. She was also the wife of Salmon and the mother of Boaz. I believe that Rahab got into the lineage of Christ because of what she was and what she did as much as whom she married. You should be aware, however, that there are some scholars who hint that Rahab may have been the grandmother of Boaz.

God's Story of Redemption

Personally, I have no problem with the seemingly long time line. Time lines can be tough because the Bible was never written to be a precise history by modern standards. Rather, the Bible's main job is to tell the message and the meaning of God's redemptive actions in history and not a mere listing of facts or figures.

When you and I tell a story about a camping trip, we always leave out facts that are less important. If we tried to give precise moment by moment time lines we would get bogged down and lose the most important parts of the message.

Told from different Vantage Points

Another perspective is that of a witness in a trial. One witness recalls an auto accident one way. But, two or more witnesses will add facts that others leave out. They confirm each other's stories but without using the exact same words or facts. The Gospels do something similar to this.

Accurate but not always Exhaustive

Genealogies in the Bible are accurate but not always "exhaustive." By this I mean that they may not have every name of every person in the lineage. Omissions or additions may not be translation errors. Genealogies can serve different purposes and focus our attention on specific individuals, events or ideas the author wants us to remember.

Legal Precedent - God's Design

For example, look at Jesus' genealogy in Mt.1. You will see only five women mentioned: Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba, Ruth and Mary. Why did Matthew leave out other famous mothers?

The answer may be found in recognizing that all of the women listed in Matthew had something in common. They were all of questionable character or backgrounds. Matthew is showing the questionable marital status of Mary was not without legal precedent, and may even have been a result of God's design, foretold in the Old Testament.

Hebrew or Greek Spellings?

Your reference to a misspelling I assume is to the King James (KJV) rendering of Boaz to Booz. Young's Concordance explains this as the Greek spelling for Boaz. It is interesting that the KJV uses the Hebrew "Boaz" in the Old Testament (OT) but the Greek "Booz" in the NT. This is probably true because all of the New Testament manuscripts were written in Greek and the KJV translators decided to be faithful to the Greek manuscripts they had in front of them.

Changed Names - not Errors

Different spellings of proper names are very common in the Bible. These are not necessarily misspellings or copyist errors. My given name is Kenneth, but Ken will do nicely.

Also names in Hebrew can be changed because they may denote a change in circumstances or character. Naomi changed her name to Mara because of her bitter circumstances. Abram became Abraham because God put His Holy Spirit in him, (called in Hebrew "ha"). This was also true with Sarai who became Sarah. There are many cases of different spellings of proper names for lots of good reasons. Though I admit it can be confusing!

Author Ken Emilio holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. He is the Director of the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon.

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