July 27th, 2008

the red queen.

TSS: Women of the Bible: Rahab's Story by Ann Burton

Rahab’s Story
By Ann Burton
            Rahab’s Story is the second book in Ann Burton’s Women of the Bible series, but the books don’t need to be read in order since they’re all self-contained.   When I reviewed Jael’s Story I included the Biblical account from Judges, but Rahab’s is longer so if you would like to read the passage in Joshua you can do so here
            Rahab is the daughter of a rug seller, and a talented weaver. Her mother was a Semite but hid this fact from her husband even unto death because in Jericho the religions of Baal and Moloch hold power, and the followers of Jehovah are despised. Rahab’s stepmother catches Rahab praying to the God of Abraham and accuses her of witchcraft, and before Rahab can react she is tossed out of her home and wiped from her family as if she never existed. However, Rahab’s sister is still trapped with the abusive stepmother, so Rahab reluctantly becomes a prostitute so that she can earn enough money to take care of her sister. 
            Burton adds a lot of interesting little details to enliven Jericho; I don’t know about the historical accuracy of some of her additions but they create a cosmopolitan city, home to people from a variety of ethnicities. Something that stuck in my mind was that as the new temple to Moloch is constructed, the priests need as much red fabric as they can get their hands on. All red dyes and incoming red cloth goes straight to the temple and is unavailable to the general public. I wonder if this sort of thing really happened?   It certainly doesn’t seem impossible. When Rahab must find a red cord to mark her home for the attacking Semites, it is quite a challenge in the red-free streets of the city. Women are also surprisingly independent. Tiamat, an Egyptian woman who took Rahab in from the streets, runs her brothel in the “bad” part of town with no extra protection from men. Rahab’s stepmother leaves her husband after her brother gains power in Moloch’s temple with no repercussions, a rare feat in most ancient societies.   
               Fiery and passionate, Rahab is the embodiment of the color red. As Tyra Banks would say, she is a FIERCE woman. Her story was fun to read, and Burton’s simple prose makes it easy to get through this book in a few hours. If you find the passages of the Bible boring to read, this is a fun way to introduce the stories and make them more interesting. I think it’d be especially good for young women, since sometimes it seems like the Bible is just about men fighting and lecturing.

Buy the book on Amazon.com, or add it to your wishlist.