Melissa A. Jackson

in Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656776
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742170 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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The Joshua 2 narrative of inept Israelite spies and Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute who saves them, is rich with comedy. Comic literary devices — for example, comic characterization, and social features, in particular sexuality and a situational ethic — contribute to the story's comic quality. This inverted spy story highlights one of the biggest ‘us’ and ‘them’ confrontations of the Hebrew Bible: Israelite and Canaanite. Depicting one of ‘them’, especially a ‘them’ as marginal as Rahab, as the means through which ones of ‘us’ are saved demonstrates comedy's subversiveness. However, Rahab's words of affirmation towards the Israelite god, reflecting the mark of the Deuteronomistic History upon this text, mitigate her status and allow her movement from ‘outside’ to ‘inside’. Ultimately, both Rahab's subversiveness and her conformity enable her to negotiate successfully the other/self divide and lead — despite the stringent requirements of ‘the ban’ — to her survival both in Israel and in the text.

Keywords: comedy; Deuteronomistic History; Israelite spies; Joshua; Rahab; the ban; the other

Chapter.  5156 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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