In the Talmud, Rahab is referred to as an angel of the sea (Baba Batra
74B). In Hebrew, he is also called sar shel yam, “prince of the primordial
sea.” These titles were bestowed on him as a result of his exploits
during Creation, as described in ancient Jewish legend. The story
relates that God was working on separating the upper and lower
waters of the cosmos in order to have an area in which to place Earth.
God needed assistance and commanded Rahab to swallow all of the
world’s water. Rahab foolishly refused and was put to death by God for
his disobedience. Unfortunately, though, his corpse exuded an
extremely foul odor, and no one on Earth could stand it. So God relocated
Rahab’s remains deep beneath the sea.
According to a later legend, however, Rahab somehow becomes
active and once again causes trouble. On this occasion, Rahab
attempts to stop Moses and his Hebrew slaves from escaping the
pharaoh of Egypt at the time of the crossing of the Red Sea during the
Exodus. Rahab is apprehended and once again destroyed by God for
One more legend tells how Rahab returned the Book of the Angel
Raziel to Adam after it had been thrown into the sea by jealous angels.
(This book is supposed to contain all knowledge and to have been
given to Noah by Raphael.) Apparently, Rahab was capable of some
helpful deeds, although he was generally known for wrongdoing.
Indeed, another meaning of his name is “violence.”