Israelite women are conspicuously absent from the Decalogue’s Shabbat law. Three stories in the Prophets featuring female characters—Rahab the prostitute, the great woman of Shunem, and Queen Athaliah—each tie to Shabbat in some unconventional way.
Rahab is a Canaanite prostitute who becomes faithful to the God of Israel, hiding two Israelite spies when the king of Jericho sends men to capture them. The rabbis imagine her as a superhumanly seductive woman who knows the secrets of all the men in Jericho, as well as the ultimate example of repentance. The biblical story, however, suggests a more complex character, who worked within the power structures around her.
Amy Cooper Robertson