Rebekah

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Rebekah, or Rebecca, (רִבְקָה) was the wife of the prophet Isaac and the mother of Esau and the prophet Jacob. Rebekah is an example of the sort of bride men should seek and an example of how marriages arranged by God and between families work well.[1]

Biography[edit]

Test at the well[edit]

The prophet Abraham did not believe that the local Canaanites were worthy of being his son Isaac's wife, so he tasked his servant (often identified as Eliezer of Damascus) with going to Abraham's native country (Mesopotamia) in order to find a proper wife for Isaac from among Abraham's folk. Abraham also assured the servant that God would aid him in his quest.

The servant traveled to Nahor, where Bethuel and his daughter Rebekah lived. There, he prepared a test to find the perfect wife for Isaac and requested God's assistance in that test. The servant would wait by the well with his camel while the city's maidens arrive to fetch water for themselves. The servant would ask one of the maidens for a drink for himself while not soliciting a drink for his camels. If a maiden goes beyond the call of duty by also providing water for his camels, unsolicited, then the servant would take that as a sign from God that that particular maiden is God's chosen wife for Isaac.

Before the servant had finished his prayer to God, Rebekah appeared. The Bible describes her as a beautiful maiden. She went to the well and obtained water for herself. The servant then asked Rebekah to give him her water. Rebekah gave the servant the water she had brought up for herself, and then, completely unsolicited, gave the rest of her water to the camels and then went to the well to fetch more water for the camels. She provided water until the camels, prolific drinkers, had their fill.

Arranging the marriage[edit]

Understanding the Rebekah may be the one, the Abraham's servant gave Rebekah a gold ring and two two brackets and asked Rebekah if her family had lodgings for him in their house (this was his way of meeting Rebekah's father Bethuel). Rebekah not only responded affirmatively but also stated that she and her family would provide food for the camels. The servant then bowed and thanked God for helping him find Rebekah and her family.

Rebekah told her brother Laban and her mother what happened and showed them what the servant had given her. Laban went out and invited Abraham's servant into his house provided for the servant's camels.

When inside, Abraham's servant told Rebekah's family about his mission and the miracle of Rebekah passing the test in accordance with the plan he shared with God. Bethuel and Laban acknowledged the miracle and God's will and agreed to have Rebekah marry Isaac. Abramham's servant thanked God and provided Rebekah and her family with jewelry and fine clothing.

Rebekah's family sought to have Rebekah stay with them for at least ten more day, but Abramham's servant insisted that Rebekah leave with him immediately. Rebekah's family asked Rebekah about what she want, and Rebekah stated that wished to leave with Abramham's servant. Rebekah's family then sent Rebekah off with Abramham's servant and prayed for Rebekah and her future offspring.

Motherhood[edit]

Rebekah arrived in Israel and married Isaac. They failed to conceive children for many years, so Isaac prayed to God for children. God heard Isaac's prayers, and Isaac and Rebekah conceived twins. The twins fought in Rebekah's womb, so Rebekah prayed to God and asked God for an explanation. God answered; telling her that there were twins – two nations – in her womb, fighting with each other, that one Twin (nation) would become stronger than the other, and that older twin was destined to serve the younger twin.

Finally, the twins were born. They named the first twin to be delivered Esau and the second one Jacob. Esau became a skilled hunter and outdoorsman, while Jacob become quiet, peaceful, and preferring the indoors. Esau became Isaac's favorite son, while Jacob became Rebekah's favorite son.

One day, while Jacob cooked, a famished Esau asked Jacob for food. Jacob refused to serve Esau any food unless Esau sold his birthright to him, and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob in exchange for food.

Gerar[edit]

Famine struck Canaan, so Isaac traveled the Philistine town of Gerar in order to escape it. God then told Isaac to remain where he was and to refrain from traveling to Egypt. God promised Isaac and his seed the lands that would one day be known as Israel and promised Isaac and his seed his blessings.

While in Gerar, Isaac concealed the fact that Rebekah was his sister by telling the locals and its king that she was her sister. Isaac did this for his own protection, as someone might kill me for his wife if the truth were known. The Philistine king Abimelech discovered the truth, told Isaac that he should have been honest with him, and told his people that anyone who harms Isaac or his wife would be put to death.

With God's blessing, Isaac become a successful farmer and wealthy. The Philistines became jealous and exiled Isaac. Isaac returned to his father's old settlement and became successful there too. The herdsmen of Gerar argued with Isaac over possession of the wells that Isaac and his father before him dug. Isaac and Abimelech then formed a pact with each other, promising peace.

Jacob's blessing[edit]

Rebekah's son Esau married married two unbefitting Hittite wives, and this displeased Esau's parents.

Isaac became old and his sight faded until he was practically blind. Isaac wished to bestow his blessings on his heir before he died, so he called Esau over and asked him to hunt and cook game for him so that he can bestow his blessing.

Rebekah overheard the conservation between Isaac and Esau, and knowing the words God sent her and that Esau was unworthy of leading God's chosen people, intervened to ensure that Jacob received Isaac's blessing instead of Esau. Rebekah asked Jacob to bring her two young goats from their flock so that she can prepare and cook them. Jacob did as he was commanded, and Rebekah gave Jacob the goat dish, dressed him in Esau's clothes, and covered his hands and neck with the goat skins so that Jacob can feel like the hairy Esau.

Jacob served his father the meal, and his father bestowed God's blessing upon Jacob.

Esau arrived and discovered what happened. Isaac cannot undo what happened, so Esau pleaded for a blessing of his own. Isaac grants him own, but it involved serving his brother. Esau was enraged and vowed to killed his brother after their father's death.

Protecting Jacob[edit]

In order to protect Jacob from Esau's anger, Rebekah sent Jacob to live with her brother Laban in Haran until Esau's anger subsides. Rebekah told Isaac that Jacob should seek a worthy wife from her brother's folk back in her homeland, and Isaac agreed and sent Jacob off to Rebekah's brother Laban.

Esau heard this, and realized that his Hittite wives offended his parents, so Esau married an Ishmaelite. Since the Ishmaelites were descendants of Abraham, they were more acceptable to his parents.

Rebekah died while Jacob was away, but Jacob married two of Laban's daughters, Leah and Rachel, and together, they conceived and gave birth to the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel.

References[edit]

  1. Woodhead, Daniel (2014-03-01). "Rebecca Typifies a Godly Wife". Theology in Perspective. Retrieved 2016-09-09.