Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 1 Page 14 January 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles
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Women of the Bible: Rebekah

By Bonnie Rushmore

Beginning with the book of Genesis and ending with the book of Revelation, God’s inspired writers gave detailed descriptions of women worthy of study. We would do well to imitate some of these women, while others should be studied only to show a type of life not to live. However, the majority of these women had both strengths and weaknesses. An in-depth study of these women will help us to understand our lives, our strengths and weaknesses.

Background Information

Abraham, in his old age, sent his servant Elizar to Nahor to obtain a wife for Isaac. Abraham was very concerned that Isaac marry someone from his homeland rather than a Canaanite woman from the land in which they dwelt. The servant asked God to guide him to the maiden that would be the wife of Isaac. His request was that the young woman who volunteered to water the camels when Elizar asked for a drink would be the chosen one. Abraham’s servant saw a beautiful young woman approach the well.  When he asked her for a drink of water from her pitcher, she willingly gave him a drink and hurriedly filled the trough for the camels. Elizar discovered that the young maiden was from Abraham’s family and asked if there was a place for him to stay. As was custom for that time, Laban showed great hospitality to Elizar. Laban received Elizar into his home, fed the camels and ordered a meal to be prepared for the stranger. Before Abraham’s servant would eat, he took care of the reason for his visit. He explained who he was and why he was in Nahor. Then he asked to take Rebekah to Canaan to marry Isaac.  The next morning Rebekah left her home, family and all that was familiar to go to a land she knew nothing about and to marry a man she had never met. When she arrived in Canaan, Rebekah married Isaac. Genesis 24:67 states that Isaac loved Rebekah and she comforted him in his mother’s death.

The next mention of Rebekah is approximately 20 years later when Isaac prayed to God (on Rebekah’s behalf) for a son. God heard Isaac’s prayer and Rebekah conceived with not one son, but twins. The children struggled within the womb causing great concern for Rebekah. She prayed to God for understanding. God advised her that she would have twin sons. Each would be the head of a nation. One nation would be stronger than the other and the older would serve the younger.  Rebekah gave birth first to Esau, who was covered with red hair; next Jacob was born holding onto Esau’s foot.  Esau, much like his father, was a hunter and a man of the field, while Jacob was a plain man dwelling in tents. He was content to stay close to home and became a shepherd. Esau and Jacob were very different, thus it was easy for Isaac to show favoritism to Esau and for Rebekah to show favoritism to Jacob.

Isaac became old and blind. Rebekah overheard Isaac give instructions to Esau to hunt and make him venison stew. Anticipating his own death, Isaac planned to eat and then bless Esau. Rebekah told Jacob to bring her two young kid goats and she would make stew for Jacob to take to his father so that he would receive the blessing belonging to his brother Esau. Jacob reminded Rebekah that he was not hairy like Esau so Isaac would know that he was Jacob. Rebekah made the stew then covered Jacob’s hands and neck with goat hair and had him put on his brother’s clothes so that he would feel and smell like Esau. Isaac gave Jacob the blessing that belonged to Esau by birthright (being first born). When Esau discovered that Jacob received his blessing he plotted to kill Jacob after his father’s death.  To save Jacob, Rebekah encouraged Isaac to send Jacob to Haran to find a wife among her brother Laban’s daughters. As a possible punishment for deceiving Isaac, Rebekah would never see Jacob again. The next reference to Rebekah mentions that she was buried in the cave of Machpelah with Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 49:31).

What kind of person was Rebekah?

  • She was beautiful. When she was a young maiden, “she was fair to look upon” (Genesis 24:16) and when her children were grown she was still “fair to look upon”(Genesis 26:7).

  • She was courteous and kind. She went the extra mile and did more than was asked (Genesis 24:18-20).

  • She was industrious. She diligently and hurriedly filled the trough for the camels until they had all the water they wanted (Genesis 24:20).

  • She showed faith and courage. She willingly left home, family and all that was familiar for a strange land and strange people. Rebekah was not afraid of the future and the unknown (Genesis 24:57-58). She was an optimist not a pessimist.

  • She was prayerful.  She asked Isaac to pray to God for her so that she might conceive (Genesis 25:21). She sought God when she did not understand the struggle within her womb (Genesis 25:22).

  • She showed favoritism toward one of her sons. Rebekah showed favoritism to Jacob while Isaac showed favoritism to Esau. It was because of this favoritism that she plotted and helped Jacob deceive his father. Rebekah knew before the twins were born that Esau (the older) would serve Jacob (the younger). However, she fooled Isaac into blessing Jacob through deceit.
  • People today need to learn the importance of trusting in God.  God will take care of us if we put him first in our lives (Matthew 6:25-34). This does not mean that nothing bad will happen, but in the end, we will have a home in heaven. Thus, God takes care of us. We need to be kind and courteous to others. It is easy to become impatient with our children, waiting in line at the store and driving on the highways. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7: 2). Treat others as you want to be treated. People today need a life of prayer; “Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is part of the armor Christians need to protect themselves while on this earth (Ephesians 6:17). We need to be industrious in our labors for God and in our life on this earth. Consider the ant (Proverbs 6:6-11). We need to guard our actions and the influence we have on others, especially on our children who “do what we do and not what we say” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Even though Jacob was a grown man he did what his mother told him and it caused him to deceive his father, caused his brother to hate him and separated the family. Do you have any of these characteristics of Rebekah in your life? Do you need to improve some of these qualities? Do you need to remove some of these characteristics?

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