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Sunday, March 01, 2009


Rebekah's reputation isn't the best. After all, she is the one who seems responsible for deceiving her husband, Isaac, so that the blind old man blessed her favorite son, Jacob, instead of his favorite son, Esau.

The Bible doesn't tell us a great deal about Rebekah, but there are a few hints of her personality and character. She wasn't just a scheming cheater and a mother who played favorites.

For one thing, when Abraham sent out his servant, to find a wife for his son, Isaac, Rebekah was eager to become his wife. That's remarkable! She was willing to leave her family, her neighborhood, and her friends, permanently, to marry a man she had never seen, and knew almost nothing about. He was probably at least twice her age. Genesis 24 tells us that part of Rebekah's story:
55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” 58 And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” (All scripture quotations from the ESV.)

She meant immediately. They left the next morning, Rebekah, and some of Abraham's servants, for the journey back to where Isaac lived. Most likely, Rebekah could have had other prospects. Verse 16 says that she was "very attractive."

Chapter 25 continues the story. It tells us that Rebekah was a woman who could communicate with God, and get answers from Him. Rebekah wondered what was going on with her pregnancy, and asked God about it. God told her that she would have twins, and also told her that the older would serve the younger. So when Rebekah made Jacob her favorite, she had at least one good reason for doing so. (That would not seem to excuse her for bad judgment in favoring one child over another, which Isaac also did, in favoring Esau over Jacob. They don't seem to have been a family to emulate, as far as their relationships went.)

Esau wasn't perfect, for sure. Genesis 26:34-5 tells us that he made two bad choices in marriage:
34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

So a case could be made that Rebekah, in helping Jacob deceive Isaac, and in sending Jacob away, was not primarily a bad mother to Esau, and a bad wife to Isaac, but was a woman of character, helping to carry out God's will, in spite of the customs of the time, which favored older sons.

I have previously posted character studies of two other women of the Bible, namely Abishag and Ruth.

For more on Rebekah, see this post from Grace for Women.

Thanks for reading.

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