Holy Mothers (and One Unholy Grandmother) –
Genesis 24:1-9, Abraham sends for a nice Hebrew girl for Isaac. (6/3/08)
Rebecca protects the Covenant.
Genesis 24:1-9, Abraham sends for a nice Hebrew girl for Isaac.
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 5: Genesis 24:10-27, Eliezer and Rebekah
Genesis 24:28-49, Rebecca is the one...
Genesis 24:50-67, But will she come?
Genesis 25:20-28, Rebecca has twins; 26:1-14, and is protected.
Gen. 26:34-27:17; 27:41-28:5, Rebecca ensures that Jacob marries some nice Hebrew girls.
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You've heard the phrase "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" many times. As a matter of fact, we know a lot about Abraham, and a lot about Jacob, but little about Isaac. We see Isaac primarily in relation to his mom and dad and then in relation to his wife, Rebecca. That's okay, because we know a lot about Rebecca.
In the United States, we get a lot of immigrants. Typically the pattern is that the immigrant generation continues to speak the old language and keep the old customs. The second generation understands the old language, keeps the old customs at holidays, and may marry some other second-generation person. The third generation doesn't understand the old language, doesn't care about the old customs, and marries any other American that strikes their fancy. This is called "assimilation."
Abraham was a wanderer in the land of Canaan, where they knew nothing of Abraham's God. It was important that Isaac not become assimilated by marrying a Canaanite woman and following the Canaanite religious customs. Abraham calls in his foreman and makes him swear to go back to the old country, to Abraham's own people, to find a wife for Isaac. God guides the foreman directly to the family of Abraham's nephew Bethuel, son of Nahor and Milcah (see chart
), who has a kind and beautiful daughter, Rebecca.
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 5: Genesis 24:10-27, Eliezer and Rebekah (3/6/15)
Genesis 24:28-49, Rebecca is the one... (6/4/08)
The mind boggles! Everybody knows that the servant who was sent by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac was his right-hand man, Eliezer, and our illustration is called “Eliezer and Rebekah.” Imagine my surprise when I read John Wesley’s note that said the servant was “Probably Eliezer of Damascus.” I reread more carefully, and sure enough, the servant’s name is not given. Read carefully for yourself, people, and don’t take my word for anything. Or the artist’s word, obviously.
I love the way Eliezer is looking at Rebekah. Can she be the one? He leans forward on his staff and stares at her intently. You can see his tension in the way the muscles and veins stand out on his arm. He has traveled far on a search for a wife for his master’s son, and it’s important that he find the right one. He has prayed for a sign from God; will this beautiful young woman be gracious enough to water his camels? Will she be related to his master’s family? Yes, on both counts. She runs to ease the thirst of the exhausted camels and men, and she is Abraham’s own great-niece, first cousin once removed to Isaac.
Previous Step. Next Step.
"Eliezer and Rebekah" by Gustave Doré, from the Gartin family Bible,
now in the private collection of Regina Hunter. Click to enlarge.
Abraham's foreman prayed for guidance, and the LORD revealed that He had chosen Rebecca for Isaac. The foreman gave the girl precious gifts of gold, which immediately focused everyone's attention. He tells his story to the rapt audience in the household of her father Bethuel and her brother Laban. Like every good story teller, he ends with the question, "What will you do about what you have heard?"
Genesis 24:50-67, But will she come? (6/5/08)
Rebecca was not chattel. Even though she was just a girl, she had certain rights. Among them were the right to receive the bulk of the bride price and the right to refuse or accept a proposed marriage. The foreman wants to take the girl and go, and Laban and Bethuel are willing, but notice that they ask Rebecca for a decision. Only when she agrees do they send her on her way, with their blessing.
Genesis 25:20-28, Rebecca has twins; 26:1-14, and is protected. (6/6/08)
My grandpa had four brothers and sisters. Grandpa was close to his sister Cecile, but he used to jokingly refer to his other, older brothers and sisters as "distant relations." It seems like in every family, even though everyone loves everyone else, there are pairings between parent and child or between siblings that like each other better.
Rebecca bore twins to Isaac; Esau was the elder and Jacob the younger. Isaac liked Esau better than Jacob, and Rebecca liked Jacob better than Esau. Rebecca is one of the few women in the Bible – in fact, one of the few people – to whom God speaks directly. God told her while she was still pregnant that her older son would
Genesis 26:34-27:17; 27:41-28:5, Rebecca ensures that Jacob marries some nice Hebrew girls. (6/9/08)
Rebecca was a family-focused woman, and she was completely familiar with God's promise to Abraham and Isaac. She didn't see the appropriate qualities in Esau to allow him to inherit the "family business" of the Covenant. This is the same Esau who sold his birthright to Jacob for lunch. (Jacob gets bad press about that, but Esau is the one who valued his birthright so little that he couldn't wait for dinner. Or make himself a sandwich, even.) Esau also married a couple of Canaanite women, which made both Rebecca and Isaac unhappy. Eventually Esau noticed that the Hittite women weren't popular, so he married a daughter of Ishmael (see chart
), whose line had already been barred from inheriting the Covenant.
When Isaac, feeling that he is in danger of dying, decides to give Esau his blessing, Rebecca is determined to get it for Jacob instead. She is the one who arranges to trick Isaac into thinking that Jacob is Esau. (Although, like mother, like son, as you well know about Jacob.) Esau is furious and threatens to kill Jacob. Rebecca, not wanting to lose both sons, goes to Isaac and says, truthfully, that the Hittite women whom Esau has married are driving her nuts. She wants Jacob to do what Isaac did – marry a nice girl from the old country. Isaac agrees, and they send Jacob not only out of harm's way, but out of the danger of assimilation.
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