Who was Rebekah in the lineage of Jesus? She was Isaac’s wife and Jacob and Esau’s mother.
Have you ever made a poor decision, thinking you were doing the right thing? Perhaps you convinced yourself you were doing it out of love. Or maybe you reasoned the end justified the means. Whatever the reason behind the decision, did you grow to regret your actions?
In today’s episode we look at Rebekah, a woman who loved, lied, and ultimately lost.
Rebekah’s Bible Story
Many consider the love story of Rebekah and Isaac to be one of the most beautiful in the Bible. It’s a story full of faith and romance, but it’s a story that ends in betrayal and disappointment. Something happened along the way in their lives where they lost sight of the love they once shared.
Rebekah, Daughter of Bethuel
Tucked away in between Isaac’s sacrifice and Sarah’s death is a short insertion that word reached Abraham that Milcah, wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor had borne children. Bethuel, one of Milcah’s sons, had a daughter named Rebekah. This passage foreshadows what it is to come in the days ahead.
After Sarah’s death, Abraham decided it was time to find a wife for Isaac. He called in his most trusted servant and gave him explicit instructions on how to find the right wife for Isaac.
“Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” (Genesis 24:2-4 ESV)
The servant asked if he should bring Isaac to the home country if the woman wouldn’t come with him, but Abraham did not want Isaac to leave Canaan. This was the land God had promised to them. Isaac needed to remain in the promised land.
Abraham assured his servant that God would go before him and make sure that he found the right wife for Isaac. He also let him know that if the woman wouldn’t go with him, then to come back without her, but under no circumstances should Isaac go back to the old country.
The servant vowed to follow Abraham’s wishes and headed to the land where Nahor’s family dwelt.
Rebekah had no idea that any of this was going on. Minding her own business at home, she had no way of knowing that God was in the process of matching her with Isaac, the promised son of Abraham.
Rebekah Answer to Prayer
The servant departed on his way, loaded down with camels and choice gifts for the bride to be. Overwhelmed by the responsibility and nervous that he might fail, he called out to God, asking for a sign. As he rested by the well on the outskirts of town, he prayed that God would reveal to him the right woman. He would ask her for a drink of water, and if she responded positively and also offered to water his camels, he would know that she was the one.
Sure enough, along came Rebekah, a beautiful young woman with a water jar on her shoulder. He asked for water. She gave him a drink then took care of his camels.
Rebekah went to the well like she did every day. But this time, God had something special waiting for her. Her thoughtfulness in providing for a stranger and his camels were an answer to prayer without her realizing it.
The servant presented her with a gold nose ring and costly bracelets for her arms and asked if he might spend the night with her family. She responded with hospitality then ran ahead to let them what about this stranger and the message he’d shared.
Rebekah Follows God
The servant met with Rebekah’s menfolk asking if Rebekah might return to Canaan with him and marry Isaac. They gave their blessing but said the choice was hers.
When Abraham’s servant received the blessing from Laban and Bethuel, he bowed down and worshiped God. Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry as well as clothing and presented them to Rebekah. In addition, he gave gifts to her brother and mother.
The next morning the servant was ready to return to his master, but Rebekah’s mother and brother asked that she be able to linger ten days before leaving. The servant expressed his eagerness to return since God had prospered his way.
They agreed to let Rebekah decide. They asked if she was willing to go with him, and she said yes. So they sent away Rebekah and her nurse to go with Abraham’s servant and his men, leaving her with this blessing.
“Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!” (Genesis 24:60 ESV)
Interestingly, their blessing is almost identical to the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,” (ESV)
Why did Rebekah willingly follow a stranger to a faraway land to marry a man she’d never met? Was it in obedience to follow God? Was she swayed by the expensive gifts and the promise of marrying a wealthy man?
We don’t know her motives, but God made it clear that Rebekah was the chosen wife for Isaac, and she accepted his will for her life. She had no idea what the future might hold, but she left all that was familiar to embark on an adventure, knowing it was ordained by God. May we have that kind of faith today.
Rebekah Marries Isaac
Rebekah and her nurse joined the camel caravan headed to Abraham and Isaac in the promised land. One evening as Isaac returned from Beer Lahai Roi, he stopped to meditate in the fields, and when he looked up, he saw camels headed his way.
When Rebekah saw him heading towards them, she dismounted from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” (Genesis 24:65 ESV) He answered that it was his master. So Rebekah took a veil and covered herself.
The servant told Isaac all that had happened, then Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother’s tent, and he took Rebekah as his wife, and he loved her. “So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Genesis 24:67 ESV)
Beer Lahai Roi was the area where the angel of the Lord found Hagar. Did Isaac go there to meet with God? We’re not sure what he did there, but we do know that when Rebekah arrived, he was in the fields reflecting and praying to God.
What a beautiful illustration we see in Isaac and Rebekah of an innocent love that trusts God for the future. Though they were strangers, they accepted each other as helpmeets. They loved one another and brought comfort to each other. It had been three years since the death of Sarah, but Rebekah lifted Isaac’s spirits and brought joy back into his life.
Rebekah Has Twins
Like many Bible women, Rebekah spent many years barren. It’s interesting that Isaac is the one who prayed for Rebekah to conceive. And God answered his prayer with twins. But while they were still in the womb, they fought. Rebekah didn’t know what was going on, so she turned to the Lord, asking what was going on inside her. He responded by telling her, “Two nations are in our womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
Sure enough, when the babies arrived, Esau came first, with Jacob holding onto Esau’s heel.
In Genesis 25:26 we’re told that “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” What a sad statement, and oh, the consequences because the parents played favoritism, preferring one son over the other.
Rebekah and Isaac in Gerar
When famine hit Canaan, Isaac planned to go to Egypt, but God told him to remain in the promised land.
Isaac listened to God’s advice and went to Gerar instead of Egypt, but he must have stopped listening after that. When the men of Gerar asked about Rebekah, because she was a beautiful woman, Isaac lied and said she was his sister. Of course, we recognize this as the same thing his father did almost a century before, but with Abraham, it was a half-truth. With Isaac, it was a complete lie.
God was watching out for Rebekah, though, just as he’d watched out for Sarah all those years ago. The king saw Isaac and Rebekah laughing together and realized that they were in fact married. The king called Isaac and observed that obviously Rebekah was his wife, so why did he lie and say she was his sister. And like his father Abraham, Isaac justified it by saying he was fearful for his life.
The king pointed out that someone could have taken Rebekah as their wife and brought on guilt to their land. He charged his people not to lay a hand on either Rebekah or Isaac or else they would be put to death.
Rebekah Tricks Isaac
The Bible records one last incident with Rebekah, the stolen blessing. Isaac was considerably older than Rebekah, and when he knew his days were numbered, he called Esau to prepare for his blessing. Rebekah overheard and panicked. Esau had given up his birthright years ago. It belonged to Jacob now. Not to mention, God’s promise to her that the younger would rule. She wasn’t taking any chances nor letting God do His will. No, she decided to take matters into her own hands so that nothing could go wrong.
She gave Jacob instruction and assisted him in deceiving his father. And they succeeded. Before Esau returned home, Jacob had the blessing. How hurt both Isaac and Esau both must have felt to have been betrayed in such a way.
But even though Rebekah had her way, in the end, she lost. Isaac sent Jacob away to Paddan-aram, Rebekah’s homeland, so that he might find a wife. From that point on, Rebekah never got to see her beloved son again. She was left to live her last days with the husband and son she’d betrayed.
What Can We Learn From Rebekah’s Story?
What trials we create for ourselves when we try to upstage God and take matters into our own hands. Although God will ultimately prevail, we lose out on the blessings we would have received had we waited and trusted in Him.
What about you today? Are you having a hard time waiting? Are you frustrated that God isn’t doing things the way you think they should be done? Have you lost faith in God’s ability?
If so, take a moment today to step back and reflect on God’s awesome powers. Look back at times in your life when God took care of you in unexpected ways. Resist the urge to move forward when God is telling you to step back. Remember that His ways are always better than our ways.
Lord God, we come to you asking for your strength to help us hold off and wait when all we want to do is storm ahead. Give us the patience we need to make it through the waiting days. Forgive us for those times in the past when we didn’t wait. Restore to us the relationship with you that comes when we fully trust you with our future. Guide us in the days to come. We love you. In Christ name. Amen
Rebekah Bible Study
Bible Study Review
- How was Rebekah and answer to prayer?
- What was Isaac’s prayer for Rebekah?
- Who was Rebekah’s favorite son?
Thoughts to Ponder
- How did Rebekah exhibit faith?
- What caused problems in Rebekah and Isaac’s marriage?
- Why did Rebekah want Jacob to get the inheritance?
- Would you have gone with Abraham’s servant?
- Have you ever played favorites?
- Would you deceive your husband?
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