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Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his beloved son, Isaac. He wouldn’t settle for a wife from the surrounding countryside for he lived among the Canaanites and wanted his daughter-in-law to be from his own relatives. He told Eliezer, “God will send His angel before you so you can get a wife from my people.”
Eliezer stopped his travels by the well outside of the town of Nahor. He prayed that God would show kindness to Abraham and give him success. Eliezer asked God that the woman who would readily give him a drink and would also water his camels would be the chosen one. God gave him the confirmation that he asked for. Even before Eliezer had finished praying, Rebekah came to the well with her water jar on her shoulder. She was beautiful and she was a virgin - the perfect choice for his master’s son. When he asked, she didn’t hesitate to give him a drink and just as quickly ran to draw water for his camels. Inquiring, he found that her father was indeed Abraham’s brother.
Eliezer gave her gifts of gold jewelry and knelt to worship God for His faithfulness Rebekah ran home to tell her family. Her brother, Laban, went out to meet the stranger and invite him to stay. After giving expensive gifts to Laban and his mother, Milkah, Eliezer got to the point of his visit. He told of is quest for a bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac and of God’s guidance. Laban and his father, Bethuel, had nothing to say. They recognized that God had already consented to the marriage. His mission almost complete, Eliezer was anxious to take the girl back to his master, but the family urged him to stay longer. Rebekah was not so cautious; she readily consented to leave the next morning.
Her family sent her off with this blessing; “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.”
Rebecca set out with her maids and nurse, Eliezer and his men, As they approached her new home, and she saw her future husband in the distance, she got off her camel and covered herself with a veil. Isaac took her home to meet his mother.
Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. The Bible doesn’t say how long they tried to start a family but it says that she was barren, so Isaac prayed for her. God answered that prayer by giving her twins. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, “the babies jostled each other within her”; a sign of things to come. At her request, the Lord gave her insight into the lives of the sons she would birth. They would become two nations – not living in harmony. One nation would be stronger than the other. The older son would serve the younger.
This uncomfortable pregnancy finally came to fruition. The firstborn was red and hairy so they named him Esau, meaning hairy. He was also called Edom, meaning red. The second baby was born quickly for he was holding on to his brother’s heel. She named him Jacob, meaning he grasps the heel or he deceives.
Rebekah’s sons grew up to be very different men. The hairy Esau was the man’s man, loving the open country and hunting. He was Isaac’s favorite for the wild game he would bring home. Jacob was quiet and stayed close to home, bringing his mother’s favor.
Esau lived to satisfy his physical needs – selling his birthright to Jacob for a plate of stew and marrying two Hitite women who became a source of grief to both Rebekah and Isaac.
Later, when Isaac was blind and nearing death, Rebekah encouraged her favorite, Jacob, to deceive and lie to his father to rob Esau of the blessing reserved for the firstborn. (Rebekah already knew that Jacob would be the family leader from the prophecy she had received. She didn’t have to take matters into her own hands.) So Jacob received the all-important, irrevocable blessing and Esau was understandably angry. His anger focused on his brother whom he vowed to kill as soon as their father died.
As you can imagine, Rebekah’s heart was broken. She was losing both of her sons. Fearing for Jacob’s life, she plotted again and persuaded Isaac to send him off to her brother’s home to find a wife. Her scheming completed the prophecy that she had received during her pregnancy but it also took away her favorite son. It is possible that she never saw him again because he spent twenty years in Laban’s home.
Rebekah was buried in a cave near Mamre in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah and Isaac.
Syd Levethan, The Longridge Collection; to 2010