Rebekah was certainly one of the most appealing young women in Scripture. She is portrayed as chaste and beautiful, courteous and helpful, hard-working, hospitable, as well as responsive and trusting. She was chosen as the intended bride for Isaac – Genesis 24:15-20 “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.” I recommend reading the whole chapter 24 to see the story unfold, and how God accomplished His plan for His choice of wife for Isaac.
Verse 28 hints that her family ties were very close, as her first response when she returned from the well was to share with the women in her household all about her encounter with Abraham’s servant. For a girl to be chosen for marriage to a wealthy relative was indeed considered a blessing from God. Her father and brother also knew that this was from God – Verse 50 “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.” But, the choice to leave home was Rebekah’s to make. This tells us how the young women in her culture enjoyed autonomy. (Verses 57, 58)
Rebekah volunteered a lowly service giving the camels water in verse 19. This was not a quick nor an easy chore for a young woman to accomplish. “And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.” This opened a lofty destiny to her as God worked His plan for her life through her mundane daily responsibilities. Her courage and faith at that time motivated her to venture from the familiarity of her family and friends to the unknown new life in a strange land.
God rewarded Rebekah’s faithfulness with a monogamous marriage that began with romance and loving affection (verse 67; Genesis 26:8). Also, in answer to Isaac’s prayer for his wife’s fertility, God removed her barrenness with the birth of twins, Esau and Jacob – Genesis 25:20, 21 “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.”
It was in her later years that Rebekah’s unwavering faith of her youth faltered. Of course, I am sure it did not happen suddenly but over time as our falling out of close fellowship with God always comes about gradually. Her taking things into her own hands which direction her sons’ futures would take, instead of trusting God, showed a lack of reverence and respect for her husband and his leadership.
The thing I find so very sad about this whole situation is how both parents showed such strong favoritism to their sons. Naturally, this brought rivalry, deceit, and contention into their home – Genesis 25:28 “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Proverbs 28:21 gives us some wisdom about favoring one person over another – “To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.” And that definitely took place in this instance!
A few thoughts here may help us to understand Rebekah’s motivation for her deceit: perhaps her discernment of her sons–that is, recognizing Esau as worldly and adventuresome and Jacob as having potential for spiritual sensitivity, or her own close connection to one son over the other, or maybe even a strong faith in God’s revealed plan in Genesis 24:23.
In any case, the deceiving of her husband was without excuse and her poor example to her sons was a far-reaching tragedy. Even if her motives was pure, her action was wrong. Sadly, she paid a bitter price in living out her final years in separation from the son whose presence she desired, in alienation from the son who would ever remember his mother’s deception toward him, and in broken fellowship from a husband who had loved her devotedly. You see, there is no way of escaping the consequences of our actions. Those consequences very often extend out to future generations as well.
As always when we take things into our own hands to bring about our best laid plans, God turns things around and uses it all for His purpose. But we sure can save ourselves some pain and heartache if we just leave things in His all-knowing and caring hands. Try not to let your faith waver.