Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview

Part 4

REBEKAH—MOTHER OF TWO NATIONS

Introduction

The story of Rebekah, the second of the matriarchs of Abraham's family described in Genesis, is found primarily in Genesis 24–27.1 These chapters recount four major episodes in the life of Rebekah: her marriage to Isaac; the birth of her twin sons Esau and Jacob; the wife-sister story involving her husband Isaac, and Abimelech, king of Gerar; and her deception of Isaac so that he blessed Jacob rather than Esau. With the exception of the wife-sister episode, all of these narratives portray Rebekah as a more active and interesting character than her husband Isaac.

Genesis 24 recounts Rebekah and Isaac's arranged marriage. Abraham instructed his servant to find a wife for Isaac from among his relatives in Nahor. The servant traveled to Syria and on his arrival prayed for God's help in finding an appropriate wife. He met Rebekah at the well outside the city, discovered her relationship to Abraham, and negotiated a marriage arrangement. Rebekah consented to leave immediately and traveled with Abraham's servant and her nurse Deborah to Abraham's household in Canaan. On their arrival, Isaac took Rebekah into his mother's tent, loved her, and was comforted over the loss of his mother.

Like Sarah, her mother-in-law, Rebekah was barren. After twenty years of marriage, Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, and Rebekah conceived twins. During her difficult pregnancy she inquired of God, who spoke to her about the two nations struggling in her womb. God told Rebekah that

1 Rebekah is also mentioned in Gen. 22:21; 28:5; 29:12; 35:8; and 49:31. Unlike Sarah,
Rebekah was not mentioned as an example for Christians to follow in the New Testament; in
fact, she is only mentioned there once, in Rom. 9:10, in the context of God's choice of one of
her twin sons over the other.

-255-

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