Rebekah (Part A) – The Godly Woman (IX)

Gen.25:19-34; Ch.27

It’s difficult to be anything but an admirer of Rebekah. As a girl, having gone out to the spring to get water one afternoon at her home in Mesopotamia, she innocently provided water for a complete stranger, who had asked her for a drink from her jar. She then, in a typical display of eastern hospitality, offers to draw water for his ten camels. Her willingness to help this stranger, happens to be an answer to his prayers, and will lead to an immediate and dramatic change in her life.

The next day, with the blessing of her family (Gen.24:59-60), she is on the back of one of these camels with her maids, heading away from home to her future husband, whom she has never seen.

“According to J. A. Thompson, writing in the Near East had been in common use for well over a thousand years before Moses.” [1] Furthermore, we read that “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord” (Ex.24:4), and that “he took the book of the covenant…” (Ex.24:7).

Furthermore, there was certainly oral history. Rebekah would have known of the great flood, as Noah lived for many years after Abraham was born. She would also have heard of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which took place about fifty years before her marriage to Isaac; Abraham, her father-in-law was an eyewitness (Gen.19:27-28). More than that, she would have known why these momentous events took place. God was bringing a permanent separation between good and evil people.

After marrying Isaac, Rebekah waited twenty years to conceive (Gen.25:20, 26). While pregnant, when the twins struggled within her, God spoke to her, revealing to her that,

two nations are in your womb, and two peoples will be separated from  your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.

This was not normal, but in this case, God had chosen to reverse the order, which was not uncommon. Many other first-born sons in Genesis, such as Cain, Ishmael, Reuben and Manasseh, forfeited their inheritance. God knew what the two men would be like, even whilst in the womb, and had told Rebekah of His plan for them. Jacob was redeemed; Esau was not.[2] Later, God said that “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Ro.9:13).

There is every reason to believe that Rebekah would have understood the implications of God’s Word to her. Yes, the news about the elder son was not positive. But she is not the sentimental type, who believes the nonsense that God just loves everybody.[3] When blessed in leaving her home to marry Isaac, it was said of her, “…may your descendents possess the gate of those who hate them” (Gen.24:60). She understands that in God’s economy,  blessing and cursing are facts of life. In receiving the Word of God, she knows now where God’s plan is heading, and that as a responsible mother, she has a part to play.

When they grew up, Rebekah (in harmony with God’s Word to her), loved the younger son Jacob, but Isaac loved Esau. Esau could provide him with game, which he was fond of. Esau was the eldest son, but the incident with the stew that Jacob had cooked (Gen.25:27-34), indicated that Esau was remarkably contemptuous towards his birthright; as the elder son it normally would have been his. Esau was not tricked, as he later complained to Isaac (Gen.27:36). He had sworn to part with his birthright willingly. He lived for the present. His stomach (the now) was more important to him than his birthright (the future).

This was a sobering lesson to Isaac and Rebekah about the foreknowledge of God, and the character of their sons. In fact, in selling his birthright for a single meal to Jacob, the Bible later described him, as a “godless man” (Heb.12:15-17). This should have reinforced to both his parents, that Esau should not inherit his father’s blessing.

When Esau married two Hittite women, who “brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah” (Gen.26:34-35), his character and outlook on life should have been painfully evident to his parents. They now had three aspects of evidence to convince them that Esau was clearly unsuited to be their legitimate and rightful heir; a triple witness:

1) God’s Word to Rebekah, while the twins were in her womb.

2) Esau’s contemptuous forfeiture of his birthright to Jacob.

3) His marriage to two Hittite women.

God declared in His Word that this was more than sufficient to convict a person of criminal behaviour: “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deut.19:15).

Now when Isaac indicated he wanted to bless Esau, he revealed three things to Rebekah:

a) He was ignoring (or had forgotten), God’s revealed plan for their sons.

b) He was being utterly self-indulgent and thinking only of his stomach, and the venison he hoped Esau could bring him.

c) He was strangely indifferent to their sons’ moral standing before God, and in particular, to what sort of man Esau really was. (Is this a hint as to why Abraham had been unwilling to send Isaac off alone to seek a wife, over sixty years earlier?)

Isaac was about to defy God, cheat Jacob, and bless the elder, godless son. Like Esau, Isaac was guilty of the sin of honouring his belly more than God’s promises, almost like the belly-worshipping sinners criticised by Paul (Phil.3:18-19).[4] Rebekah knew they were now in the midst of a family crisis. Isaac was blundering into a disaster of his own making.

It is in matters of thoughtlessness, pride, and small selfishness where we most frequently offend one another, and none of us are free from these offenses. It is in these critical areas where most of all grace and forbearance are required. Husbands and wives frequently grate on one another with their set and determined ways, but, with love, these very minor but very real faults not only are bearable but sometimes amusing and endearing. Within the family of God, where love abounds, it does indeed “cover a multitude of sins” (Prov.10:12). …This is the area where Christians most commonly offend one another. Our trespasses are most offensive to others and least discernible to ourselves. [5]

What should Rebekah do?

[1] Rushdoony, R. “Deuteronomy,” 2008, p.485. Quoting Thompson, J., “Deuteronomy,” 1978, p.291.

[2] North, G., “The Dominion Mandate,” 1987, p.187. The chapter entitled “The Uses of Deception,” deals with this exhaustively.

[3] For more on this subject, see my paper, “God’s Love: Holy or Unconditional?”

[4] ibid., p.189.

[5] Rushdoony, R. J., “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.301.

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