Rebekah( Part B) – The Godly Woman (X)

Gen. 25:19-34; Ch.27

Clearly, Isaac was about to make a terrible mistake. He intended to give Esau such a great blessing that Jacob would be permanently under the dominion of his evil, elder brother.[1] Isaac was behaving like a silly old fool. But worse than that, Isaac was at enmity with God. Many Bible commentators are highly critical of Jacob and Rebekah’s behaviour, but none of the New Testament writers are.

Rebekah instigated the deception, not Jacob. She was a lawful authority in the home, and she had been told directly by God about the future of the two sons and the future of their heirs. She sided with the son favoured by God. She sided with the covenant line. Thus, Jacob did not unilaterally decide to thwart the desires of his parents; he decided to follow the advice of one of them-the one who was conforming her actions to the prophecy of God… Jacob was unquestionably following the orders of a lawful superior… Rebekah was clearly more future-oriented than her husband, for she took seriously the promise of God concerning the future of Jacob’s side of the family-the covenant line which would ultimately bring forth the Messiah. [2]

After this incident, when it becomes known to her that Esau is harbouring murderous intent towards Jacob, Rebekah intervenes again, firstly with Jacob, and subsequently with Isaac, to send Jacob away.

The two pivotal conversations which Rebekah has with Jacob, and her choice of words, are most significant. When she knows that Isaac plans to bless Esau, she commands Jacob, “Now therefore my son, listen to me as I command you…only obey my voice, and go, get them [the young goats] for me” (Gen.27:8, 13). When she knows of Esau’s murderous plans regarding Jacob, she says to Jacob, “Now, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban!” (Gen.27:43)

Rebekah’s instructions on both occasions, are absolutely imperative in nature to Jacob, a man over  seventy years old. She had no qualms about forcibly intervening in the life of her unmarried, grown son. Why? She was the one whom God had originally spoken to concerning him; she was the custodian of God’s Word for a reason, and would give an account to Him for her obedience to it.

Furthermore, she is one flesh with her husband (Gen.2:24), and so any mistakes he makes that she is a party to, she will have to give an account for; she and Isaac will have to live with their errors. Her fortunes (like all wives) must rise and fall with his. Knowing the atmosphere of their home better than blind Isaac (as wives mostly do), she knows that Jacob, at her instigation, must act immediately in both cases.

In all of this, what has been in Rebekah’s mind?

Firstly, she knew that she was married to a significant man who was the son of Abraham, and that God had made great covenantal promises to him, and blessed him (Gen.25:11).

Secondly, she has realised after many years of marraige with this man, that her husband has his weaknesses as every husband does, and as every wife knows.

Marriage is a quick indoctrination course in the sins, faults and imperfections of the person we have married. What does not come as quickly to us as it does to others is a knowledge of our own sins and failings. [3]

Rebekah knew this, but she was not fatalistic about the outcome. She did not say,

Oh well, ‘what will be, will be.’  Sometimes my husband seems a bit dumb, but that’s men, and that’s life. I guess I can’t do anything about it.

Third, she did not accept the foolish notion of unconditional or unthinking obedience to any form of human authority, which in itself is blasphemy and idolatry. Rebekah seems to have believed that

[the authority of the husband] extends over all departments, but is limited in all; first, by the nature of the relation; and secondly, by the higher authority of God. No superior, whether master, parent, husband or magistrate, can make it obligatory on us either to do what God forbids, or not do what God commands. [4]

Furthermore,

the Puritan wives were not given to servile obedience, and they provided the strong-willed help meets necessary to the conquest of a continent. The Puritan men held that the Kingship of Christ was the only absolute power, and they acted on that principle. [5]

Fourth, Rebekah realised Isaac was making a dreadful mistake in planning to bless Esau, and so she submitted to and acted under her highest authority-God Himself. She knew her husband was falling, but in her understanding way, she would be there to lift him up.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up (Ecc.4:9-10).

Out of her love for God and His Word, along with her love for her husband and for Jacob, she took a responsible (though unusual) course of action.

Fifth, Rebekah did all that was in her power, to bring about the purpose of God for herself, her husband, and her children. This seems to have been habitual for her, from the beginning of the Biblical record about her. As a girl, many years earlier in Mesopotamia (Gen.24:16), she uttered those three fateful and remarkable words to her mother, her brother, and Abraham’s servant, when she was asked if she was willing to go and become Isaac’s wife: “I will go” (Gen.24:58). She operated in total accountability to God.

What was central to this purpose? In her own unusual way (which Isaac would not have understood at the time), her goal had always been the same: to help her husband. She showed that “house and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov.19:14). Despite her calculated deception of her husband when he was behaving unconscionably, she was endeavouring to “do him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Prov.31:12).

Proverbs 31 gives a thorough job description of how a virtuous woman goes about fulfilling her calling under God in the major role of supporting her husband and family. As the manager of the household, she is intimately involved in the concerns of all members and, truly, is the glue that holds the family together…because daily she has her hands on the pulse of future generations, she can convey with her words and actions the victorious life that faithfulness produces.[6]

When Jacob returned some twenty years later, his circumstances had radically changed. He had fled the tent with nothing, except the promises of God. Now (with the death of his beloved Rachel), he had three wives, twelve sons and a daughter, along with great flocks and herds (Gen.30:43). Now, God spoke to him:

I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you. The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you (Gen.35:11-12).

What had been accomplished in Jacob’s lifetime, with the assistance of his prudent, far-seeing, remarkable mother? She appears to have died in his absence, but through her diligence and obedience, she had ensured in accordance with the Word of God given to her, covenantal continuation within her family, from which the Messiah would ultimately come.

As a result, she had acted prudently, to ensure that Jacob (the son she knew from God from the beginning, to be their rightful heir) would gain his legitimate, God-ordained inheritance. This should be the goal of every godly mother and father, so that subsequent generations can inherit the promises of God.

The Bible says that “a wise woman builds her house…” (Prov.14:1). Is Rebekah’s goal, your goal too?


[1] North, G., “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.188.

[2] ibid.

[3] Rushdoony, R. J., “Salvation and Godly Rule,” 1983, p.80.

[4] Hodge, C., (1950) quoted in Rushdoony,  p.390.

[5] Rushdoony, p.392.

[6] Andrea Schwartz, ‘The Woman of the House: A Covenantal Voice of Victory,’ in “Faith for all of Life,” (Chalcedon Foundation), Nov/Dec 2009, p.13-14.

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