Rebekah—Blessed by Jehovah
JEHOVAH GOD guided the choice of Rebekah as the wife of Abraham’s son Isaac. But why was Rebekah selected? Her qualities must have been most desirable from God’s standpoint. She must have been suitable for his purpose as the mother of a nation that would become a people for his name.
It is after the death of his beloved wife Sarah that Abraham makes arrangements to procure a wife for his son Isaac, now about 40 years old. Not wanting his son to become yoked with a non-worshiper of Jehovah, Abraham asks his household manager, most likely his faithful servant Eliezer, to travel all the way to upper Mesopotamia. He gives his servant no special instructions to guide him. ‘The angel of Jehovah will do that,’ Abraham confidently states. He trusts that the Most High somehow will single out from among his relatives a suitable maiden for Isaac.—Gen. 24:1-9.
Abraham’s servant takes 10 camels loaded with precious gifts. Accompanied by his attendants, he travels for days, finally reaching the city of Nahor in the upper Mesopotamian valley. Tired and thirsty, he arrives at evening time, just when the young women of the city come to draw water from the well. What an opportunity to act on his master’s order! But how will he know which girl to choose? He turns to Jehovah, praying that the choice be indicated by a sign—that the chosen girl, on being asked to give him a drink, would also volunteer to water his camels.—Gen. 24:10-14.
JEHOVAH ANSWERS A PRAYER
Before the servant finishes praying, a very attractive girl comes out with her jar upon her shoulder. Unknown to him, she is Rebekah, the grandniece of Abraham. The servant directs this request to her: “Give me, please, a little sip of water from your jar.” Is this young woman to be Jehovah’s choice? Graciously, Rebekah answers: “Drink, my lord.” She quickly lowers her jar and gives him a drink. “For your camels too I shall draw water until they are done drinking,” she says. So Rebekah quickly empties her jar into the drinking trough and runs yet again and again to the well to draw water for the 10 camels. What a job! A camel may drink up to seven gallons a day.—Gen. 24:15-20.
The servant realizes that thus far his prayer for guidance has been answered. His attention has been drawn to a young maiden with the desirable qualities of graciousness, willingness and industriousness. After giving her a costly gold nose ring and two beautiful gold bracelets, he inquires about her family background and the possibility of spending the night in her father’s house. Readily, she identifies herself and says: “There is both straw and much fodder with us, also a place to spend the night.” Overwhelmed with thankfulness to Jehovah, the servant bows down and blesses the Most High.—Gen. 24:21-27.
There is not the slightest doubt in Rebekah’s heart about showing this man hospitality. She runs home to prepare for the unexpected guest and tells her family what has happened. Upon hearing about it, her brother Laban runs out to the well to welcome the stranger. A feast is prepared in the home. No one in Rebekah’s family has asked about the stranger’s identity and errand. They have been absorbed with showing him and his attendants hospitality and feeding his camels.—Gen. 24:28-32.
Abraham’s servant, however, has only one thought in mind—faithfully to carry out his commission in harmony with the leading of Jehovah’s angel. Before agreeing to partake of the meal, the servant identifies himself and explains his errand. He tells about his asking for a sign from Jehovah and how Rebekah behaved in agreement with the sign.—Gen. 24:33-49.
JEHOVAH DIRECTS MATTERS
How is Rebekah’s family going to react? What a moment of suspense for the servant! Filled with wonder and respect, Laban and Bethuel, the father, realize that all of this must be from Jehovah. They respond: “Here is Rebekah before you. Take her and go, and let her become a wife to the son of your master, just as Jehovah has spoken.”—Gen. 24:50, 51.
There is great excitement in the house. The servant brings out precious presents for Rebekah, her mother and her brother. All then partake of the prepared meal. According to the custom of the time, these activities in Rebekah’s home constitute the making of a marriage contract.—Gen. 24:52-54a.
But, then, Rebekah’s mother and brother plead for a delay of at least 10 days before they will let her go. The servant insists on leaving at once. Finally, they let Rebekah decide. They call her in and ask: “Will you go with this man?” At this moment the servant must hold his breath. Will she leave home at once for a husband whom she has never seen? What will Rebekah’s answer be? Is she willing, and will she thus readily comply with Jehovah’s choice? “I am willing to go,” is Rebekah’s reply. No delay, no hesitation, no doubt, no conditions! What a remarkable maiden! (Gen. 24:8, 54b-58) Not merely is she attractive, gracious, willing, industrious and hospitable; Rebekah is also resolute, far-sighted and full of implicit faith. She discerns Jehovah’s hand in this matter, and does not hesitate to act in harmony with His will. Knowing that her granduncle Abraham has trained Isaac in the fear of the Almighty, Rebekah has no reason for concern about how she would be treated as a wife.
This young woman leaves with the blessings of her family: “O you, our sister, may you become thousands times ten thousand, and let your seed take possession of the gate of those who hate it.” Her nurse and other lady attendants accompany her on the camels.—Gen. 24:59-61.
Days later, in the cool evening, Isaac notices the approach of a camel train. At the same time, Rebekah catches sight of him. Gracefully and promptly she swings herself off the camel. When told who the man is, she veils herself, thus showing subjection and respect for her bridegroom. Truly, the girl who has been willing to follow Jehovah’s leading, to ride away with a servant into an unknown country to meet an unknown bridegroom without doubt or question, is a woman deserving of affection. The Bible account says: “He fell in love with her, and Isaac found comfort after the loss of his mother.”—Gen. 24:62-67.
Rebekah proves to be just the wife that Isaac needs. Her eager, ardent, active, enterprising spirit makes him happy again as she suitably fills the vacant spot left in his life through the death of his mother. Many years after their marriage, Isaac continues to find delight in his beloved Rebekah. He is afraid of losing her. When famine forces him to take up residence among the Philistines, he thinks of Rebekah’s beauty. Isaac fears for his life, reasoning that some man might want to kill him to procure her as a wife. So, in an effort to prevent this, Isaac passes her off as his sister.—Gen. 26:1-11.
REBEKAH AS MOTHER
Like Sarah, Rebekah remains barren for a long time. Isaac keeps on entreating Jehovah for her. Finally, 20 years after their marriage, she bears him the twin boys Esau and Jacob. Before giving birth, Rebekah knows that she is going to have twins. Her pregnancy is extremely distressing. “If this is the way it is, just why am I alive?” she exclaims when she feels the babies struggling within her. Rebekah receives the promise of God that two national groups would be separated from her inward parts, that the one would be stronger than the other and that the older would serve the younger. She does not lose sight of this promise.—Gen. 25:21-23.
After the two boys are born, Rebekah centers her hopes and affections on Jacob, and in time Esau even despises his birthright. (Gen. 25:28-34) The years pass, and the day comes when Rebekah takes personal steps to act in harmony with Jehovah’s prophetic promise. She hears her aged and blind husband Isaac call for his firstborn son, Esau. Before his death, Isaac has in mind choosing and blessing his successor. As a preliminary to giving the blessing, Isaac sends Esau out to kill some game and prepare a tasty dish for him.—Gen. 27:1-4.
Knowing that Esau is not Jehovah’s choice, Rebekah seeks to secure the desired blessing for Jacob. While Esau is hunting, Rebekah instructs Jacob as to how he should get the blessing that is rightly his. Jacob protests, fearing that his blind father would identify him by touch and then pronounce a malediction. But Rebekah is as determined as ever. “Upon me be the malediction meant for you, my son,” she says confidently. “Only listen to my voice.” And Jacob does listen.—Gen. 27:5-14.
After that Rebekah has Jacob wear Esau’s clothes, which smell of the woods, the fields and the earth. She also takes the soft, silky pelts of young kids and fits pieces of them across Jacob’s smooth hands and smooth neck, so that to Isaac’s hands he will feel like Esau. With the tasty dish prepared by his mother, Jacob presents himself before Isaac. Rebekah’s plan succeeds. Jacob receives the blessing of his father, being constituted the rightful heir to Isaac and Abraham.—Gen. 27:15-29.
Later, when Rebekah learns of Esau’s plans to kill Jacob, she again takes resolute action on behalf of Jacob. As a consequence of her encouragement, Isaac sends Jacob away to her homeland in search of a wife. Rebekah appreciates the importance of a good wife for Jacob. It has grieved both Isaac and her greatly that Esau had taken two wives from among the hateful Canaanites.—Gen. 26:34, 35; 27:41-46; 28:1-5.
Rebekah must have missed Jacob very much after his departure. She may have hoped that he would be able to return soon. But Jacob stayed away for 20 years. There is no record in the Bible of Rebekah’s seeing her beloved son again. If she did not, think of the joy that Rebekah and Jacob will experience on meeting again when raised from the dead. How thrilling it will be for Rebekah to learn of her great privilege in being a link leading to the promised Messiah, or Christ!
Truly, the beautiful, alert and resolute Rebekah, who gained Jehovah’s favorable attention, is a good example for maidens, wives and mothers today. Her faith was indeed commendable.