Welcoming Our Matriarchs – Rebekah

Rebekah – By: Deborah Jankowski

1.  Introduction-Genesis 24-28

  • Daughter of Bethuel and mother (not named, but important)
  • Granddaughter of Milcah, sister-in-law of Abraham
  • Brother was Laban, father of Leah and Rachel
  • Wife of Isaac, who was 40 when we met
  • Mother of Jacob and Esau

2.  Early life

  • I was very young, very beautiful, a virgin
  • I resisted idolatry
  • Special calling, example:  The well water would rise up for me.
  • Wise even for one so young, and a girl
  • I was exceedingly kind and generous
  • Offered to bring him water
  • Offered to draw water for his camels too, no small feat!

3.  Why did I go with the slave and marry Isaac?

  • No, it was not because I & family were showered with trinkets
  • My mother gave me a choice!!!  My father & brother were ready to send me on my way without my input.  But mother insisted I have a choice.
  • I chose to leave my family.  Although it’s not written in there, I knew it was my destiny that I go.

Aside #1:   My mother’s insistence that I have a choice and my leaving home, family, everything safe and known to marry a man I do not know and live among strangers are examples of a strong woman willing to make difficult decisions and bold actions, a recurring theme among matriarchs.

Aside #2: Isaac “loved me”, the first time this is mentioned in the bible.

Two meanings; sex and true love.  We know he loved me because he took no other wives and had no other children.  After 10 years of no children, he had the right to find another wife, yet he did not divorce me.

AND I LOVED ISAAC.  It is because I loved him so much, because I was such a good wife to him, and because we were so happy together that he had no wish to look elsewhere.

4.  The Prophecy

  • Barren for 20 years
  • Isaac PRAYED TO GOD for children.  Women didn’t pray to God for children in my day.
  • Difficult pregnancy.  During this difficult pregnancy, I asked God, what is my destiny?  GOD SPOKE TO ME, NOT ISAAC, saying (Hebrew’s a little tricky here, but this is how I interpreted it) will have twins and that my two                            sons would become two nations;  the older would serve the younger.

Aside:  Why did God tell me of this destiny?  It is because of Sarah’s heartache when she learned of the possible sacrifice of her only son.  God did not want to have that kind of heartache to befall me also.

5.  How did I feel about my children?

  • Difficult to say, especially since I knew the prophecy.
  • Jacob was a learner, thinker, reader, loved justice, and I could relate more.
  • Esau was more the hunter and Isaac tended to favor him.
  • Did I favor Jacob?  I won’t say.
  • Did I dislike Esau?  I won’t say.
  • I am, after all, their mother.

6.  Fulfilling the prophecy

  • When Isaac was old and blind and ready to give the blessing to Esau, he did not know of the prophecy.  Why didn’t I tell him?   It never occurred to me that I needed to tell him, and now he was too old and frail.
  • While Esau was off following Isaac’s instructions, I prepared the requested meal and covered Jacob’s hands in rough fur.   BASICALLY, IT WAS ALL MY DOING.  I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY.
  • I know it looks like I was deceiving Isaac.  But I did not look at it like that.  In my mind, I WAS FULFILLING THE PROPHECY.

 7.  Did Isaac know all along? 

  • I believe he knew all along he was not giving the blessing to Esau.
  • Who could not feel the difference between human skin and animal skin?
  • Isaac even said, “you have the voice of Jacob.”
  • Isaac knew that Jacob had the qualities necessary to lead a nation and carry out the covenant.
  • Remember, a strong bond of love and trust between Isaac and me.  He trusted me to know what is right.  He knew I would never do anything against him or the will of God.

8.  Finale:  Why Am I Important?

  • I am a Matriarch, a prophetess, and the inheritor of Sarah’s legacy.
  • First time woman speaks directly to God, and first time God answers directly!  God spoke to me directly!
  • It was I who inherited the central female role from Sarah; no other wives nor other children.


I have seen to the continuation of the covenant.



Since there is no specific narrative regarding Isaac at all, in fact his name was never changed (the sign of a major covenantal moment), maybe the ancestral sequence should be:  Abraham, Rebekah and Jacob.

Final thought:  When Jacob introduces himself to Rachel, he does so not as the son of Isaac, but as “Rebekah’s son.”

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