woman for a precious baby boy
Her life begins to change without her even knowing it. This happens at a time when Abraham decides to look for a bride for his dear son. Isaac was his and Sarah’s only, long-awaited and spectacularly welcomed son. He was the future successor of a strong family and bearer of blessing. It is therefore really important who he marries.
Abraham sends his man to his homeland to pick up a girl from there. He takes it very seriously and does not want Isaac to choose some ordinary Canaanite girl. He cannot go himself, so implores his oldest servant – more precisely, the administrator of his property (just to make it clear that he does not send just anybody) – before his God. He provides him with the terms and binds him with an oath. In order to emphasize the importance, his envoy puts his hand, er, on his lap. I am not mentioning this in order to embarrass anyone (I am embarrassed myself and that is enough), but to emphasize – with this Abraham says: life and fertility comes from there and you’re going to take care that my life will go on – through my son and his future wife. Serious business.
If I were the servant I would be quite scared. Even if I were Abraham – how to choose a wife for someone else when so many men are not able to choose for themselves? This is a challenge! There is always the possibility that the chosen one will not be willing to come to Isaac – is he then prepared to go to her? No way! Mé genoito! Eliezer (this is the name of the servant of Abraham) should rely on help from Above.
Abraham tells him that God has taken him from his native land as He has plans for his life. Thus, He will also take care of this. I like Abraham’s confidence. I just wonder whether this won´t be too much for the future wife of his son. I think it will be.
And so it begins. The story which was repeated so many times that I slowly have an allergy against it. I am sorry. It’s not about disrespect for God’s Word. I am just angry at the thought of how men can destroy all the beauty of some verses and change them into a tool which they use against women when they think they do not behave according to their (their, not His) taste.
someone on the horizon
Just briefly. The servant, armed with Abraham’s mandate and stocked with provisions for his pleasure is nearing the city of Abraham. At the same time he is praying to his God to bless this mission. He has something as a testing condition (in biblical slang words – he lays down a fleece). Standing at the well after a long trip he says – if a girl I ask for water offering water to my camels too, it shall be the right one! Indeed. Rebekah comes with jug on her shoulder, goes down to the spring and fills the jug with water. Rebekah does exactly as requested in the prayer of Eliezer. She offers water not only to him but also his camels. And I can tell you, it was not that simple! It is not like pouring a bit of milk to a wandering cat out of pity. Can you imagine how much those camel drank?! It was a lot. I’m not going to count it litre by litre. If you want to do it, I am sure you find it somewhere on the web – probably in a lecture of some over-devoted man who highlights the hard work and diligence of devoted women, but he himself has a decent growing belly. Thus Rebekah worked hard for a stranger who was tired from his travels. She voluntarily made a great gesture and then the moved (I hope that he was moved!) Eliezer asks about her name and family. When he finds out that God brought the daughter of Abraham’s brother to his way, he puts on her a nose ring (ouch!), adds a couple of bracelets and falls to his knees in awe of God’s work. Yes, in order to find the right person you will not get any help from Google maps, GPS or any night vision sensor put together.
family is family
After Eliezer’s words Rebekah runs off to tell her family whom she met. When she introduced herself before, she mentioned her father’s name, but now it says that she is going to tell the family of her mother about the visitor. Her mother! Even with the father’s name there is no mention of his father, but rather his mother and her father. I have however not found any good explanation yet. Compared to most other biblical lineages such details are quite striking. This is not a completely normal family arrangement. But we can see similar things in the Bible quite often. When we think we have found some kind of a rule in the Bible, the next time we read it we are proven wrong. This is not a description of the traditional family or something we see as such.
The first person to greet Eliezer is brother of Rebekah. He welcomes him to his house with his whole group and camels. He offers his men water to wash themselves after their long journey, he offers all of them food – simply put – he offers hospitality that was certainly influenced by gifts that Rebekah is wearing. On her hands and nose. Ouch! But Eliezer does not want to eat before he spills why he travelled there.
And there it is! Of course, it is inappropriate for some stranger to ask for hand in marriage on behalf of someone even stranger and next to a well. A different approach would be more suiting I think. Someone may be impressed with the wealth of the future father-in-law (oh, my! so many precious metals, so many slaves and even the cattle!), but being Rebekah I would prefer to hear something about Isaac first. For the wealth cannot increase the charisma of any man. Success maybe, but the money itself definitely not. It is good that Eliezer mentioned God. He said how He led him, how he prayed to Him and how He sent Rebekah into his path. If this is not God’s doing, then what?
But it’s not as easy as we would like to believe. You may know that story about a man who had a strange feeling when looking at a woman during Sunday in the church. He was sure that God was telling him something profound through those feelings. If Isaac found Rebekah in such a peculiar way, why not him? So he sent a card to that saying: I think that God is telling me you should become my wife. And the wife replied: interesting, but I have to talk about it with my husband.
Rebekah herself does not respond to the request for her hand in marriage. It is because she is not being asked. Her father Bethuel and brother Laban say that if it came from the Lord, it must be a good decision. Go ahead take her for the son of your master. Eliezer is relieved and again gives out gifts. Now it is not only for Rebekah but also for her mother and brother. I do not know why the father was omitted; I hope it is not just that he was happy without it, as he got his daughter out of the house. That was a joke. I hope. Then, of course, there was a feast with a lot of eating and drinking. When Abraham’s servant wants to go home together with the future bride of Isaac they keep him occupied. Again, this is brother and mother of Rebekah without any mention of the father. Ultimately, however, they let Rebekah decide whether she wants to go. And she simply says: I will go. I do not think it was easy for her. But sometimes – if you have already made the decision – it’s easier to move on without stopping or looking behind.
Once you made the decision – just go. And do not expect your life to be the same. While blood flows in our veins, everything else will flow too. Life is change, constant flow of events and developments and when all of it stops, calms down, then life is no longer life as we know it.
Why did Rebekah go, why was she willing to become Isaac’s woman without ever seeing him? I think that the decision of her family was important for her – not only decision of her father but also her mother and brother, with whom apparently she had a close relationship. He was the one who welcomed and invited the stranger near the well. He was the one who decided on her future together with his father. He was the one who kept her at home with her mother, because I think he knew he would miss her when she is gone. Eventually, Laban will appear in her story again. This is what I found loveable about Rebekah. A brother, who she apparently trusted and also the trust that her family wants her well. Of course, I have nothing extra written in my Bible compared to you. But I think you can see that from the fact that she had no problem leaving once the decision was made.
my wife, I am glad to meet you
Rebekah receives a blessing and together with her nanny, her entourage of girls and all Eliezer men leave towards their future. She is nearing the man with whom she will spend the rest of her life. It is an early evening and Isaac is on the field. He sees a familiar caravan and Rebekah sees a stranger. When she learns that it’s her future husband she covers herself. I do not know if that was a custom, but perhaps it was not so obligatory, because she was already traveling with strangers and did not cover her face before. But she did so with her future husband. Kind of reminds me of the brides in the church – but not only those. A bit of mystery and distance is I think a very good inspiration. I will not go into any specifics. Ultimately, if you want to get inspired, you do not need that.
And Isaac? Perhaps it was the magic of the moment and maybe something else, but for him Rebekah was a wonderful gift. He married her, he grew fond of her and found solace in her when his mother died. The Bible does not pay too much attention to emotion, but this is an exception. I always see Isaac as a prince, growing up under the strong personality of his father (a man willing to sacrifice him and a man who spoke with God as with a friend …) and I still have the feeling that he did not have the possibility to gain strength. I will gladly leave the contemplation on the relationship of Isaac and Abraham to psychologists. In this case, I am more interested in the relationship with his mother. It was obviously a strong one because when she died a place was left empty … and filled with Rebekah. A grown boy has to think like a man, but somehow he is not able to do that. He does not consider his wife as equal but as compensation for his mom. It’s nice that he grew fond of her but such a relationship does not feel right. As was said by God when he created the woman? Helper suitable for him. Not as a daughter or an assistant, but also not as a mom. A wife is something quite different.
I will just nail it quickly
Rebekah’s story as a wife began even before she knew about it and her relationship with Isaac began before she ever got to know him. I do not think this is the solution for all the happy couples and choosing a wife for someone based on her willingness to work hard is also not the right way to lead us to the desired result. Anyone who claims such a thing during a partnership seminar or elsewhere needs a cold shower. Yes, the Lord has introduced Eliezer to Rebekah. Yes, Rebekah was willing to go and meet a stranger to spend her life with him. But no, Isaac – in spite of the nice description of his passion and fascination – did not participate in this divine plan. First it seems that Rebekah is mainly a consolation for his lost mom, and then – when hunger comes to the land and he has to move – he cowardly crosses her.
A similar situation to that of Abraham. Do you remember how he pretended that Sarah was his sister in front of the Pharaoh? He was worried that she was too nice to escape the eyes of those who search for new additions to the harem. He had God’s blessing but was not willing to rely upon it. In the end it was his wife and not him to take the blow. And it is same with Isaac. Another country, another ruler but the same concerns. And the same conduct. My sister, he says. Okay, actually it was his cousin, but first of all it was his wife. Sending her to bed with another man – this is just not right! For Rebekah it went a bit better. God stopped it before anything could happen. But it was only God’s credit, not Isaac’s. Sin of the father cast a shadow on his son. Not that I would in any way want to vindicate Isaac, because he was an adult and if he heard how his father acted, he could have done it otherwise. He was an adult and it was his decision. I do not have much sympathy for guys who act like little boys when it comes to responsibility and still love their mom. Not only for the good of their wives but also for their own – they should finally grow up and act like men. Putting wives into bed with strangers is not part of that.
I could not resist putting this end here. This is my answer to all those lectures which highlight Rebekah but still forget that for every marriage you need two people. If a man is a coward, the fact that his wife is hardworking, confident in God and willing take risks will not do much help. Some guys would need to be shaken and screamed upon. Wake up! We do not need to do that. The Holy Spirit also has His own ways.