If you’re new to Chasing History, welcome! I’m so glad you’re visiting, let’s be friends?
Here is how the link-up works. Easy peasy, I promise.
Just pick one of your favorite women in the Bible and then write about her. Do a little research, read the chapter(s) over again. Dig in deep or span out wide. Just learn.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. It doesn’t need to be long. If you’ve read here any length of time, you know I ramble and I love details. So it should be no surprise that if I’m able to find out anything about a Story, I’m going to write. it. all. out.
Write however much you feel comfortable. This isn’t a bible study – this is community coming together to talk about Him and the Stories He has written.
What could be more beautiful? Let’s chase history together.
I studied the life of Rebekah a few months ago and before we begin, I just want to let you know that I’m going to offer two different viewpoints. Because I truly believe this story could be told two very different ways – and it was the “unusual” viewpoint that I offered to my bible study…and it’s been stuck on my mind ever since.
- We find Rebekah’s Story mainly in Genesis chapters 25 and 27
- Sarai/Sarah (who I wrote about last week) is the mother of Isaac
- Rebekah is Isaac’s wife
- Although Sarah and Rebekah never met each other, they are a lot alike…which we’ll see today in Rebekah’s Story
- Rebekah has two twin sons: Jacob and Esau
I’m not going to go over how Isaac ended up marrying Rebekah, but it’s a really neat story. You’ll find it in Genesis 24. Rebekah serves happily and, I could be wrong, but it’s the first mention (that I know of) of wearing a veil (verse 65) – which might be where the idea comes from for brides to wear a veil.
Our story picks up in chapter 25 when Isaac prays over his wife, Rebekah, because she is barren – just like Sarai (Sarah) was. It says the Lord answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant with not one, but two children! She could feel the children fighting within her and she asked the Lord why.
I bet many people told her, “Oh that’s normal! You just haven’t experienced pregnancy!” But with all her concerns, she placed them at the feet of the Lord. He answered saying the children would be two nations, one stronger than the other, and the older would serve the younger.
Then a weird thing happened. When Rebekah gave birth, Esau (who was very hairy) came out first but Jacob was grasping his heel.
As the boys grew up, Esau spent time outside and became a skillful hunter, a “man of the open country,” while Jacob “was a quiet man, staying among the tents.” The Bible says Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob.
One day, Esau came in from hunting, probably sweaty, stinky, thirsty, tired – and most of all, extremely hungry. Jacob was cooking stew and here’s what went down.
Esau said, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”
Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. What good is the birthright to me?”
So Esau swore an oath to Jacob, and Jacob gave Esau some bread and stew. Just one short verse later, it says, “He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.”
Now, there’s a couple things we should go over before moving on in Rebekah’s Story. What’s this thing called a birthright that Esau is giving up?
Well, the birthright was a blessing that always went to the firstborn son.
Which leads us to: what’s a blessing? I mean, we bless the food and if someone sneezes we say, “God bless you.” …..but this was very different.
Back then, a blessing carried weight. It was, from what I can tell, a declaring or wishing God’s blessing upon others. When a father blessed his firstborn with his birthright, what he blessed him with would come to pass.
Oy. And Esau just gave that up.
For a bowl of stew.
Before I dive into that a little bit, let’s finish up the story. Years later, Isaac is old and “his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see.” He called Esau and told him to go and hunt wild game for him, prepare his favorite food, and bring it to him. Then he would bless him before he died.
Rebekah was listening into this conversation (can’t you see her hiding behind a doorway (well, a tent flap) looking out for Jacob?). When Esau left, she told Jacob what she overheard and then told him to go get two choice young goats from the flocks so she could make Isaac’s favorite meal.
She intended to trick her husband.
Jacob asked what would happen if Isaac touched his arm – after all, Jacob wasn’t hairy like Esau. So they went a little deeper into the lie and Rebekah covered his hands and neck with goatskins. She said, “My the curse fall on me.”
Can’t you just see this playing out as a reality TV show? Guys. The drama. The suspense.
Jacob approaches Isaac and claims that he is actually Esau. Isaac points out that he sounds like Jacob, but his arms feel like Esau. Again, he asks if he is truly Esau. Again, Jacob lies. So, Isaac blesses him.
The birthright has been given out. Soon after, Esau comes in from hunting, prepares the meal, and comes in for his blessing – only to find out Jacob has tricked them both and “stolen” the birthright.
He plans to kill Jacob, but Rebekah learns of his plan and warns her favorite son. She tells him to escape to her brother Laban’s house to wait until Esau’s anger has subsided. She promises to send for him when it’s safe to return.
He does return many years later, but not because Rebekah sent for him. Rebekah dies without ever seeing her favorite son again.
There’s so much in this story that I’m not quite sure where to begin. Let’s look at the two boys first and then circle back around to Rebekah, since this is her Story after all. :)
Most people read this story and immediately draw these conclusions:
1. Esau is stupid to give up his birthright, but has a right to be so angry.
2. Jacob is a mama’s boy, a homebody, cunning and deceitful.
3. Rebekah is also cunning and played favorites – big time.
And that may all be true. But I’d like to offer you another view on this story. It may not be correct – I don’t know, but humor me for a few minutes and let’s see if we can talk it all out together.
Esau gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew, a cup of soup. Now that’s just plain stupid, I don’t care who you are. No matter how hungry you are, one bowl of soup compared to the biggest blessing for the rest of your life? That’s stew better have been the best thing he ever tasted, because it was a mistake.
But see that last little line up there, “So Esau despised his birthright”? That got me thinking.
He never wanted it in the first place. It wasn’t about being hungry. It wasn’t about the stew. It was about the responsibility that came hand-in-hand with the birthright.
Esau, this hunter, outdoorsy guy didn’t want to be in charge of Isaac’s servants, animals, crops, and great wealth. He wanted to enjoy it, absolutely. But he didn’t want anything to do with the responsibility of it. He gladly gave that up.
Jacob, on the other hand, spent his time at home. It’s easy to think he was weak, a mama’s boy, a homebody. You might even think he’s sweeping floors and cooking every meal.
And maybe he was. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.
Because I think it’s safe to assume he was also doing these other things: building relationships with the servants, taking care of the flocks, learning the ins-and-outs of how the household ran, figuring out the family recipes and strengthening ties with the neighbors.
It might be that Jacob wasn’t weak – It’s possible that Jacob was just responsible. No wonder he asked for the birthright! Can you imagine what would happen to the family is Esau took over? He would probably take over and then take off – out to go hunting, leaving everything in Jacob’s hands anyways.
Esau wanted the good stuff (the blessing) but not the responsibility (the birthright).
Maybe it’s just me, but don’t we do that, too? We want to get to the destination but ignore the journey. We care more about the end-goal than the lessons learned along the way. We’d rather do without the lessons – we just want to get there, get it over with, and have fun.
We can learn a lot by looking at how these boys treated family and responsibility.
We can learn a lot from Rebekah, too. It’s true that she might have played favorites between her boys – but if you have kids, let me ask you: do you have a favorite? Do you love one more than the other? No, I bet you don’t. You probably connect more with one than the other, maybe have more in common or spend more quality time with one, but love? No. You love them both exactly the same.
Remember back before they were born when God told Rebekah the older would serve the younger? I think she carried this in her heart and kept watching for God to “make his move.” She trained up Jacob, raised him the best she could, and he became responsible. But when it came time for the blessing, God was no where in sight – so she took it into her own hands.
Sound familiar? Just like Sarah, she didn’t seem to believe God knew what He was doing, so she risked the curse falling on her and did what she thought was best for her family.
Now, when God spoke of what would happen, I don’t know if it was because He knew what Rebekah would do, or if He would have made it happen some other way. But God is God and if He says it will happen, it will happen.
It wasn’t because Rebekah took control – Jacob received the blessing because God was keeping His promise.
But she paid dearly for taking control – she died without ever seeing her son again. Can you imagine? Yes, God blessed her family. Yes, He kept His promise. But I bet you Esau was angry with her. I bet Isaac questioned why she would trick him. I bet she longed each and every day that Jacob would come home, but was terrified that he would die if he returned. I bet all of this left her lonely.
Still, y’all, there is much to be learned.
First, there is amazing power in words. The blessings spoken came to be. I want to remember this daily. I want to speak with a purpose and use my words wisely. At all times, I want my words to bring others up and encourage them, not tear them down. I will fail – and I do, daily – but each day I want to wake up again with a blessing on my lips.
Second, don’t give up when you’re frustrated with a project or situation or something that just doesn’t seem to be changing in your life. There’s one specific thing I’ve prayed for for years – and I don’t see any change happening. This is a reminder to not give in and give up my hope for a bowl of stew, something less than God’s best, and to not take over the reigns and drive the cart myself.
Third, God can take our bloopers and still get His Plan done. Rebekah took control, but God’s Plan would have happened with or without her blooper. Unlike the movies, the Bible includes the bloopers – and thank the Lord for that! It sure makes me feel better for all my bloopers!
Last, this one truth permeates Rebekah’s Story:
God is Sovereign.
He possesses all power, all knowledge, and has the ultimate Plan.
Might I include, the ultimate Redemption Plan?
We’re all going to make mistakes. We’re all going to butt in where we shouldn’t, mess up things that are going just fine, and hurt those around us. We’re all going to reach out and take control a time or two (or many), but no matter what mistakes we make,
He. Doesn’t. Change.
God used Rebekah to help mold Jacob into the man who would become the father of the twelve nations. Eventually, Jesus would come from the line of Jacob.
Rebekah couldn’t see it then, but God was way more in control of her future than she ever was.
The same is true for you and me.