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Who Was Rebecca in the Bible?

Rebecca was the daughter of Bethuel, the great-niece of Abraham, and the sister of Laban. Rebecca became the wife of Isaac, who was the promised son of Abraham and Sarah. Rebecca bore two sons, Esau and Jacob. The nation of Israel came from Jacob, and the line of Esau became the Edomites.
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 30, 2019
Who Was Rebecca in the Bible?

Rebecca was the daughter of Bethuel, the great-niece of Abraham, and the sister of Laban. Rebecca became the wife of Isaac, who was the promised son of Abraham and Sarah.

Rebecca bore two sons, Esau and Jacob. The nation of Israel came from Jacob, and the line of Esau became the Edomites.

Meaning of Rebecca’s Name

The Hebrew meaning for the name Rebecc” is “to tie firmly” or “a noose.” “Applied to a female, the figure suggests her beauty by means of which men are snared or bound. Thus another meaning of Rebekah is that of “captivating,” according to BibleGateway.

As her name reflected, Rebecca was a woman of captivating beauty. In Genesis 24:16, it was noted “the young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known.”

Isaac did not even want to refer to her as his wife because of the possibility that other, jealous men might kill him to get to Rebecca (Genesis 26:7).

Rebecca’s Marriage to Isaac

After the death of Sarah, Abraham sent out his servant to his hometown of Aram Nahariam to select a bride for their son Isaac. The servant was provided clothing, jewelry, and gifts to be given to the bride and her family. Before leaving on the journey, the servant was worried if the woman would return with him. Abraham relieved his worries by telling the servant that he would be “released from this oath” (Genesis 24:8) if the woman was unwilling to come back with him.

During the journey he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham,” (Genesis 24:12). The servant asked God for a sign in verse 14: “May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

Before the servant finished his prayer, a young woman appeared with a jar on her shoulder and went down to the spring to draw water. The conversation between the servant and who he soon learned to be Rebecca followed the script exactly as mentioned in Genesis 24:43-44. After some hesitancy, Rebecca’s father and brother agreed for her to leave with the servant.

Upon nearing Abraham’s home, Rebecca saw Isaac praying his afternoon prayer. She was taken by such spirituality and jumped off her camel and inquired as to his identity. After she realized he was her husband to be, she put on a veil. Isaac then married Rebecca in his mother’s tent.

Rebecca’s Children: Esau and Jacob

When Rebecca became pregnant with twins, she was confused because “the babies jostled each other within her, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD” (Genesis 25:22).

The Lord responded, “Two nations are in your womb, and two people from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the young.” (Genesis 25:23).

A highlight of Rebecca’s life is her actions in the deception of her husband, Isaac. Esau was the firstborn of Isaac and Rebecca and, therefore, was entitled to the blessing. But Rebecca orchestrated a plan for her younger son, Jacob, to receive the blessing instead.

Isaac was of an elderly age, between the age of 132 and 137, and wanted to bestow the blessing prior to his death. His mother died 137 and the Sages taught that the child dies near the same age of the parent who died first. Knowing that his death was nearing, Isaac request Esau: “Take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die” (Genesis 27:3-4).

Rebecca was listening to Isaac’s request and told Jacob to “go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves” (Genesis 27:9). Then Isaac would believe Jacob to be Esau and give the younger son the firstborn’s blessing.

But Jacob was concerned this plan to deceive his father might fail, even with Isaac’s deteriorating vision, because Esau was a hairy man and he was clean-shaven. Rebecca’s solution was to dress Jacob in Esau’s clothing. She also put the hairy skins of the young goats on Jacob’s hands and neck to resemble the feeling of a “hairy man” such as Esau.

Jacob approached his father, and Isaac request that Jacob to “come near” so he could positively identify Esau. Isaac remarked, “the voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22). The charade was successful as Isaac requested the food and proceeded to bless Jacob. It continued when Isaac requested the son to “come near and kiss me, my son.” Genesis 27:26. This aspect of the deception passed the inspection as well because “Isaac smelled the smell of his garments” and determined they “smell of my son is as the smell of a filed that the Lord has blessed!” (Genesis 27:27).

The farce was finally unveiled when Esau returned. Unaware the blessing was given to his brother, Esau “also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father” and told him, “let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me” (Genesis 27:31). Isaac realized he was deceived and informed Esau, “your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing” (Genesis 27:35).

This caused Esau to hate his brother and threaten to kill him. Rebecca told Jacob of Esau’s plan and advised him to flee to her brother Laban until Esau’s “fury turns away” and “forgets what you have done to him” (Genesis 27:43).

At what age did Rebecca die? Where was she buried?

The circumstances surrounding Rebecca’s death are not mentioned in the Bible. But her burial place is mentioned in Genesis 49:29-31. It was the cave where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, were also already buried.

By utilizing the Torah, one can ascertain that Rebecca was either 120 or 134 years of the age at the time of her death.

Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born and lived another 51 years. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Isaac was 60 when both Jacob and Esau were born. The Talmud notes that Jacob did not arrive at Laban’s until he was 77 because he spent 14 years studying at a Jewish educational institution. Jacob spent 20 years with Laban which would indicate him to be 97 years old. Rebecca died soon thereafter and, therefore, would have been 120 or 134 depending upon the exact age at her marriage.

Chad is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at his golf devotion par3sixteen.com. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.

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