I'm so glad you asked! I would love for you to read more of the Word of God in search of an answer. It will only take you a few minutes to click here and read Genesis 25 and 26, which are the two chapters in between yesterday's reading.
OK, now that you've read more of Rebekah's story you've learned some critical pieces of information about her and her family. You likely also noticed some parallels between her and her (deceased) mother-in-law, Sarah.
Rebekah is Abraham's great niece (she is the grand-daughter of Abraham's brother). When she is somewhere around 15-20 years old, she marries Sarah and Abraham's son Issac, who is now 40. At this point in time it was not considered wrong to marry within your family tree. Incest within the "nuclear family" was not practiced but cousins were deemed distant enough to marry.
In fact, parents would often rather their children marry within the family than marry into another family or, what they deemed worse, another culture. So possesions, land, and people were usually kept within the larger family clan. Plus, their identity was that they had been set apart by God.
Behind the scenes God was establishing Jesus' bloodline - though we'll discover God used women outside of the Hebrew clan in this endeavor.
Issac and Rebekah's marriage starts quickly and quite well - he adored her and she was the only wife Issac ever took. I believe Issac was the only patriarch that only had one wife/lover - he was monogamous! Soon they tried to have children. That didn't work. Like Sarah, she was barren.
Issac learned a few things from his parent's mistakes (though he too moved when a famine hit and claimed his wife was his sister for protection) and he decided to go straight to God and ask for his wife's womb to be opened. Given that he was the son of (old, barren) Sarah, he could no doubt pray this prayer with great faith. God granted his request and after 20 years of marriage, Rebekah finally became pregnant when he was 60.
Her pregnancy, however, was rough and troubling and she felt something was out of the ordinary. So, like her husband had, she went straight to God for answers. She learned she had TWO babies inside and God said this about them:
And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”
So, God birthed a nation through Abraham and Hagar. And then again, as promised, through Abraham and Sarah. And those two sons were rivals. And now God is doing it again, only the two rival sons/nations will come from the very same womb this time - Rebekah's. (If you are tracking with me here, that means multiple nations will be against the nation of Israel.)
Imagine for a moment that you are pregnant with twins. And the Lord tells you what he told Rebekah in the verse above. Would it influence they way you viewed your two boys? Or the way that you raised them? Would you be extra proud or extra protective of the one God said would rule?
Would you think maybe God told you this so that you could make sure it came to pass?
Rebekah did not favor Esau. Did you read that description of him as a baby? It sounds like his was a face not even his mother could love. What's with all the redness and hair everywhere?
Esau grew to be a man of the wild. He loved to hunt and catch the food his father loved to eat. I imagine he was always a bit too dirty and smelly for Rebekah's taste - always dragging in some beast he had killed. Always staining his clothes with guts and blood. Esau also took wives from outside the family/culture and Rebekah did not condone that.
Jacob, however, was more mild-mannered. Not a hunter but a shepherd. He was smooth-skinned and relational. He was the baby of the family - and you know how mothers can mother the babies of the family! Jacob stayed close to the house and close to his mother's side, and she concentrated her attention and affection on him. After all, he would be the leader. God had said so.
An important thing happens in chapter 25:27-34. According to today's text, Rebekah is not present for it (except perhaps in the back of Jacob's mind). Esau arrives home from being in the wilderness and he is extremely hungry (unable to catch any food this time?) and he wants something to eat so badly that he AGREES to Jacob's proposition to trade his birthright as first born for some food to eat.
First born rights enable you to receive the father's inheritance and blessing when he dies. The ancients believed that once the deathbed blessing is spoken, there is no reversing it or diverting it from its course. It was considered powerful and irrevocable. In this case, that blessing would carry God's promise to Abraham of forming a great nation through your lineage.
Here we have two boys, twins, born at the same time ... but Jacob was trailing Esau out of the womb while holding onto his brother's heel. That means Esau was technically deemed the first born. And yet he agreed to give that title - and all it entails - to Jacob that day in the kitchen.
We're not told if the parents learn about this or not, but I gotta believe Jacob was quick to let his mother know what happened. Did she assume this was God's orchestration? God's favor on the one He said would rule? ... Was it??
As the day of Issac's death draws near, Rebekah learns that Issac still plans to pass the blessing to Esau, his personal favorite, the first child out of the womb. This isn't right, Rebekah thinks, Esau gave that right up to Jacob. Jacob deserves the blessing. Besides, God said that the younger son would end up ruling the older one. Issac is about to mess everything up. I've got to do something.
Now do you understand what motivated that sweet young girl from chapter 24 to carry out the events of chapter 27? Do you see how she, like Sarah, took matters into her own hands to ensure that God's words came true?
One thing is for sure, it wound up costing Rebekah everything - her relationship with her husband, her eldest son turned on her beloved youngest son, and her youngest son had to be sent off in hiding where she would no longer see him.
Don't you wonder how things would've played out differently if she had never heard what God said while she was pregnant? Or if she hadn't sent Jacob in to clandestinely get the blessing? I'm sure you still have some questions after reading Rebekah's story and my post - I know I do!
God heard and answered Issac's prayers for Rebekah, and God knew from the start what the deal would be with Rebekah's children. So none of this was beyond God's vision and none of it stopped His promise to Abraham or His plan to bring Jesus into the world. And nothing that happens to you or me is beyond God's vision either.
Let me hear what you are thinking and what you learned.
*Tomorrow we are "off" and then I'll post the next reading on Sunday.
GREAT JOB THE FIRST WEEK!