Rebekah: Mother of Jacob and Esau

Rebekah is an example of what happens when we rely on our own strength instead of trusting the Lord.

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Isaac Blessing Jacob, 1637 by Jusepe de Ribera.

Rebekah was Isaac's wife and Jacob and Esau's mother. In Genesis, Isaac's father, Abraham had been looking for a wife for his son Isaac. He sent his servant to the city of Nahor to find her. The servant came to a well and prayed that the next young woman who came to the well and gave him water would be Isaac's wife. As he was praying, Rebekah came, gave the servant and his camels a drink and as a result because his wife.

Unfortunately after many years of marriage, Rebekah and Isaac did not have any children. Isaac prayed for God's blessing and Rebekah became pregnant with the first twins mentioned in the Bible, Jacob and Esau. Even before they were born, Rebekah could feel the twins fighting with one another in her womb. She asked God why and the Lord told her that two nations were inside her and they were at odds with one another.

Esau was born first and he became Isaac’s favorite son. Rebekah favored Jacob.

Because Esau was firstborn, he was entitled to receive the birthright but Jacob tricked Esau into selling him his birthright for a bowl of stew. Later, as Isaac was dying and could not see, Rebekah helped Jacob deceive Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau using goatskins to imitate Esau's hairy arms. (This scene is depicted in the painting above Isaac Blessing Jacob, by Jusepe de Ribera.)

Many years later, Esau was able to forgive Jacob. When Rebekah died, she was buried in the family tomb, a cave near Mamre in Canaan, the resting place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and her daughter-in-law Leah.

Here is Rebekah's life story from the Bible:

• Her family lived in Haran and was part of Abraham’s extended family there.
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. (Genesis 24:15, NIV)

• She was chosen by God to be Isaac’s wife
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." (Genesis 24:14, NIV).

• She became pregnant with twins after years of infertility
Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. (Genesis 25:21, NIV)

• She was the mother of twin sons, Esau and Jacob, who were the progenitors of two nations
The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23, NIV)

• She deceived her blind husband into giving Jacob the covenant blessing due the firstborn, stealing it from Esau
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” (Genesis 27:11-12, NIV)

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