Who Was Rebekah in the Bible

Who was Rebekah in the Bible?

There are many beautiful, powerful, and influential women in the Bible and Rebekah holds her place firmly as one of them.

We are introduced to her as a vibrant, kind, and courageous young woman in the Book of Genesis and taken through her journey to fulfilling God’s plan. 

Rebekah was a woman chosen by God for his purpose even though she didn’t know it at the time. She was the daughter of Bethuel, the great-niece of Abraham, and the sister of Laban. Her grandfather was Abraham’s brother Nahor.

She became the wife of Abraham and Sarah’s only son Isaac and the mother of Jacob and Esau.

As the second matriarch in the Bible, she had big shoes to fill. But with grace, wisdom, prayer, and faith she rose to the occasion and played her role well. 

This is a deep dive into Rebekah’s story and how God uses her for his mighty purpose.

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The Story of Rebekah in the Bible Summary

Rebeka’s story is found in Genesis 24-27. She became the wife of Isaac, Abraham, and Sarah’s only son making her the second matriarch of Israel. She never met Sarah as she got married after Sarah had died. 

She was a beautiful young woman who got married through an arranged marriage. Her husband loved her deeply.

The couple struggled with barrenness for twenty years of marriage. Isaac prayed to the Lord and Rebekah became pregnant with twins. 

While pregnant the twins fought in her stomach and when she prayed the Lord told her that she was carrying two nations and the younger would serve the older.

She gave birth to twins namely Jacob and Esau. She loved Jacob while her husband loved Esau. 

When Isaac reached old age, became sick, and wanted to bless Esau the firstborn, Rebekah deceived her husband and manipulated the situation so that the blessing went to Jacob.

This was according to the Lord’s will as Jacob was destined to become the ancestor of all Israel. 

Esau obviously became angry that his blessing was stolen and sought to kill Jacob once their father had died. Again, Rebekah intervened and told Jacob to run away and go to her family. She would never see him again.  

The circumstances surrounding Rebecca’s death are not mentioned in the Bible.

But her burial place is mentioned in Genesis 49:29-31 as the Cave of Machpelah where Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, were also buried.

Who Was Rebekah in the Bible

Rebekah was a powerful woman in the Bible who played a huge part in the history of God’s people. She was the wife of Isaac, a woman of faith, prayerful, wise, and resourceful.

While she had her strengths and weaknesses, there are a few critical lessons we can learn from her life. 

Meaning of Rebekah’s Name

The name Rebekah is of Hebrew origin.  It means “to tie securely or firmly”, “to bind”, or “a rope with a noose”. Applied to females another meaning is that of captivating beauty which Rebekah had, 

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).

Rebekah’s Marriage to Isaac

When Abraham had reached old age and his wife Sarah had died, he decided it was time to look for a wife for his son Isaac.

He spoke to his senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, and made him promise that he would go to his country and relatives and find a wife for Isaac. 

At this time Abraham was living with the Canaanites who were foreigners which is why he preferred to have a wife for Isaac among his own people. 

In the case that the woman found and chosen would refuse to come back with the servant, Abraham told the servant that he couldn’t take Isaac to her and so the servant would be released from that oath.

God had instructed Abraham to leave his family and live in a faraway land and so he was sticking to that covenant. 

Abraham’s servant set out with gifts, jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, clothing, and precious things for the future bride’s family. He headed to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor (the home of Abraham’s brother). 

When he arrived, he knelt outside the city by the well of water around the time when women went out to draw water and there he prayed. 

“Then he said, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” Genesis 24:12 NKJV

He continued to ask God to lead him to a woman who would give him and his camels water to drink. That would be a sign that she would be the right wife for Isaac. 

Before Abraham’s servant even finished praying, a young woman came out with her water jar to draw water from the well. It was Rebekah. She was a very beautiful virgin girl. 

The servant asked her for water which she gladly gave him. She also proactively gave all his camels water. When they finished drinking, the servant gave Rebekah a gold nose ring and two bracelets for her wrists. 

The servant knew that his prayers had been answered and asked to be taken to the house of Rebekah’s father. Turns out she was the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to her husband Nahor who was Abraham’s brother. 

The servant went with Rebekah and met with Laban who was Rebekah’s brother. He explained where he came from and proposed marriage between Rebekah and Isaac to which Laban agreed to. 

The next morning, Abraham’s servant asked if he could leave with Rebekah. Even though her mother and brother Laban were initially hesitant to send her away immediately and asked for more days with her, Rebekah said she was willing to go with the servant so they blessed them and she left her home and her people. 

When she saw Isaac from afar, she enquired who he was in Genesis 24:62-65, and was told that was her husband. Isaac had been praying and also looked at the camels when he saw them approaching. 

Rebekah then covered herself with a veil as was customary at that time. Abraham’s servant

then gave Isaac an update on his trip Isaac took Rebekah married her in his mother’s tent and loved her. 

She took her place as Isaac’s wife and the second matriarch and comforted Isaac after his mother’s death. 

Now Rebekah struggled with barrenness. Her husband prayed to the Lord and he answered. She became pregnant with twins and they jostled in her womb. 

She prayed and the Lord told her that there were two nations in her womb and the older would serve the younger. When she gave birth, Esau came out first then Jacob came out with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. 

When the twin boys grew up, Esau became a skilled hunter who loved the outdoors while Jacob was a quiet and peaceful man who preferred the indoors. Isaac loved and favored Esau as he enjoyed eating his game meat while Rebekah loved and favored Jacob. 

Women played such an important role in biblical history. Read more about them in our Women of the Bible series!

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What Kind of Woman Was Rebekah

When we meet Rebekah, we learn that she is a kind and hospitable young woman who gave Abraham’s servant, a stranger water for himself and his camels. 

She agreed to be married to Isaac and left her people to go to her husband whom she had never met which showed faith and courage. 

Once married, she struggles to conceive a child for a long time. We don’t read about her complaining or making her own plans to give her husband a child. This showed her as a woman who was patient and had faith in God. 

Her husband prayed to the Lord and she conceived twins. During her difficult pregnancy, we learn that the twins fought within her.

She was a woman of prayer and so she asked the Lord why the twin fought and he told her that she was carrying two nations and the older would serve the younger (Genesis 25:22-24). 

Rebekah kept this to herself and didn’t tell her husband.

She trusted in the Lord even though she didn’t know that she would play a role in bringing this prophecy to life. When she gave birth, she favored her younger son Jacob while Isaac favored Esau. 

Rebekah is best known for her actions in deceiving her husband Isaac and firstborn son Esau in Genesis 27.

When Isaac reached old age, was nearly blind, and on his deathbed, he decided it was time to bless Esau. He asked Isaac to get him meat since he was a hunter so that he could eat and bless him. 

When Rebekah heard this, she told her son Jacob to get a young goat so they could make it, and give Isaac so that he blessed Jacob instead of Esau. Though hesitant, Jacob listened to his mother. 

Rebekah made the tasty food and told Jacob to wear Esau’s clothes. She even covered Jacob’s smooth hands and neck with the goatskins so he would appear hairy like Esau.

When Jacob went to give Isaac the food, he asked why he felt like Esau but spoke like Jacob to which Jacob convinced him that he was Esau.  

Nonetheless, Isaac gave the blessing to Jacob. When Esau came back from hunting and prepared meat and gave his father, they both realized they had been tricked.

Isaac could only give a blessing to one son so there was none left for Esau. So Esau became angry and held a grudge against Jacob for a long time. 

Rebekah told Jacob to run away to her brother Laban in Harran until Esau cooled down. She told Isaac that the reason she wanted Jacob to go to her people was for him to find a wife there and not marry a foreign wife like Esau had done. 

This was partly true but another deception that saved Jacob from Esau’s wrath which would take years to subside. After this, Rebekah is scarcely mentioned again in the Bible.

Why is Rebekah Important in the Bible

Rebekah is an important, powerful, and influential matriarch in the Bible. While she deceived her husband and son Esau out of his blessing, we need to consider a few important factors. 

The first thing is to remember that God had told Rekekah a prophecy when she was pregnant that the older would serve the younger.

Intentionally or not, she was used to fulfilling God’s prophecy by orchestrating the plan for Isaac to give the blessing to her younger son Jacob. 

Secondly, as a mother, she could probably see that Esau could not be the rightful leader of Israel.

Esau had also given away any legal claim of his birthright to his brother Jacob of his own free will to get some bread and stew from Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34). 

His birthright was his priestly position, authority, and inheritance. This showed that he didn’t respect the position and privilege he had as the firstborn. To him, instant gratification (in this case food) was more important than his permanent and long-lasting birthright. 

AtEsau married Hittite women who made life miserable for Rebekah and Isaac (Gen 26: 34-35). They were from idolatrous pagan nations and Abraham his grandfather had avoided for his lineage to be corrupted with these foreign women.

God intended to have Jacob continue the lineage of Israel and Rebekah serves God’s will. God chose to use Rebekah to fulfill his plans. 

This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins.[a] 11 But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; 12 he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.”[b] 13 In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”  Romans 9:10-13 NLT

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Lessons from Rebekah in the Bible

Rebekah’s story is a powerful one that has important lessons we can use in our day-to-day lives as Christian women.

She may not have been perfect but God used her despite her imperfections. 

1. Rebekah Teaches us to be Hard-Working

When the servant met Rebekah, she had gone to draw water for her family.

She was a young woman who helped out around her home, serving her family, doing chores, and ensuring people and their needs were taken care of. 

As Christian women, we learn the importance of taking care of our families from her. 

2. We Learn to be Kind and Hospitable

Rebekah’s kindness is shown in that first meeting with Abraham’s servant. He was a stranger but she quickly gave him a drink when he asked. Moreover, she proactively gave all his camels water to drink as well. 

She teaches us kindness and hospitality something the Bible encourages us to do. We never know who we are helping. In Rebekah’s case, this simple act turned out to be the door to an amazing marriage that changed her life. 

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 NIV

3. We Learn to Have Faith

Rebekah agreed to marry a man she had never seen in her life. She only heard from the servant about the faith of her future father-in-law Abraham and future husband and based on that agreed to go with the servant.

Christianity is all about faith in God and his plans. We don’t know what the future brings but we trust in God’s character and goodness. We read God’s word and based on other people’s experiences and our own we face the future with confidence. 

4. Rebekah Teaches us the Power of Prayer

During Rebeka’s difficult pregnancy with twins who were fighting in her womb, she prayed to the Lord and he answered her. She was the first woman God spoke to and answered directly in the Book of Genesis. 

She teaches us to first go to the Lord when we feel frustrated, confused, and in need of guidance and direction in our situations. 

5. We Learn to Wait on the Lord

Unlike the other matriarchs like her predecessor Sarah the wife of Abraham or her future daughter-in-law Rachel the wife of Jacob, who ended up giving their servants to their husbands when they couldn’t get pregnant, Rebekah waited for twenty years of marriage to conceive.  

She teaches us to endure hard times and wait patiently for God to answer instead of taking matters into our own hands. It may take a long time but God’s promise and plan will be fulfilled in your life because he is faithful. 

6. She Teaches us to be Wise and Trust God

Rebekah has intuition and wisdom. For us today, this comes through the Holy Spirit.

She kept quiet when God told her that the younger son would serve the older. This could have caused problems in her marriage and even among her children. 

She chose to trust in God’s timing for the fulfillment of this prophecy. She was courageous and wise.

After Esau sought to kill Jacob for stealing his blessing she advised Jacob to go to her brother Laban until Esau cooled down. 

7. All Things Work Out for Good

The story of Rebekah teaches us that God uses our shortcomings and mistakes for the fulfillment of his plans and will for our lives. 

Even though she showed favoritism which is not a good thing, deceived and betrayed Isaac and Esau by giving the blessing to the younger son Jacob, it was all part of God’s will. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV

The Story of Rebekah in the Bible is a remarkable and encouraging one. Her place in history is undisputed. She was a woman of faith, courage, prayer, wisdom, and patience. 

We can learn a lot from her character and she is an example to us as modern Christian women.

The Lord used her to fulfill his plans for the nation of Israel. God can use us too when we trust in him and his timing, abide in him, and remain faithful. 

Take a deeper dive into valuable lessons from other women of the Bible:

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