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Dearest Rebekah

  • Ina Manly Painter,
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(Genesis 24-29)

(A letter to Rebekah from her mother, wife of Bethuel, name unknown. Scripture does not record a letter having ever been written to Rebekah from her mother.)

Dearest Rebekah,

Your father and I want to tell you how happy we are that our beautiful daughter is the direct recipient of God's blessings. Rebekah, do you realize the significance of your marriage to Isaac and the blessings that are in store for you, and for the thousands upon thousands of your descendants who will live after you?

What a wonderful day when Abraham made his servant Eliezer swear that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of those idolatrous Canaanites who lived near him (Gen. 24:3). As you know, they have been cursed by God for many years (Gen. 9:25). The beautiful words still ring in my ears: You shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac (Gen. 24:4). Rebekah, God sent His angel before Eliezer to bring you into the family of Abraham! Abraham, who was the father of the faithful, left his home and friends in Ur of the Chaldeees years ago for a land that God would afterward show him (Gen. 12:1). God spoke to him directly! Think of that! He obeyed God's words without knowing where he was going. Abraham was looking for a kingdom, a city of God, a society unlike the idolatrous culture of the Tower of Babel. Abraham is the only person God has referred to as My friend (Isa. 41:8; Jas. 2:23).

We knew that evening that you had taken the pitcher and gone to get water, but we did not know the great things God had ordained for you there at the well. I enjoy reminiscing about Eliezer's telling us he had asked God to show him which particular woman God had chosen, among all the daughters, coming out to draw water. His trust in God was a vibrant testimony to us, was it not? We understand that he ran to meet you when he first saw you, requesting, Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher (Gen. 24:17 NKJ).

We were proud of your humble hospitality in giving a drink of water to a stranger and also for diligently watering all those camels, even without being asked. Rebekah, it takes a lot of water to quench the thirst of ten camels. How many pitchers of water did you carry to them until they were finished drinking? We remember Eliezer's quiet response, And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not (Gen. 24:21 NKJ). I imagine you have enjoyed the golden nose ring and the two wrist bracelets that Eliezer gave you. Are you reminded of that special day each time you wear them?

We know that your response to Eliezer's asking, Whose daughter are you? made him thankful that God had truly answered his prayer. We are proud of you for being a part of God's mercy and truth toward Abraham's servant, on behalf of Abraham. When you told Eliezer you were the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah which she bare to Nahor, do you remember his response? He said, I bowed down my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master's brother for his son (Gen. 24:48 NKJ). We noticed that he did not claim any credit for himself. God surely sent His angel and prospered his journey here (Gen. 24:40).

We are glad you did not turn Eliezer away, but offered the straw and feed and a place for him and the camels to stay. You were so excited when you ran back and told us all that had happened. Your brother Laban also welcomed Eliezer and the men that were with him. The camels were given straw and feed. Water was supplied for the men to wash their feet. When Eliezer came in, he introduced himself as Abraham's servant.

We were glad to hear how God has blessed Abraham. Eliezer said He had given him flocks, herds, silver, gold, male and female servants, as well as camels and donkeys. We knew that God told Abraham before he left Ur that He would make him a great nation. God told him He would bless him and make his name great and that he would be a blessing. Those who blessed Abraham would be blessed and those who cursed him would be cursed (Gen. 12:1-3). God also told him He would give him many descendants, more than the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:16) and the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5). When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God established a covenant between Himself and Abraham and Abraham's descendants: And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also, I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God (Gen. 17:8 NKJ). Rebekah, you are part of God's great plan, His everlasting covenant to generations upon generations.

After Eliezer came here, and before he would taste of the meat that we set before him, he had to tell us why he had come to Padan Aram. He came to find a wife for his son Isaac, as you well know. He told us that Abraham said, You will be clear from this oath [the one Abraham made Eliezer swear at the beginning], when you arrive among my family; for if they will not give her to you, then you will be released from my oath (Gen. 24:41NKJ).

Eliezer told all of us about coming to the well and praying that God would allow the virgin whom He has chosen for Isaac, to come to the well at that same time. Your response to his request for water, by offering him and his camels a drink, was the sign that you were the one God had chosen. After he told us this he came right to the point, Now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me. And if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left (Gen. 24:49 NKJ).

You remember how your father and brother responded immediately. They knew right away that this was from the hand of the Lord. Without discussion they said, "Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master's son's wife, as the Lord has spoken (Gen. 24:51 NKJ). Eliezer was so glad to hear this that he worshiped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth.

In my mind, I can still see the gold and silver jewelry and the clothing. What a spread of jewelry and gifts the servants brought for you! You were not the only one receiving gifts. Laban and I were given precious things as well.

Eliezer was finally able to eat and drink. Afterward, he and his servants spent the night with us. The next morning they asked that we would send them on their way back to their master. Both Laban and I did not want you to go so soon. We asked that they stay at least ten days. We said we would be agreeable to your going with them after that. They called to you and asked, Will you go with this man? And you said, I will go (Gen. 24:58). So Rebekah, my child, we sent you away with your nurse Deborah (Gen. 35:8), Abraham's servant and his men, riding upon the camels.

I trust our blessing upon you still lingers in your heart:

Our sister, may you become
The mother of thousands of ten thousands;
And may your descendants possess
The gates of those who hate them. (Gen. 24:60 NKJ)

Rebekah, your willingness to go with the servant was an exemplary act of faith. We realized you knew very little about what lay ahead, and yet you did not hesitate to say, I will go. What a submissive commitment to the Lord!

It must have been wonderful for you and Isaac to see each other for the first time. I feel sure he admired your beauty even through the veil that covered your face. Your marriage to Isaac is a refreshing love story for all time. Every man and woman through the ages, who read this account, will be blessed in the quiet simplicity of Isaac's love for you and his tenderness of heart in the death of his mother: Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death (Gen. 24:67 NKJ).

You have married a very wealthy man whom God has richly prospered. I understand that blessings follow the Covenant and that Isaac, Abraham's only son of promise (Gen. 22:2), is to possess everything that Abraham and Sarah owned.

We have all missed you these years. We have longed to hear how God has been prospering you and your family. We were so happy to see Jacob. He arrived here in Haran, just the other day alone and on foot. I believe he walked about 500 long, dusty miles. It is good to get to know our grandson, but the news he brings is most disturbing. Jacob said he would only be here a few days and that you would send for him and bring him back home (Gen. 27:44).

We understand that Isaac is still living. Jacob said Abraham died when he and Esau were between 16 and 18 years old. Jacob said he was buried in the cave of Machpelah, the field Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. I believe Sarah was buried there too (Gen. 25:8-11).

On the way here from Beersheba to Haran, while Jacob slept on the ground, God visited him at a certain place and renewed the Covenant with him. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and wilt bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.' Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.' And he was afraid and said, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!' (Gen. 28:12-17 NKJ).

After Jacob arrived here, he met Rachael, Laban's daughter, at the well. When he told her he was your son, your father's relative, she ran and told her father. Laban was so glad to see Jacob and hear about you. They embraced, and Laban kissed him and brought him to his house. They talked for a long time. I know your barrenness for twenty years was painful. It is precious that Isaac pleaded with the Lord for you. How happy you must have been when God answered Isaac's prayer and you conceived. The struggle within your womb was surely of great concern. Rebekah, you are one of the few women to whom the Lord has directly revealed Himself and the first woman ever to conceive twins. Jacob said God told you:

Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger. (Gen. 25:23 NKJ)

Rebekah, I have listened to Jacob's account. You understood that Jacob and Esau would be antagonistic toward each other all their lives. You knew Esau would serve Jacob. Why did you feel you had to assist in carrying out what God had ordained? Did you reason that God would use trickery and deceit to bring about His will (Rom. 3:8)? It appears that Isaac sought to change what God had ordained in giving to Esau what was reserved for Jacob. Did you think that Isaac was attempting to rearrange God's promise that the older should serve the younger?

When you heard Isaac talking to Esau about the blessing, why did you not go to Isaac first and talk with him instead of going to Jacob? Jacob tells me you said, Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.' Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves. Then you shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death (Gen. 27:6-10 NKJ).

Jacob told me he said to you, Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing. Rebekah, I am surprised that Jacob's comments were not a reproof to you. He said you were determined to deceive Isaac and obtain the blessing for him, even if you were cursed (Gen. 27:13). Killing those two kids of the goats and making savory food and bread (Gen. 27:13) must have been a real chore. It concerns me, that you put your industrious talents to such use. You were obviously determined to foil the plans of Isaac, no matter what. Bringing the act of deception to fruition must have been additionally stressful, for both you and Jacob, since you were trying to complete your plans before Esau returned from the field. I feel sure you will always remember dressing Jacob in Esau's clothing and putting those skins on his hands and neck (Gen. 27:16). Jacob may never forget this deception, even when he has children of his own.

I understand that Isaac was old and had difficulty seeing, but did you think that this were also true of God? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths (Prov. 5:21 NKJ). It is sorrowful that Jacob was so willing to deceive his father (Gen: 27:19).

Why did you and Isaac have favorites among the boys? Both Jacob and Esau must have been hurt by the obvious partiality. In some ways I can understand your preference for Jacob, especially since God had told you what He did about both boys. Though Jacob is sinful, it was he whom God loved, while Esau was hated. In God's grace, Jacob was elected before he was born, having yet neither opportunity for good or for evil (Rom. 9:10-13). Was it apparent to you and Isaac that only one of your children was numbered among the elect?

When Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, did you and Isaac not talk to the boys about what they had done? Were you more concerned about Jacob's prosperity than his behavior? It hurts me to think that you sacrificed the love of Isaac, and of Esau, not to mention the peace within your own life, for favoritism toward Jacob. I do trust that Jacob will not grow up to show favoritism to his own children. Rebekah, I understand that you are the only wife Isaac has ever had and that he has never taken a handmaid or a concubine. Do you know how unusual that is in this day and time? Have you not appreciated Isaac's love for you? Even Abimelech could see your husband's affection for you years ago (Gen. 26:6-16). Your betrayal of his love must be a sore and constant grief to him.

I hear that Esau is consoling himself with thoughts of killing Jacob. Do you actually think Esau will forget what has happened and his anger will be appeased in only a few days? Isaac's sending Jacob here to Padan Aram, so that he will not take a wife from among the daughters of Canaan, will no doubt be a point of contention for Esau. Jacob told me Esau took two women from the Hittites for wives when he was forty years old. He said Esau has since taken the daughter of Ishmael for his third wife. Esau's marrying heathen women may be indicative of a lack of respect for you. I feel certain you must disagree with what he has done and I imagine both he and his wives have greatly wearied you and Isaac.

Rebekah, my child, be assured that even though your actions were sinful and unwise, God's purpose has come to pass. Nothing can interfere or thwart the will of our Father. Though we all behave foolishly and regard sin lightly, God rules and overrules in all the affairs of life.

While there is such an allay as there is, of sin in our duties, we must expect an allay of trouble in our comforts . We may observe likewise, that God's providences often seem to contradict his promises, and to go cross to them; and yet when the mystery of God shall be finished, we shall see that all was for the best; and that cross providences did but render the promises and the accomplishment of them the more illustrious.1

Jacob and Esau were more alike in their natures than mere brothers. No matter what either of the boys did, or did not do, God's purpose did not depend on their actions, nor on yours Rebekah, for that matter. The purpose of God is not dependent upon what we do or do not do, but is wholly and completely based upon God's sovereign will. With Him are might and wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are His [and in His power] (Job 12:16 AMP). The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord even the events [that seem accidental] are really ordered by Him (Prov. 16:33 AMP). For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever (Rom.11:36 NKJ). The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps (Prov. 16:9 NAS). There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's counsel that will stand (Prov. 19:21 NKJ).

All my love,



1. Matthew Henry, Commentary, Vol. 1 (Wilmington, DE: Sovereign Grace, 1972), 99. May we, the daughters of Rebekah, awaken to the sorrowful lessons learned at the expense of this beautiful, industrious woman. She sent Jacob away for a few days. He was gone 20 years. Though Isaac was still living, Rebekah died before Jacob returned. She never lived to see her beloved son again.

  • Ina Manly Painter

Ina Manly Painter has a Master of Science Degree in Educational/Counseling Psychology. She and her husband, Harrison, live in Knoxville , TN , where they have been affiliated with Re/Max Preferred Properties as REALTORS, for many years. They have four children, Paige, and wife Christa, Laura, Jared, and Amanda and one grandson, Caleb. They can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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