Genesis 24 Isaac and Rebekah
Have you experienced or seen the hand of the Lord in helping people come together in marriage? After the death of Sarah, Abraham set about to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Note how Abraham sought to involve the Lord:
- Abraham committed his eldest servant to an oath—in the name of God—to help ensure that Isaac would not marry a Canaanite, among whom they lived (verses 2-3, 9).
- The oath called for Abraham’s servant to go to Abraham’s “country” (Nahor) to find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s kindred (verses 4, 10; the places of Nahor and Haran—where Abraham and his party settled for a time during their travels from Ur to Canaan—were in what is now southeastern Turkey; being named for the brothers of Abraham; see Genesis 11:26).
- Abraham’s servant wonders how he will find and then persuade the one who is to marry Isaac, and Abraham assures him that an angel of God would lead and help him (verses 5-8).
Read the unfolding of this inspiring story, in verses 10-28. What stands our most for you? In what additional ways do you see the hand of the Lord?
Note that Rebekah is Abraham’s great-niece (or grandniece), being the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Milcah, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor. In other words, Rebekah is Isaac’s cousin’s daughter, making them second cousins (verses 15, 24).
Continue reading this remarkable account in verses 29-38, 49-67. Note:
- Clearly the Lord “prospered the way” (as mentioned in verses 40, 42, 48, 56) for the continuation of the Abrahamic covenant, which blesses us all in the Lord’s latter-day Church.
- Rebekah is an example for us, displaying her willingness to accept and follow the will of the Lord, as she says, “I will go” (verse 58).
- Rebekah’s family was well aware of God’s promises to Abraham, as evidenced by their farewell to her: “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions” (verse 60).
- Isaac also submits to the Lord’s will “She became his wife, and he loved her” (verse 67).
- The marriage customs among the ancients were clearly different from ours, but having marriage goals, standards, and plans pertained to their day and to ours.
Genesis 25:20-34 Jacob and Esau
Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah (verse 20) and they were married twenty years before Rebekah was able to have a child (verse 26). There were issues in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, and now with Isaac and Rebekah, in regard to having children and continuing the covenant line. Even among His chosen, the Lord does not provide a smooth path.
Read verses 21-26, 29-34. The LDS Bible Dictionary states, “There are several instances in the scriptures of the one who was the firstborn losing his birthright because of unrighteousness and his office being given to another; such is the case with Esau” (“Birthright,” p. 608).
And President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The contrast between the spiritual and the temporal is … illustrated by the twins Esau and Jacob and their different attitudes toward their birthright…. Jacob valued the spiritual, while Esau sought the things of this world…. Many Esaus have given up something of eternal value in order to satisfy a momentary hunger for the things of the world” (Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 61).
Genesis 26 The Covenant Continues
In verses 2-4 the Lord appeared to Isaac and assured him that the oath and promises given to Abraham and Sarah were also for Isaac and Rebekah. Look in this chapter for:
- What reason did the Lord give for Abraham’s favor with God? (verse 5).
- Note in verses 12-14 the Lord’s temporal blessings upon Isaac, as well as spiritual blessings (verse 24).
- Note Isaac’s character in the account of digging wells (verses 17-22) and his relationship with Abimelech (verses 26-31). This is reminiscent of Abraham, in his dealings with Lot (see Genesis 13:5-11). The Lord had promised these lands to Abraham and then Isaac, yet they were both willing to allow others to possess them, in order to avoid strife.
- What caused a “grief of mind” for Isaac and Rebekah? (verses 34-35; see also Genesis 27:46). We must seek to obey the Lord and to avoid causing others to feel grief or bitterness over us.
Genesis 27 Inspired Intrigue
The birthright blessings and responsibilities continue to pass from one generation to another. We will eventually see four consecutive generations in which the birthright fell upon a son who was not the firstborn: Instead of Ishmael, it went to Isaac; then to Jacob instead of Esau (as recounted in this chapter); then to Joseph instead of Reuben; and then to Ephraim instead of Manasseh. Clearly, the Lord is more concerned with our worthiness and willingness than He is with our birth order or any other “rights” or privileges we may wish to claim.
In verses 1-27, Rebekah and Jacob carry out what can be called a justified deception, in order for Jacob to receive the birthright blessing from Isaac. Remember, before the birth of Esau and Jacob, the Lord had told Rebekah that the elder twin was to serve the younger (Genesis 25:23); and remember that Esau did not value the birthright (Genesis 25:29-34).
Read Genesis 27:28-29 to see the blessings pronounced upon Jacob, which Isaac later confirmed in verses 33 and 37, even after realizing what Rebekah and Jacob had done. Esau becomes bitter (verses 38, 41), but the reality is that he lost these blessings through disobedience.
Rebekah is a loving and wise mother who foresees problems and then plans ways to prevent them. Read verses 41-46 and find the two reasons why Rebekah instructed Jacob to leave Canaan and go to Haran. Can you think of ways your mother or other loving and wise women have helped you along the covenant path?