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Rebekah, Rebecca

REBEKAH, REBECCA (rĕ-bĕk'a, Heb. rivqâh, Gr. Rhebekka). The daughter of Bethuel. Her mother’s name is unrecorded. Her grandparents were Nahor and Milcah. She was the sister of Laban, the wife of Isaac, mother of Esau and Jacob, and first is mentioned in the genealogy of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Gen.22.20-Gen.22.24).

It is in Haran, “the city of Nahor,” where we are first introduced to Rebekah (Gen.24.1-Gen.24.67). In that incident Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, was sent out to seek a bride for Isaac. After listening to the urgings of the servant, Rebekah decided to marry Isaac. In this narrative the delineation of her character is winsome and attractive. In the narrative that follows, however, she is not only ambitious but grasping and rapacious. Rebekah was loved by Isaac (Gen.24.67), but she bore him no children for twenty years. It was only after special intercession on the part of Isaac that God gave her twins—Esau and Jacob. Esau was reckoned as the firstborn. However, God told Rebekah, “The older will serve the younger” (Gen.25.23). Whether she was directly influenced by this statement or not, Jacob became her favorite. This led her to perpetrate a cruel ruse on the aged and blind Isaac. Disguised as his brother Esau, Jacob obtained the blessing (Gen.27.5-Gen.27.17). When it became evident that Jacob and Esau could no longer live under the same roof, at her suggestion, Jacob fled from home to her relatives in Aram (Gen.27.42-Gen.27.46). Rebekah never saw her son again. Outside of Genesis there is only one reference to her (Rom.9.10-Rom.9.12).