Genesis 21-24

Today’s reading begins with the birth of Isaac and concludes with the story of how Rebekah becomes Isaac’s wife.

With the birth of Isaac, God fulfills the promise He made decades earlier to Abraham, that he would have a son by Sarah his wife. One can only imagine the joy that both Abraham and Sarah felt because of the birth of their son. How long they had waited, and God had kept His promise.

Not long after Isaac’s birth, God tests Abraham with what must have been the most difficult test of his life. God tells Abraham that he must sacrifice his son Isaac. No one can really understand the emotions that Abraham must have felt as he journeyed up the mountain to sacrifice his son to Isaac. It’s difficult for me to loan a long awaited material possession to someone, let alone sacrificing my own flesh and blood to God. Why did God test Abraham in this way? Based on what’s presented in the text, God wanted to determine if Abraham truly loved God and would obey Him at all costs. I honestly don’t think I would have passed this test.

The other significant story of today’s reading was that of God’s provision of Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. Isaac had just lost his mother and being an elderly man of nearly 140 years old, Abraham was in no condition to find a wife for his son and so he sends his servant. It appears that Abraham’s servant is a godly man in his own right. He asks for a sign from God to help him determine who God has chosen for a wife for Isaac.

Rebekah is the first young woman to come to the well where Abraham’s servant is stationed. The servant asks Rebekah for a drink of her water and after giving him a drink she doesn’t hesitate to provide water for the servant livestock as well. This having been the sign that the servant requested of God, he tells Rebekah of his mission and she tells her family and her brother Laban invites the servant to their home to stay for the night.

The servant upon meeting Rebekah’s family, even prior to eating, insists on telling the family of his mission to find a wife for his servant’s son. The family agrees to let Rebekah marry Isaac and tells the servant that he will need to wait for 10 days before she can leave with him. The servant presses the family to let him return to Isaac the next day without waiting  and although this seems like a small thing in which to find significance, the family asks Rebekah if she would like to leave immediately and she says yes. I found this to be interesting. I’m not a Biblical scholar, but my understanding of the relationship between men and women, and especially women and their families in this time in history was that women were not given options but rather told what they would do. Although Rebekah is given to Isaac by her family, the timing of the betrothal is put in her hands. It seems to be an interesting break from what seems to be the protocol of the day.

Upon returning to Isaac’s homeland, Rebekah becomes Isaac’s wife and she gives Isaac comfort in the time shortly after his mother’s passing. The text mentions that Isaac loves Rebekah. In all of the previous readings I don’t recall having seen an instance where the text mentions that the husband loved the wife, but the text makes a specific point to mention it. Interesting how some things stand out at times.

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