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In the chapters in Genesis that should be about Isaac, he hardly shows up. He plays a surprisingly passive role, which leads you to think how much we’re missing in his story. After all this is the son, who willingly went with Abraham to be sacrificed and therefore was a similitude of the Savior. This is the son his parents longed for through decades, and then, when we might get a chance to meet him, he is whisked off the stage.
Hello. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where today we’ll talk about Genesis chapters 24 through 27. Remember you can find the transcript for this podcast—and all of them–at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast. We’d also love it if you’d tell a friend about this podcast.
As chapter 24 begins, we are reminded that to this family, their covenant with God is everything. We are told that Abraham is getting old, “and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things” (Gen. 24. 1). If his posterity is to be a blessing to the whole earth, Isaac must marry someone who can carry on that covenant line, and frankly, the woman available in Canaan can’t do that. He must look far away. As the very last thing we hear Abraham say in the scriptures, he calls his loyal servant to him, who “ruled over all that he had”, and gave him a sacred and responsible mission, which indicates just how much Abraham trusted him. He is told “Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” (v. 4). Abraham asks the servant to put his hand under his thigh makes the servant swear by “the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth” (v. 3) that he won’t find a Canaanite woman for Isaac’s wife.
In this image of hand under the thigh as it appears in the Bible, the usual explanation is that the custom that the oath was so important because it pertained to Abraham’s posterity. In the Joseph Smith Translation, the word “hand” replaces the word “thigh”, suggesting almost a handshake to seal the importance of this sacred responsibility.
This servant, who is not given a name, but is most likely the steward named Eliezar, deserves that trust, for he becomes the exemplar of everything a good steward should be in his devotion to carrying out his duty. He is utterly trustworthy in every detail, and Abraham knows that he will perfectly reflect and act upon his will. Eliezar’s name means “God is my help”, and he is promised for this important responsibility that “the Lord God of heaven” “shall send his angel before thee” (v. 7).
The servant will travel 850 miles north to Nahor, which is or is close to Haran. This is where Abraham’s brother Nahor is from and where his son Bethuel lives with his children Laban and Rebekah.
He brings with him ten camels, which is an impressive caravan, and they are laden with treasures that are a reflection of Abraham’s wealth and generosity, and the servant’s responsibility to distribute this and act in all things in Abraham’s name. This is an arduous and responsible journey he has been sent on to perfectly accomplish the most important goal as if he were Abraham himself.
When the servant arrives at the well at his destination, he makes the camels to kneel, and then he prays. “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day,and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.” Note, as the perfect steward, he can also pray in the name of Abraham. It as if Abraham has said, “You are an extension of me.”
A well is a gathering spot Then the steward sets a test so that he can recognize Isaac’s future bride from among all others at the well, who the Lord has chosen to be the mother of the covenant posterity. His test is this:
“Let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, ‘Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master” (v. 14). Here’s that stewardship idea again. In answering the steward’s prayer, the Lord is showing kindness to his master. Wouldn’t we all love someone of such loyalty acting in our behalf?
Let’s look at that idea of stewardship for a moment. The Lord gives His covenant children stewardships as His way of sanctifying and expanding them. Through the responsibility of stewardship, He is inviting us to reach up and beyond ourselves. In this way, He is in the process of transforming us. The covenant path is always one of stretching until we are no longer the small and constricted souls we once were. His stewardships are an invitation for upward growth and expansion so that He can fulfill His covenant promises to us. We have to be more than we are to be able to receive the blessings He wants to give us.
Of course, we have stewardships in our roles as mother, father, daughter, son, grandparent, sister, brother or friend. We have stewardships in our callings. Since our stewardships are designed for changing us through the covenant to prepare us for His presence, it shouldn’t be surprising that sometimes they are very hard and may even seem impossible. We may want to say, “My assignment is what?”
Yet the Lord gives us real things to do, even if they are tough. He puts people in our way who will depend on us. We are asked to save our dead, and who else will do it? We have children, and our influence will be felt in their lives for an eternity. These assignments are not minor, and God doesn’t whoosh in and move us aside and take over. The Lord works through giving us stewardships that mean something and our fidelity and complete trustworthiness to them have important consequences. If Abraham’s servant had been less loyal, he could have gone some place close, found any woman and brought her back, instead of making his wilderness journey.
How would you like to be Joseph Smith and given the charge to build the Kirtland Temple, when the Latter-day Saints were completely impoverished, living several families to a house, many unskilled in construction and without an architect? Yet Joseph Smith said, he learned this: “When the Lord commands, do it,” and he did! How would you like to be Nephi, called on as his stewardship, to go get the plates from a recalcitrant and thieving Laban? Or how would you like your family’s lives depend on your finding the materials to make a bow? Since stewardships, well performed lead to more stewardships that demand more of our eternal possibility, it was making the bow that qualified Nephi to build a ship to take his family across the great deep.
Sometimes our stewardships are not roles or callings, but what the mighty Lord with his perfect love and perfect intelligence allows to be put in our path. We may be given a stewardship for a physical trial, an emotional pain, discouragement, or chronic pain, and the way we handle that stewardship may impact our eternal life.
Perhaps, in the face of the stewardship of trial, we should say, “I can do this with thy help”, instead of “poor me.” Sarah Burton’s story shows how this works, and we will share it here in her own words:
“During 2015, the constant back pain that I had experienced for the prior 8 years, rose to a level of pain that I hadn’t experienced before. I saw lots of doctors, had lots of tests, tried lots of therapies, and even had surgery in hopes that I would figure out “the cure.” (We did not know then what it took about 6 years to understand– that I had a hip deformity combined with scoliosis and arthritis…without a clear fix. My doctors told me that I and other chronic pain patients tended to be difficult puzzles to figure out.
“Anyway, as the pain (and some of the judgment) continued, in July 2015, I remember an undercurrent of bitterness welling up for about 2 or 3 weeks. I would go to the Temple and come home with a little bitterness creeping in about how I was trying to do all of the right things—Temple, church, serving my family, scripture study, serving in callings—and yet I was in pain.”
Sarah said, “And I started to compare my situation with others’. I thought about friends my age (I was 41) and even about my delightful visiting teaching companion (age 75) who could sit in a chair, happy as a clam, talking for 2 hours at a visit, while I constantly shifted in my seat in pain, as a 41 year-old who regularly exercised and ate healthy and who was trying everything possible medically.
“I started to notice for these 2-3 weeks that maybe I was feeling the Spirit withdraw, which is not something I was accustomed to. I normally had felt the undercurrent of the Spirit throughout my life. It scared me to feel like I was getting bitter and starting to feel tempted to be angry right at God. I had never done that before and knew that doing so would cross a line that I didn’t want to cross. I was starting to feel vulnerable and knew I would not be under the same protection of the Spirit if I crossed that line.
“So, I decided that I did not want my disappointment (that sometimes had verged into bitterness) to become full-blown anger. I knew that I had to get serious, exert more faith, and do the spiritual and emotional work necessary to find meaning in the pain that I realized was going to be my long-term companion.”
Sarah said, “It took months of processing and imperfect attempts (over and over), but in general I kept trying to stop looking left and right and comparing my situation to others. I tried hard to just look up and try to hear God’s voice to me and to realize that everyone has their own plan, and I had mine. And then I would metaphorically look down, bowing my head in an effort to force my stubborn self to submit and accept whatever was in store for me.
“Of course, I kept trying to do whatever was in my power to try to improve my health situation, but I did so with more patience and with an acceptance that God was ultimately in control. I also took a lot of time to think and to write about the nature of suffering and (surprisingly) the joyous things that can come of it.
“After months of pondering and deliberately and actively practicing faith, Dan gave me a blessing in January 2016. I was so excited and expected that my months of choosing faith would result in a miraculous answer of what would be the key to my healing. But the blessing came out with the feeling of a loving parent bearing what seemed to be bad news—that my chronic pain would remain long-term and that it was actually part of my education that God willed for me.”
She said, “By now, I have spent 7 years of emotional processing, taking walks and pondering, and writing in my journal. I have come up with a list of mini-sermons that I preach to myself and to motivate myself about the “upside of suffering.” And about every 6 months, a new one seems to formulate in my mind, and I add it to the list. 3 of my favorites are: 1) that suffering gives you special needs that result in special manifestations of the spirit, 2) you become more able to empathize with others who have bitter, long-term problems, 3) and you get the chance to prove your friendship to the Lord by giving the gift of obedience, which can be even more sacred when it is offered in a context of suffering (like the widow who Jesus talked about in the New Testament, who threw into the treasury her last mite). I feel passionate about the chance to show Jesus that I am His friend, and that no suffering will make me leave His side—that’s one that really motivates me when I preach my silent sermons to myself.
“But as spiritually enriching as these 7 years of pondering and writing has coming to know God better has been, I will not pretend that it has been a direct, perfect, straight course. There have been times when thoughts of bitterness creep in and rear their ugly head, and I have to swat them away by silently rehearsing to myself all of the powerful mini-lessons about the blessings of suffering. I will tell my knees to bend, and I will tell my mouth to pray, and I will force my brain to think through those silent sermon that I have written until those words become not just words in my head but feelings in my heart.” (from personal correspondence with Sarah Burton).
What I love about what Sarah says here, is that she doesn’t just follow the natural man emotion to become angry with the Lord or bitter about the pain that never leaves her and never will in this life. She has chosen not to let her pain divide her from God. Instead, she has become intentional and has processed through her response, and has chosen faith. “I will tell my knees to bend, and I will tell my mouth to pray.”
Another of her mini-sermons is the combination of two scriptures.
“ . . . ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6)
And “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass . . . “ (Alma 37:6)
For Sarah this has become one mini-sermon she repeats to herself:
“When we strive as imperfect beings
to obey in ‘small and simple’ ways,
after the ‘trial of our faith,’
a ‘great thing”– a great “witness”–
will be “brought to pass.”
I want to be as trustworthy and aligned with the Lord as Abraham’s servant is with him. I want to be as true to the Lord and intentional in my thoughts when I have the stewardship of trials as Sarah Burton. It is moving to me, and I won’t forget it the next time things are tough.
Remember, Abraham’s servant has asked the Lord for a sign to indicate Isaac’s bride that she should step forward to give him a drink and volunteer also to give drink to the camels. Now at least twice a day, the well for a village is a lively place as women from the surrounding areas—perhaps as much as two or three or more miles away, come to draw water for their washing, cooking, cleaning and drinking. It is a back-breaking and heavy job both to draw water and carry it away. Camille Fronk Olson said that Josephus recorded that many maidens at the well were drawing water at the time Abraham’s servant arrived but that the others all refused to give the stranger any water before Rebekah came forward “in an obliging manner” (Antiquities, 1.16.2).
The scriptures tell us that Rebekah “was very fair to look upon” and a “virgin” (v. 16), but, what is most impressive is that without calculation or the desire to impress a stranger, she steps forward with vitality, compassion and the Spirit at the right time and the right place to answer the plea of the servant of Abraham. “Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher” (v. 17). Not only does she quench his thirst, but, then, surprisingly, volunteers “I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking” (v. 19). (Camille Fronk Olson, Women of the Old Testament).
Olson noted, “She “hasted” to give the visitor water after he requested a drink (Genesis 24:18), volunteered to water all his camels and then “hasted” and “ran” until she completed the task (vv. 19–20), and finally “ran” to notify her family of the stranger’s coming (v. 28). Much more important than her beauty, she exemplifies the values of the Abrahamic covenant of hospitality, kindness and a loving welcome to the stranger.
Another covenant word is used to describe this interchange. “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not” (v. 21). That word prosperous is part of the covenantal promise. Remember when Alma addressed the people of Ammonihah, he reminded them of the promise to their fathers, “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land” (Alma 9: 8,13). We may think immediately that the phrase “prosper in the land” refers to material well-being, but it means that the covenant keepers are blessed with the Lord’s strengthening and supporting presence. It means fortunate, more than wealthy. In this case, being led by the Lord to find Rebekah was prospering. Scot, in our own lives, though, it is fascinating how often things “just work out.” We are given ideas or nudges to find solutions to the things we face. That too is being prospered.
Just a note here about camels. Offering to water 10 camels is an enormous, sweaty, even unpleasant task. Camels are not the easiest animals to hang out with. They can be stubborn, smelly and make the most horrible noises. You and I, Maurine, have ridden a lot of camels in our time. Here’s my experience. I was riding a camel into the desert by the pyramids, that was, in his own mind, done for the day. To even get him to move, the owner was not so gently encouraging him. He resisted and strained at every move, and then he bucked me off. You should know, it’s a much longer way to fall of a camel than a horse.
My camel, on that same ride, had decided he was done, so when we turned for home, the camel broke into a gallop. At full-out speed, we raced across the desert. Since it was so high, and since camel saddles have no stirrups, I was flung around on that camel’s back and holding on for dear life, mentally writing my last will and testament.
But camels are remarkable in the desert. They can carry 400 to 600 pounds, travel one hundred miles a day, go without water up to 15 days and then guzzle 25 to 30 gallons of water in a single session. That’s 250 to 300 gallons. For Rebekah to water those camels would have taken as many as 50 pitchers full. What a woman. After this Herculean task, she invites the servant home.
Abraham’s servant has brought a bride-price for her in the form of a substantial amount of “precious things” for her and her family. This was customary and was both a compensation to the family and a proof that the groom could support her and their family to come. Olson notes, “The two bracelets or bangles given to Rebekah were “a pair” of bracelets (v. 22), a symbolic wedding gift signifying a man and woman becoming bound in marriage. The weight in gold of these initial gifts was the equivalent of several years’ wages. For example, the ten and a half shekels’ weight of gold jewelry the servant gave Rebekah could have purchased five slaves. By offering these lavish gifts, the servant promised the family that Rebekah would be generously accommodated in her marriage to Isaac.”
The servant gives gifts to Rebecca and, of course, the bride price to the family. When the servant is first invited into her home, Laban immediately recognizes the significance of his presence and says, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord…for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels” (vs. 31). This goodly servant, however, will not eat or rest until he has performed his duty and struck the marriage agreement. He acknowledges that his way has been prospered, coming to the very woman, from the very lineage that God has chosen for Isaac. The servant asked the family’s permission, but, they in turn ask Rebekah saying, “We will call for the damsel, and enquire at her mouth” (v. 57). It is significant that her opinion is the final one.
A deal is struck, but Rebekah’s brother and mother said, “Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten, after that she shall go.” This seems like a reasonable request, but the servant has a higher purpose. He says, “Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master” (v. 56).
Clearly, all the events have made it obvious that this proposal is the Lord’s will, and Rebekah’s answer reflects that. She simply says, “I will go” (v. 58), which is yet another reflection of her testimony and understanding. Surely she might have liked a few days to get ready or say goodbye to her family. But no, the Lord has called her, and she is essentially giving the covenant answer. “Here am I.””I will go”. “I am ready”. If the servant is a hero in this story, so is Rebekah, whose every action and response rings with power and demonstrates that she is fit for the high covenantal role she is about to play. “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded,” says Nephi (1 Nephi 3:7).
In her parting Rebekah is blessed to be the “mother of thousands of millions” (v. 60), reflecting what, in fact, will happen.
When Rebekah arrived back in the south country, Isaac had gone out “to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes and saw the camels coming” (V. 63) She alit from her camel and covered herself with a veil.
This meeting reminds us of the return of the prodigal son, when his father met him on the road, while he was yet afar off. What had led the father to know his son was coming and come out to meet him? Why did Isaac happen to be there just as Rebekah was coming?
We get a glimpse of the bond between them. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (v. 67).
Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah, and, according to the custom of the time, she was probably a young girl of 14 or so. For twenty years they are married, and she is barren, unable to have children. We don’t have any record of the agonizing sense of loss they both must have felt, or the irony for Rebekah who had been promised to be the mother of “thousands of millions”, but just like Sarah and Rachel, the other covenantal mothers, it is the Lord who finally blesses them to conceive.
She is expecting twins and in her womb the children “struggled within her” (Gen. 25: 22), so she enquires of the Lord and learns that there are two nations within her and “two manner of people” and “the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (v. 23). Thus, she knows before Esau’s and Jacob’s birth that Jacob is to receive the covenantal blessings.
Here is a moment in the Bible that points to pre-mortality, for how could one twin have come to earn or receive a birthright blessing instead of the other, unless these spirits had demonstrated different levels of faith in an earlier world.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Rebekah is one of the greatest patterns in all the revelations of what a woman can do to influence a family in righteousness [Genesis 25:22]….
“Now note it well. She did not say, ‘Isaac, will you inquire of the Lord. You are the patriarch; you are the head of the house,” which he was. She went to inquire of the Lord, and she gained the answer: [Genesis 25:23]. “That is to say, ‘To you, Rebekah, I, the Lord, reveal the destiny of nations that are to be born which are yet in your womb.’…“Rebekah—truly she is one of the most noble and glorious of women!” (McConkie, Ensign, Jan. 1979, 62).
In this heartfelt prayer, Rebekah exemplifies what all mothers need to do, especially in these tumultuous days. Elder Holland compares a mother to a Savior when he says, “Prophesying of the Savior’s Atonement, Isaiah wrote, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”1 A majestic latter-day vision emphasized that “[Jesus] came into the world … to bear the sins of the world.”2 Both ancient and modern scripture testify that “he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” A favorite hymn pleads with us to “hear your great Deliv’rer’s voice!”
“Bear, borne, carry, deliver. These are powerful, heartening messianic words,” Elder Holland said. “They convey help and hope for safe movement from where we are to where we need to be—but cannot get without assistance. These words also connote burden, struggle, and fatigue—words most appropriate in describing the mission of Him who, at unspeakable cost, lifts us up when we have fallen, carries us forward when strength is gone, delivers us safely home when safety seems far beyond our reach. ‘My Father sent me,’ He said, ‘that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that as I have been lifted up … even so should men be lifted up … to … me.’
“But can you hear in this language another arena of human endeavor in which we use words like bear and borne, carry and lift, labor and deliver? As Jesus said to John while in the very act of Atonement, so He says to us all, ‘Behold thy mother!’
“Today,” Elder Holland said, “I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold thy Mother” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/10/behold-thy-mother?lang=eng)
President Russell M. Nelson pled with women to realize their priesthood power. He said: “We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly. (President Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng
Rebekah’s first child was named Esau, from a Hebrew root meaning “hairy” and his descendants were called Edom, which in Hebrew means “red.” The second son was named Jacob from a Hebrew idiom means “he shall assail, overreach or supplant,” an apt name since his mother knew he would receive the birthright blessing instead of the first child. As they grew, Esau is described as “a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”
D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, note, however, “The translators could have used a more illustrious adjective than “plain,” as the Hebrew word used here has the same root as that used in describing Noah in Genesis 6:9 and Abraham in Genesis 17:1, where it is translated ‘perfect’ in both of those cases.” (Andrew C. Skinner, D. Kelly Ogden, Verse by Verse, The Old Testament Vol. 1 & 2).
At any rate, the boys were very different in nature, and Isaac favored Esau, while Rebecca favored Jacob. This is a paradox for Isaac, because like his father Abraham, before him, the covenant will be renewed through him with all its attendant promises, but Esau dismisses his birthright and it, apparently means very little to him.
We see the famous story of Esau coming in from the field, faint, while Jacob is eating lentil soup. Esau asks for some soup or pottage, and Jacob responds, “Sell me this day, thy birthright.” Esau agrees, saying, “Behold, I am at the point o die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Gen. 25: 31,32).
Skinner and Ogden note: “Esau must have exaggerated his condition of hunger upon returning from the hunt when, upon smelling Jacob’s lentil soup cooking, he reasoned, ‘I am at the point to die, and what profit shall this birthright do me?’ A person generally dies from hunger after a long period of emaciation, rather than dropping over suddenly from strongly stimulated appetite! The writer was impressed, according to verse 34, with the fact that Esau must have ‘despised his birthright’ to trade it for a bowl of soup. There is no question that Jacob took advantage of the opportunity to bargain for the birthright, but to characterize him as a hard, cruel man who would not feed a starving, dying brother without compensation hardly fits the picture.
Ogden and Skinner continue: “Esau’s passing off his birthright was certainly not just for hunger; the real reason was that intrinsically it meant nothing to him… In modern times an English idiom has been used from this biblical episode to describe something that means little or nothing to us: ‘selling our birthright for a mess of pottage.’
“The picture or even caricature of Esau that emerges at this stage of his life is of the older brother who was worldly—thinking of physical concerns before spiritual matters—dull, and easily outwitted on an empty stomach. Like some young people today, Esau recognized the value of what he lost only after it was gone.”
Susan Bednar said to the students at BYU-Idaho,”Everything to which Esau was entitled he sold for something as insignificant as a piece of bread and a can of soup. Why? Were the promised blessings associated with the birthright too far away? Did he forget in that moment that he was the firstborn son? Did he really intend to give up the birthright, or was it just a casual maneuver to satisfy his hunber? Was he thinking, “I can give it away now and get it back later? What series of events, circumstances, and prior choices would have brought Esau to this tragic moment? From our own experience, I believe we can conclude that a grave outcome such as Esau selling his birthright is not usually the result of a sudden impulse, but rather the consequence of small, incremental decisions made day by day.” (Susan K. Bednar, “Covenant Blessings and Responsibilities” https://video.byui.edu/media/Susan+K.+Bednar+%22Covenant+Blessings+and+Responsibilities%22/0_f53u2ag5)
He further demonstrates his indifference to birth right and covenantal blessings when he breaks his parent’s hearts and causes them “grief of mind” by marrying Hittite women, who were Canaanites and descendants of Ham. The covenant of Abraham could not continue through this posterity, and Esau didn’t care.
It is concerning to see so many today who are willing to “sell their birthright for a mess of pottage.” When we hear that people are leaving the Church, particularly the young people whom we know and have heard bear testimony in the past, from our hearts we cry out, “Don’t do it. You have no idea what you are giving up.” “If you have felt to sing the song of redeeming love…can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).
So now we have a scene that, I think must be understood, in the context of Rebekah’s revelation about the twins before they were born. The Lord has told her who is to receive the birthright and the blessings of the covenant. Is this a knowledge that gives her responsibility to act or is she to sit back in faith, because the Lord already has it in His hands? Has she discussed it with Jacob? Is this something he has known his entire life? Had she told Isaac about her revelation? Have they discussed it?
We have missing details so we can’t answer any of these questions.
Nonetheless, when Isaac is old and quite blind, he calls Esau to him, asks him to go hunting for some venison and bring Isaac some savory meat. When he does this, Isaac will give him his blessings. Rebekah, hearing this, and having known since the twin’s birth which son should receive the covenant blessings, feels she must change the course. She calls Jacob, has him fetch her “two good kids of the goats”, makes this food, and Jacob brings it to his father as if he were Esau. Since Esau is hairy and Jacob is not, the ruse is completed by Jacob wearing some of Esau’s clothing and putting goat skin on his arms. He says to Isaac, “I am Esau thy first born…Sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me” (Gen. 27:19).
Isaac is not so easily fooled. He wonders how the food could have been delivered so fast and why this son feels and smells like Esau, but has Jacob’s voice. Nevertheless, the blessing is given to Jacob and when Esau learns of this he wails, “Bless me, even me also, O my father.” Isaac blesses him with a goodly blessing, but it is not the birthright or covenant blessing. Later in chapter 28, more of the covenant blessings are bestowed upon Jacob, and we learn that Esau wants to kill his brother. Jacob must leave.
Camille Fronk Olson notes, “Rebekah hoped that Jacob would be away in Haran only “a few days” (Genesis 27:44). In actuality, it would be a lengthy twenty years. The Bible narrative reports that Isaac was living in Hebron upon Jacob’s return (Genesis 35:27), but no mention is made of Rebekah.”
[This is particularly noteworthy in that Isaac had said “I know not the day of my death,” implying it was close before Jacob left.]
“Did [Rebekah] ever see Jacob again? Did she see her numerous grandchildren and further hope of her family’s marriage blessing that she would be a “mother of thousands of millions”? (Genesis 24:60). Perhaps most important, did she see her two sons reconciled and commencing the creation of two remarkable nations? The biblical account tells us nothing more about Rebekah except to report that she was buried in the cave of Machpelah, alongside Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac (Genesis 49:31)” (Camille Fronk Olson, Women of the Old Testament).
That’s all for today. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Next week we’ll find out more about what happens to Jacob in Genesis chapters 28-33. Don’t forget to tell a friend about our podcast. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our producer. See you next week.