Hopeful Thoughts


The story of “Rebekah”

Telling stories seems pretty easy.  This spring, I was given an assignment in BTCL to re-tell a Bible story.  I thought I had it all figured out until I realized that you have to be careful what you assume, especially when it comes to God’s Word.  This assignment turned out to be a pretty big challenge.  I spent hours researching cultural history and Bible commentaries before I came up with a perspective that seemed legit.  Then, it took me may more hours to write it out.  (Then I had to tell it from memory to over 40 women!!)  Today, I want to share that story with you.

 

Rebekah’s Reflections

 

Hello, friends. Thanks so much for coming to visit me on my death bed. It means a lot to have you here. I am a sad, bitter woman, who’s done some things that I have come to regret. No, my life hasn’t been completely filled with bad times. I have some sweet memories, too, but it pains me that I will never see him again. My sweet boy!! If only I had done things differently, then perhaps he would be here with me today!

I grew up in the land of Paddam Aram. This means “the plane of Aram.” It was a flat place. Land stretched out for miles. The only things that rose above the horizon were the ziggurats built to the pagan gods of the land. Most of the people in the area were polytheistic and didn’t know about the one true God that my family knew. They worshipped many gods and bowed down to idols made of gold, silver, or even carved form wood! This land was as advanced as any of the time. The neighboring cities were home to all kinds of craftsmen and people who could read and write.

The planes of Paddan Aram were perfect for grazing animals. My own father and brother were shepherds in the land, as we come from a long line of shepherds. Some of our family, like my great uncle Abram, were nomadic and didn’t stay in the area. Others, like my father, lived in Paddan Aram and just traveled in close proximity to home in order to graze the animals. My grandfather used to tell me the story about his brother, Abram, who left this land to follow the one true God to the land of Canaan. God promised to give him the land one day. My family stayed here, however, even though we believed what Abram had told us about the one true God.

It was my job to collect water for our family, as was custom for the young women in most families. Each day I would carry my jar down to the well and carefully walk down the steps to reach the spring at the bottom of the well over 100 feet below. I would fill my jug with about 3 gallons of the cool, fresh water, and then make the trek back up the earthen steps.

One day when I went down to the well, I was AMAZED to see camels! Only the wealthiest people could afford camels, and here were TEN of them! I couldn’t believe it. I went about my job of traveling down to the bottom of the well to fill my jar with water, but I felt the eye’s of the man with the camels following me as I went about my task. As I reached the top of the well, the man with the camels hurried to meet me and spoke to me. “ Please give me a little water from your jar.” I wasted no time and carefully poured water into the man’s cupped hands so that he might be refreshed. Then I said something CRAZY, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.”

I don’t know what I was thinking. Camels can drink 25 gallons of water at a time, and my little jar only held 3 gallons! It would take me 8 or 9 trips just to satisfy one of the beasts, and this man had TEN! With such a great task, I knew I better hurry. Fortunately, I was in pretty good shape, so the job wasn’t too bad. Still, the whole time I was working, the man just watched me.

When the camels finished drinking, the man gave me a gold nose ring and two gold bangle bracelets. I was shocked! This was such a costly gift! Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

I quickly answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor. We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.” I heard that man praising God and saying something about being lead to the home of his master’s relatives. I didn’t really know what this was all about, but I was very excited. I rushed home to tell my mother and brother, Laban, about what had happened.

When the man arrived at my house, I finally learned what was going on. This man served my great uncle Abraham and had traveled to Paddan Aram to find a wife for my cousin, Isaac. He had prayed at the well for God to show him the right girl. He’d asked God that when he asked a girl for a drink, that, if she was the right one, she would offer to water his camels, too! Oh my goodness! That was exactly what I had done! Was I to travel back to Canaan with this man to marry Isaac?

When my brother and father heard the man’s story and his request to take me home with him to Issac, they couldn’t argue. I remember what Laban said, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.” Then the man brought out more gifts and gave them to my brother. I just remember being amazed at the show of wealth my Uncle Abraham had come into. And to think, I was going to marry into this family!!!!

The next day, Abraham’s servant got up early and said to my brother, “Send me on my way to my master.” I guess my family wasn’t quite ready to let me go just yet. Laban asked if I could hang around for ten more days, but Abraham’s servant was in a hurry. Laban asked me if I wanted to go. I was thrilled with the idea, and agreed immediately to go. So I packed up my belongings and set out on the journey.

It was a journey of a few hundred miles to get back to Canaan where my future lay. I got to ride a camel the whole way! He was kind of smelly, but it sure beat walking!! We crossed desserts and two rivers, the Euphrates and the Jordan. It was a long, hot journey. I had lots of time to imagine what my new life would be like. Who was this Isaac? Would he like me? Would I like him? My heart was aflutter with mixed emotions of fear and excitement.

As we entered the land, we came to a place called Beer Lahai Roi. I looked up and saw a man there meditating and thought, “Could this be Issac?” I got down off my camel, attempting to be as lady-like as possible for fear the man might see my awkward dismount. Just then, I noticed the man walking towards us. He was so cute! My heart started racing, and I asked Abraham’s servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. When I heard that, I grabbed the veil around my shoulders and covered my face with it. I wanted to be sure he knew I was unmarried.

What happened next was a blur. Marriage ceremonies back then were simple. If a man liked a women, he simply took her home and that was that. After a bit of explanation from the servant, Isaac took my hand and lead me into the tent of his mother, Sarah. He loved me and we were married. I was a WIFE!!!

Those early years of our marriage were so sweet. He had just lost his sweet mother, and I think it was a great comfort to him to have me there.

I would have done anything for Issac. Once we went to the land of Gerar where Abimelech was king. Isaac was fearful for his life and asked me to pretend to be his sister. I didn’t really understand, but I obeyed, because I loved him. Well, Isaac just couldn’t keep his hands off me back then. One time the king caught him caressing me, and his charade was blown. I remember the king’s words, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” The king was shocked, but he issued a decree to protect both of us from harm.

After being married a few years, it became apparent that I wasn’t able to have children. I felt so discouraged and abandoned. I loved my sweet husband, and it pained me that I could not give him a child. But, sweet Isaac remembered his mother and knew that God had blessed her with a child in her old age. So, he prayed to God on my behalf. Soon after, I got pregnant!! We were so excited!

The pregnancy was difficult. I was in great pain and didn’t understand why. It was so unbearable at times that I wanted to die! So, I prayed to God and asked him why this was happening, The LORD was gracious and answered me. He said, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

I was going to have twins! No wonder the babies were so squirmy inside me! We had two boys, The first to come out was Esau, but Jacob fought all the way. He was still hanging tight to his brother’s heel when he finally emerged. God had blessed me so much! I had a wonderful husband and two children! If only I had continued to trust Him! But, this is where my story takes a turn.

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau.” I loved Jacob. Jacob was my favorite from the beginning. While Esau was out learning to hunt, I taught Jacob how to cook and tend to things around the tents. I wanted to keep my eye on him and make sure he was ready to be in charge one day, since God had told me that the older would serve the younger. I would tell him about the great plans God had for him one day.

I’m afraid this idea of power must have gone to his head. One day he was cooking a lentil stew and Esau came in starving after a day of hunting. The stew smelled so good, and Esau was so hungry that he would have done just about anything for food. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”

Jacob took the opportunity and said, “ First, sell me your birthright.”

Sure, Jacob shouldn’t have asked for such a thing, but Esau was terribly quick to agree to the terms and gave up his birthright to his younger brother. Then again, it was probably my fault for putting the idea into Jacob’s head.

You see, not too many years later, my husband Issac called to Esau and asked him to go out and hunt for some wild game and prepare it for him to eat so that he might bless Esau. Isaac was getting along in years and had lost most of his sense of sight. As a result, I was able to devise a plan to deceive him, a task that I have come to regret. I helped Jacob to deceive his father and steal his brother’s blessing.

Once Esau left the house, I called to my dear Jacob and told him what to do. I sent Jacob out to the flocks to select two goats that I then prepared just the way my sweet husband liked them. Then, I found some of Esau’s clothes and told Jacob to put them on. I even went so far as to cover Jacob’s hands in the skins of the goat so he would feel hairy likes his brother, just in case Issac reached out and touched him.

My plan worked perfectly! Isaac only once questioned the identity of his son, and he blessed Jacob, thinking he was Esau. When Esau returned, he was devastated. He pleaded with his father for his own blessing, but there was none to be given, only curses. My heart ached for my eldest son, but I knew that God planned for Jacob to be blessed. Wasn’t this the way it was supposed to be? Esau had to see!

But, no. Esau was so upset that he plotted to kill Jacob! I was so scared for my precious son that I devised yet another plan. I told Jacob that he was to go to my brother’s house until Esau calmed down, and then I would send word to him when it was safe to come back. I went to my husband and said to him,“I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”

Issac agreed that we did not want Jacob to marry any of the Canaanite women, either. So he said to Jacob, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.”

And so, Jacob went. It’s been many years now, and I’ve heard that Jacob has married has my two nieces, Rachel and Leah. They even have children! But, I’ve never seen them. Esau is still bitter, so I haven’t been able to send for Jacob, and now I am dying and will never see my sweet boy again. Not to mention the tension between me and Isaac. He hasn’t really treated me the same ever since.

It’s sad, really, because it didn’t have to be this way. I know God told me that Esau was to serve Jacob, but why did I have to take matters into my own hands? I didn’t gain anything, in fact, I lost so much! Why couldn’t I trust the God of Abraham to be in control? Now, all I can do is pray that He will forgive me and let me rest in Him in eternity.

Posted June 29th, 2009 in faith.

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