'Week 1

Friday Reflection

4th December 2020

'It's never easy to be second'

Rebekah, the Superheroine

23 The Lord said to her,
  "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."

..... Genesis 25:23

We can read Rebekah's story
in Genesis chapters 24-28.

It's never easy to be second,
and the Jewish matriarch
Rebekah was second
in more ways than one.

She was the second generation
of God's covenant
with the Jewish people -
the one that began
with her in-laws,
Abraham and Sarah.

She came in to the family
and covenant through marriage.

And, of course,
she was second because
she was a woman in the
ancient world where
blessings and covenants
were passed down from
father to son.

Wives and mothers
were essential
to this process,
but never equal.

But despite being second
in all these ways,
she displayed extraordinary
strength of both body
and character.

She managed to break
the mould
and take an active role
in shaping her own destiny -
and that of her children.

According to the
Biblical narrative,
it was Rebekah's
generosity and strength
that brought her into
Abraham's family.

After the death of Sarah,
Abraham determined that
the time had come
to find a wife
for his son, Isaac.

Because he wanted Isaac
to marry someone
from his own extended family,
he sent his servant,
back to his birthplace
to find a suitable bride.

Rebekah was the
first woman he met,
and she immediately
passed the test
he set for her.

When being asked for
a drink she offered
to draw water for
the camels as well
This proved her to be
not only generous,
but exceptionally strong -
one thirsty camel
can drink 53 gallons
of water in minutes!

After they meet
at the well,
Rebekah took Eliezer
to meet her family and,
shortly after,
agreed to return to
Canaan to marry Isaac.

Rebekah's decision,
to undertake the journey
to Canaan, echoes
the original journey
made by Abraham.

Rebekah travelled
from Abraham's birthplace,
to the same destination.

Rebekah was also
the first woman
in the Hebrew Bible,
and the only one
of the matriarchs,
to receive a blessing,
one that echoes
the blessing and
promise given to Abraham.

That eventually became
the birthright passed down
from one generation to the next.

Rebekah's strength of
body and spirit
carried over into her
new married life
with Isaac.

She was a woman of
action, not of words,
which became
increasingly apparent
as time went on.

When she and Isaac
struggled with infertility,
Isaac prayed to God.

But once Rebekah
became pregnant
and the pregnancy
proved to be
unusually difficult,
she went out and sought God.

Unlike Isaac
who solely prayed,
Rebekah physically
left her home in order
to connect with God
and understand what
was happening to her.

it is a point that
is often glossed over,
but Rebekah survives
a difficult pregnancy,
carrying twins,
eons before the arrival
of modern medicine.

The physical strength
that she demonstrated
ensured the birth
of two nations,
Israel and Edom.

Not only did she bring
both boys into the world,
but Rebekah was
instrumental in
sealing their
respective futures.

She ensured that Jacob,
her youngest and
favourite child,
received the birthright
blessing that had previously
been passed down
from Abraham to Isaac,
which should have
gone to Esau.

Rebekah was a doer,
not a talker;
she may not have been
the first matriarch,
but being second
did not stop her
from being remarkable
in her own right.

She was the first
person to make
the active, conscious
choice to join the
Jewish people,
and her loyalty
plus physical
and emotional strength
helped to ensure
their future.

How do the life
and aspects of
Rebekah's character
speak to you?
Can you identify
any of her traits?

Are you a doer
rather than a talker,
or the reverse?

Have you had to step out
in faith into
the unknown,
hoping that you have
made in right
decision and
praying God was with you?

We are not expected
to be superheroes
but as we reflect
on the character
of Rebekah,
her strength,
commitment to family
and God,
may her example be
reflected in our lives.