-MOTHER OF JACOB/ISRAEL-
There were many women throughout the Bible who were childless including Rebekah. This allowed for God's intervention and to protect the chosen lineage of His Covenant Promises by having the choice of both father and mother, which was opposite to the man-made culture of ascribing the importance of lineage only to the older male.
Isaac pleaded with God in prayer for Rebekah to have children even though he knew of God's Covenant with his father and that it would be accomplished through him yet years of marriage had passed without Rebekah becoming pregnant. Rebekah had been childless for twenty years. It was important in ancient times to have a son. Isaac had no interest to take a secondary wife (a concubine) for the bearing of his children. He waited upon God.
Rebekah became pregnant, but twin babies jostled within her, so she inquired of God what was happening. God explained to Rebekah that the struggle between the twins, whose descendants were to become two nations, had already begun in the womb and to carry out His Covenant Promises, He had sovereignty chosen the younger son, according to His own perfect will.
At the time of their birth, Esau was the firstborn of the twins, the younger Jacob seized his brother, grasping onto the elder's heel, an incident which was significant as he would supplant Esau and receive the firstborn's blessing and inheritance. Jacob's name means 'grasp'.
When Rebekah's twin boys were born her titled name changed from 'the Wife of Isaac' to the 'Mother of Esau and Jacob'.
Rebekah favoured and loved Jacob for he was God's preference to His promises. God had told Rebekah He would bless Jacob above Esau. As Jacob grew, he understood of the sacred importance of the birthright blessings.
A famine drove Rebekah and her family to Gerar, further north from where the family lived. Isaac lacked faith in God to protect his life when he told Rebekah to lie and say she was his sister, so that the men of Gerar would not kill him on account of the beauty of his wife whom other men desired. Isaac had lied just like Abraham, his father in the same situation. Fortunately Isaac's untruthfulness was discovered and the Gentile king rebuked him.
The beautiful Rebekah, wife of Isaac whose child would be heir to the Covenantal Promises, was protected by King Abimeleck of the Philistines. God used this heathen ruler to protect the Covenant Lineage by announcing that if everyone hurt either Rebekah or Isaac in anyway would be killed.
Besides Isaac's craftiness, Rebekah herself also was not above deception that happened when the family had settled at Beersheba, south of Canaan.
Rebekah had been greatly upset when Esau married local heathen women. These godless wives caused weariness for Rebekah and when she overheard that the first-born blessing between her husband and her eldest twin son, Esau, was about to take place, she quickly planned to disguise Jacob as Esau.
By covering Jacob's head and neck with the goat's hair, her ageing, blind husband would not suspect that the younger son was receiving the blessing and not the elder, his favourite, Esau, for Jacob was not as hairy as his brother.
Jacob was very willing but hesitated and questioned his mother's plan for him to impersonate his brother to receive the first-born blessing from his father, for fear of being discovered by his father and receiving a curse instead. She resorted to parental authority for her son to obey her commands because of Jacob's apprehensiveness of taking denunciation.
Rebekah told Jacob to dress in Esau's clothes, as she prepared a meal from choice young goats so her husband would not detect that it was not venison that Esau was to have hunted.
Rebekah sinned when she deliberately set out to deceive her husband, although perhaps she believed it was God's will for her to help. The prediction to Rebekah that Jacob was God's chosen that the elder to serve the younger, may have prompted Rebekah to act at the time when she did, but God had no need of deceit to fulfil His purpose and promise to Rebekah.
Rebekah had taken God's matters into her own hands and achieved His purpose unjustly. Her domination over her husband regarding the firstborn right of blessing with her scheme of deception, exposed a momentary lack of godly character and of faith which was the reaction to the dilemma she faced. Jacob would have received it anyway by God's timing and by His way.
She took it upon herself to accomplish the will of God. Rebekah helped Jacob 'cheat' Esau out of his father's primary blessing. She gave a poor example to her sons. Her motive may have been pure but the action was wrong.
The birthright blessing guaranteed the personal succession of authoritative headship amongst family and relatives. The firstborn received the family blessing, spiritual blessing, a larger portion of inheritance of the family wealth and to this family, The Covenant Blessings of God, through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed, as was given through a guaranteed promise to Abraham by Almighty God.
Esau did previously sell his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup. It was not an unusual custom to sell a birthright, but for a high price. Esau was within his rights to trade his birthright but by this he showed disregard for family and spiritual blessings, satisfying only immediate pleasure without pausing to consider the long-range consequences, which exposed his foolishness.
Fathers also had the right to take the birthright blessing away from the eldest son and give it to someone more deserving, however Esau was the favourite son of Isaac and he had no plans to change his mind.
There had been three signs that Jacob would have the birthright, God telling Rebekah, Jacob's heel-gripping at the time of birth and Esau selling his birthright to Jacob.
Rebekah took quick action even though her action was not the right way. Rebekah manipulated the situation between Isaac and Jacob, which brought her sorrow instead of joy. This happened because of lack of trust in God, just as Abraham and Sarah, Isaac's parent's faith faltered when they planned a child with their Egyptian servant.
Her plan was carried out. Her action was an attempt to help God along and she expected God's approval. Her own plan would not have spoilt God's plan to come to pass, but Rebekah had to be responsible for her own actions. Her choice of plan was not balanced by wisdom guided by God nor was her decision of response. Impatient to hurry God's promise that He had revealed to her, the corruptness of her heart dominated.
Esau knew he had previously given away his birthright to his brother, but reacting in anger, he wanted to kill Jacob out of revenge after realising how valuable the family blessing for his future was and now his future was suddenly changed. He no longer was to be the head of the family clan when his father died and his position was less important in the order of significance around the household.
Isaac, as father of Jacob had the right to have had Jacob put to death for disobedience and divorce Rebekah without providing for her, but he chose not to take any such action. Reverence for God made him a stable man.
Without doubt Rebekah's favourite son Jacob was the divinely appointed heir of Abraham's blessing and covenants, promises of spiritual descendants were included as well as a physical nation. Esau's descendants became the nation of Edom, the Edomites. King Herod The Great who murdered the children in Bethlehem when trying to kill Jesus as a baby and his son Herod Antipas who ridiculed Jesus were both Edomites.
Jacob had received his birthright by the cunning scheme of Rebekah, and Esau became a malicious avenger. Because he swore to put to death his younger twin brother, tearfully Rebekah decided to send Jacob to her brother in Haran for the security of both her sons. If Esau killed Jacob, Esau then himself would become a target for blood revenge. Both Isaac and Rebekah agreed that Jacob was to marry there amongst their family relatives at Haran.
Before leaving for safety with Rebekah's brother, Isaac made Jacob heir of the God's Covenant Promises given to Abraham. With the Covenantal Blessings being received by Jacob as he departed for his journey, Rebekah did not suspect that she would never see her much loved son again, he didn't return until 20 years later, during which time she died.
Isaac outlived his beloved Rebekah and buried her in Machpelah near Hebron in the south of Canaan, part of the land that had been promised by God to her descendants.
Rebekah, the young virgin girl from the village of Nahor, northwest Mesopotamia, became the 2nd matriarch of the family of the nation of Israel. She held the position of leadership in the family and dominated the group and field of activity.
Unfortunately like all humankind she thought she had to help God along with His plans her way. Her motives and emotions had been mixed; she loved Jacob and had received a message from God that the elder would serve the younger. Only one son could produce the family line through which Christ would come and God had chosen Jacob.
God changed Jacob's name to Israel and he became the father of the 12 sons from whom the tribes of the nation were formed. Although Esau and Jacob as brothers were personally reconciled, the hatred among the Edomite nation of descendants of Esau continued for generations.
It was not by Rebekah's wits that her younger son came into the blessings and inheritances, but by God's Sovereign rule. It was only through God's favour that Jacob had received the birthright, he did not in any way earn it.
Rebekah was the woman chosen by God; perhaps she did not give God the chance to show her what He still would have done for her. God is Sovereign over human affairs and human actions do bring about God's will.
No matter how good intentions may seem, no-one should attempt to achieve anything unjustly.
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