Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rebekah: the real fairy tale story?

So, what is the value of a covenant?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately.  The past six months, practically, because the Old Testament is all about remembering Christ.  That's the Old Testament in a teeny tiny nutshell.
How do I feel about being born with the Abrahamic covenant as my inheritance?
How much do I value that covenant?

Great effort was made to ensure that Issac married within the covenant.
The people of Israel were taught to not marry outside the covenant.  It was a commandment from the Lord, For they will turn away thy son [or daughter] from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

You see, your decision to marry someone affects generations.
Who you marry and where you marry has a huge impact on your marriage, on your children, and on your children's children.  Almost two years ago, Matthew and I were married and we decided to be married for time and eternity.  We made covenants to each other and to the Lord - see here - that now bind us and our posterity together for eternity ... if we are faithful to each other and the Lord.  Sure, we got all dressed up and had a blast on the day - hello, it was our wedding day!
But when all is said and done, the important things were who I married, where I married, and what I promised.

 (source: Old Testament Visual Resources DVD)
Clearly based on the assumption we all have five kiddies.

Choosing a marriage partner is important for everyone, but especially for those who desire the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, mainly because of the promise of an eternal family.  If a husband and wife both accept and keep the Abrahamic covenant - which is fully received in the temple - they can have the blessing of an eternal family.

This is why great effort was made to ensure the marriage of Isaac was within the Covenant.

Hello Rebekah.

This is how is went down (according to Genesis 24:1-33, 49-60).
Abraham was getting on in years, and must have been worrying about the future of his children, as fathers tend to do.  Both he and Sarah desperately wanted their children to continue in righteousness, and marry someone righteous.  Of course this was especially important for Isaac, because he was the covenant son.  Who he married who affect history.

So Abraham sent his eldest servant, the one who ran the household and property, and together they made a promise that the servant would choose a bride for Isaac, a bride that was not from the land of Canaan, but from Abraham's homeland.  A girl from back home.  They even shook hands (not thighs) on it.

The servant left on his quest, taking ten camels with him.  They were carrying all of Abraham's material possessions, to help in claiming Isaac's bride.  He travelled to the city of Nahor, stopping outside for the camels to drink out of the well.  It just happened to be the same time of day that the women drew their water from the well.  Hello.  So this faithful servant prayed to the God of Abraham that He would show kindness on Abraham, and that the young woman to whom he asks for a drink - if she be the one - she should answer "Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also".  That is how he would know.

And that is how Rebekah entered the story.  In fact, the servant hadn't even finished praying yet, and she walked out of the city with a pitcher on her shoulder, ready to draw water from the well.  Of course, as it turned out, Rebekah just happened to be Isaac's first cousin once removed.  She was extremely beautiful, good and pure.

The servant practically ran over to her, and asked "Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher."  Rebekah answered "Drink, my lord", and quickly put down her pitcher and gave him drink.  She then said "I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking."  Remember, there were ten thirsty camels.  That is a lot of drawing water!
And so, the servant offered her a gold earring and two gold bracelets - all quite heavy in weight - and asked who she was and if he could find lodging in her father's house.  This was how he met her family - Abraham's relatives, including her brother Laban - and how Rebekah became betrothed to Isaac.

Rebekah at the Well - Michael Deas

And so Isaac and Rebekah were married under the covenant, similar to Matthew and me.

What did you think of Rebekah's character?  According to Bruce R. McConkie, she is the "patter for what her daughters in the church today can do."  [1]  She is meant to be our example today. 
  • When she said "I will go" (in Genesis 24:58), she was being an example of great faith, having a clear understanding of the importance of marriage in the covenant.
  • Later in her life, when she was having a difficult pregnancy, she went directly to the Lord and inquired about it (in Genesis 25:21-24)Two nations are in they womb, he answered.  We see when Rebekah was troubled and needed divine guidance, she herself took the matter up with the Lord, and he spoke to her in reply.  The Lord truly gives revelation to women who pray to him in faith.
  • When Esau married Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, both Rebekah and Isaac grieved (in Genesis 26:34, 35).  It meant Esau had married out of the church, not in the Lord's system of celestial marriage.  This would have brought great sorrow to these parents.  So, when it became time to marry Jacob off, it was Rebekah that ensured everything was done right.  Genesis 27:46 tells us she had great anxiety about this; she must have felt those natural feelings of fear that he too might depart from the teachings of his parents and marry someone who was not eligible to receive the blessings of eternal marriage.  That's why this awesome woman got Isaac's attention (in Genesis 28:1).  We see a mother greatly concerned about the marriage and future of her son, and she prevailed upon the father to do something about it.

We aren't told much about Rebekah's side of this story in the text, simply that she unflinchingly agreed to the proposal.  What does this tell us about her faith?  She would have known who Isaac was, and no doubt the importance of covenant marriage.  Regardless of there not being much detail from her perspective, her astounding character shines out.

You see, your decision to marry someone does affect generations.

[1] Bruce R. McConkie, In Conference Report, Sydney Australia Area Conference 1976, pp.34-35


  1. I love this! Julie B. Beckk's talk, Teaching the Doctrine of the Family also discusses the importance of preparing all of our youth to leave the youth program as Rebekahs and Isaacs desiring to be covenenat keeping youth seeking the blessings of Abraham 1:2 Eternal Marriage. Loved this post and the pictures were a great visual of how many people are affected by OUR choice of who we marry.

    1. Thanks for referencing Julie B. Beck's talk, Susan. I've been thinking even more on this topic, and will add some more comments soon on the matter. What a great way to teach this to the youth! Thanks for reading.


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