Genesis 24:15-67 “Rebekah- Woman of Faith”

Posted on December 12, 2010. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Genesis 24:15-67 “Rebekah- Woman of Faith”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bryan E. Walker

 

Read Gen.24:15-67

 

Pray

 

Introduction: Last week we continued our study in Gen. 24 by doing a different type of Bible study called a Character Study. We focused on the unnamed servant of Abraham. Today we will continue with this character study but we will shift our focus to the young Rebekah. In a full blown character study we would go to chapters 25-27 and cover all the material on Rebekah, but instead, we will focus on just what we find here in chapter 24. The main idea that we will see is that God was at work in Rebekah’s life and even though she was raised in a pagan household, we see that she had a servant’s heart and had the faith to follow where the Lord was leading which inevitably points us towards the main character of the chapter, the LORD, who is shown to be sovereign over even the routine things of life.

  1. I.                   Rebekah
    1. A.      Industrious
      1. 1.        In verse 15 we see that Rebekah was seen by Abraham’s servant as she came to the well with her water jar on her shoulder. It is interesting to note that she was the daughter of Bethuel and he was not poor, but was probably quite well off. How do we know this? In vss.23-25 the servant asks if there is room for his party to spend the night and she responds, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” Keeping in mind that the servant had 10 camels and likely 4 other men with him; this was a substantial party to claim hospitality and would require a substantial household to provide what was required. It is probably that Bethuel’s household included servants, yet it was his daughter, the young Rebekah, who we see going to the city well with the water jar. While there were likely servant girls from her household accompanying her, it is interesting that she was not above doing the daily manual labor of going to the well. She was no pampered rich girl who was too good for work.
      2. 2.        We also see that, while vs.16 says that she was very attractive in appearance, she was not too delicate to do the hard work of going for the water every day. Being physically attractive is important for young ladies but it can also be a heavy burden. Our society seems to put good looks as being more valuable than good character. Attractive young ladies are very often led away into sin by all the attention their looks get them with the men. We live in a Barbie Doll world. Prov.31:30 “Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Apply: what can we do for our daughters, wives and granddaughters to ensure that they look attractive and feminine, yet also modest and emphasizing godly character not the latest fashion trends?
      3. 3.        In vss.17-20 we see Rebekah’s servant heart. She responded to the man’s request for a drink immediately and then volunteered to water his 10 camels. This was an amazing amount of work that could have taken an hour or longer and involved a lot of hard work. Her water jar was probably a 3 gallon jar thus necessitating about 70-80 trips to the well overall. Although the text does not suggest it, it is possible that she had some other servant girls with her to assist. The main idea here is that (1) the servant’s prayer was answered by the LORD, (2) Rebekah was a hardworking, generous girl with a heart to serve others. Although the man no doubt went to her first because of her beauty, it was her character than answered his prayer. What could have been her motive? Was it likely that she always volunteered to water the caravans that showed up? I think that while her character was service oriented, it is possible that she was also curious. Here was an obviously rich and important individual asking her for a drink. She no doubt saw the heavily laden camels and could tell this was something big. Perhaps her servant’s heart and her curiosity combined to lead her to take on this big task.
    2. B.      Virtuous
      1. 1.        V.16 “a maiden” ESV translates the word ‘betula’ as maiden instead of virgin, indicating a young single woman of marriageable age still under the protection of her father’s household and assumed to be a virgin.. A similar translation decision was also made by the RSV committee in regards to the word alma in Isaiah 7:14 that caused a serious uproar in the early 1950’s. The KJV translated ‘alma as virgin, but the RSV translated it as “young woman”. When I was a teenager and young man the RSV was considered to be a Liberal translation largely because of that verse. Back then the liberal argument was that almameant young woman and ‘betula’ meant virgin, although the alma was assumed to also be a virgin. But, since it was in a Messianic prophecy (Isa. 7:14) and the doctrine of the virgin birth was a favorite target of liberals, the controversy was on. Now here we are 30 years later, and almost 60 years since the publication of the RSV, and the conservative’s ESV translates betula as maiden! You will notice that in Gen.24:43 the ESV translates ‘alma’ as “virgin” thus confusing us even more. (See Victor P. Hamilton, pp.146-7 for a good, brief discussion of betula vs. alma). Essentially, then, both betula and alma mean about the same thing and can assume virginity for a young unmarried teenage girl. The next phrase in Gen. 24:16 does make it clear that she had not known a man sexually.

 

  1. C.      Responsible
    1. 1.        V.28 Rebekah ran home and told her folks about her encounter at the well. This exhibits her excitement but also some responsibility. She has met an interesting man who claims to be the servant of her great uncle, Abraham, and she has basically invited him and his caravan home for dinner- so she better go home and tell mom and dad! Plus, the man had just rewarded her for her hard work with some expensive jewelry and she had been gone for much longer than normal to get water.
    2. 2.        “Ran” in vs. 17 the servant of Abraham “ran’ to meet the beautiful Rebekah. V.18 Rebekah “quickly” let down her jar and gave him a drink.  V.20 she “quickly” emptied her jar into the trough. V.28 she “ran” and told. V. 29 Laban “ran” out toward the man. In v.33 the servant will not eat until he has told his business. The next morning the family wants to delay Rebekah’s leaving indefinitely (10 days) but the faithful servant (v.56) says, “Do not delay me…send me away”. Moses has written this so as to emphasize the urgency of the situation.
    3. D.      Faith
      1. 1.        In vss. 54-56 we see that the next morning the servant is ready to leave that morning with Rebekah and return home but Rebekah’s family is now balking and asking for more time. The servant is insistent, and keep in mind that he had already given many expensive gifts to Rebekah, Laban and Rebekah’s mother, so they agree to put the question to Rebekah, “Will you go with this man?” Her answer is, “I will go.” Waltke writes, p.331, “Since they had already consented to the marriage (24:51), the question is unethical. This story hints at Laban’s unscrupulous conduct and greed, which will later trouble Jacob (see 29:23; 31:41). Had the servant and Rebekah stayed, they might have lost both the dowry and the marriage.”
      2. 2.        This brief, unhesitant answer from Rebekah demonstrates an adventurous, courageous spirit. She has likely never been far from home before and she just met this man yesterday, she has never seen even a picture of Isaac (Kodak ben Eastman had not been born yet) and she agrees to go. Apply- parents, put yourselves in this situation. Ladies, what do you think?
      3. 3.        Waltke writes, (p.331) “I will go. This is the most decisive remark in the narrative. Seemingly against her family’s wishes, she complies with the Lord’s direction, matching Abraham’s fait to leave the family (see 12:1,4).”
      4. 4.        Mathews shows that there is a structure to this final drama in the quest for a wife for Isaac (p.343):

A (v.54b) send me on my way to my master

        B 9v.55b) then you may go

A1 (v.56b) send me on my way so I may go to my master

        B1 (v.58b) will you go with this man?

  1. 5.        The servant’s desire to leave immediately is rooted in his faith in the LORD as well as his commitment to Abraham and Isaac, (v.56) “Do not delay me since the LORD has prospered my way.” Mathews writes, p.344) “the anxious servant  does not want to dawdle even for a few days, contending that the divine purpose of his mission must take precedence over family wants. The divine will has made the normally mundane a pressing matter. This is vaguely reminiscent of the prophet who erred by staying with the old prophet in hostile territory, although the Lord forbade him, resulting in his death (1Kings13:11-32).” Apply: so too does our Lord bid us to come, follow him, and we must immediately lay down our fishing nets and follow him (Mk.1:18). Rebekah’s faith in following the servant was no doubt prompted by the LORD, using her natural curiosity and adventurousness. Her example of leaving and going presents her as the female equivalent of Abraham.

 

  1. E.       Modesty
    1. 1.        Vv.64-65 by veiling herself, Rebekah practices her people’s tradition of modesty which also indicates that she is the bride. Notice that Isaac does not get to see her prior to the wedding.

 

  1. II.                The LORD
    1. A.      Providence
      1. 1.        In this story we do not so much see a miracle as we see the hand of God acting through the normal everyday things of life to accomplish his will. This we call Providence. See Eph.1:11;  Deut.29:29; Matt.6:10; Isaiah 46:8-11.
      2. 2.        The main idea of this story is that God is faithful to keep his covenant with Abraham by providing a wife for his son Isaac. We see Abraham keeping faith, the unnamed servant keeping faith, and the young Rebekah beginning in faith.

 

 

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