Rebekah (Rebecca)

Isaac's wife was known for her kindness and beauty--and deception.

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Laban and Bethuel answered, "The matter was decreed by the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master's son, as the Lord has spoken (Genesis 24:50–51)."

Eliezer, hearing these words, bowed low to the ground before God. Then he took out more objects of silver and gold and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave presents to Laban and to his mother. After this, he and his men ate and drank, and they rested in the night.

Early next morning, they announced that they wanted to depart. Rebekah's mother and Laban asked Eliezer if Rebekah could stay with them for another ten days.

"Do not delay me, now that the Lord has made my errand successful. Give me leave that I may go to my master," answered Eliezer (Genesis 24:56). They called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" Rebekah answered, "I will (Genesis 24:58)." Then she, her nurse Deborah, and her maids arose, mounted the camels, and followed Eliezer, while her relatives blessed her.

Jacob and Esau

Isaac was strolling in the field toward evening when he saw camels approaching. Rebekah raised her eyes and saw Isaac. She alighted from the camel and asked Eliezer, "Who is that man walking in the field toward us?"

Eliezer answered, "That is my master (Genesis 24:65)." Rebekah took her veil and covered herself. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother, Sarah. They married, and Rebekah became a great comfort to Isaac, who had felt very lonely after the death of his mother.

For twenty years, Rebekah was not able to conceive, until Isaac, then sixty years old, prayed to God on her behalf. During Rebekah's pregnancy, she felt the babies struggling in her womb and was told by the Lord that each of the boys would become the progenitor of a nation and that the older would serve the younger. Esau was born first, red and hairy. Moments later, Jacob came out, holding Esau's heel.

Esau, his father's favorite, grew up to be a skilled hunter, a simple fellow, and an outdoors man--impetuous, impatient, and easily manipulated by his shrewd brother. Jacob, his mother's favorite, was completely his opposite: a patient, thoughtful, stay-at-home type.

Esau married at the age of forty, the same age of his father, Isaac, when he married Rebekah. His wives, two Hittite women called Judith and Basemath, did all they could to make life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.

Years went by and Isaac, now grown old and blind, decided to bless his elder son; but first, he wanted to eat. He called Esau and told him, "I am old now, and I do not know how soon I may die. Take your gear, your quiver and bow, and go out into the open and hunt me some game. Then prepare a dish for me such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my innermost blessing before I die (Genesis 27:2–4)."

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David Mandel studied at the University of Pennsylvania under Bible scholar Moshe Greenberg, and moved to Israel in 1970, where he founded Computronic Corporation, an Israeli software development company that specializes in biblical software.