A Marriage Made In Heaven?

Isaac and Rebekah serve as a paradigm for Jewish marriage, and yet, their relationship is more complex than it may appear.

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Provided by the Union of Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America.

Parashah Overview

  • Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah in order to bury his wife Sarah. (23:1-20)

  • Abraham sends his servant to find a bride for Isaac. (24:1-9)

  • Rebekah shows her kindness by offering to draw water for the servant's camels at the well. (24:15-20)

  • The servant meets Rebekah's family and then takes Rebekah to Isaac, who marries her. (24:23-67)

  • Abraham takes another wife, named Keturah. At the age of one hundred and seventy-five years, Abraham dies, and Isaac and Ishmael bury him in the cave of Machpelah. (25:1-11)

Focal Point

Isaac had just come back from the vicinity of Beer-lahai-roi, for he was settled in the region of the Negev. And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening and, looking up, he saw camels approaching. Raising her eyes, Rebekah saw Isaac. She alighted from the camel and said to the servant, "Who is that man walking in the field toward us?" And the servant said, "That is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Isaac then brought her to the tent of his mother, Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother's death (Genesis 24:62-67).

Your Guide

After Abraham's death, Isaac settled in Beer-lahai-roi (Genesis 24:62). This was also the place in which Hagar encountered an angel when she first fled from Sarah (Genesis 16). Is there a possible hidden significance of this place for Isaac?

When they meet, Rebekah and Isaac both exchange words with the servant but say nothing to each other. Why?

Prior to their meeting, the text says about both Isaac and Rebekah that "she/he raised up her/his eyes." Does this phrase suggest just a physical raising of the eyes or an inner emotional shift as well?

Isaac's dead mother, Sarah, is mentioned twice in verse 67. Is Isaac's awareness of his mother's presence excessive, or is it to be expected at the time of his marriage?

By the Way…

"From the vicinity of Beer-lahai-roi." He had gone there to take Hagar to his father Abraham, for him to marry her (Rashi on Genesis 24:62). [Note: According to midrashic tradition, Abraham's new wife, Keturah, was actually Hagar.]

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Rabbi Stephen Cohen

Rabbi Stephen Cohen is the executive director of the Hillel Foundation at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Calif.