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by Wayne Blank
"And they called Rebekah, and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will go." So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham's servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, "Our sister, be the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them!" Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and rode upon the camels and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way." (Genesis 24:58-61 RSV)
It was actually The Lord's choice however, a factor that both Isaac and Rebekah realized and accepted when they met.
"And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she alighted from the camel, and said to the servant, "Who is the man yonder, walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." (Genesis 24:63-67 RSV)
"Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you"
There may have been a substantial age difference between Isaac and Rebekah; "Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah," while Rebekah "the maiden" may have been only in her late teens.
"These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham [see On His Own Two Feet] was the father of Isaac [see also Isaac's Faith And Obedience], and Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban [see also Jacob and Laban] the Aramean." (Genesis 25:19-20 RSV)
When Isaac and Rebekah did not have children after some time, "Isaac prayed to The Lord for his wife, because she was barren" - not the first, or last, time that a problem with conceiving was encountered in that immediate family. Isaac's mother Sarah was also "barren" ("Now Sarai was barren; she had no child," Genesis 11:30 RSV) until The Lord made it possible for her to have a child, while Rebekah "was barren" (Genesis 29:31 RSV) until The Lord also made it possible for her to have a child. It was the case for a number of other key people in Bible History e.g. see Mary and Elizabeth.
"And Isaac prayed to The Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and The Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived." (Genesis 25:21 RSV)
Although the prayer was answered, it soon became evident to their distressed mother that Jacob and Esau had a natural inclination for a lifelong struggle. Jacob's later name change to "Israel" was based, in part, upon that very conflict i.e. "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed" (Genesis 32:28 RSV).
"The children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is thus, why do I live?" So she went to inquire of The Lord." (Genesis 25:22 RSV)
But it was The Lord's will which of the two would prevail, not for the sake of a man, but for the sake of the line of the coming Messiah.
"And The Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25:23 RSV)
When the children were born, it was immediately obvious that they were fraternal, not identical, twins.
"When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came forth red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came forth, and his hand had taken hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob." (Genesis 25:24-26 RSV)
Fact Finder: How was the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah arranged?