Bible stories : 07 Isaac and Rebecca.
circa 1900ish BC?
Life goes on. For some. Not for Sarah, who is now dead. Sad. Isaac is almost 40. Abraham is super old and super rich. Just a few things left to do before passing on, the most important of which is: finding Isaac a wife.
He has one major sticking point: regardless of personality or looks or any of that, she’s gotta be a girl who worships the one true God. So Canaanite women are out of the question. He calls his fave servant in and gives him an order.
“Go to Harran. Bring back the best woman for my son.”
“Of course, sir. Anything else?”
“Well,” Abraham thinks.
“How about some of those figs they’re famous for? Some of those. A wife for my son and some figs for me.”
So the servant sets out. History doesn’t record a name, so we’re going to call him Pete. Pete gets to Harran and shows up at the watering hole, and his timing is impeccable. Women are just showing up to draw water. “Draw water” is a fancy way of saying “dipping a bucket into the well to get water.”
Pete prays that he’ll make a good choice, and devises a plan. Basically, it’s this: he’s going to ask different women to draw him water, and whichever one not only gets me water, but asks if my camels want water is the right one.
He’s barely finished praying and his woman shows up. She’s beautiful. She’s got a pitcher. She’s getting water. Check, check, check. He asks his question, she gives him her answer, and…
...it’s the correct one! She’s the one. He gives her some presents, most significantly jewelry and a nose ring. This is super important, because it’s a betrothal gift. After that, he asks some other questions that are mildly important, such as what her name is and who her family is, and oh yes, where’s her dad?
Turns out dad is Abraham’s nephew, Bethuel. You might initially think this is a bad thing because, you know, blood relatives and all, but Pete knows this is actually a good thing. It means she’s part of the big Abrahamic fam and she’s a legit option.
Her name is Rebecca. She’s a little confused by what’s suddenly happening. You go to get some bathwater, help out a strange guy, and all of a sudden you’re engaged? She runs home and finds her big brother. Big brother Laban takes over. Remember his name, you’ll be hearing more of him in several decades.
They roll out some supper for their guest.
“Nope,” says Pete. “Ain’t eating until I tell you what I got to tell.”
“Alright,” says Laban. “Shoot.”
Pete tells the whole story of Abraham and how super awesome he’s doing, how God blessed them and helped Sarah get pregnant, and miracle boy Isaac, and how he’s supposed to find a wife for the boy, and so forth. He probably omits the story of Abraham taking Isaac on a big walk up a tall hill.
Bethuel and Laban are impressed. Rebecca probably has an opinion too, but it’s not been asked.
“Take her!” dad and big bro say. “This is so exciting! She’s all yours!”
Pete passes along more gifts to the fam. He gets up early the next morning and informs Rebecca it’s time to roll on out.
“Whoa,” says Bethuel. “How about you hold tight a week so she can pack up, say goodbye, get ready, all that?”
“Nope,” says Pete. “No time to waste. Gotta roll.”
To their credit, Bethuel and Laban inform Pete that they’ll talk to Rebecca, and if she’s okay with, then they will consent.
“Let’s do it!” she says, not in those words, but with that sentiment. She’s ready for some adventure.
Her family sends her off with love and presents and blessings, and reminds her to birth many children that will destroy, annihilate, and crush all their enemies, present and future.
She says of course!
She and Pete hop on their camels and head into the desert to face the future.
The short version of the immediate future is that Pete and Rebecca make it home. Isaac and Rebecca marry. Abraham dies, but importantly, he dies happy, knowing that God is keeping his promises.
Things are going good.
Nose rings are still a modern-day betrothal gift in many Bedouin tribes