Genesis 24:1 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way.
But his son Isaac was still unmarried, so Abraham sent a trusted servant back to his clan to find a suitable wife. It was a journey of several hundred miles, that would take weeks to complete, with no guarantee of success. But the servant shared his master’s faith, so he prayed for God’s help.
Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a young woman, Please let down your jar that I may have a drink, and she says, Drink, and I’ll water your camels too—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac (Genesis 24:12-14).
Choosing the right wife for someone else was an uncertain task, so the servant asked God to confirm the choice in an obvious way. He wanted the young woman he asked for a drink to offer to water his camels too. Camels can drink about twenty-five gallons (and he had ten of them) so this would be a convincing sign. It would also show that the young woman was kind and hardworking, which are excellent qualities for a spouse.
Genesis 24:16-19 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. The servant hurried to meet her and said, Please give me a little water from your jar. Drink, my lord, she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, I’ll draw water for your camels too.
This convinced the servant that she was the one for Isaac, so he gave her jewelry and asked to meet her family. They were related to Abraham, and shared his faith to some degree. The servant explained the reason for his visit, and asked for the young lady to return with him to marry Isaac.
Genesis 24:51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.
The following day they began the long journey home. Isaac was in the field when he saw the caravan approaching, and his heart likely skipped a beat. Had they been successful? Did he have a wife? Would they be compatible? Yes, yes and yes! So she became his wife, and he loved her (Genesis 25:67), wrote Moses.
When Rebekah went to the well that day, she had no idea that she would soon be married to a wealthy young man, and become a leading lady among God’s people. This does not happen to everyone, but it does remind us that God is in control of our lives. We never know what a day will bring, and we can give thanks for unknown blessings already on the way.
Genesis 25:20 Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah.
They probably wanted to have children right away, but like Sarah, Rebekah was barren. Isaac prayed, but the answer did not come for twenty years. Then, at last, The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant (Genesis 20:21).
God enrolls us in the school of prayer by leaving some of our needs unmet. Otherwise we would not pray as often, or rely on God as much. Our needs are not an oversight; they are the means of knowing God better. This is why Jesus taught us to always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).
Genesis 25:22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, Why is this happening to me?
Rebekah did not know that she was pregnant with two active boys. Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger (Genesis 25:23), said God.
The first to be born was red and hairy, so they named him Esau (which probably means hairy). The second was grasping his brother’s heel when he came out, so they named him Jacob.Jacob means he grasps the heel, but figuratively, it means he deceives. And Jacob would live up to his name.
Furthermore, the twins were nearly as different as they could be. Esau loved the open country; Jacob liked to stay at home. Esau thought little of God; Jacob took God seriously. Esau was favored by Isaac; Jacob was favored by Rebekah. From Esau came the Edomites; from Jacob came the Israelites.
Parents are often surprised by how different their children are from each other: physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, relationally, and in many other ways. It seems the only thing some siblings have in common is their sinful nature. This was true for Jacob and Esau, who were frequently at odds.
Genesis 25:29-30 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!
Jacob and Esau were now adults, but Jacob never got over the fact that he was born second. The birthright belonged to Esau, which gave him certain privileges, like a greater inheritance and being the future head of the clan. Esau could also expect to receive God’s promise to his grandfather Abraham: all peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:3).
This bothered Jacob so much that, short of murder, he would do whatever he could to get his brother’s birthright. The fact that Esau was famished, and that Jacob had some stew, presented an opportunity.
Genesis 25:31-34 First sell me your birthright. Look, I am about to die, Esau said. What good is the birthright to me? But Jacob said, Swear to me first. So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
Jacob wanted the birthright more than Esau, so Esau finally gave it up. It simply was not that important to him. He was not greedy or ambitious. He did not care about the inheritance, or being head of the family. But he did not care about God’s promise to Abraham either. He just wanted some food.
Esau was better than Jacob in some ways, but according to the Bible, he was godless (Hebrews 12:16). God’s promise to Grandpa Abraham mattered less to Esau than a bowl of stew. Esau should have ignored his appetite and held onto God’s promise. But he chose to sell God’s promise to satisfy his appetite.
We too can live for the here and now, and lose it all eventually. Or we can live for the age to come, and keep it all forever. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:25), said Jesus.
Reflection and Review
What is the value of unanswered prayer?
What kind of person was Jacob?
What kind of person was Esau?