by Gwen Shaw
Her name was Rebekah. She spoke three small, seemingly insignificant words that changed the destiny of the world forever. They were, “I will go.”
Her name, Rebekah, means “to bind together, a noose, to blend, to fetter, to shackle, to charm, to bewitch.”
She was the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, who had left the Ur of the Chaldees, together with Abraham and Sarah and their father, Terah, in answer to the call of God to search for a land which the Lord wanted to give them. But her father, and his part of the family never continued the pilgrimage with Abraham and Sarah when they again started out on their journey in search of the Land of Promise after the death of their old father, Terah. They stayed in Mesopotamia and prospered to a degree, but never became as rich and powerful as Abraham.
Abraham and Nahor had married sisters — Sarai (Sarah) and Milcah, their nieces, who had become orphaned at the death of their father, Haran, while he was still living in Ur (Genesis 11:28). When they left Ur they took Sarah’s and Milcah’s one brother, Lot, with them. He also continued with Abraham and Sarah as they journeyed on from Haran, to the land of Canaan.
While Abraham and Sarah remained childless until he was one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety, we read that Nahor and his wife, Milkah had eight sons, Huz, Buz (they might have been twins with names like that), Kemuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel, the father of Rebekah and her brother Laban (Genesis 22:20-24).
Because Isaac was born when Abraham was old, Rebekah would have been of marriageable age about the same time that Isaac was, even though she was the great granddaughter of Terah, and Isaac (her cousin) was his grandson.
Not only was Abraham alive when Isaac married Rebekah, many of Abraham’s ancestors were still living. Shem, the son of Noah, who lived to the age of six hundred years was still alive; so was Arphaxad, his son, Salah and Heber, and several others lived to a great age. Noah lived for three hundred and fifty years after the flood, and died at the age of nine hundred and fifty years (Genesis 9:28-29).
It is believed that another great Ancient from the days after the Flood was still living at the time of Isaac. He was Melchizedek, King of Salem (Genesis 14:18). The Jewish Aggadah teaches that a school of deep spiritual knowledge Bet Midrash of Shem and Eber, where righteous men could study religion, was still in operation during Jacob’s lifetime, and that he studied there, while Esau went out on his hunting expeditions. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, page 1603).
Because of Noah’s great age, he was still living in the time of Abraham’s youth, and Abraham may have seen him. There is no doubt that he taught his descendants truths which have been lost in antiquity. He was a kind of “bridge” between the Ancients who lived before the Flood, and those who lived after the Flood. It would have been a great privilege and honour, as well as of tremendous interest to have been taught by Noah, and the other great men of his day, the mysteries of the past. It is too bad that this knowledge has been lost. One of the ancient men of wisdom and renown who lived at that time was Job. Job 1:1 says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.”
THE SEARCH FOR THE BRIDE
When Sarah was one hundred and twenty-seven years old she died. Abraham returned from Hebron, where he had buried her in the cave of Machpelah, to live again in Beersheba.
Sarah’s death was followed by the death of Lot, who died at the age of one hundred and forty, in the thirty-ninth year of Isaac. (The Book of Jasher).
The following year, when Isaac was forty, it was told Abraham that his brother Nahor had died in Haran. He was one hundred and seventy-two years old. Abraham was one hundred and forty. When his time of mourning was over, Abraham decided it was time to find a wife for his son, Isaac. He was brought home from The House of Shem and Eber to prepare himself for marriage.
The people of Canaan, the Canaanites, were also descendants of Noah, but they had come down through Noah’s son, Ham and his son Canaan, who had become very wicked and were cursed by Noah. They were followers of one of their ancestors, Nimrod, who was the world’s first despotic warmonger and dictator. He trained young men in warfare and made raids on villages, slaughtering people ruthlessly, and conquering vast areas which he ruled over. He built the cities of Babel and many others (Genesis 10:9-12). He forsook the worship of the one true God and set himself up as “god,” demanding that the people worship him. He also taught the people to worship his mother, Semiramis, (who also became his wife). He is the one who introduced idolatry to the world, and led the people into a life of wickedness, bloodshed, witchcraft, satanism and all kinds of perversion. Two of the cities of his descendants were Sodom and Gomorrah, where the sodomites ruled over the people, creating fear and havoc.
Because the people of Canaan were very sinful Abraham did not want his son, Isaac, to marry one of their women. so he commanded his faithful servant, Eliezer, who was a God-fearing man (as many of Abraham’s household were), to go back to Mesopotamia and see if his brother, Nahor, had any granddaughters who were of marriageable age, and who would be willing to leave her family and make the long journey to Canaan to become Isaac’s bride. The Bible does not give us the name of this servant, but it is believed by many Bible scholars that he was none other than Eliezer, Abraham’s faithful steward (Genesis 15:2). The Book of Jasher confirms this.
Eliezer made a vow that he would do his best to procure the bride, and under no circumstances would he bring Isaac back to his homeland, lest he be tempted to not return to claim his inheritance in the Promised Land.
After preparing a great dowry of fine raiment, golden and silver jewellery (ten camel loads of it), he started out on the long journey to the city of Haran in the land of Mesopotamia, where Nahor, Abraham’s brother had lived, and where he and Abraham’s father, Terah, had died.
When Eliezer arrived at Haran he stopped at the well of the village so that his camels could drink water, for they were very thirsty from their many days of travel.
As he sat there he prayed, “And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master” (Genesis 24:12-14).
He had not finished praying before Rebekah, the great granddaughter of Terah, arrived at the well to fetch water. She was carrying her water pitcher on her shoulder. Rebekah was very beautiful, and the Bible says she was a virgin. We do not know how old she was because the Bible does not tell us her age; according to tradition she could have been as young as fourteen. I believe that she was older because she would not have had the strength needed to water ten camels if she had been but a child. The word “virgin” in Genesis 24:43 is the same as that used in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Little did Rebekah realize, when she woke up that morning, that this was the day when she would be chosen to be the bride of a wealthy prince.
The wise old man ran to meet her as she was climbing up the steps from the well, carrying her pitcher, full of water, on her shoulder. He said to her, “Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water out of thy pitcher.”
Rebekah quickly let down her pitcher, and holding it in her hands, said to Eliezer, “Drink, my lord!” And she helped him to take a drink.
When she had finished giving him the water she said, “I will draw water for thy camels until they have done drinking.” She ran over to the trough, emptied her pitcher into it and ran again to the well to draw water for the camels.
We never can realize how rewarding a kind deed can be. By offering to water the camels Rebekah became one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ. She was placed in the heart of The Covenant of God’s promise to Eve, that her seed would bruise the serpent’s head.
Eliezer was not the only man at the well that day. The Book of Jasher says he had brought along ten servants from the household of Abraham. Any one of them could have watered the camels. And Rebekah could easily have thought, “Why should I work that hard? Let them do it!” But she was revealing her virtues of humility, courtesy, kindness and helpfulness to a stranger; and it is these fruits of the Spirit that make up the qualifications of the Bride of Christ, for they are generated by a heart of pure love. It is true that “…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
With much hard work she filled the trough again and again, until all ten camels were watered. It was hard work, and the weather was warm. The perspiration fell from her brow. Soon her clothing was soaked with the sweat of her body. But she toiled on, until all ten camels had finished drinking and were content; and all the while old Eliezer “wondered at her.” What an amazing woman! So different from the proud and haughty women of the Canaanite families!
When the last camel had drank its fill, Eliezer, still did not know the woman’s name nor identity. But he knew she had the qualifications of the bride. He had asked God for a sign, and God had given him a sign. How could he doubt that she was the chosen one?
Today the Holy Spirit is in the world, searching for the Bride for the Son. It depends on each one of us if we will qualify.
Eliezer opened one of his treasure chests and brought out golden jewellery, a nose ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets of ten shekels weight. They were very valuable. And Rebekah knew that none of the maidens in her village ever owned jewellery like this. She gazed in wonder and amazement at these costly gifts, and was puzzled as to why they should be given to her.
It was only after Eliezer had given Rebekah the gifts that he asked her, “Whose daughter art thou? Is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?”
She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.”
The reason she said that her grandmother was Milcah was because Nahor had a concubine who had borne him four sons. Rebekah took pride in telling Eliezer that she was a granddaughter of the “free woman,” and not of the concubine. Also her grandmother, Milkah, was the grandchild of their great ancestor, Terah; so Rebekah had descended from Terah through both her father and her mother. This gave her real “royal blood.”
When Eliezer heard who she was he could only worship the Lord in gratitude for His helping him to find the right woman for his master’s wife. We can read his prayer of thanksgiving:
“And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (Genesis 24:27).
It is always a great joy and relief to know you are in the perfect will of God. But until the Lord reveals His will to you, it often takes courage and faith to obey Him.
Rebekah hurried home ahead of Eliezer to announce his coming, and prepare for his arrival.
When Rebekah’s brother, Laban, saw the nose ring and the beautiful bracelets on his sister’s arm he hurried to the well to find Eliezer who was still standing there, waiting for a more official invitation. When he found him he welcomed him heartily, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.”
So it was that Eliezer entered the home of his master’s brother’s son, the House of Bethuel, who himself must have been advanced in years because when the marriage arrangements are made he speaks very little. It is Laban, his son, the brother of Rebekah, who does most of the talking. Up until then no one knew who this mysterious old man was, who was giving away costly gifts of golden jewellery just for watering his animals. Laban was a shrewd man, a man who, later in life, would turn out to be a real rogue, and even seek to destroy his sister, Rebekah’s son.
The sight of his sister’s jewellery had immediately aroused his interest and curiosity; and his greedy heart was thinking, ‘What can I get out of this foolish old man who so readily gives gifts to young girls like my sister?”
When the animals had been taken care of Eliezer was brought into the house and food was placed before him. But he refused to eat until he had made known his reason for coming. Responsibility to duty takes preference over hunger, comfort or pleasure.
Eliezer opened his mouth and began to speak. He told them who he was, who his master was, the greatness of his master’s wealth, and the purpose for his journey. He told how the angel of the Lord had led him on his long journey right to the well. He told about his prayer, and the sign he had asked from God. He told how Rebekah had fulfilled that sign in every detail, and that he believed she was the one who was chosen by God to be Isaac’s wife. He told how he had given her the jewellery, and that he had bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord God of his master, Abraham, Who had led him the right way to take his master’s brother’s daughter unto his son, Isaac. And then he concluded by saying, “Now, if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
When he had finished explaining it all, he waited for an answer. He would not eat, and he would not sleep until he had an answer.
Then Laban and his father Bethuel answered him, “The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken.”
When Eliezer heard that, he fell down on his knees and worshiped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. Then he brought out the jewels of silver and gold and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious gifts to her mother and to her brother. And thus the marriage agreement was sealed with the giving of these gifts.
Even today, in the marriage ceremony, we have a reminder of that covenant made so long ago with the words which are spoken by the bride and bridegroom, when placing the wedding bands on each other’s fingers, “…with this ring I thee wed…;” And the minister confirms it with the pronouncement: “Forasmuch as M. and N. have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth, each to the other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving a ring, and by joining hands; I pronounce that they are man and wife, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The wedding ring you wear on your finger is a token of the covenant made between you and your spouse.
Only after the marriage contract was sealed did Eliezer accept their hospitality.
“WILT THOU GO WITH THIS MAN?”
The next morning the old servant awakened with an urge that he must leave immediately with the bride. Did he discern something evil in Laban? Did the Holy Spirit warn him that if he tarried he might lose everything, even his life?
We must be very careful to obey the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit. To refuse to go when God calls is wrong. But to linger beyond the time allotted you is also wrong. There comes to every life the warning of God, “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from hence”; and if one disobeys he will meet with evil.
Whatever plans or schemes Laban might have made, they were thwarted when Eliezer announced his imminent departure, “Send me away unto my master.”
Rebekah’s brother and mother were shocked. They said, “Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten, after that she shall go.”
What would they have done in ten days? Would they have had a great farewell party for Rebekah, which Eliezer would have had to pay for? Would they have talked her out of going? Delay can give Satan an opportunity to work against the plan of God for our lives. It is important that we be accurate with God’s timetable. According to the scribes, the term “ten days” means “an indefinite period of time.”
Old Eliezer was very blunt, “Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.”
There was no way they could argue against him. Their only hope was that Rebekah herself would refuse to leave. So they called her. When she arrived in the room every eye was on her. “Wilt thou go with this man?” they asked her.
This was a direct and life-changing question. If she said “NO,” the marriage contract was off. If she said “YES,” they would lose their daughter and sister — probably never see her again. Up until now they had not even asked her if she was willing to marry Isaac whom she had never seen. They had made that decision for her. And she had remained silent.
No one knew her brother better than Rebekah did. She had suffered from his shrewd and tricky ways; and sometimes, in order to defend herself, she had resorted to being as shrewd and tricky and scheming as he was. She had fought fire with fire. She knew what Laban was capable of doing if they lingered any longer; and even though it was hard for her to leave in such a hurry, without saying good-bye to her friends, she had this urge in her heart that she must leave immediately!
This is one of the qualifications of the Bride of Christ. She must be ready to go when the Holy Spirit calls her to leave her family, home and country to serve Him in the nations of the world.
Every one present was wondering what her answer would be. Would she refuse to leave immediately, or would she say “yes” to the most difficult question of her young life, “Wilt thou go with this man?”
Suddenly she spoke, “I will go!” Three words that changed the destiny of the nations of the world, for Rebekah would one day become the mother of Israel.
“I will go!” Three little, seemingly insignificant, words. Yet how powerful they were!
What you do with the call of the Holy Spirit when He asks you “to go” will leave an impact on the lives of multitudes.
Who knows how different the world would be today if everyone obeyed the impulse of the Holy Spirit! If all the negatives in the lives of mankind could instantly be changed into positives, the Kingdom of God would be born on earth in a moment of time, and earth would be Heaven, itself.
In these days God is calling the “Rebekah’s,” the end-time maidens of all ages to answer the call, and follow Him to the Bridegroom.
It isn’t enough to water the camels, and thereby receive a few precious gifts of gold, the calling is much higher, much more demanding. The Holy Spirit is not just looking for a few hours of your life, He is calling you to dedicate your whole life as the spouse of Christ. Rebekah was never able to return, even for a visit, to her old home and life. She never again saw her mother, her father (who was an old man then), and her brother Laban whom she had grown up with. Her friends became only a memory. Rebekah was called upon at a young age to say a final good-bye to all that she held dear to her heart, except her beloved nurse, Deborah, who was sent with her. The Book of Jasher says she was the daughter of Uz, and therefore of kinship to Rebekah. and that men and maid servants were given to her as part of her dowry, and Deborah was one of them.
But the most important thing they gave her was the blessing, “Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.”
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
“And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way” (Genesis 24:61).
Many will follow you. And the lives of all who go with you will be changed, for all will have made a sacrifice.
The journey was long and tiring. Eliezer got up every morning while it was still dark, and got the camp on the road long before the break of day, when the hot rays of the sun made travelling almost unbearable. They moved slowly through the day, travelling the old route of those times, which went through Damascus, the city of Eliezer’s birth. It brought back memories to him of days in the long ago past, but he had no time for himself, he was on the greatest mission of his life, and the angel of the Lord was with him, bidding him to hasten on. He must get the bride to her beloved who was waiting for her.
He did permit them to stop early enough in the day so that they could all eat well, and get a good night’s sleep. But by four in the morning, the old man was already astir.
And so the journey continued, day after day.
One day, as they came up over the horizon, Rebekah saw the beautiful Mount Herman in the distance. Snow still lay on its bosom. “What is that mountain?” she asked Eliezer.
“That is the great Mount Herman. It is the water source for all the land of Canaan. Its waters fill the beautiful Kinnereth Sea, which is the source of the Jordan River.”
Rebekah gazed in admiration. Every day the scenery became more and more beautiful. She had never seen such beauty. Then, at last, one day, after journeying westward for so long, they turned, and began the journey south. They were now in “The Land of Promise,” the land which God had promised Abraham and Isaac; and through the covenant of her marriage to Isaac, it would become hers and her children’s. She would live here the rest of her life. She would die here, and she would also be buried here. She felt as though she had come home!
But the journey ahead was still very long, for it was many days of travel from what later would be known as “from Dan to Beersheba” where Isaac awaited his bride. Still, every day was exciting, for Rebekah had never seen such beauty in her life as the great Sea of Kinnereth, whose beautiful crystal waters reminded the young bride of a mystical Sea of Crystal that she somewhere had heard the Ancients talk about. “Perhaps my husband will be able to tell me more about it,” she thought to herself, “has he not sat at the feet of the learned and the wise men of old?”
Now and then she thought of her mother and father and brother back home in Haran; but just when she felt like crying, there was something new to see. She watched the scenery change from rocky to fertile valley, and again she climbed a mountain range, so high, that she could see the great Sea in the West. Eliezer pointed it out to her, and told her that it was the Great Sea that led to vast expanse of waters, whereon, if man sailed, he might never return again.
And then they descended, and traveling on, they skirted hills and mountains and towns and cities until they came to the desert.
Now they were getting close to home. No more did the people live in houses. They lived instead, in tents, and they were ready always to move with the flock to greener pastures.
She could feel the excitement in the air as every day brought them closer to Beersheba. The young men who had travelled with Eliezer wanted to travel a little longer each day. Even Eliezer seemed unusually alerted to the fact that there was something very important that would happen very soon.
One day, Rebekah noticed they travelled much longer than usual. They did not stop in the afternoon to take refreshments, nor did they encamp at the usual time; instead, they pressed on. Before and behind them was desert. It had its own strange beauty, for those who like deserts. The colours and shades of grey, brick red, mustard, cinnamon, cardinal, fuchsia, and shades of brown made it all hauntingly beautiful. It was awesome!
Rebekah saw that the sun was now low in the west, and she knew it would soon set. She had discovered that as soon as the sun set in these regions it would quickly become dark, and it would be too late to set up camp. She was tired of riding that old camel. She could not get comfortable, no matter how she tried. Her muscles were cramping, her bones were aching. It had been a long journey, and a longer day than usual. Why wasn’t Eliezer stopping?
And then she saw “him.” He was coming to meet them! She hastened her camel to the front of the train so she could speak with Eliezer, “What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?” she asked.
Eliezer answered her, “It is my master.”
Her heart leapt within her. But he must not see her as she was, dusty and uncombed from the long day’s journey. She quickly took a veil, and covered herself, as her beloved, with long strides, and great excitement reached them. The whole camel caravan stopped as Eliezer greeted his master and introduced the trembling bride, who was already standing beside her camel. As she gazed at him through the sheerness of her veil, she saw a faint family resemblance. He was no foreigner! He was one of her own people. His father and mother had been close relatives of her father, grandfather and grandmother. She was not a stranger! She was a part of the family!
When Eliezer had finished telling the whole story of the miracle of the found bride, Isaac knew she had been chosen of the Lord for him. He could have done no better, even if he had gone himself. The angel of the Lord had truly guided Eliezer.
Isaac welcomed her and escorted the caravan the last mile home. When they reached there, Isaac straightway took Rebekah to his mother’s great old tent, and told her, “This is now your home.”
She was given maid servants to help her own maid servants to get her ready for the welcome banquet that was even then being prepared for her.
Three years had passed since Sarah’s soul had departed its earthly journey, and reached “that City whose Builder and Maker is God.” She had been the first to find it, and now she was waiting for Abraham to join her there.
Sarah’s old, great tent had been cleaned and prepared for the new bride, with many new additions of fine carpets, silk hangings, new bedding, satin furnishings, and whatever a young woman might fancy. It had been with pride that Isaac had escorted Rebekah to her new home. Now he could hardly wait until he could see her face.
Rebekah’s maidens quickly prepared her bath and laid out the toiletries of oils and perfumes. Fine raiment was brought out of the chests for her to choose from. The musicians were playing their instruments, and the sheep were roasting over the outdoor fires, as the friends and guests assembled for the welcoming banquet of the new bride.
When Rebekah had finished bathing and washing her hair, her maidens dressed her in fine raiment as befits the bride of a prince, and after adorning her hair, and fixing her nose jewel and putting on her bracelets and ornaments for her throat she was ready.
Word was sent to Isaac that Rebekah was ready to be presented to Father Abraham and all the guests. When he came to her under the stars and saw the vision of loveliness standing in his mother’s tent, it was almost as though he saw the spirit of his mother standing before him — a mother whom he remembered as being an older woman; but now it seemed to him that she stood before him as she must have been when she became his father’s bride — so young and fair that even kings had desired her, and his father had lied for her. He had heard the story, and he had never understood how his father could have done what he did; but now he did; “A man could kill for the love of a woman as beautiful as you,” he thought. But he kept this thought in his heart, and hoped he would never be tempted, as his father had been, to lie and say that she was only his sister.
With great joy and pride he took her hand, and laid it on his cheek; looking into her eyes, he said, “My beloved! Come!” And he led her to the tent of feasting and celebrating. This was not their wedding night. That would come later.
As Isaac brought her into the tent and led her by the arm to his old father, he called to him, “Papa, I have brought to you my bride, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel and granddaughter of your brother, Nahor and his wife, Milcah. You have given me a great and beautiful gift, and I ask you to bless us.”
The old man looked at Rebekah, and he too saw his old Sarah, as she had been in the days of long ago. He felt a sharp pain in his heart, and his eyes filled with tears; a few teardrops flowed down his cheeks, where they were hidden in his beard. But he kept his memories to himself, and hid his feelings with a smile as he said, “Welcome, my daughter. I am happy you have come. You did the right thing. Now kneel here, my children, and I will bless you.” And as he laid his hands upon them he knew that this union had been made in Heaven. And he also knew why he and Sarah had been forced to wait so long for their son to be born; for had Isaac been born in the first years of their marriage he would have been over one hundred years old, and he would have been much too old for this young maiden. “Yes,” he said to himself, “There is a time for all things, ‘a time to be born, and a time to die!…” — and Isaac had not been born a moment too soon; but oh, the waiting had been so long and difficult!
THE TRIAL OF A BARREN WOMB
Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as his wife; and Rebekah was less than half his age; but women of the East become mature much earlier than their sisters in the western world. So Rebekah was ready for marriage and all its responsibilities while still young.
However, there soon came into Rebekah’s life a burden for which she had not been prepared — that was the age-old burden of a barren womb. It was expected that within a year of her marriage to Isaac she would present him with a son. Not only was Isaac waiting for his firstborn, old Abraham, who was married now to the Canaanitish woman, Keturah, was also waiting for the “promised seed” that God had promised him through his son, Isaac.
Ishmael’s wives were giving him sons almost every year, until there were more than old Abraham could remember; and even his own wife, Keturah, was as prolific as a young sheep. Still, the wife of Isaac was barren.
Month after month passed with disappointment, and year after year rolled by; but it seemed like the curse of Sarah’s barrenness was still in her tent, and nothing could help — no potions, no charms, no magic, not even prayers, as Rebekah carried, year after year, the shame of her barrenness. All the while Isaac was getting older.
In the forty-eighth year of his life they heard the news that Arphaxad, the son of Shem, who had been born two years after the flood, had died at the age of four hundred and thirty-eight.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
Finally, in the fifty-ninth year of Isaac’s life, when they had been married nineteen years, Rebekah said to him, “Truly I have heard, my lord, that thy mother, Sarah, was barren in her days until my lord Abraham, thy father, prayed for her, and she conceived by him. Now therefore, stand up, pray thou also to God, and He will hear thy prayer and remember us through His mercies.”
At first Isaac did not want to obey Rebekah; he argued with her, “Abraham has already prayed for me to God to multiply his seed —now therefore, this barrenness must proceed to us from thee.”
Rebekah remembered the prayer of blessing her family had also prayed over her almost twenty years previously, “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions…,” so she knew she too had the blessings of fruitfulness. There was no use arguing who was to blame, she or Isaac; the important thing was to go to God united, and ask Him to give them children. So Rebekah said to Isaac, “But arise now thou also, and pray that the Lord may hear thy prayer and grant me children.”
So Isaac obeyed his wife, and the two of them went together to the Land of Moriah to pray and seek the Lord. And when they reached the place Isaac stood before the Lord and prayed for God to heal his wife’s barrenness. The Book of Jasher records his prayer:
“Oh Lord God of Heaven and earth, whose goodness and mercies fill the earth, thou who didst take my father from his father’s house and from his birthplace, and didst bring him unto this land, and didst say unto him, ‘To thy seed will I give the land,’ and thou didst promise him and didst declare unto him, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the sea, now may thy words be verified which thou didst speak unto my father. For thou art the Lord our God, our eyes are toward thee to give us seed of men, as thou didst promise us, for thou art the Lord our God and our eyes are directed toward thee God” (The Book of Jasher 26:6-7).
The Land of Moriah is the place where Abraham had offered up his son Isaac; and Isaac would never forget how God had spared his life in the last moment. Nor would he forget the blessing which he himself had heard God speak over his father, a blessing which included himself, “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:16-18).
It was not hard to have faith in this place where the miracle of God’s sacrificial offering had occurred, and where God had placed His blessing, a blessing that would last forever, so that all who would come to this mount would meet with God Almighty and find mercy. He would put his angels there to gather up the prayers and tears of men and women of all ages and bring them up to Heaven. Many years later, in the days of King Solomon, God would renew His Covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in that same place as they were dedicating the Temple they had built in His honour to Him. For it was on that day that God promised His people, “Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:15-16).
And so it is that, even today, when sincere and righteous people pray at the great Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which is still dedicated to the Lord God Jehovah, the Lord hears and sees and answers the prayers that are prayed in that place. Baruch HaShem! (Blessed be The Name!)
Right after their prayers Rebekah conceived and was filled with joy, and so was Isaac and Abraham and all who heard the good news.
REBEKAH’S DIFFICULT PREGNANCY
But alas! As the pregnancy progressed Rebekah began to feel great distress, for there was great turmoil in her womb. She consulted with the other women who had borne children, and asked them if they too had experienced so great discomfort during their pregnancies. They all said to her that they had never experienced any such misery. By the time she was in the seventh month she was so weary and worn out that she decided that she must get an answer from the Lord. So she made a second trip to the Land of Moriah to seek the Lord. She went to The House of Shem and Eber, to make inquiries of them in this matter and ask them to seek the Lord on her behalf. She also asked Abraham to inquire of the Lord as to what was really happening within her womb. (According to the chronology of Genesis 11:11, Shem lived five hundred years after The Flood, and he would still have been alive at this time). They all inquired of the Lord concerning the matter, and they brought her the same word from the Lord: “Two children are in thy womb and two nations shall rise from them, and one nation shall be stronger than the other, and the elder (rab—7227…the greater, the most populous), shall serve the younger (tsaowr—6810…younger, ignoble, least, small one).”
When Rebekah got the answer she knew she was carrying twins, two boys who were struggling within her, each trying to gain the supremacy.
Rebekah, the bride of the prince of Israel became the symbol of the Church for all time. The Church that would “carry in its womb” two kinds of Christians — one that was a son in name only, a son of the flesh who would always seek to have its own way, and do its own thing. And another, who would be a true child of the Spirit, who would always desire the inheritance and the promises of God. He would strive to obtain eternal, spiritual rewards. He would be the true “Israel of God” who would be the son of the Spirit, one who would wrestle the flesh and win in the end.
In each one of us there is an “Esau” and a “Jacob” as our spirits struggle with our flesh, which always seeks to put us into bondage, and cause us to fail, so that we cannot obtain God’s greatest destiny for our lives. It is even as Paul wrote to the Romans, “For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit, but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave. I don’t understand my own behaviour — I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate! Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. But now it is no longer “the real me” doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me — that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it! For I don’t do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don’t want is what I do! but if I am doing what “the real me” doesn’t want, it is no longer “the real me” doing it but the sin housed inside me. So I find it to be the rule, a kind of perverse “torah,” that although I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me! For in my inner self I completely agree with God’s Torah, but in my various parts, I see a different “torah,” one that battles with the Torah in my mind and makes me a prisoner of sin’s “torah,” which is operating in my various parts. What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? Thanks be to God, He will! — through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord! (Romans 7:14-25, Jewish New Testament).
Rebekah was feeling, in the physical, the same terrifying battle between good and evil which man has experienced through all ages; and it was making her very miserable.
However, even as Paul saw that glorious day of deliverance from this plane of spiritual warfare, so there also came to Rebekah that day of deliverance, when “her days to be delivered were fulfilled” — and on that day, her twins were born.
The first came out red, all over like a hairy garment, and they called him Esau, which means “hairy, rough, course, unkempt.”
And after him came his brother, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel, therefore his name was called, Jacob, which means “supplanter, tripper, one who outsmarts, or outwits, deceiver, swindler, one who takes the place of another.”
Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
THE TWINS GROW UP
The Bible does not tell us that they fought and wrestled together as little boys, but the day came soon enough when the struggle for dominion and superiority, which had existed in their mother’s womb, continued as they grew older. Their differences however increased with age, and later it would even put a wall of separation between Isaac and Rebekah. But for a while their love for each other was able to overcome the war between the spiritual and the carnal in the lives of their two sons.
The Book of Jasher tells us that when the boys were fifteen years old they “came amongst the society of men.” That probably means that they were presented to the adult world of men by their father, as being now of age to assume the privileges and responsibilities of manhood. Jasher, in describing Esau and Jacob, recorded, “Esau was a designing and deceitful man, and an expert hunter in the field, and Jacob was a man perfect and wise, dwelling in tents, feeding flocks and learning the instruction of the Lord and the commands of his father and mother.”
Isaac and Rebekah, and their sons dwelt with his father Abraham in the land of Canaan, as the Lord had instructed them.
When the sons of Abraham’s concubines became adults Abraham sent them to live in the land of the East, giving them gifts and presents so that they could start a new life for themselves. But to Isaac he gave his mantle of anointing, and the birthright, even as God had commanded, “…My covenant will I establish with Isaac…” (Genesis 17:21).
Abraham never forgot how God had delivered them from the wicked Nimrod, who had sought to destroy him and all his father’s house. He talked often about it, and tried to place in the hearts of his sons a dread and a hatred for Nimrod and his wicked way of life. He said to Isaac, “Now therefore my son, harken to my voice, and keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I commanded thee; do not turn from the right way either to the right or to the left, in order that it may be well with thee and thy children after thee forever. And remember the wonderful works of the Lord, and his kindness that he has shown toward us, in having delivered us from the hands of our enemies, and the Lord our God caused them to fall into our hands; and now therefore keep all that I have commanded thee, and turn not away from the commandments of thy God, and serve none beside him, in order that it may be well with thee and thy seed after thee. And teach thou thy children and thy seed the instructions of the Lord and his commandments, and teach them the upright way in which they should go, in order that it may be well with them forever” (The Book of Jasher 26:25-27).
And Isaac answered his father and said unto him, “That which my Lord hath commanded that will I do, and I will not depart from the commands of the Lord my God, I will keep all that He commanded me; and Abraham blessed his son Isaac, and also his children; and Abraham taught Jacob the instruction of the Lord and his ways.”
THE DEATH OF ABRAHAM
It was after that time that Abraham died, in the seventy-fifth year of Isaac and the fifteenth year of Jacob and Esau. All the days of Abraham were one hundred and seventy-five years, and he was gathered to his people at a great age, old and satisfied with days. Ishmael came to join with Isaac in officiating at his funeral when he was laid to rest in the Cave of Machpelah.
It was with great ceremony that the old man was escorted to his grave — a ceremony befitting men of great honour. The Book of Jasher states that “…when the inhabitants of Canaan heard that Abraham had died they all came with their kings and princes and all their men to bury Abraham, and all the inhabitants of the land of Haran, and all the families of the house of Abraham, and all the princes and grandees, and the sons of Abraham by the concubines, all came when they heard of Abraham’s death, and they requited Abraham’s kindness, and comforted Isaac his son, and they buried Abraham in the cave which he bought from Ephron the Hittite and his children, for the possession of a burial place. And all the inhabitants of Canaan, and all those who had known Abraham, wept for Abraham a whole year, and men and women mourned over him. And all the little children, and all the inhabitants of the land wept on account of Abraham, for Abraham had been good to them all, and because he had been upright with God and men. And there arose not a man who feared God like unto Abraham, for he had feared God from his youth, and had served the Lord, and had gone in all his ways during his life, from his childhood to the day of his death…” (The Book of Jasher 26:30-34).
After the death of Abraham God’s blessing began to fall upon Isaac in even a greater way. He was living by the well Lahairoi. That is where he had been the evening he first saw his bride, when he was forty years old. And now he was seventy-five. The years had flown by so very quickly. Both Isaac and Rebekah wondered where they had gone.
ESAU SELLS HIS BIRTHRIGHT
FOR A MESS OF POTTAGE
There were times when Esau stayed away from home for weeks and months. The spirit of the sport of hunting was in his blood. He lived from one hunt to another, from one safari to another, from one kill to another. He is listed, in tradition, as being one of the world’s great hunters, and is likened unto Nimrod, the hunter.
When one kills a great deal he loses respect and awe for the life of God’s creation, whether it be man or beast. The flow of blood ceases to disturb the souls of those who become hardened killers, and who take delight in killing God’s beautiful creatures. It is all due to the terrible Fall. In the Garden man was given the responsibility of protecting and taking care of the animals. He even had the honour of naming them, and in order to do that he had to “find them in the spirit.” But after the Fall he often became their most deadly enemy.
One day, after a long hunt, Esau returned home, exhausted and faint from hunger. As he approached the tent Jacob was getting ready to eat his dinner of lentils. When Esau smelled the savour of his brother’s cooking he said to Jacob, “Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage, for I am faint…”
Now Jacob had been spending much time studying the Word of God. He had talked with Abraham, and his mother about the promises of God to Abraham, and in his soul there was a great longing for more of God. In the same way that Esau sought and hunted for exotic animals, Jacob’s soul sought after the Lord. His mother often told him about the prophetic word she had been given by God while he was still in her womb, “The one people shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger.” To Jacob it meant only one thing — that even though he was the younger, he would get the blessings of the elder.
Now, to obtain this blessing was a great gift from God, Who alone could give it. But it included responsibilities of the religious kind, as well as blessings and privileges. It meant that the firstborn had to be the “priest” of the family, assume the responsibility of taking care of his parents in their old age, raise his family in the fear of God, and be responsible for the offering up of sacrifices to God on behalf of the family. It also included honour from God and man, and a very honourable burial.
Jacob soon saw that Esau had no inclination toward those things; nor did he take interest in the study of the Commandments of God, as they had been given to their grandfather, Abraham. When Jacob spent time at the feet of the godly Ancients, for his parents had sent him to The House of Shem and Eber to study and learn the ways of God, his brother Esau preferred instead, to leave home for days, and go hunting in far away places, bringing home the trophies of the hunt, such as, the beautiful hides of the animals he had slaughtered, their horns or antlers, etc, for his father’s admiration, and the praises of the Canaanitish men who boasted of these things when they gathered together.
Now, on this particular day of which we speak, when Esau arrived home faint with hunger, his brother Jacob thought it a good time to make a “legal transaction” with him, and secure the birthright. So when Esau asked him to give him his pottage Jacob said, “Sell me this day your birthright.”
Now, as I said, Esau cared nothing for anything religious, so he answered, “Behold, I am at the point to die, and what profit shall this birthright do me?”
Jacob answered, “Swear to me this day.”
And Esau swore unto him and he sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread, and his stew of lentils, and Esau ate and drank and got up and left.
That is how little he cared about his birthright and all spiritual things.
One of the greatest losses that Esau would suffer as a result of this was the privilege of being buried with his father in the Cave of Machpelah. He would not have the honour of resting with his forefathers. From now on it would be Jacob’s right to be laid beside his father and mother, his grandfather and grandmother.
At first it seemed like nothing of great importance had taken place. Life went on as usual, until a time of drought came to the land and there was a famine.
ISAAC AND REBEKAH
MOVE TO GERAR
As the famine intensified, and people began to die from hunger, Isaac felt it was necessary to leave the well of Lahairoi. He was even contemplating going into Egypt, like his father Abraham had done in the time of famine in his day, and like Jacob his son would later do in his old age. But the Lord appeared to Isaac and warned him, “Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:2-5).
This last verse is the secret behind obtaining the blessings of God upon our lives and the lives of our children.
God said to me in Buenos Aires in 1966, “The reason I can use you is because you are always willing to do everything I tell you to do.” Today, God’s blessing is on my “seed” — not only my natural seed, but also my spiritual seed, my End-time Handmaidens and Servants, and He is using them in the nations of the world. I cannot even keep up with all that God is doing in their lives and through their lives in all the nations of the world. It is true that all the nations of the world are blessed through their dedicated lives.
So Isaac went to live in Gerar, the land of King Abimelech, where his father had lived after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was in this land that Abraham and Sarah were again tested because of Sarah’s great beauty, and for the second time in their lives they had lied about their relationship.
When Abimelech had taken Sarah into his harem, with the intention of making her one of his wives, the Lord appeared to him and said, “You are a dead man because the woman you have taken is another man’s wife.” God also closed up all the wombs of the women.
After Abraham had prayed for them, the entire household of the king was healed. All their wombs, which had been closed, because of the judgment of God, were opened so that the women of Gerar could again conceive. It was at that time that Sarah herself conceived Isaac.
That had been seventy-five years earlier, and that King Abimelech was now dead. Isaac was over seventy-five years of age, with a wife much younger than himself, and also very beautiful. (Though tradition tells us no woman would ever be as beautiful as Sarah was).
A new king was ruling in Gerar, whose title also was Abimelech. Isaac was overcome with fear of losing his beloved Rebekah, and also of losing his own life. The thing he had feared had come upon him. He was in the same situation that his father had been in, and he had failed in the same way, for he too, told all the people who asked him who she was, “She is my sister!”
It is awful how fear can make you tell lies.
Now, it just so happened that Isaac and Rebekah lived very close to the kings house, and the King saw something one day that made him suspicious that Isaac was lying about his relationship to Rebekah.
It is one thing to say your wife is your sister, and its another matter to treat her like a sister! Isaac was having trouble there. There are certain actions and responses a man will make with his wife which he never will with his sister.
One day, when Isaac and Rebekah were alone, and they thought no one was seeing them, King Abimelech looked out of his palace window and saw Isaac “sporting” with Rebekah in a very unbrotherly way! They were still very much in love, and that is hard to hide.
The king called for Isaac and accused him, “Behold, for a surety, she is your wife. Why did you say she was your sister?”
Since he was caught, Isaac knew it was useless to continue with his lie, so he confessed the truth, “Because I was afraid I would have to die for her.”
Abimelech was offended. “How can you do such a thing? One of the men might have laid with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.”
Isaac had no answer to that charge. He was guilty, just like his father had been.
King Abimelech gave the command, “Whoever touches this man, or his wife will surely be put to death.” And he permitted Isaac to continue to live in the land during this time of draught.
In spite of Isaac’s wrong deed, the blessing of God was upon Isaac and Rebekah. After all, she was not the one who was to blame. She had not appreciated her new status as his “sister” for she was the mother of two grown sons.
OFTEN BRINGS PERSECUTION
A marvelous thing happened to Isaac during that year of famine, he sowed in faith, in spite of the fact that there was no rain, and God so blessed his crops that when harvest time came he reaped one hundredfold. And, of course, this made him very rich because the price of grain that year had skyrocketed, and he had plenty, while his neighbors had little or nothing.
He became great and powerful and had possessions of flocks and herds, a great store of servants, fine tents, and all the beautiful things which money can buy.
But there is one thing that wealth and greatness “buys,” which is very undesirable, and that is envy. The blessings of God upon your life will always make people envious of you, and they will hate you because God loves you and blesses you.
When Abimelech realized the greatness of Isaac’s possessions he was afraid of him, so he thought, “I must get him away from my city. This man and his wife are living too close to me.” So he commanded Isaac, “Go from us, for thou art mightier than we.”
The Bible says that “Isaac departed from thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there” (Genesis 26:17).
This was the first Biblical case where the leader wanted his nation to be “Juden frei!” (free of Jews). It was all caused by the wealth and power that Isaac had gained because of the blessings of God upon him and Rebekah.
Perhaps it had not been God’s will for Isaac to forsake his tent and live in a house, especially if it was one of the king’s houses, in the king’s city, and maybe even in the king’s compound! That was too close to the neighbours. Soon, both Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob would become assimilated with the people of the land. Esau already was, for he was associating with the people and before long, he would marry their daughters. How long can one associate with the world, and with kings, and still stay pure of heart? So God had allowed the persecution to push Isaac and Rebekah back to their old life style, and into the land of their inheritance. Rebekah found herself again in Sarah’s tent, where she once again lit the Sabbath candle. And there was peace in the home.
But outside of the home there was to be no peace, for the spirit of jealousy and enmity did not die nor disappear. Now the Philistines struck at Isaac by plugging up all his wells, even the wells his father’s servants had dug so many years ago.
This is one thing that will cause great trouble. When the shepherds went to water the flocks and herds, there was no water. It takes a long time to clean out a well. But to die of drought takes less than a day in that hot dry desert. It was a very wicked and spiteful way to destroy anyone who depended on his well for his water supply. And it was very easy to do — all the enemy needed was stones and debris, dirt and sand.
When God blesses us, the devil always raises up someone who will plug up our supply line. Sometimes he fights us through a natural source, and sometimes he fights us through spiritual. He will plug up our spiritual source with unforgiveness, offenses, hurts, anger, disappointments, distrust, criticism, complaining, sickness, weakness, — all the hurtful things we experience from God’s children, our family and friends. And we can choose to get involved in all these negative things, or we can move on to another territory and let the enemy have his plugged up wells! See if he can water his flocks from them! It is true that the evil you cause others will return to you some day! The Bible says it in this way, “Whatsoever a man soweth he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
The account of their great trial goes like this: When Isaac’s servants dug a well in the wadi (valley) the Philistines were watching. As soon as Isaac’s men found water, and the well filled up, so the people and cattle could drink, the enemy came in hoards and seized it saying, “The water is ours.” Isaac’s herdsmen struggled with them, and a riot broke out.
When Isaac saw what was happening he said, “We will dig another well, maybe they will let us live in peace.” He called the first well Esek, (asaq…6229). It means, “to quarrel and strive for.”
Many times, when God blesses you and pours out His Spirit upon you the devil stirs up someone against you, and soon you find that they will try to steal your church, your Bible School, your orphanage, your ministry, your peace and your reputation from you. Sometimes you have to fight for it; other times it is best to give in; let them have your “well,” and go and dig another one. That is exactly what Isaac did.
His servants dug a second well. But the Philistines fought for that one also. So Isaac called it The Well of Sitnah (7856) “opposition and accusation,” and he let them have it also.
There comes a time when opposition is so great that God does not want us to “hang on.” False accusations have destroyed many ministries and lives. What should you do when that happens to you?
Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city flee to another” (Matthew 10:23).
God ordained “cities of refuge” for those who were falsely accused. And when you are suffering persecution, somewhere He has a place of refuge and peace for you. However, you need to know when God wants you to stay and fight it out, and when He wants you to leave it all behind and escape for your life, and the lives of your children. Don’t think that you are pleasing God by staying and suffering, and subjecting the lives of your family to danger when God has provided a “Rehoboth,” a place of enlargement and deliverance and peace and blessing for you. Step out in faith. God will protect you, make a highway for your feet to travel on, and provide for your every need.
That is what Isaac did. He moved again and dug another well. And for this one they did not strive. He had finally worn-out his enemies. When he saw he had peace at last, Isaac said, “Now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” He called it by the beautiful name Rehoboth (7344) “enlargement, peace and broad space, and broad avenue.” And he and Rebekah rejoiced together. After winning the victory of peace they moved back to Beersheba.
The same night he arrived the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of Abraham, thy father, fear not, for I am with thee, and I will bless thee and multiply thy seed for my servant, Abraham’s sake.”
Isaac had peace. His great battle was over. He built an altar unto the Lord and prayed and worshipped the Lord. He also pitched their tent there and sent his servants to dig another well.
Every time you build an altar of worship, every time the Lord visits you, it is time to go a little deeper; it is time to move your tent and dig another well, because it is a time of peace and blessing and a new experience in God.
THE DAY WILL COME WHEN THE ENEMY WILL WANT TO
MAKE PEACE WITH YOU
After Isaac and Rebekah had settled down and were living in peace, he, one day, received some unexpected visitors. They were none other than King Abimelech from Gerar, Phichal, the chief captain of his army and his friend, Ahuzzrath, who was a kind of statesman, a middle-man who would act as a go-between in the king’s dealings with Isaac.
Isaac was shocked to see them. He bluntly asked them, “Why have you come to see me, seeing you hate me, and have sent me away from you?”
It is easy to understand Isaac’s suspicion. He didn’t trust this “peace delegation.” He had too many recent memories of how they had treated him, beaten his servants, stolen his wells, claiming one settlement after another, always pushing them out, demanding more and more territory. Why now, this strange embassy of peace?
To read their answer is like reading today’s newspaper, “We saw certainly that Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the Lord.”
Isaac knew that they were lying. They had NOT sent him away in peace. They had NOT left them unhurt — the wounds of his beaten up herdsmen proved that they had not done them only good! The only truth they did speak was, “thou art the blessed of the Lord.” Isaac knew he was blessed. What had happened? Had the fear of God fallen on his enemies? Were their offers for peace genuine? He was now out of their territory,and back in Beersheba. Should he make peace with them?
Now, Isaac was a man of peace. We have already proved that. So what can a man of peace do but seize hold of every opportunity for peace, even though he stood to lose his wells, and even his rights! A man of peace sometimes yields to unreasonable demands in an unreasonable way. But he has only one motive — that is the desire for peace for himself and his children.
So Isaac accepted their proposal and did not even bother to present his side of the story. What was the use? A liar always believes his own lies. That is why he thinks he is telling the truth.
Isaac ordered a grand feast to be pre-pared for them and they began their “peace negotiations” over a meal.
The next morning they rose up while it was yet dark, finalized their covenant, and Isaac sent them away in peace.
And God saw from Heaven. That same day He released the waters from beneath the Negev desert sands, and water sprang up from the belly of the earth. The servants rushed to tell Isaac and Rebekah the good news, “We have found water!”
They praised the Lord! And Isaac called it The Well of Shebah, which means The Well of the Oath. It was named after two oaths — God’s covenant with Isaac, and Isaac’s covenant with Abimelech.
A village soon sprang up around that well. Today there is a city in its vicinity, a beautiful modern city with a hospital, a university and many fine homes. But it receives its water supply from the Sea of Galilee, for the blessings of God upon Isaac and his children in the recent years are so great that the well could never cope with the demands —unless God does another miracle — which He just might do!
TWO HITTITE WOMEN
The years rolled by quickly. When Esau was forty years old he decided it was time to get married. Because he did not love any one woman, he took to wife two Hittite women. That is easy to do when one is not “in love” because one can really only be “in love” with one person at a time.
The two women were Judith, the daughter of Beeri, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon.
The Hittites — also called the “children of Heth” (Genesis 23:10) were Canaanites who were descendants from Heth, the second son of Canaan, whom Noah, their progenitor, had cursed because their father Ham had discovered and made sport of his nakedness. Some Bible scholars believe he had even committed a vile act on his father when he discovered him. They were wholly given over to idolatry and paganism because they had followed their ancestors, Nimrod, Semiramis and Cush, who had led the people away from the worship of the one true God and persecuted all who tried to remain faithful to God.
Esau brought these women home to his parents. In so doing he brought the enemy into the camp, for they brought all their heathen practices, idolatry, customs, witchcraft and sinful ways with them. They mocked and ridiculed the kosher and holy lifestyle of their husband’s parents, made fun of Rebekah, and played tricks on her behind her back, lying to her and deceiving her. They did not treat her with the respect due her. As a result her life became almost unbearable. This continued year after year. Esau was gone much of the time, so she had to bear it in silence.
When Isaac was one hundred and ten years old he heard the news that Shem, the son of Noah had died at the age of six hundred. Jacob and Esau were then fifty years old. The Book of Jasher says that after Shem died, Jacob returned home from The School of Shem and Eber, where he had spent many years of his life.
Word came to Rebekah that Laban’s wife, Adinah, who had been barren, had experienced a miracle, and had given birth to twin daughters whom Laban had given the names of Leah, for the elder, and Rachel, for the younger. When Rebekah heard the news she rejoiced greatly that God had visited her brother and given him children.
JACOB OBTAINS THE BLESSING THROUGH DECEIT
One of the great tragedies and sorrows of Isaac’s and Rebekah’s beautiful marriage, and perhaps the greatest of all, was the way they were divided over their sons. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. Isaac would defend Esau when he did something wrong and Rebekah would defend Jacob. Their whole household was separated because of these two sons. The sad part of it was that Isaac seemed to have forgotten the prophecy which his father, and the Ancients had given over Rebekah when his sons were still in their mother’s womb. Even though Rebekah tried to remind him, and point out to him the difference in their sons — the spiritual hunger for God in Jacob’s heart, compared to the love of the world and the pagan ways of Esau and his wives, Isaac just refused to hear or see.
He not only could not see spiritually, he was also going blind, physically. He could not see the person who was talking to him. And he was daily becoming more blind. He began to feel that he would soon die. So in his heart he decided that he must bless his son, Esau, before his death. He knew this would grieve Rebekah, so he secretly told his son, “Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die” (Genesis 27:2-4).
However, Rebekah had heard all that Isaac had said to Esau. She was shocked, hurt, grieved and angry. Had God not promised that the elder would serve the younger? She determined she had to do something about it. She will defend God’s word. She will help Him make it come to pass. She had to intervene. She would help Jacob, her favourite, obtain what she considered was rightfully his. But she had to act quickly.
As soon as Esau left for the field to hunt for the venison, Rebekah found Jacob and told him everything she had heard. Then she said, “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.” She told him to hurry and butcher two of the goats and bring her the meat. She was going to cook up a “savoury dish” that tasted just like Esau’s venison stew. After all, had she not taught Esau how to cook! She knew the exact ingredients.
At first Jacob was afraid. He argued, “Esau, my brother, is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man; My father might feel my skin, and he will discover that I am trying to deceive him, and I will bring a curse upon myself, and not a blessing.”
Rebekah answered, “Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me the meat.”
So he went out and butchered the goats and brought his mother the meat, which she quickly prepared in the way Isaac loved it. All the right herbs and spices went into it. She sewed sleeves over the arms of Jacob from the hide of the goats, gave him one of Esau’s outfits to wear, which he had left in his mother’s care, and sent him in to his father, her husband, with the bread she had just baked and the dish of deceit — a dish that would obtain the blessing for her son, but bring a curse upon her.
Jacob entered his father’s presence saying, “My father, here I am!”
Isaac asked, “Who are you, my son?”
Jacob lied, “I am Esau, thy firstborn. I have done what you told me to do. Arise and eat my venison, that thy soul may bless me.”
Isaac asked, “How did you find it so quickly?’
“The Lord thy God brought it to me.”
The old man had doubts. He was troubled in his soul. “Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.”
As Jacob approached him Isaac reached out and felt his arms; they were hairy, like Esau’s. “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
One more time he asked, “Are you my very son, Esau?”
And Jacob lied again, “I am!”
Isaac said, “Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank” (Genesis 27:25)
When Isaac had finished eating he said, “Come and kiss me.”
As he kissed him, he smelled his clothing, which had the scent of Esau, for it was his garment that he was wearing.
In spite of his doubts, Isaac was deceived by his natural senses — the sense of smell, of taste, of touch, and of hearing (the lies of Jacob). His heart was open to deceit because he had closed his ears to the prophetic word of God, which had been given to his wife, and he was deceiving his own heart and his wife by trying to bless Esau in secret, without telling her.
Many men think that God will only speak to them. They do not really believe that their wives are capable of hearing the voice of God. So when God does speak to them through their wives they distrust it, cast it aside as a foolish woman’s imagination. Their “words seem to them as idle tales, and they believe them not” (Luke 24:11).
And so, the prophecy Isaac intended and believed was for Esau, his favourite son, was given to the one he had rejected as the Lord’s chosen.
“Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee” (Genesis 27:28-29).
And Rebekah listening quietly in the background, unseen by Isaac, rejoiced because she had won the blessing of her husband for her beloved son — a blessing that Isaac could never reverse, for it was spoken, and God had already begun to put into action all that was necessary to make it come to pass.
ESAU WEEPS BITTERLY
FOR THE BLESSING
Trouble began the moment Esau arrived home from his hunting expedition. He cooked up the stew, and excitedly brought it to his father, “Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s venison that thy soul may bless me!”
Pause for a moment and meditate on these words, and place your own son into the picture, instead of Esau. That son who has not seemed to care for the things of the Lord since he was a child at your knees; the one who never goes to the house of the Lord, who never is seen reading religious literature, nor heard praying; the one who said, “Why should I obey my parents and serve their God? What’s in it for me?” — that child, who is always led astray by his friends; the one who married the woman he wanted, and not the one God had chosen for him, the one who allowed his wife to be unkind and impolite to you, and who kept the children from seeing you, even though you are their grandparent.
Now suddenly, with great expectation, he is preparing the dish that he thinks will earn him the father’s blessing. He seems to have forgotten that there is a price to pay for the blessing. It takes years of service, years of dedication, years of sacrifice, and a true hunger for God before one can obtain that blessing.
But now he wants it. He knows he sold his birthright, which included the patriarchal blessing, but somehow, he thinks “My father doesn’t know that I did it, and I am not telling him. I am going to get that blessing. I have to have it! And today is the day when it will be mine!”
Oh Esau! How many of our sons are just like you. They break our hearts for a lifetime; and after one kind deed, or a few sweet words, they expect the same rewards that their brother has earned by a lifetime of love and faithful service.
Isaac is shocked when he hears Esau’s voice. Now he knows his misgivings were correct. It had not been Esau he had blessed; it was Jacob! “Who are you?” he asks, trembling.
“I am thy son, thy firstborn, Esau!”
Isaac, in great consternation cried out, “Who? Where is he that hath taken venison and brought it to me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and I have blessed him? Yea, and he shall be blessed!”
The answer was more than Esau could bear; he cried out in shock, grief and rage. And while weeping desperately begged his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father.”
Oh, the anguish of that poor soul! Mother, father, put your own wandering son in his place, and cry out on his behalf, “Oh God, please bless him also!”
I do not know how Rebekah felt when she heard Esau weeping, but she surely must have felt some grief and regret for the part she had played in deceiving her husband, and robbing her son Esau of his blessing. Surely she could not have been that hardened against him that she felt no pain for her own flesh and blood! Oh the anguish their little “trick” had caused in that family!
We do not need to be deceitful to get God’s blessing. It is not necessary to promote ourselves or use trickery and scheming to push our way to the top. “For promotion cometh neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the South; but God is the Judge. He putteth down one, and sitteth up another” (Psalm 75:6-7).
The thing Jacob and his mother had done caused a seed of bitterness to be sowed in the heart of Esau that was so powerful it has been passed from generation to generation in the hearts of his descendants, and is causing much of the trouble which Israel is suffering today! The sad thing is that, even though later in life Jacob and Esau were reconciled, the root of bitterness lived on in the lives of Esau’s children, and children’s children.
Esau said, “My brother came with subtlety and hath taken away my blessing. Is he not rightly named Jacob! for he has supplanted me these two times; he took away my birthright, and behold now, he hath taken away my blessing” (Genesis 27:35-36).
Part of what he said was untrue. The first deal, the selling of his birthright, had been a legitimate transaction which Esau was very willing to make because he did not value his birthright. Remember, he had said at that time, “What profit shall this birthright do me?” i.e. “What is in it for me? What advantage do I get out of serving the Lord and being the spiritual leader of the family?”
Isaac’s heart ached for his beloved son. He searched in his heart for an answer to Esau’s cry — a blessing that he might not have given Jacob, “Behold I have made him thy Lord!” he said to Esau.
What he thought he was doing, was making Jacob the servant of Esau. Now, that was totally opposite to what God had told Rebekah. The prophecy had said, “The elder shall serve the younger.” So when Isaac tried to prophesy over Esau, making him the Lord over his brother Jacob, he was prophesying contradictory to what was the will of God.
One cannot show favouritism when prophesying. One must bring the word of the Lord. One must be the oracle of God to the people. Yet many prophesy out of their own soulish ambitions and emotions.
Out of the anguish of his heart, Esau cried out again, with the tears rolling down his cheeks, “Hast thou but one blessing, my father?” And lifting up his voice he wept aloud. He wept for all the years he had not been able to weep, or refused to weep. He wept for the lonely days and months and years when he was far from home, living in the fields. He wept for the years of separation from his one and only brother. He wept for the mother’s love that he had never known. He wept because he was not fair and handsome, like his brother, but hairy and plain, and had, because of his rejection and suffering, grown tough and hard, and pretended it didn’t matter that he wasn’t loved like his brother. He wept because he had sold his birthright in a moment of recklessness, when he was young and foolish. He wept because God was far away from him. He wept because there was no blessing left for him. He wept because his father was so old and foolish that he didn’t know the difference between him and his brother anymore than he knew the difference between venison and goat. He wept!
And Isaac wept with him. He wept for the son he loved. He wept for the love his mother had never given him. He wept for the loneliness of the years they were apart. He wept for his own stupidity and blindness, and his failure to be honest with his son and explain to him why it had to happen, like it did. He wept because he knew that these two sons would become two nations, and that they would always be separated and be at enmity with each other. He wept because he saw the blood these sons would shed in warring against each other, and the anguish that would fill the hearts of their mothers when the bodies of their slain sons were brought home from the wars that they would fight against each other. He saw the swords, the stones, — and did he even see the fire arms and bombs and blown up bodies on the streets of their cities, and soldiers dying on the field, their fields?
And as he wept, the spirit of prophecy came upon him, and the Ruach Ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit) spoke through him, “Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother, and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.”
Instead of being comforted by the prophecy, Esau was made even more angry. The words, “Thou…shalt serve thy brother” incensed him. The fact that a day would finally come when he would have dominion was of little comfort to him. He determined in his heart that he would NEVER be his brother’s servant — and in order to prevent such a thing from ever happening he would kill his brother. He said, in his heart, “My father will soon die; as soon as he does, I will kill Jacob.”
However, he told someone about his intentions and Rebekah found out. She feared for Jacob’s life.
THE LAST GOODBYE
She sent for Jacob and warned him of his brother’s plans, “Your brother, Esau, is comforting himself with the thought that as soon as your father dies he will kill you. Now, my son, listen to me and obey me. Get ready quickly, and flee to my brother Laban in Haran. Stay with him a few days — until Esau has gotten over his anger and forgets what you did to him: then I will send word and fetch you from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Rebekah knew that the day Isaac died would also be the day when Jacob would be killed — if Esau could have his way. Even if she did not see Jacob for some time, it was comforting to know he was alive and safe with her brother, back home. But first, she had to convince her husband that this was the right thing to do. She could not tell Isaac that Esau was waiting for him to die, so he could kill his brother. She must have a good reason to convince him that he should send Jacob all that long way back to Mesopotamia. She thought and thought; and finally she had the answer.
In her wifely wisdom she approached her husband with tears, “Isaac, my lord, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth the wives of Esau, if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me!”
We do not know what else she said to him, but it almost seems as though Isaac thought up the plan, himself. However, sometimes it is possible to drop a hint, and let people think that they have thought up the idea themselves, when all the while you are the one who steered them into it, without them realizing it. Anyway, Rebekah did not have a hard time convincing Isaac that this was a good plan. Isaac himself, cared little for Esau’s wives. He knew they were pagans, and that they ridiculed the one true God.
Isaac asked for Jacob to come and see him. When Jacob came into his father’s presence, his father blessed him and charged him, “Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Get ready, and go to the house of Bethuel, thy mother’s father, in Padanaram and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people: And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee: that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”
This was the greatest of the two blessings which Jacob had received from his father. This was the blessing of God to Abraham and Isaac, and now it became his, making him the father of the people that would later be called Israel, and the land that would be called Eretz Israel. If only Jacob had waited, he could have had all his heart’s desire without trickery, deceit and lies!
Many times we strive to get what God has promised us, when all we need to do is wait.
So Jacob kissed his father goodbye, wondering if he would ever see him again. With tears, he hugged and kissed his mother. It was hard to leave her. With a heavy heart and eyes filled with tears, Rebekah watched her beloved son go, until he disappeared out of sight.
Rebekah was hoping she would soon be able to send for him to come home. But it never happened. Day by day, month by month, year by year the time passed, and all she could see in Esau’s eyes was perpetual hate and anger for his brother, until he finally took his wives and moved away.
REBEKAH FINDS PEACE AT LAST
And then, one day, after many years of waiting and grieving for her son, Rebekah too left her tent; her spirit soared to God, and her body was carried to Hebron, to the Cave of Machpelah, where she was laid to rest beside Abraham and Sarah.
When her spirit entered The Valley of The Shadow of Death her heart finally stopped grieving for her beloved son. There was Abraham waiting to meet her, and Sarah, whom she had never met in this life, but in whose tent she had lived all her life, her father, Bethuel, and even her mother. It was a great reunion, and she rejoiced to meet those whom she had known and those whom she had heard so much about while on her earthly pilgrimage.
Many times she had suffered with homesickness for her family, and no one but she and God knew how her heart had ached for her son, Jacob; but now, at last, her sorrows were ended. Her soul was at peace as she laid her head on old Abraham’s bosom and she heard him repeat to her the words he had spoken to her so long ago, when she had come as a bride, “Welcome, my daughter! I am glad you have come!”
To follow the rest of the story of Isaac, and his two sons, Jacob and Esau, we recommend that you read the daily devotional In the Beginning by Gwen R. Shaw. See Bookstore.
GENEALOGY OF ADAM
THROUGH THE LINE OF SETH
YEAR PERSON AGE COMMENTS
AM* 1 Adam 930 Seth, Cain, Enoch and Methuselah buried Adam with great pomp.
AM 130 Seth 912
AM 235 Enosh 905
AM 325 Cainan 910 A great king. Very wise, skills, reigned over men and spirits and demons. Warned men of the judgment of the flood. wrote on tablets of stone. Had 3 sons —Mahlallel, Enan, Mered, and two daughters: Adah and Zillah who married Lamech of Cain’s line. Husbands in those days forced women to abort their children to keep their beautiful figures. Died in the 129th year of Noah. He did not follow the Lord with all his heart.
AM 395 Mahlallel 805 Died in the 234 year of Noah.
AM 460 Jared 962 Died in the 336 year of Noah
AM 622 Enoch 365 Ruled as king. Had Adam’s garments. Gave them to Methuselah. Was translated in the 84th year of the life of Noah. His daughter, Maamah married Noah when she was 580 years old and Noah was 498 years old.
AM 687 Methuselah 969 Noah’s grandfather. He helped Noah preach for 120 years. Died the year of the Flood.
AM 874 Lamech 777
AM 930 THE DEATH OF ADAM IN THE 243rd YEAR OF ENOCH’S REIGN.
AM 1034 THE DEATH OF SETH IN LAMECH’S 160th YEAR.
AM 1056 NOAH 950 Preached 120 years; built the ark in 5 years. He chose the three daughters of Methuselah to be wives for his three sons. Took Adam’s garments into the ark. Died in the 58th year of Abram’s life.
AM 1656 THE FLOOD
*AM stands for Anno Mundi which is Latin for “in the year of the world”
“All men who walked in the ways of the Lord, died in those days, before the Lord brought the evil upon man which he had declared, for this was from the Lord, that they should not see the evil which the Lord spoke of concerning the sons of men. And Noah found grace… (Jasher 4:20-21).
“And all the sons of men who knew the Lord, died in that year before the Lord brought evil upon them; for the Lord willed them to die, so as not to behold the evil that God would bring upon their brothers and relatives, as he had so declared to do.” (Jasher 5:21).
GENEALOGY OF ADAM
THROUGH THE LINE OF CAIN
LAMECH: He married the two daughters of Cainan: Adah, who bore him two sons:
1. Jabal: He was the father of such that dwell in tents.
2. Jubal: He was the father of such that handle the harp and organ.
His second wife was Zillah. She was barren for many years. The Lord opened her womb and she bore a son and daughter.
1. Tubal Cain: an instructor of every articifer in brass and iron.
Lamech accidently killed his forefather, Cain, in a hunting accident. In shock at what he had done, he also accidently killed his son, Tubal Cain.
THE FAMILY OF ABRAHAM
Noah lived 350 years after the flood. Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Abraham was a descendant of Shem.
Peleg (the earth divided in his day)
Noah was 602 when Arphaxad was born.
Noah was 637 when Salah was born.
Noah was 667 when Eber was born.
Noah was 691 when Peleg was born.
Noah was 721 when Reu was born.
Noah was 755 when Serug was born.
Noah was 780 when Nahor was born.
Noah was 809 when Terah was born.
Noah was 879 when Abraham was born.
Noah was 889 when Sarah was born.
Noah died at the age of 930
Abraham was 51 when Noah died.
Sarah was 41 when Noah died.
Copyright 1997 by Gwen R. Shaw