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Rebekah in the Bible & 7 Lessons We Learn From Her

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Rebekah in the Bible, is one of the most prominent women in scripture.

The second (after Sarah) of the matriarchs in the ancestor stories of Genesis.

The beautiful narratives in Genesis 24–27 describe how she becomes Isaac’s wife, gives birth to twin sons after years of barrenness, and gains the primary place in the lineage of her younger son, Jacob. He is destined to become the ancestor of all Israel.

While challenging to accept for some, her deception in manipulating Isaac for Jacob’s benefit shows her to be an admirable and assertive woman.

Rebekah was the beautiful and intelligent daughter of Bethuel, the great-niece of Abraham, and the sister of Laban. Rebecca married Isaac, the son promised to Abraham and Sarah.

She bore two sons, Esau and Jacob. The nation of Israel came from Jacob, and the line of Esau became the Edomites.

image of Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible

The Meaning of Rebekah’s (Rebecca’s) Name

The Hebrew meaning for the name Rebecc” is “to tie firmly” or “a noose.” Related to a female, the name suggests her beauty by means of which men are snared or bound.

Another meaning of Rebekah is that of “captivating,” according to BibleGateway.

As her name reflects, Rebekah in the Bible was a woman of captivating beauty. In Genesis, it was noted, “the young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known.”

The young woman was very attractive, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.

Genesis 24:16 (ESV)

The Story of Rebekah in the Bible

The story of Isaac pursuing Rebekah unfolds in the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis.

After Sarah’s death, Abraham sent out his servant (unnamed) to his hometown of Aram Nahariam to select a bride for their son Isaac. The servant was loaded with clothing, jewelry, and gifts for the bride and her family.

Before the servant left for his journey, he worried that the woman would not return with him. Abraham allayed his worries by telling the servant that he would be “free from this oath” if the woman was unwilling to return with him.

But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.”

Genesis 24:8 (ESV)

During the journey, he prayed to God to make him successful and show kindness to his master. He then asked God for a sign to know which woman God had chosen for his master’s wife.

And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.

Genesis 24:12 (ESV)

Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

Genesis 24:14 (ESV)

Before the servant even finished his prayer, a young woman appeared with a jar on her shoulder and went down to the spring to draw water.

The woman was Rebekah, and the servant spoke with her. After some reluctance, Rebekah’s father and brother agreed for her to leave with the servant to marry Isaac.

behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

Genesis 24:43-44 (ESV)

When Rebekah reached Abraham’s home, she saw him praying in the afternoon. His spirituality captured her attention, and before long, it was revealed that he was indeed her husband-to-be! The two married soon after in his mother’s tent.

She was so beautiful that Isaac tried to pass her off as his sister at a time because he was worried that other men might be jealous and kill him to claim Rebekah as their own.

When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance.

Genesis 26:7 (ESV)

It is interesting to note that in Genesis 24:67, Isaac declares his love for her. It is the first time a woman in the Hebrew Bible whom marital love is communicated.

Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Genesis 24:67 (ESV)

Rebekah’s Marriage to Isaac and Her Barrenness

When Rebekah failed to become pregnant after 20 years of marriage, Isaac prayed for a child, and God heard his prayer.

When Rebecca became pregnant with twins, she was concerned because “struggled together within her: So she “went to inquire of the LORD.”

The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

Genesis 25:22 (ESV)

The oracle of God addresses her when she’s pregnant, and He states that two nations will contend with each other in the womb.

And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
    the older shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:23 (ESV)

This prophecy foreshadows the tensions that will represent the relationship between Rebekah’s sons, Jacob and Esau, throughout their lives. The brothers would become ancestors of Israel and Edom.

image of Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible

Rebekah’s Deceptions

It is fascinating to see how Rebecca fooled her husband, Isaac. She knew Esau was the firstborn son and had a right over everything, but she still manipulated things for Jacob (the younger) to receive the blessing instead!

Isaac was of elderly age; scholars estimated between the age of 132 and 137 and wanted to bestow blessings to his sons before his death.

Knowing that his death was nearing, Isaac asked Esau to:

Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me,  and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

Genesis 27:3-4 (ESV)

Rebecca overheard Isaac’s request and told Jacob to:

Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves.

Genesis 27:9 (ESV)

By doing this, Isaac would believe Jacob to be Esau and give the younger son the firstborn’s blessing.

Jacob was worried that this plan to deceive his father might fail, even with Isaac’s deteriorating vision, because Esau was a hairy man and Jacob was clean-shaven.

Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, thought that if he dressed in Esau’s clothing and put the hairy skins of young goats on his hands, it would make him look and feel like Esau.

Jacob approached his father, and Isaac requested that Jacob “come near” so he could be sure that it was Esau. Isaac remarked:

So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”

Genesis 27:22 (ESV)

The deception was successful as Isaac requested the food he had wanted and then proceeded to bless Jacob. The farce continued when Isaac requested his son to “come near and kiss me, my son.” 

Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.”

Genesis 27:26 (ESV)

This deception was successful and, in fact:

So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son
    is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!

Genesis 27:27 (ESV)

The charade was finally revealed when Esau returned. Unaware the blessing was given to his brother:

He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.”

Genesis 27:31 (ESV)

Isaac realized he was deceived and told Esau, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing”

But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.”

Genesis 27:35 (ESV)

The series of events caused Esau to hate his brother and threaten to kill him. Rebekah told Jacob how Esau would kill him and advised that he should escape to her brother Laban’s house until the anger fades and Esau forgets what he has done.

Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran

Genesis 27:43 (ESV)

Rebekah’s behavior in securing the birthright for her favored son Jacob and protecting him from Esau’s wrath by having him sent away has been seen as problematic.

However, the biblical text is clear about God’s intention to have Jacob continue the lineage. This means that through this ruse, Rebekah has carried out His will.

The Jewish tradition of elevating Rebekah is apparent in how they portray her as a righteous woman and even prophet. Her resourceful trickster side serves God, preserving the ancestral lineage of her people.

The circumstances surrounding Rebecca’s death are not disclosed in the Bible. Her burial place, however, is mentioned in Genesis 49:29-31.

Then he commanded them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah—

Genesis 49:29-31 (ESV)

The story of Rebekah shows God’s providence, prayerful intervention, and how He can work through our mistakes to carry out His will.  

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

Lessons From Rebekah in the Bible

There are several lessons that we can learn from Rebekah’s life and that we can apply to our own lives.

1.  Marriage is Built on Love AND Faith

The story of Isaac and Rebekah teaches that marriage is built not just on love but on faith.

The story of Rebekah highlights the importance and power that faith has in our lives.

Isaac and Rebekah’s relationship provides a great example of how love can exist in the face of uncertainty. Rebekah had to act in faith to choose to leave her family for a man she didn’t know and to marry him.

Marriage is more than just romantic affection. It has deep roots in faith, as well.

God MUST be at the center of a marriage.  Without Him at your union’s head, you will be relying on only love.  Through faith, God can help you withstand the rocky roads that marriage will face.

2.  We Must Let God Carry Out His Plan

Rebekah tried to take matters into her own hands, but as we know from Sarah, this never works out as we expect it to.

It’s easy to grow impatient or anxious when God doesn’t move within our timeframe – but there’s a beauty in waiting for Him that can never be matched by anything else.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

God is in charge of our lives; we should never try to hurry Him or take matters into our own hands. The best option always lies in waiting on the Lord until He accomplishes His will in our lives.

3. God Heals our Hurt With New Relationships.

When Abraham sought a wife for his son, he had recently been widowed and was a very old man. Until Sarah died, Isaac enjoyed a close relationship with his parents.

Sarah’s death left a considerable void in Isaac’s life, which may be what motivated Abraham to seek a wife for his son.

God used the new relationship with Rebekah to help heal their hurt from losing his mother.

Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Genesis 24:67 (ESV)

We all experience the loss of people in our lives, but because God said that it is not good for man to be alone, He will often bring new ones into your life to replace what was lost.

4.  Favoritism Hurts Families

We can see from Rebekah’s story that showing favoritism is harmful to families. We see in the Book of James that favoritism is a sin!

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

James 2:1 (ESV)

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

James 2:8-9 (ESV)

5.  God Answers Prayer, But Not Always When We Expect Them

For many years after Isaac and Rebekah were married, Rebekah was unable to bear children. Like many in his situation, Isaac prayed.

and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah, his wife, conceived.

Genesis 25:20-21 (ESV)

When you read this, it seems pretty straightforward. Rebekah could not have children, Isaac prayed, and she had children. It appears, however, that the prayer was not immediately answered, as we see a few verses later.

Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

Genesis 25:26 (ESV)

Isaac was a man who had been praying for twenty years before God answered his prayer. This is another important lesson from Rebekah in the Bible.  God does answer prayer but doesn’t always do it in our expected timeframe.

We should never confuse delay with denial. God may be delaying the answer for our good, but that does not mean he has denied us!

However, a delay can be a denial, but we should not always assume that it is so.

The form you have selected does not exist.

6.  God’s Plan Will Always Prevail 

It is comforting to know that God still used Rebekah despite her failings and deception. His plan was not prevented because of her misguided actions. In fact, God used it to orchestrate the fulfillment of His purpose.

God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Our sins and shortcomings can not thwart His plans.

7. Isaac and Rebekah Showed That God Was First in Their Marriage

Throughout the story of Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible, we see evidence of their relationship with God in their lives and their marriage. As mentioned earlier, when Rebekah could not bear children, Isaac prayed. When the children were wrestling in Rebekah’s womb, she prayed.

When God confirmed His promise with Abraham regarding his son Isaac, he built an altar and worshipped the Lord.

Throughout their lives, there was always a consistent demonstration of how much Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible people trusted in Him; This should be an example to us!

Through every circumstance or situation, we face throughout life- we must demonstrate that our relationship with God is our primary focus and that we trust in Him to meet our every need.

Though not as expansive in scripture as the story of Abraham and Sarah, we still see how their faith impacted them.

Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible were not perfect, yet they still played an essential role in God’s plan for the future nation of Israel and how he would use them as examples throughout history.

God uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect will. Thankfully he is still doing that today and as He has throughout history! And, He will use you and I, too!

Prayer to Live Out the Lessons We Can Learn From Rebekah in the Bible

Lord, I know that you are the almighty God of all. Help me today as my will gets in the way, and any plan stands between your plans for what should happen today or in the future.

Please give me eyes to see things the way you do and allow me to be a vessel for you to work through.

May you be glorified in my actions, relationships, and thoughts today. Help me keep the eyes of my heart on You as I engage with people around this world; each face is an opportunity for Your mighty work!

May your grace empower me so that in all of my actions today, I can feel the power from you. Guide every thought toward worshiping at Your feet because only You are worth it!

In your name, I pray. Amen.

Resources for Rebekah in the Bible

You may enjoy this video on the story of Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible:

Or one of these recommended resources about Rebekah in the Bible:


Rebekah (Wives of the Patriarchs Book #2) by Jill Eileen Smith 

Rebekah (Women of Genesis) by Orson Scott Card 


The Most Misunderstood Women of the Bible: What Their Stories Teach Us About Thriving by Mary E. DeMuth 

Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead by J. Lee Grady 


ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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