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Bad Girl or Bad Theology?

If we walk the corridors of the text, over in Genesis, somewhere around chapter 25 through 50, you will find the account of Jacob and Esau.

Here, we know that Abraham has died. God reveals to Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, that she will soon give birth to two sons who will represent two nations, one stronger than the other. When Rebekah delivers her twin boys that shared a space, Esau is born first. Jacob is born immediately after, grasping the heel of his brother.

Photo Credit: James C. Lewis

The twins grew to be opposites. Esau was a hairy hunter and self-assertive. Jacob stayed at home learning the law. He was soft-spoken but quick-witted. Esau comes home famished and demanding to be fed. Being brash rarely equates to intelligence. At that moment, Esau agrees to give Jacob his inheritance rights in exchange for food.

Photo Credit: James C. Lewis

Isaac instructs Esau to hunt and prepare him a meal so that he may give his blessing. While Esau is gone, Rebekah helps Jacob deceive his father, preparing a separate meal and disguising the younger son with hairy arms and Esau’s clothing. When Jacob presents Isaac with the meal, Isaac—smelling Esau’s clothing and feeling the hairy body—proceeds to bless Jacob, promising him the inheritance of God’s covenant and greater status than his brother.

Photo Credit: James C. Lewis

This reoccurring recount has Rebekah labeled as a “bad girl” of the bible. Was she a bad girl or have we received bad theology? It may seem like Rebekah was being manipulative. It may seem like Rebekah was being deceitful. It may seem that way if you have not read the text!

The bible clearly says the following in Genesis 25: 21-27 (KJV):

21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said to her:

“Two nations are in your womb,

Two peoples shall be separated from your body;

One people shall be stronger than the other,

And the older shall serve the younger.”

24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.

25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name [d]Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called [e]Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a [f]mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Photo Credit: James C. Lewis

Rebekah had a private conversation with God and was given intel! She did not deceive anyone. She was operating based on a prophecy! God opposes men who simply walk around quoting one another instead of facts.

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