AVRAM, ISHMAEL, YITZAAK
Saturday June 30:
This is a long chapter, recounting the elaborate story of how Abraham sent his servant to fetch Isaac a wife Rebekah, lest he either marry a local Canaanite, or return to Haran from which Abraham had emigrated. It suggests deep roots in oral histories. On the other hand, in the formula ‘Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’, this middle guy doesn’t get much ink!
We are appalled, culturally, by the perception that Rebekah was simply property to be bought for one man from another. The theme in context here is again about immigrants’ temptations of assimilation on one hand, and return to the ‘old country’ on the other to intermarry and honour the legacy and lineage.
In another week, we’ll have to compare and contrast Yaakov’s repetition of this trip back north to Haran, Syria or Turkey, to win wives from Laban. For today, the chamberlain of the sheik is sent to fetch a strategic partner, and we might imagine the diplomatic management of royal marriages with political implications. Gender roles might be more complex than ‘women as property’, related to tribal management, and this trip more like corporate headhunting for the C-suite than like human trafficking for brothels.
Enjoy the story, which will take more of your 5 to 10 minutes today. Don’t miss, near the end in v.68, that Rebekah’s family want to keep her as betrothed for 10 days (or 10 years) as a treaty promise, but not a hostage. It’s Rebekah herself who takes on the risk of going to Canaan.