Rebekah (Women of Genesis) (Book 2) – Orson Scott Card

It is always great when someone dramatizes the life of someone in the Bible so we can get to know the people a little better.  Orson Scott Card started the tale with Sarah – Abraham’s wife – a tale of barrenness despair and the rise of a concubine which ended in happy tears as a child came along – Isaac. This is the tale of Rebekah – Isaac’s wife, born in the desert, child of an influential man, living in a tent – learning about God and the other religions from fathers, brothers and dishonored mothers.

Rebekah is someone I never really thought a whole lot about–other than I knew that she had tricked Isaac into granting the priesthood right to the second son by making him wear lambswool to make him seem hairier like his older brother.  The story had so much behind it!

“Let me be loved like that, by a man who will not replace me with concubines when I’m old and ugly. Let me be loved by a man who loves God more than me.”

Comparing this to the story of “Sarah” which I also liked, I think that many things are similar. Maybe that was the point in this book–many times it is remarked how similar Sarah & Rebekah were in dealing with Abraham and their families. I know that women in the time period didn’t have much in the way of independence, but I would like to hope that some men allowed their wives to be free thinkers, and to have some independence.

Born into a time and place where a woman speaks her mind at her peril, and reared as a motherless child by a doting father, Rebekah grew up to be a stunning, headstrong beauty. She was chosen by God for a special destiny.

Rebekah leaves her father’s house to marry Isaac, the studious young son of the Patriarch Abraham, only to find herself caught up in a series of painful rivalries, first between her husband and his brother Ishmael, and later between her sons Jacob and Esau. Her struggles to find her place in the family of Abraham are a true test of her faith, but through it all she finds her own relationship with God and does her best to serve His cause in the lives of those she loves.

“Good people aren’t good because they never cause harm to others. They’re good because they treat others the best way they know how, with the understanding that they have.”

In Rebekah, Orson Scott Card has created an astonishing personality, complex and intriguing, and her story will engage your heart as it captures your imagination.

Almost everybody who has ever lived has believed in some kind of deity. Even in today’s enlightened and materialistic times, atheism remains a minority pursuit requiring hard intellectual graft. Even committed atheists easily fall prey to supernatural ideas

For fans of The Rent Tent, this is a good book to get your fill on historical, biblical fiction. While some of the dialogue (both outward and inner) could have been a bit shorter, I enjoyed reading this story and admire the way Card filled in the biblical outline with detail. The author’s note in the preface explains that “the task in this novel was to show how good people can sometimes do bad things to those they love most.” With generations and religions praising Abraham and Isaac, Sarah and Rebekah, this tale shows the humanity behind some of their actions that took place in biblical records.

Card builds a tale around Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel and wife of Isaac.

Rebekah loses her mother as a baby, and is brought up under by a doting father, by her simple-minded and devoted nurse Deborah. She is also close to her brother Laban.
Her beauty is renowned and she has a headstrong and powerful personality temprered by an innate compassion.When she is seven years old an accident renders her father, Bethuel, deaf. She rejects marriage to a wealthy nobleman Ezbaal, because he worships pagan gods, and not Yahweh, and is by a strange series of events reunited with her mother Akyas, who was sent by Bethuel shortly after Rebekah’s birth.

Rebekah is drawn as a smart and strong character, wise beyond her years. She speaks her mind and from her heart, sometimes to her own peril. Rebekah’s story surrounds her journey from her father’s home, where she deals with certain familial issues with which she must come to terms, to finding her place in her husband’s priestly family, testing her own faith and relationship with God along the way.

The love between Rebekah and Isaac is great but it is strained by the rivalry with his brother Ishmail, and the domineering nature of Isaac’s father,. Abraham. She falls pregnant after twenty years, and in a dream is visited by her great ancestors Seth, the son of Noah, and Eber, and several others of whom she knew less. They inform her she will give birth to twins

” You have two great men inside you, two mighty nations, two ways of life, and the one will be stronger than the other, and the elder will serve the younger”.

Isaac is drawn as a good hearted man, who struggles with doing the right thing in the eyes of his father, his God, and his wife.

Not long after the twins Jacob and Esau are born, their different natures become apparent. Jacob is good natured and obedient, while Esau is wild and wilfful. Rebekah favours Jacob and Isaac favours Esau. Esau hunts and kills the animals, while Jacob tends and loves them. A powerful anecdote is related to show their different natures, when they are five years old and and Jacob weeps because Esau throws stones at a puppy until it is blinded.

They grow up and finally Esau shows his true waywardness, bloodthirsty character and his disinterest in the word of God, and he marries two Hittite women.

The book draws to a close with the famous events where Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage, and where Jacob tricks Isaac into giving him the birthright instead of Esau.

But according to the author’s interpretation, Isaac really knows it is Jacob, but God tels him that indeed Jacob is worthy of the blessing.

He also discretely brings up the Israelite Goddess Asherah, AKA, Heavenly Mother. Asherah is very much a part of the Old Testament. Just as Abraham sacrificing Isaac represents Heavenly father sacrificing Jesus, I strongly suspect Sarah, Abraham’s beautiful wife, represents Asherah. The many righteous barren women combined with the polygamy throughout the OT possibly symbolic of Mary, not Asherah, becoming the mother of Their “only” begotten son.

About the author

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy.

Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.

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