January 25, 2013

Rebekah Veiled (Gen 24:64-66)

Category: Bible - OT - Genesis :: Permalink

In Genesis 24, Abraham’s servant has traveled to Mesopotamia to bring back a bride for Isaac.  At the end of the chapter, Rebekah, traveling with the servant, sees Isaac walking in the field and asks the servant who he is.  On hearing the answer, Rebekah then veils herself.  Why?

It’s certainly not the case that women in that day wore veils at all times, or even at times when they were around men.  After all, Rebekah has been traveling unveiled with Abraham’s servant up till now.  It is only when she sees her future husband that she covers herself with the veil.  She is veiled with regard to him, and that seems to symbolize that they are not yet one flesh.  There is a barrier between them; they cannot yet be face to face.

But why does Rebekah veil herself at this particular point in time?

In the story of Jacob and Leah and Rachel, though the text doesn’t mention it, it seems as if Leah must have been veiled on the wedding day or else Jacob would have recognized that she wasn’t Rachel.  But surely we aren’t to think that for the entire seven years that Jacob served for Rachel leading up to this wedding day, she was veiled.  Sure, she was his future wife.  But there’s no reason to think he didn’t see her face to face.  Rather, it makes sense that she wore the veil — or rather, Leah-pretending-to-be-Rachel, wore the veil — only on the wedding day, only during the hours leading up to the wedding.

If so, that would suggest that when Rebekah veils herself on seeing Isaac in the distance, she is doing so, not only in anticipation of the wedding, but in anticipation that the wedding is going to happen that very day.  She is not planning to veil herself for the next few weeks until some future wedding day.  She is not anticipating a period of courtship, of “getting to know one another.”  Just as she was willing to leave her home for the promised land the morning after Abraham’s servant arrived, so she is ready to get married instantly, without delay to the promised seed. She has agreed to marry Isaac and she is ready for the wedding today.  That’s faith.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:10 pm | Discuss (0)

Leave a Reply