Jill Eileen Smith once again brings the women of the Bible to life with REBEKAH, the second in her Wives of the Patriarchs series, which follows her Wives of King David books. Basing her novels on scripture and extensive research, she captures the emotion, trials and joys of these women with vivid imagery, relatable dialogue, and flawed characters facing conflicts with others as well as within themselves.
Rebekah’s father left the world too soon. He had not yet arranged for her to marry, leaving the task instead to Laban, the brother she does not trust. Her beauty draws many a suitor, but none rich enough to please her greedy brother. She worries that, under his rule, she will remain single. Her fears are intensified when Laban chooses a crude and violent man for her to wed. But God has other plans, and makes them known to Rebekah by appearing to her and saying, “Do not be afraid of your brother Laban’s plans for you. They will not succeed. I am sending my messenger to meet you. When he comes, you will know what to do.”
"Like Jill Eileen Smith’s previous novels, REBEKAH gives us greater insight into the women of the Bible, as well as the men who loved them. Their heartaches, fears, desires and joys are no different from those experienced by women today, a truth that spans thousands of years to breathe life into her books."
Isaac, born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, knows that he must move on from the grief he has suffered over his mother’s death. He is ready to take a wife, but his father is adamant that she come from his people, not the Canaanites who live nearby. Abraham sends his servant to his brother’s household in Harran to find a wife for Isaac there. When the servant prays for a sign to know which girl is right for Isaac, he is met at the well by Rebekah. The expensive gifts he bestows on her are enough to please Laban, who agrees to a marriage between Isaac and Rebekah. They set off for Abraham’s camp, with Rebekah curious about her future husband and wondering what their future together will bring.
Rebekah and Isaac, two strangers, are blessed with love at first sight. Their wedding week is blissful, though Rebekah can see there is tension between Isaac and his father. Adding to the tension are the dreams that make her husband restless in his sleep. She knows he is hiding a secret and hopes he will feel comfortable enough to confide in her someday. As time goes on, the two grow closer and more in love. Isaac tells her what changed his relationship with Abraham: the binding. He explains that God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but called out to Abraham and stopped him just before the knife came down on Isaac.
Twenty years go by with Isaac and Rebekah staying strong in their faith and their marriage, but Rebekah longs for a child. Isaac takes her to the site where the binding took place and pleads with God to bless them with a son. God answers, and Rebekah becomes pregnant with twins Jacob and Esau. Little does she know that the source of her joy will begin years of turmoil in her marriage. It isn’t long before Rebekah can see that Isaac favors Esau, while she is partial to Jacob. As the children grow, so too does the rift between them, until a famous betrayal widens the gap even further. Will she and Isaac ever be able to find the love they shared for so long?
Like Jill Eileen Smith’s previous novels, REBEKAH gives us greater insight into the women of the Bible, as well as the men who loved them. Their heartaches, fears, desires and joys are no different from those experienced by women today, a truth that spans thousands of years to breathe life into her books. I highly recommend REBEKAH to read and share, as well as SARAI, the first in the Wives of the Patriarchs series.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on February 13, 2013