Chapter 1: Godly Women in Genesis

Printer-friendly version

by William M. Banks, Scotland

 

INTRODUCTION

TYPICAL LESSONS

PRACTICAL LESSONS

CONCLUDING REFERENCES

A FINAL WORD


INTRODUCTION

The book of Genesis contains many references to women. Indeed, references to women in our Bibles occur mainly in the early pages and then again in the New Testament Scriptures. Matheson1 makes the interesting observation that "The hall of entrance and the hall of exit are each occupied by a picture of a woman … she appears only in the morning and in the evening of the Bible story." The overall story is one of the dignity and glory and liberation of womanhood. Without the Scriptures woman would not have the place of dignity in the assembly and in society which she currently occupies.

1Matheson, George. "The Representative Women of the Bible". Hodder and Stoughton, 1907.

When we come to Genesis in particular, her importance is emphasied by the various and numerous references to women. The story moves effortlessly from Eve to Asenath. The emphasis, character and doctrine are all being developed to teach important practical and typical lessons but all in the context of daily living and without unnecessary embellishment. The problems, family issues and inevitable mistakes are all there. They are ordinary people, of like passions, facing the day-to-day experiences still known to us today.

The story moves from the period of innocence and joy to failure and heartbreak in the case of Eve to the opposite experience in the case of Asenath: from obscurity to sharing in the universal glory of Joseph without her ever knowing the experiences of sorrow and sadness that led to it. In between, the picture fluctuates between the ‘steadfast’ attitude and yet at times, the apparently harsh treatment meted out by Sarah. The spiritual, ‘far-seeing’ Rebekah graces the scene with her beauty and altogether unique introduction; "... wilt thou go... I will go" Gen.24.58, coupled with her being the recipient of a Divine revelation which would encapsulate the development of nations for centuries. The ‘placid’ Rachel is willing at times to play ‘second fiddle’ to her older sister Leah and satisfied, at least for a time, to wait and let things take their course.

There are, of course, different ways of looking at the lessons to be learned. It will be helpful to do this in two ways: firstly to look at the typical significance of the women in Genesis and, secondly, to look at the practical lessons which can be learned from their lives. While the overall title of this book is "The Glory of Godly Women" there are times when even the best have failures from which we can learn.

The typical lessons will be examined as follows with each being a picture of the Church in its dispensational setting. This was suggested initially in a message given many years ago but the following is a development:

  • Eve – the Church seen as the fruit of Divine purpose

  • Sarah – the Church seen as the call of Divine sovereignty

  • Rebekah – the Church seen as the subject of Divine counsel

  • Rachel – the Church seen as the object of Divine love

  • Asenath – the Church seen as the sharer of Divine glory

 

Following this the practical lessons from each will be emphasised to bring out the variety of characteristics that marked them and to learn appropriately for our day. In this connection the following features will be considered:

  • Eve – the problem of Satanic deception, 1Tim.2.14

  • Sarah – the beauty of willing submission, 1Pet.3.6

  • Rebekah – the wisdom of spiritual perception, Gen.25.27

  • Rachel – the consistency of shepherding devotion, Gen.29.9

  • Asenath – the quietness of thrilling association, Gen.41.45

In addition to the above, concluding references will be made to a number of other women in Genesis to ensure an appropriate coverage, including wives (Noah’s, Lot’s), daughters (Lot’s), a harlot (in the genealogy – and "more righteous" than Judah!) and sundry besides.

TYPICAL LESSONS

Each of the above women will be considered in turn to observe the typical lessons in relation to the church.

Eve – The Fruit of Divine Purpose

It was not good that the man should be alone. But in spite of all cattle, fowl and beasts of the field coming before Adam and he giving them names, indicative of complete control, superiority and sovereignty; "there was not found an help meet for him" Gen.2.20. What was to be done? How could the problem be remedied? It required a dramatic event. "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made [builded – Newberry] He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" Gen.2.21-25.

Several features should be noted in the above:

The creation of Eve required a deep sleep in Adam. The sleep is undoubtedly a picture of the death of Christ. So the Church (the Body of Christ) is the fruit of His death in the implementation of Divine purpose.

Eve was builded from Adam’s side. The word used for "rib" in this passage occurs 33 times in our Bibles and is only translated "rib" in this passage. The usual translation is "side". The Lord Jesus said in Matt.16.18 "I will build My church". Before the Church could be introduced in Acts 2 the death of Christ had to intervene.

Eve as a picture of the church is seen in several particulars:

  • She was in Adam: so we were in Christ – "before the foundation of the world" Eph.1.4

  • She was taken from Adam: so we too – "Christ: from Whom the whole body … maketh increase … unto the edifying of itself in love" Eph.4.15,16

  • She was for Adam: so "we are ambassadors for Christ …" 2Cor.5.20

  • She was presented to Adam: so the church is one day going to be presented to Him "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish …" Eph.5.27; see also 2Cor.11.2; Jude 24; and Rev.19.7,8.

It would be a pity to miss the Divine ideal in this first marriage which is particularly emphasised in these verses. The Lord makes reference to them in Matthew chapter 19 and Paul in Ephesians chapter 5: a leaving, a cleaving and a being: one man, one woman for one life!

An interesting reflection too is that the death of Christ is pictured in Genesis chapter 2 before the entrance of sin in chapter 3. Sin did not take God by surprise: the remedy was there before ever the problem arose!

Sarah – The Call of Divine Sovereignty

Sarah is always seen in intimate association with Abraham. Even in her first introduction in Genesis chapter 11 this intimacy is recognised. She was "Abram’s wife" v.29 (presumably married in Chaldea) and Terah’s "daughter in law" v.31. She seems to move uncomplainingly and submissively with no thought of imposing her own will. Since God called Abram, then Sarai (my princess) will respond gladly and follow her husband. This is confirmed by the reference in Isa.51.2: "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bear you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.". Clearly the threefold reference to "him" is inclusive of Sarah (cf. Gen.5.2). In Abraham she is seen as part of the call of Divine sovereignty.

But there is one thing introduced in Genesis that is going to present problems later. "Sarai was barren; she had no child" Gen.11.30. Barrenness was regarded seriously in those days. The regular reference to it is indicative of the sadness it brought to the wife in question e.g. Rebekah in Gen.25.21; and Rachel could anger even Jacob by her appeal "Give me children, or else I die" Gen.30.1.

How is the problem going to be solved? Indeed there are really two problems – the barren background and the need for a seed. The call of Divine sovereignty is going to provide the answer: a people being called out of the barrenness of the world. The call cannot go unanswered. If God calls, the effect must be dramatic and certain. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified" Rom.8.28-30.

The call of God is going to lead to many children, in this passage called "brethren" who in Divine purpose are going "to be conformed to the image of His Son"; the very objective of predestination. This will lead to rejoicing for the previously barren: "Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath a husband" Gal.4.27. The call in Divine sovereignty will lead to a multitude called out of the barren wilderness of this world, linked eternally to Christ and conformed to His image and will lead to eternal rejoicing and "singing" Isa.54.1.

Rebekah – The Subject of Divine Counsel

The introduction of Rebekah in Genesis chapter 24 is filled with interest. In Genesis chapter 22 the death and resurrection of Christ have taken place in type, in the offering of Isaac on the altar. The words of Abraham are staggering in their assertion and in their simple but profound faith: "Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you" v.5. "Worship" and "come again"! The presentation of his "only … Isaac" on the altar was to be an act of worship but the fact of his resurrection was certain and an indication of faith, "come again" – not alone but with Isaac!

In Genesis chapter 23 there is a picture of the setting aside of Israel in the death of Sarah. (It is appreciated that Sarah is now being seen in a different light from that indicated above; but a double intention is not unknown elsewhere e.g. Jonah). However, the very place of her burial is indicative of the fact that the setting aside is not permanent. Machpelah indicates "double" or "a doubling" according to Newberry, and this has been interpreted as not only an entrance but an exit, a way in (in burial) and a way out (in resurrection). The setting aside of the nation is not permanent as Romans chapter 11 teaches clearly.

After the death and resurrection of Christ and the setting aside of the nation there is the introduction, in picture, of the Church in chapter 24. Rebekah knows nothing of what has been happening behind the scenes in the consultations between Abraham and his servant: "Thou shalt go … and take a wife unto my son" v.4. There is a third party between the father and the son. The counsel has taken place, the oath has been made, v.9; the agreement will be obeyed and implemented, and all this is entirely unknown to Rebekah. She is busy at home shepherding, feeding, and working by a well and unknown to her, she is the subject of counsel, prayer and interest.

It is amazing to think that before ever a member of the Church existed, Divine counsel had been in operation. "Let Us" is the language of Gen.1.26. The same kind of language, with even more pathos if possible, is used by the apostle as he unfolds the "mystery of Christ": "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ" Eph.3.2-9.

The details are staggering: "in other ages … not made known … from the beginning … hid in God". The counsels of eternity had been at work with the Church as the subject! And what is the glorious outcome? The Gentiles are fellow-heirs of the same inheritance, fellow-members of the same body and fellow-partakers of the same promise – there is one new man in Christ.

How did Rebekah come into the good of the counsel? "Wilt thou go? … I will"! The blessings into which she came were incalculable, Gen.24.53, and she was led to the man who was longing to see her and to shower upon her further blessing.

Rachel – The Object of Divine Love

Jacob had had a torrid time at home with his playboy brother. A quiet, unassuming lad happy within the home environment, could not understand the need for the field (the world) where his brother spent most of his time. He was "a plain [quiet, perfect] man dwelling in tents [a pilgrim Heb.11.13]" Gen.25.27, and thus a ‘perfect pilgrim’. It was not surprising therefore that things became difficult at home (his brother in addition to earlier misbehaviour was involved in an "unequal yoke" in marriage). Jacob was exhorted by his father and mother to leave home to find a bride. Clear direction is given to him by God in several particulars (an excellent example for any young person looking for guidance as to a godly partner) and he arrives at the well in Haran, Gen.29.2.

While there and undoubtedly seeking God’s guidance "Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them" Gen.29.9; a shepherd meeting a shepherdess! His heart must have pounded; love at first sight; he was able to move a stone from the well’s mouth which normally took several shepherds to accomplish, v.8! "Love is strong as death" S of S.8.6. Divine guidance has brought them together.

The ‘knot’ is not yet tied; further service will be necessary; a demanding and wily and deceitful prospective father-in-law will demand his pound of flesh. He knows from only a short period of service the kind of devoted worker Jacob is, and he will yet learn more in the future: "I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake" Gen.30.27, but meantime if Rachel’s hand is to be given to him then he must serve seven years.

"And Jacob loved Rachel: and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her" Gen 29.18-20.

Seven years but a few days! What love; what devotion; what patience; what endurance! But he is deceived; Leah is given and not Rachel. Another seven years are necessary. Will he agree? His love has not waned, his devotion is intact, his further service is assured and well does wily Laban know it.

It is still only a faint picture of the love of Christ for His Church. What distance will He not go? What endurance, what forsaking, what darkness, what depth, what shame, what ignominy! He too justify His ‘home’ in obedience to His Father and knew the guile and rejection of His enemies; but pre-eminently showed the extent of His love in His death by crucifixion. The Church was the object of that Divine love: "Christ … loved the church, and gave Himself for it" Eph.5.25. No service was too demanding, no sacrifice too great, no shame too ignominious – the love of Christ met the demand, bore the sacrifice and endured the shame!

Asenath – The Sharer of Divine Glory

Little is known of Asenath. There are only three references to her in the Scriptures, Gen.41.45,50 and 46.20. However, the circumstances of her introduction are altogether interesting. Her husband Joseph has been through the mill: the hatred and envy of his brethren led to a pit; the evil eyes and cunning of a woman led to a prison.

But God was in control. "He called for a famine upon the land: He brake the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron [iron entered his soul, Newberry]: Until the time that His word came: the word of the Lord tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom" Ps.105.16-22.

And so the providence of God led to the palace. However, he was not going to be alone in the palace. He was going to be accompanied by his bride. Sure, she had never known the hatred, the evil, the envy, the jealousy but she would know the glory! She is introduced in the very context of exaltation and glory. "And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-paaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt" Gen.41.39-45.

Observe the details in relation to Joseph – "set thee over all … bow the knee … ruler over all … over all the land". These are the circumstances in which Asenath is introduced. She is going to be seated in Joseph’s chariot to enjoy the accolade given to him, to watch the knees being bowed and to share in the glory which is rightfully his.

How all this beautifully depicts for us the glory which awaits the Church. We have never experienced what He has: we have never known the pit; "I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing" Ps.69.2; we have never known the prison "He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation?" Isa.53.8; it will be declared and that in glory!; we have never known the loneliness and suffering of Calvary – but one day we are going to share in the glory.

Hear the language of Scripture: "When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" Col.3.4. "He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" 2Thess.1.10-12. Observe here the double reference to glory! There was suffering for Christ but the glory is to follow; not only for Him but for the Church as well, one day to be the sharers of Divine glory.

PRACTICAL LESSONS

Each of the women has been considered typically, now each will be considered practically to learn some lessons for today.

Eve – The Problem of Satanic Deception

The Scene Set

Circumstances could not have been more favourable. The bounty of the garden was at the disposal of Adam and Eve. The environment was excellent; the food was plentiful and delicious. The garden was a place of beauty later to become the epitome of all that was desirable, pleasant and worthy, Ezek.32.35; Joel 2.3. There was but one restriction, but while the restriction was made to test the man’s and the woman’s devotion and fidelity to their Creator, it was encapsulated in a veritable banquet: "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" Gen 2.16,17. "Every tree … freely eat … but …"! There was no need to starve!

The Entrance of Satan

Into such a scene comes Satan. Of course he doesn’t come as a roaring lion; he is careful to take a form in which it is possible to deceive or beguile. Genesis chapter 3 is introduced with the words "Now the serpent" v.1. The word for serpent is derived from a root meaning to hiss or to whisper and hence refers to a serpent as we understand it. However, the being thus described is not linked with "creeping things" but with the "beasts of the field".

Campbell Morgan2 makes a most interesting observation. He points out that the reference to this event in 2Cor.11.3, "I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" is later followed by the assertion that, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" v.14. With that background he quotes from Isa.14.29 "Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s (05175 Strong) root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent (08314 Strong)". The first word for serpent in this verse is the same as that used in Genesis chapter 3. The second word for serpent is however, that for "seraphim" or "flying seraph". This latter is the "fruit" of the former. Interestingly the two words are combined in Numbers chapter 21 – "fiery serpent" (08314), v.8, and "serpent" (05175), three times in v.9.

2Morgan, G. Campbell. "The Analysed Bible – the Book of Genesis". Hodder and Stoughton, no date.

Morgan therefore concludes as follows, "a comparison of these passages will help us to understand the Genesis story. Eve was beguiled by the serpent, that is, Satan, who fashioned himself as an angel of light. In order to appeal to her through the material, he took possession of a beast of the field, more subtle, that is more cautious than any other; and transformed it into the appearance of a fiery seraph or in the words of Paul, "an angel of light". If this interpretation be accepted, it is at least easier to understand the willingness of the woman to listen; and this is in harmony with the whole Biblical revelation of Satan and his methods".

If he was going to deceive it would have been inappropriate to approach in all the horror of his evil nature. The subtlety was seen in the approach adopted. The first line of attack was on the basis of man’s relationship with God. Her confidence in God on the fundamental basis of faith must be attacked: doubt must be inferred regarding the authenticity of the Divine Word, "yea, hath God said?" v.1. This is followed by misquotation and addition to the specific word of God by Eve. The lie of Satan follows in full force, with an implied assertion that God is withholding from them something that would raise their ego and give them further knowledge that would lead to a reduced requirement for faith in God. The fundamental relationship between man and his Creator is being undermined.

She saw, she took, and she ate as totally deceived, "and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat" v.6; not that he was deceived, but out of association with and presumably love for his wife. Disobedience led to death the moment they ate, leading to further disaster and defeat and all the horrors that the entrance of sin has brought.

The Lessons to be Learned

Let us learn the lessons: Satan is a mighty foe capable of using a variety of techniques and is intent on breaking the fundamental and vital principle of faith linking man and God. The same worldly allurements that Eve saw are still very much to the fore: "good for food … pleasant to the eyes … to be desired to make one wise" v.6. Very little has changed in six millennia! "The lust of the flesh … the lust of the eyes … the pride of life" are all "of the world" 1Jn.2.16. How careful we need to be!

Thankfully, God intervened in salvation and Eve became "the mother of all living" v.20.

Sarah – The Beauty of Willing Submission

Sarah and Abraham

In Sarah’s relationship with Abraham she moves quietly on the page of Scripture. She does assert herself in relation to her maid but even here it should be remembered that she would not have had an Egyptian maid apart from the defection of Abraham!

She moves uncomplainingly and in subjection and obedience to Abraham, 1Pet.3.6, from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran to Canaan and alas even to Egypt. In this latter connection Morgan comments, "we have the startling situation of the chosen mother of the promised seed in the harem of Pharaoh". Abraham having taken one step on the downward road, takes another, and in an attempt to secure his own safety, compromises his wife’s fidelity. (Alas, he does it later as well). It is sad when a pagan king has to reprimand the head of the chosen race! Be careful about implicating others in our folly!

Sarah and Hagar

Even Sarah’s patience snaps, Genesis chapter 16. The lack of a child seems to have become unbearable: "go in unto my maid" v.2. Of course, Abraham should never have consented. Deviation from the Divine ideal, articulated clearly in the first marriage in Genesis chapter 2, leads immediately to problems in the home as it always does (see 1Samuel chapter 1).

Sarah deals rather harshly with her maid. It is strange how actions taken without due consideration of the consequences backfire so quickly. By implication Abraham is blamed: the maid leaves the home, apparently on the way back to Egypt, and discord ensues. Hasty actions taken without due recourse to Divine guidance can only bring grief. There will be a great nation from Hagar’s womb but at what cost. It is not only going to last for a short time; the repercussions are still vibrating through the Middle East today!

If the news of conception caused grief, the mocking of "the son of Hagar the Egyptian …" (not "Ishmael" though of course it was him, but the source is emphasised, Gen.21.9) at the weaning of Isaac is intolerable. Even apparently harsher treatment now ensues. The word of Sarah has to be adhered to: "Cast out this bondwoman and her son for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac" Gen.21.10. Hagar is banished rather ignominiously before God intervenes and hears "the voice of the lad" Gen.21.17.

Sarah and the Believer

The spiritual lessons from all of this are developed interestingly in the Epistle to the Galatians. The bondmaid, the freewoman; the flesh, the Spirit; two covenants; mount Sinai (Jerusalem which now is), Jerusalem which is above (Galatians chapter 4). What contrasts! What is the conclusion? "… so then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free" v.31. We are linked eternally to the true Son and able to cry from the heart "Abba, Father" v.6, not as the lisping of an infant but as the heart cry of full grown sons.

Eventually Sarah’s faith, Heb.11.11, wins through and she conceives seed at a great age, and Isaac is born. The revelation to Sarah is given in the serenity of an almost casual domestic setting through angelic agency, Genesis chapter 18. There is no evidence of fear or indeed ecstasy. The woman whom Peter uses as an example of submission to her husband is happy to be available in God’s hands.

 

Rebekah – The Wisdom of Spiritual Perception

The Revelation

The marriage has taken place all within permitted spiritual parameters. Isaac and Rebekah are the ideal couple, Genesis chapter 24. Twenty years have passed and no family! Why the barrenness? What is to be done? Isaac did what all believers should do in circumstances of barrenness personally or collectively, he "entreated the LORD for his wife" Gen.25.21. The Lord was entreated and Rebekah conceived. Is the problem over? "the children struggled together within her" Gen.25.22; cf. Gal.5.17. She now enquires of the Lord.

The revelation she receives is quite staggering. It will influence her thinking and behaviour for the rest of her life. Her relationship with Isaac (with whom, no doubt, she shared the revelation) and her boys will be regulated by it. "Two nations … two manner of people … the elder shall serve the younger" Gen 25.23. The subsequent history of Israel will be determined by the revelation. Paul would later use it as an affirmation of Divine sovereignty in election, Rom.9.10-13. There can be no doubting the spiritual calibre of Rebekah that will be affirmed in later activity, but is seen here in the willingness of God to vouchsafe such a profound revelation to her.

Her spiritual standing is further enhanced when her love for Jacob is emphasised. Not for any ulterior motive, as was the case with Isaac’s love for the worldly and "fornicating" and "profane" Esau Heb.12.16, but simply because of the pilgrim quality of the lad "… Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob" Gen.25.28.

The Manipulation

The divided parental affections however, were to have serious repercussions. The old Isaac whose "eyes were dim, so that he could not see" Gen.27.1; (cf. 2Pet.1.9, he could not see afar off!) is going to bless the spiritually insensitive Esau in spite of, and in contradistinction to, direct Divine revelation. What a tragedy if that had happened. Rebekah realises the awful seriousness of such a move and manipulates the circumstances to Jacob’s advantage. Rather than using Jacob as a pawn between her and her almost blind husband, she should have justify things with God and not caused the sensitive Jacob to play-act and lie. No doubt he felt totally out of his comfort zone, but the far-sighted Rebekah did see a real problem.

The sad consequence for her was that shortly Jacob must leave the home, and she would never (so far as the record indicates) see her beloved boy again. Even those with spiritual insight can at times delve into areas to seek to implement the Divine plan and leave themselves with heartbreak as a result.

Rachel – The Consistency of Shepherding Devotion

The Shepherdess

The introduction of Rachel is full of beauty. "Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them" Gen.29.9. What a thrill this must have been to the heart of another shepherd who was waiting by the well to which she came! a shepherdess and a shepherd meeting at a well. The spiritual significance is surely not difficult to see. God is always looking for believers with shepherd hearts and when this is enhanced by acquaintance with the Word as pictured in the well, the conclusion is evident! Here was Rachel meeting the man who was to be her husband, and doing it in circumstances which evidenced Divine guidance, and to result in the production of the future "revealer of a secret" and the "saviour of the world" Gen.41.45, (Newberry margin). The prophetic significance is evident!

The Sorrow

It was not all going to be plain sailing, however: it seldom is. There are going to be times of sorrow (a wily father is going to put her sister before her); years of jealousy and bitterness (when a fruitful sister almost overwhelms her); years of barrenness (when in spite of crying to God, "God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb" Gen.30.22) a seed seemed afar off. The cry is eventually heard however, and the result was a son of outstanding quality.

The Final Journey

The problems are still not over. She is to accompany her husband back from Haran to Hebron. She never reaches it however and in a chapter that records no less than three deaths, Genesis 35, Rachel dies at Ephrath, having just given birth to her second son. She calls him Benoni (son of my sorrow) but his far-seeing father has another name for him, Benjamin, son of my right hand. "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave" 35.19,20. And so it is that the sorrow of death produces a Son of the right hand: "… the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" 1Pet1.11.

Asenath – The Quietness of Thrilling Association

As indicated earlier, there is little said of Asenath in the Scriptures. It would have been of interest to know how she felt when her husband was promoted to be the Prime Minister of Egypt. What must have been passing through her mind when she rode in the second chariot and the multitudes were bowing the knee before Joseph and acclaiming his worth and straining to hear his every word? We will never know, but the very lack of detail is perhaps the lesson in itself! Should we not be wondering, anticipating, thrilling and, as a result, worshipping, as we ponder the scenes of millennial splendour which await the One with Whom we will be eternally associated; when He receives the acclaim of a wondering world and when every knee will bow to Him and "every tongue … confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" Phil.2.11. May we quietly and thoughtfully thrill at the prospect that awaits us.

CONCLUDING REFERENCES

There are a number of unnamed women in Genesis who nevertheless contributed significantly to the development of Divine truth and indeed the development of the race. Among these are wives, daughters, and indeed in one interesting case finding herself in the genealogy of our Lord, a harlot.

Wives

Noah’s wife and his son’s wives were responsible for the replenishing of the earth. Without them there would have been no human race; we simply wouldn’t be here! They were clearly obedient to God’s Word, disciplined in behaviour and willing adherents in the ministry of Noah. This is surely a lovely lesson to wives, to sons and to daughters-in-law!

Lot’s wife is altogether different. She was an unwilling conscript in leaving Sodom (angels took her by the hand to lead her out! Gen.19.16), while the city was under Divine discipline, and about to be the object of Divine judgment. She clearly enjoyed the high life in Sodom, as the wife of an important politician, and was reluctant to leave. Her delay ended in disaster. Let us not be slow to flee: fornication, 1Cor.6.18; from idolatry, 1Cor.10.14; from the love of money, 1Tim.6.11; youthful lusts, 2Tim.2.22, and to understand the implications of the Lord’s words "Remember Lot’s wife" Lk.17.32.

Daughters and a Harlot

Lot’s daughters remind us of the awful consequences of drunkenness and incest, Gen.19.30-38. They had little respect for their old father, sadly, not an uncommon feature of present society. His apparent willingness to imbibe drink and their willingness to be involved in incestuous relationships led to the birth of two boys, Moab and Ammon. They were to be the progenitors of nations which would be a thorn in Israel’s side for centuries. What might be thought of as relatively insignificant acts done in secret can have devastating consequences for years to come and on a wide and divergent scale.

It is a sad reflection when a woman who plays the harlot is more righteous than a son of Jacob. Judah has to admit that Tamar had been more righteous than he, Gen.38.26. Yet, in spite of their failure, in the wondrous grace of God both he and she are included in the Lord’s genealogy, Matt.1.3.

A FINAL WORD

Many lessons have been learned in our survey of the women of Genesis. The typical lessons from this earliest seed plot of Holy Scripture have indicated to us the thoughts of God for His people as He looked down the aeons of time. The picture is clear: it is not good that the man should be alone, and over the centuries a bride will be won for His Son but not without cost and immeasurable cost at that. The practical lessons must not be lost. God desires that those who are going to be thus eternally linked with the Lord Jesus have features corresponding to the high calling which is theirs. May this be the case!