When Isaac Met Rebekah

Isaac had moved away from his father, Abraham’s, home after the death of his mother, Sarah. Isaac now lived in the Negeb Desert, in the south country. He couldn’t wait to see the girl whom Eliezer (Abraham’s servant) would be bringing *back from Mesopotamia* for him (Isaac) to marry. It would be a long wait, though, for the round trip from where Eliezer set off from (Abraham’s compound near Hebron), to Mesopotamia, and then back to the Negeb Desert where Isaac now lived, took about two months.

This will seem an inordinately long time to us today for a round-trip of less than 2,000 kilometers. However, when Abraham and Isaac lived – about 3,700 years ago – they didn’t have motor cars or trains or aeroplanes. If one went on a journey one either rode a camel or walked.


One evening when Isaac was in a field praying, he looked up and saw camels approaching from afar. “Could my wife-to-be be riding on one of them?” thought Isaac, “It’s about time Eliezar returned with her.”

Isaac felt so sure that his future wife was on one of the camels that he began walking towards them. Rebekah, who was riding one of the camels, saw a man approaching.

“Who is that man?” she asked Eliezar.

“It’s my master, Isaac” said Eliezar.

“Oh my goodness” said Rebekah, “I don’t have my veil on. I hope Isaac hasn’t
seen my face.”

Rebekah immediately dismounted her camel and covered her face with her veil. When Isaac reached the travelling party Eliezar went out to him to tell him that, yes, he had found a wife for Isaac, and that her name was Rebekah.

“Rebekah!” said Isaac, “What a beautiful name. It means a young cow. Did you know that, Eliezar?”

“No” said Eliezar.

“A young cow, which is a symbol of fertility” said Isaac, “I can’t think of a more perfect name for my wife than Rebekah. Her very name is proof to me, if ever I needed it, that God put her on earth that she be my wife.”

Isaac walked to where Rebekah was standing. He took her hands in his and looked into her eyes. Despite that he couldn’t see any other part of her face because of the veil, Isaac could see just by Rebekah’s eyes that she was beautiful.

“Oh Rebekah” said Isaac who was trembling, “I’m so overwhelmed at seeing you, I don’t know what to say. Mere words cannot even begin to convey what I’m feeling right now.”

“Don’t say anything” said Rebekah, “we have the rest of our lives to talk and to know each other.”

“Indeed we do, dear Rebekah” said Isaac, “Please, let me take you now into my late mother Sarah’s tent. I can hardly wait to begin knowing you.”

“I, too, can hardly wait to begin knowing you” said Rebekah.

Isaac knelt down and pressed Rebekah’s lower half to him. She draped herself over his right shoulder as he rose and carried her to his mother’s tent. He laid her on the bed,  removed her veil and lay beside her.

“Dear Rebekah” said Isaac, “I never imagined seeing a face as lovely as yours.”

Isaac began removing the rest of Rebekah’s garments………


“I….I don’t know what’s the matter. This doesn’t usually happen with me” said Isaac, “Please understand, Rebekah, I do find you attractive, I really do. I don’t seem quite myself right now.”

“You’re probably a little tense” said Rebekah.

“Yes, that must be it” said Isaac.

“Tell me” said Rebekah, “am I the first young woman you’ve brought into this, your mother’s tent?”


“Perhaps, then, this is why you’re tense? I mean, the bed we’re lying on, it’s the bed on which Sarah, your mother, would have received your father whenever he wished to make love with her?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You should, Isaac. Look, if we’re to succeed in our marriage, then you have to be open with me. Communication is so important, you know”.

“I’ll be alright. I just need time.”

“You’re almost forty, Isaac, far older than men usually are when they take a woman to wife. What took you so long? You did have girlfriends, didn’t you?”

“Yes I had girlfriends, but Mother never thought any were good enough for me. And besides, they weren’t Hebrew girls. Mother, as well as Father, wanted me to marry only a Hebrew girl.”

“These girlfriends you had, did you think any were good enough for you?”


“Why not?”

“Well……..none could compare to Mother. I mean……Mother was incredibly beautiful, inside and out. Even though I only knew her when she was old, I could see that she must have been breathtakingly beautiful when young. All the stories I heard confirmed this. But, even when she was old she still retained sufficient beauty, which, allied with her undiminished charm and intelligence, continued to bedazzle men, who I noticed looking at her in that way.”

“Did you ever look at her in that way?”


“Forget it. Please continue what you were saying.”

“I was Mother’s only child, and I was born when she was quite old, so she was very possessive and protective of me. I also became Mother’s confidante, possibly because I was, for her, the easiest person to whom she could pour out her innermost feelings. She was even flirtatious with me sometimes when I was a teen and older. Yes, very flirtatious. Odd that. But then, she had told me she was still extremely angry at Father for his having made her become part of the harem of the *Egyptian Pharaoh*, then later, part of the harem of *King Abimelech*.”

“Eliezer did tell me of this during our long journey here *from Mesopotamia*. It appears that your mother had made you her ally against your father”.

“Yes, I think you’re right, now that you put it that way.”

“How do you feel about Abraham your father?”

“I do love Father of course, as I loved Mother. But, I have to say, I still can’t forget how he willing he was to kill me because God had once ordered him to, before telling him not to.”

“Eliezer had told me of this too, on our journey from Mesopotamia.”

“I’ll never forget until the day I die, Father standing over me when I was just a young boy. He was holding a knife, ready to plunge it into my heart as I lay there *all bound up with twine*. I still have nightmares about it. In many of them Father does actually plunge the knife into my chest. I wake up screaming.”

“How truly horrible. How could your father have put you through this. You, his baby boy. Such a man is a monster. And your poor mother, how did she handle this?”

“When she’d heard about it she gave Father an earful, let me tell you. I’ve never seen Mother so angry. I don’t think she ever forgave him.”

“How did this affect …….how can I put this delicately……..the intimate life of your father and mother after this? Can I assume that, as an obedient wife, your mother would have felt obliged to continue receiving your father whenever he demanded his conjugal rights?”

“I believe she did. Look, can’t we talk about something else?”

“No Isaac. It’s important that you talk about this. How did you feel when you saw your father going to your mother’s tent, and then presumably closing the flaps, to provide the privacy for their lovemaking? Did you feel jealous?”

“What an absurd question. How could you even think of asking it. Of course I didn’t feel jealous. What do you take me for?”

“So you didn’t feel jealous. Not even a teeny-weenie bit jealous? What, then, did you feel?”


“Nothing? Really? You felt nothing when you knew that your father, who was once prepared to kill you, was in this, your mother’s tent, making love to her on this very bed we’re lying on? He was making love with the woman who was to you so beautiful that no girls you knew could compare; the woman who you were the apple in the eye of, and who flirted with you. And you tell me you felt nothing when she made love with your father? Isn’t it, rather, that you wished you were in your father’s place in the tent, and that you felt wildly jealous that you weren’t? Be honest. I demand honesty, Isaac.”

“If it’s so important to you, Rebekah, yes, yes, I admit I was jealous. Yes, so jealous that I can’t even begin to describe it. Oh my God I can’t believe I’ve just said this. How could you make me say it? I feel so humiliated. I’m wicked, corrupt. If you feel contempt for me now, Rebekah, and wish now to return to Mesopotamia, I’ll understand. Oh, what is to become of me?”

“There there now, don’t worry about a thing. I love you all the more, Isaac, for saying what you’ve just said. You were incredibly brave, far braver than any of those monosyllabic emotionally-straightjacketed macho hunks in Mesopotamia whom I used to go out with. I love brave men, and you are the bravest.”

“Do you really mean that?”

“Would I lie to you, Isaac? Yes, I really mean it. But, tell me, how do I compare to Sarah, your late mother?”

“Mother would have loved you. And, in your beauty, intelligence and charm, you remind me so much of her. Oh Rebekah, God chose wisely when He chose you for me. And you know something, having admitted my feelings about Mother to you, and your accepting it, I’m now feeling a huge load lifted from my shoulders. All my life I’ve laboured under a yoke of guilt. Now, suddenly, I feel so free, and oh so wonderful. Oh darling Rebekah, there’s a fire in my loins which is burning as I’ve never felt it burn before. Come into my arms now………..”

“Oh Isaac, I, too, am feeling the most wonderful feelings. Please kiss me, and kiss me all over, and do all the things you want to do to me. Oh……I want you, and I want you now. Please come into me….now……oooh….oh…….ooh……”

“Are you alright?”

Yes Isaac…….don’t stop……don’t stop……ohhh….. Oh God……oohhh……Oh God …. ohhh…. ahhhh …..ahhh……. Oh God……. ohhhh….. ohhhh…… ahhhh….. ohhh…….Oh God…… ohhh…… yes…….yes……. yes…… yes……. yes……. ahhhhh…….. ohhhhh……. oh yes…… yes…… yes…… ohhh…… yes……. yes……. yes…… yes….. yes…… yes…… ohhhh…….. ohhhhh……. ahhhhh…….Oh God….. oh…… Oh Isaac….that was wonderful, really wonderful…….”

“Dear Rebekah, I love you truly, madly, deeply.”

“And I you. Now we are truly one.”

“Yes………yes……..truly …..one”.


1. Genesis 24, 62-67

2. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry

This entry was posted in Abraham, Eliezer, Isaac, Rebekah, Sarah and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to When Isaac Met Rebekah

  1. jenny says:

    It’s all about sex. That’s why it’s called the Old Testament. Ask Richard about etymology.

    Now, I’ve thought of a thousand jokes, at least. But here’s one you reminded me of: There is a joke about what Israeli men say when they find themselves in the predicament that tension produced in Isaac:

    “Does this happen to you often?”

  2. Philippe says:

    I’ll remember to use that line the next time this happens to me!!!

  3. Richard says:

    I know nothing about insects.

  4. Philippe says:

    I’m relieved.

  5. Man of Roma says:

    My goodness Philippe, what a retelling! You made it psychologically interesting why the hell not. Since my memory is bad I checked and found out you totally embroidered over the whole story, which is a bit telegraphic.

    Dear Phil, your style of writing is beautiful (simple, elegant and yet rich). I wish I had some of your clarity & concinnitas. I now btw have problems with my English and prefer to write first in Italian and then translate all. Google I found is not enough. I found this web site that collects many translators:

    I may repeat myself, but there’s so much sex in the Holy Writ that an American guy wrote a porn book by just pasting its saucy passages on a white page.

    Besides, love in the desert, and in a tent (or outside it), well, those starry nights and vast silences – they must be romantic, they really must be, altho I am just fantasising, actually I never had sex in such a place and was in the desert only once, ie in Tunisia. I was stunned by its immensity and fascination.

  6. Philippe says:

    “…..there’s so much sex in the Holy Writ that an American guy wrote a porn book by just pasting its saucy passages on a white page……”

    How paradoxical that the Bible is the favourite reading of the Family Values crowd.

    After further thought, though, it’s perhaps not so paradoxical.

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