Forty women: 6. Rebekah

Mothers don’t have favourite children. They’ll all tell you that. No, no, I love them all equally.

Mothers sometimes have favourite children. Sometimes it’s their easy child, their smiling, obedient, sleeping child. Sometimes it’s their wild child, their fun, unpredictable, never-a-dull-moment child. Sometimes it’s the child who is just like her father. Or the child who breaks every mould.

How does that feel, having a favourite child? Having to hide it all the time and pretend, no, no, I love them all equally. How does that feel when those children aren’t even born yet? When they’re still growing inside their mother’s womb and she can feel them fighting each other and she knows that’s not normal and when she asks God about it, he tells her,“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)

Who can blame Rebekah for having a favourite son? Even God, it seems, prefers her younger boy over her elder. Jacob is the golden boy, the favoured son. Only Isaac has a soft spot for Esau. But Isaac is old. Isaac can be fooled.

Mothers will do anything for their children. Lay down their own lives for them, even. And Rebekah is no exception. She sees a chance to grab hold of a blessing for Jacob. Not just any blessing. The blessing. The blessing of being his father’s heir, the heir to the promises. She wants history to record that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not Abraham, Isaac and Esau. She’ll do whatever it takes.

“My son, let the curse fall on me.” (Genesis 27:13)

He’ll be blessed and she’ll take the curse. She’ll deserve it, of course. She’s lied and deceived, manipulated and schemed. She’s shown favouritism to one son over another. She’s done whatever it takes. And she’s made the prophecy come true.

I wonder if she ever came to realise that the end did not justify the means. That God would have found a way to realise his prophecy without her sinful intervention. That we can trust him with the future, we can trust him with our loved ones, we can trust him with our children. We can seek their blessing without sacrificing our own.

Forty women: 7. Leah