I’ve always seen this Bible story titled “Rebekah at the Well” and I have a bit of a confession. My first concept for this page was Snow White at the wishing well. It is such an iconic image, and I find it endearing that a woman at a well is included in Walt Disney’s first full-length animated movie. I believe that the stories of the Bible loom so large in our collective imagination that they just pop out in unexpected places! One of the many reasons I love the Bible so much!!! I looked at many pictures of women by wells as I pondered this passage. And I read all the stories from the Bible about women by wells, too. So it was a bit of a surprise to me how this page turned out. I had one of those “whoa!” moments: If you put the story of Abraham’s servant seeking a bride for Isaac together with the encounter that Jesus has with the Samaritan woman at the well, the story told through the Bible seems to all come together in the most beautiful sort of way! But the story needs a new title to pull it all together: “The Servant Seeks a Bride!”
After Sarah’s death, Abraham asks his servant to go to his homeland to find a bride for Isaac. On my first reading of the story, I was touched by the sweet prayer his servant offers as he begins his journey. What a lovely way to honor the request of another. The servant prays for success as a way of showing God’s steadfast love to the one who asked! I began thinking of Abraham’s servant as one of the great unsung heroes of faith!
Upon reading the story for the twelfth time, I read the servant’s words in a new way. I realized that when he speaks of the steadfast love that God shows to Abraham, he is also reminding us of what we are to offer back to God. After reading the story of the binding of Isaac, I can experience with greater appreciation that I worship a God who desires steadfast love not sacrifice! The servant says, “Behold, I am standing by the spring of water!” Not just any spring, the spring!!! Abraham’s servant finds a beautiful and strong woman, who has never known a man. Later, at possibly the same spring, the woman whom Jesus meets is more unexpected, a Samaritan woman who has already had five husbands and now lives with a man she has not married. The servant offers Rebecca gifts: a gold ring and two bracelets. Likewise, Jesus offers the gift of God to a woman: living water, a spring that wells up to eternal life. Jesus tells her that what the Father seeks is not one perfect, strong, beautiful woman, but all kinds of women and men who will worship in spirit and truth. And we learn through Paul’s letters: Those who respond to the Father with steadfast love and the desire to know Him become the true church, or the bride of Christ. It’s at Jacob’s well while speaking to the Samaritan woman that Jesus makes one of the clearest declarations about his role as the Messiah, and in doing so, he reminds us all that what God began at the well by helping the servant find a wife for Isaac is complete in the person of Jesus Christ: “I who speaks to you am he,” the messiah, the one through whom all nations of the world are blessed.
My favorite thing about Bible journaling is how thinking through how to illustrate a passage helps me to see old familiar stories in new ways!
Earlier I added a printed copy of Marc Chagall’s painting: “Abraham Weeping for Sarah.” The love and grief expressed in Chagall’s painting always brings me to tears. As I stepped back and looked at the two-page spread, I saw that in Abraham’s grief, he was supported by a good servant and friend, and I could imagine his own tears feeding the stream, becoming hope with a future.