Saturday, February 12, 2011

Genesis 35:8 A Faithful Servant

"Now Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel.  So it was named Allon Bacuth." (Genesis 35:8 NIV)

I wondered why this account of the death of Rebekah's nurse would be placed in the middle of this chapter.  In one sense, her death may help to shed light upon one event which will take place in v. 16-18 of this chapter.  However, it seems that there must be a further reason why it was included in this place.

I began to think about all of the things which this woman had been through as she served Rebekah faithfully all these years.  She apparently was the one who was sent to accompany Rebekah when she left her family and country to go to become Isaac's wife. (Genesis 24:59)  She would have rejoiced at the birth of Rebekah's twin boys Esau and Jacob, and been there to comfort Rebekah when her son Jacob had to flee Esau's wrath.  Rebekah must have already died before Deborah did, for she is not there when Jacob returns to his family.

Deborah was buried beneath an oak below (or to the south of) Bethel.  It seems to be a well-known place, for the author refers to this tree as "the oak below Bethel" (v.8).  No doubt it was a kind of landmark in the area.  Its name Allon Bacuth means 'oak of weeping' and gives us additional information that this faithful servant had endeared herself to others besides her mistress Rebekah.

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