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“Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder.  The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. – Gen. 24:15-16

Abraham’s servants’ prayer in the previous verse is considered one of the greatest and most effective prayers in history, as the answer to it started to come about before the servant was even finished speaking (v. 15).  As many scholars have noted, the timing of the prayer and its subsequent answer infer that God had already set everything in motion previously (the servant had a long journey, for instance).

Rebekah’s father is Bethuel.  Bethuel is the son of Nahor and Milcah.  Nahor, in turn, is the son of Terah, who is also Abraham’s father (Gen. 11:27).  Therefore Abraham is related to Rebekah, though not extremely closely.

The etymology of Rebekah’s name, according to the BDB Theological Dictionary means “to tie firmly”.  Other sources define the meaning as ‘a knotted cord’.  As I believe Rebekah is a picture of the church, what comes to mind is Ecclesiasties 4:12(b):  “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” which many believe is a reference to the doctrine of the Trinity.

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“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”  Gen. 1:2

In the first two verses of the book of Genesis, we see the presence of God Himself, the spirit of God (or the breath of God, depending on the translation), and we see mention of “the waters”.

In the original Hebrew, each of the three entities mentioned carry their own weight and significance.  God Himself as subject (grammatically), and author of all things in creation.  The spirit, or breath of God, is referred to as ‘hovering’ over the waters.  Rashi notes that the breath of God hovered ‘like a dove hovers over the nest’.  The word used for spirit, ‘ruach‘, implies a sense of power. (Plaut).

Rashi notes that the water was pre-existent – it had existed before the earth and the heavens, due to the definite article “the” (waters).  Thus the water used during creation was water that existed before the creation of earth and heaven.  In the New Testament writings, parallels are drawn between Jesus and water – namely that He is the source of the living water.  (see John 4:14, 7:38)

What emerges, then, is a picture of what is commonly referred to as the Christian doctrine of the ‘Trinity’.  The presence of God the Father, Christ, the Messiah as the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

These first few verses in Genesis also strongly parallel the scene of Jesus’ baptism,  in which the same three elements are present (the voice of God from heaven, Jesus standing in the water, and the Holy Spirit descending ‘like a dove’ upon Him.  (see Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, and John 1:32)

Another New Testament passage which parallels the first few verses of Genesis, with an emphasis on Christ, is John 1:1-5:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overpower it.”

 

“…and it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’ Gen. 20:13

The word used for God here is the plural “Elohim“, which could be translated as gods.  This may actually be referring to Abraham leaving his father Terah (see Genesis 12:1-5) due to him being an idolator in we see in Joshua 24:2:

“Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods.'””

Friedman notes that Abraham speaks in this manner because he is addressing a pagan king, and that Abimelech has not yet told Abraham that he had an encounter with the one true God.

We may be tempted to state that this is a reference to the Triune Godhead, comprised of God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, which is also a possibility, however the context would not seem to have the same significance as the other interpretations.

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