Did Isaac Really Marry A 3 Year Old Toddler?

  One can find some really outrageous claims being made on the Internet. This is just one of them. 

  Nowadays this one is made mostly by some Muslim apologists who are obviously embarrassed that their prophet Muhammad married a 6 year old and consummated the marriage when she was only 9. In a desperate effort to justify their prophet's behavior, they turn to a somewhat twisted version of the story of Isaac and Rebekah in which it is claimed that the two were married when he was 40 and she was at the tender age of 3.  

  How do they come up with these ages, you ask?

  Well, they force a reading of Genesis 22 and 23 where the events described therein happened within the same time frame. Abraham offers a fully mature Isaac to the Lord in Genesis 22:1-19, Abraham's brother Nahor's progeny are listed in Genesis 22:20-24, and Sarah dies at 127 years old (Genesis 23:1-2).

  We know from Genesis 17 that Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to Isaac, making him 37 at her death. Genesis 25:20 tells us Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah, so this spurious claim is based on deducting his age at marriage from the alleged 3 years since Rebekah's birth, which they insist happened at about the same time as Sarah's death.

  But what does Scripture itself tell us about our bride-to-be Rebekah? Was she, in fact, forced to be a bride when it would have been more appropriate for her to be just a flower girl had this been a 21st century  marriage? As with most anything one reads, we can apply simple common sense to determine the facts.
  Our Scripture text is from Genesis 24, and describes how Abraham sent a trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac from among Nahor's line in Aram-naharaim, rather than from the Canaanites, whose behavior had greatly displeased YHWH and who He would later punish. Abraham said,

 3 "... I will have you swear by the Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live, 

 4 but will go to my land and my family to take a wife for my son Isaac.”

  Abraham's instruction was clear. The servant was to find Isaac a wife, not a child for whom Isaac would have to wait many years before she would be ready to marry. We see from the servant's response that he understood who he was to search for (italics mine):

 5 The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I have your son go back to the land you came from?”
  To which Abraham responds:

 8 "... If the woman is unwilling to follow you, then you are free from this oath to me, but don’t let my son go back there.”

  A woman. Not a child. So off went the servant on his mission. The journey was going to be a long one. From Hebron to his destination was a distance of 468 miles, or more than 750 kilometers.  
10 The servant took 10 of his master’s camels and departed with all kinds of his master’s goods in hand. Then he set out for Nahor’s town Aram-naharaim.
11 He made the camels kneel beside a well of water outside the town at evening. This was the time when the women went out to draw water.
12 “Lord, God of my master Abraham,” he prayed, “give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
13 I am standing here at the spring where the daughters of the men of the town are coming out to draw water.
14 Let the girl to whom I say, ‘Please lower your water jug so that I may drink,’ and who responds, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels also’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. By this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”
15 Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah—daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—coming with a jug on her shoulder.
16 Now the girl was very beautiful, a young woman who had not known a man intimately. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up.

  Once again the text is clear. Rebekah is a young woman, not a toddler. Remember that your typical three year olds cannot carry heavy jugs of water on their shoulders. Their bodies are just too small and weak for this type of labor.

  Note as well the phrase "a young woman who had not known a man intimately." Again, this is not a phrase one uses to describe a three year old.
17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me have a little water from your jug.”
18 She replied, “Drink, my lord.” She quickly lowered her jug to her hand and gave him a drink.
19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I’ll also draw water for your camels until they have had enough to drink.” 
20 She quickly emptied her jug into the trough and hurried to the well again to draw water. She drew water for all his camels
21 while the man silently watched her to see whether or not the Lord had made his journey a success.

22 After the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing half a shekel, and for her wrists two bracelets weighing 10 shekels of gold.
23 “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.”
25 She also said to him, “We have plenty of straw and feed and a place to spend the night.”
26 Then the man bowed down, worshiped the Lord,

27 and said, “Praise the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and faithfulness from my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

  So, from the actual text of the Bible, we see that Rebekah could not have been 3 years old because:
- drawing water from a well is far too heavy a job to give to a 3 year old
- carrying even a single water jug to water the camels with would be too much for a 3 year old because each gallon of water weighs 10 pounds. Today, an average 3 year old weighs between 25.5 to 38.5 pounds
- Rebekah didn't only draw water for the servant, but she also drew water for all of his camels
  Why would that be impossible for a 3 year old to do? Because  Wikipedia tells us that:
  "a 600 kg (1,300 lb) camel can drink 200 L (53 US gal) of water in three minutes."
  That means that the 3 year old would have had to draw 530 pounds of water per camel.
  Genesis 24:10 tells us that the servant brought ten camels, meaning she would have had to draw a total of 5,300 pounds of water.
  Even if she were a 3 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger, there is no way she could have done this.

  The Bible is also clear that a marriage always required the consent of the woman, another sign that the bride would have to be at or above the age of consent. She would have to be old enough and mature enough to agree to marry the man. This requires the bride to be of sufficient age both psychologically and physiologically before she can marry.
  This "3 year old Rebekah" fable has got to be one of the most ridiculous of the Islamic apologist claims ever, all because Muslims are trying very hard to justify Muhammad's marriage to a 6 year old.

  Thank God we Christians have no such problems with our Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus!

Jesus is LORD!

  See also:

  "How old was Rebekah when she married Isaac?" by Pinehas Halivah


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