How Old Rivka? 3 or 14?

Was Rivka 3 or 14 or some other age when she got married?

 Josh Waxman has much more on this topic.

But for us in the 21th century, either age seems young. One can see advantages to marrying someone off at fourteen; it (mostly) eliminates the problem with teenage pregnancies, as the girl/woman is married. She was also marrying someone who shared her culture, even if one family worshiped one God and the other worshiped idols. On the other hand, it doesn’t give her anytime to develop a career or even any sense of herself before having children. I can’t even begin to imagine a married 3-year-old, unless it was just a betrothal. Then, married fourteen-year-olds also seems like a strange notion…

This post is a continuation of 100 20 7 14 3. More on the 127, coming soon.

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8 thoughts on “How Old Rivka? 3 or 14?

  • I suppose that I see things only as I should today – except seeing things in a modern way means that I couldn’t imagine life a long time ago in a modern abstract way. I agree with one of Mr. Waxman’s commenters who notes correctly that lives were short back then, so marrying early made sense. But today we think of further education, jobs/careers or other opportunities as things to consider first. i would hate that daughter Allegra would do anything that detracts from her college experience. marriage for her, now would slow down or even derail permanently her dreams and aspirations of now. Hard to compare to the real old days to today. marriage at 14 probably made sense back then…

  • How about a three year old child arguing with the entire world?
    Avaham Avinu at the age of 3 had a revolution against the whole world in his belief in G-d.

    These were giants, special souls.

  • I like the little watercolors. Difficut to imagine a 3 year-old being married, evn a 14 year-old. Here we sometimes hear of 16 year-old girls being sent back to their parents’ countries to be married (against their wish). It is usually Africa or Turkey they are sent to.

  • Gruntig, thanks for noting Avraham’s specialness at age 3 (and I’m curious how you found my site? 😉

    Ilana-Davita, thanks for noting the watercolor. It’s actually the same one twice, one scaled down from the next. I’ll put it in its own post later this week.

    I can imagine that would be scary for a girl who grew up in France to be sent to be married in Africa or Turkey.

  • What I always find particularly striking is that either way, she’s still much younger than 40-year-old Yitzchak! But it isn’t only their ages which separate them. As a result of the Akeidah, Yitzchak is considered to be an “olah temimah” (“an unblemished offering”) – which is why he’s not permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael. Thus, when Rivka sees him davening mincha, she is “astounded” by his “resplendence” (according to Rashi) and covers herself with her scarf. In fact, this seems to set the tone for their entire marriage – as we learn in THIS week’s parsha. For example, when she’s pregnant with the twins and has questions, she doesn’t consult her husband. Also, instead of discussing the issue of the blessings with Yitzchak, she simply “goes behind his back” and encourages Yaakov to “deceive” his father…

  • could be just that in that time a 3 year old was as mature as a nowadays marriageable age person.

    It’s actually funny when people compare it to modern day times and you find similarities. Like Rivka was so shocked when she saw Yitzchak that she fell off her camel, like one who would now fall out of their seat or something.

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