Help me understand - The typology of Mary and Rebecca

I have been thinking about Genesis 27 where the famous story of Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright is brought about by Rebecca’s direct mediation. I read in St. Louis de Montfort’s 'True devotion to Mary" that this is a type of how Mary can act on our behalf before God.
Now, I am very interested in types presented in the Old testament and that is one of the biggest reasons to my conversion to catholicism; it only makes sense to me that these stories are here in order to teach us about bigger, truer things. But I am still stuck when I look at this story and trying to understand it. It is such a story of deceit and dishonesty that it is difficult for me to see it as making sense of what happens in heaven. How does Jacob’s blatant lying about his identity and Rebecca’s aid in the deception show a type of how we are to understand God. How can we think of God as blind and perhaps a little self-deceived and as Mary trying to trick God to help us.
Also, this typology seems to point to a kind of Lutheran legal covering of Grace in salvation. If Jacob is covered by anothers clothes to achieve the blessing that is not due to him but is due to another, it suggests strongly the Reformed idea of sola fides. How does this square with catholic theology?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

-Justin

Hi Justin,

Rebecca was told by the Angel of God that the younger son (think of Adam as a son of God, but Jesus as the true son of God who came later) would surpass the elder brother. So by the civil law Esau (post-figurement of Adam) was surpassed by Jacob (pre-figurment of Jesus) who partially fulfilled God’s covenant to Abraham.

Although Rebecca’s actions were not perfect by our standards she was united to God - even at the expense of the civil law and of her marriage. It was quite a risk for her. She really does pre-figure the Blessed Mother - although she risked nowhere near what the Blessed Mother did.

Look at Rebecca in a more complete picture. Abraham prefiguring the Father, and Isaac the only begotten son. Abraham sends his most trusted servant (prefiguring the archangel Gabriel) to find a bride for his only son. The servant sees the woman, a very beautiful virgin, and approaches her. He gave her gifts (grace). She goes back to her people with the servant. Aproposal is made. Her relatives ask if whe will go with the man, be taken to another land (assumption). She gives her consent (fiat). The servant gives gifts of jewels to her and her people, and costly raiment (garment of grace). Her people say goodbye and bless her saying a very strange thing. May her descendants be many and possess the gates of their enemies. Jesus says to Peter somethng about the gates of hell. He with His apostles also meets a funeral party (desecnedants of Rebecca) of a young man who is the only son of a widow at the city gates. He pities her and raises the young man and restores him to his mother. Scripture says the reason for the young man’s resurrection is that Jesus pitied the widow, all prefiguring his own resurrection.

Actually if you read higher up in Genesis you will see that Jacob did not steal Esau’s birthright. Esau sold it to him for a bowl of stew.

Genesis 25

29
Once, when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished.
30
6 He said to Jacob, “Let me gulp down some of that red stuff; I’m starving.” (That is why he was called Edom.)
31
7 **But Jacob replied, “First give me your birthright in exchange for it.” **
32
"Look," said Esau, "I’m on the point of dying. What good will any birthright do me?"
33
**But Jacob insisted, “Swear to me first!” So he sold Jacob his birthright under oath. **34
Jacob then gave him some bread and the lentil stew; and Esau ate, drank, got up, and went his way. Esau cared little for his birthright.

Esau’s birthright was rightfully Jacob’s from this point in Genesis on.

Thank you all for your input. I enjoy seeing typological distinctions that I never would have previously. I feel I am reading the Bible again for the first time by looking for these anagogical areas.
A few points to make:

The story in question is not about Jacod taking the birthright that had been sold to him, It is about stealing the blessing. These are two distinct things (Genesis 27:36)

I had never noticed the overview of Rebecca and the Annunciation. And I totally missed the connection of the blessing to “possess the enemy gates.” Good one! I can’t believe the things I’ve missed regarding not only Mary but the Church as well. What a key piece of the story to be missing out on!

I feel like I can see the types clearly. Rebecca acts as an intercessor and so there is an important character that is constantly occ uring in the old testament in many different persons. This mediator character happens here, in Abraham (Regarding Lot) with Moses and the Israelites and so on. No problem with that. I suppose then that my concern is a philosophical one. How do these unscrupulous actions show us with clarity God’s perfect kingdom?

Thank you,

-Justin

To be fair, in your original post you did use the term birthright while describing the story of Isaac’s blessing. :wink:

I think it possible that in earlier eras, with sensibilities different than ours, Rebecca’s ploy would have been admired for its intelligence, ingenuity and practicality. There seems to be no punishment meted out by Isaac for either Rebecca or Jacob even though he calls what Jacob did “deceitful.” In fact, Jacob is again blessed by Isaac before leaving for Syria in the next chapter. Think also of the example of fidelity to one’s word that God teaches here through the resolve of Isaac not to take away his blessing once given.

I look at these as real, imperfect humans, warts and all. Any typology in the Bible will most likely be only partly congruous in its details with what it prefigures. And those parts are probably where our focus should be as in the case of St. Louis de Montfort.

In popular typology the type and ante type must share characteristics. In “shadows” the meaning is derived from word-play as God speaks in riddles.

Look at the pattern formed by the first and second sons when you drop the requirement of typology and just use word-play.

First man:second man in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus

This theme is a sub-category of “two=dual nature”. In it, the first man is earthly, and is associated with the earth by his name, occupation, lusts, etc. The second man is the one who finds the pearl of great price and will give all for it.

Definition: 1Co 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

We can infer that ‘son’ is synonymous with ‘man’ from the following verse:

:Ge 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

:That son = man is inferred from the context of the passage.

In this theme there are two “things” that each must fit into the earthly:heavenly pattern. So there must be four justifications for each pattern pair: one showing the identification as the first man, one showing the first man as the earthly man: one for the second man, and one for the second man as the heavenly man.

=Adam:Christ=

Adam = first man
Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man
Homograph man:Adam [man and Adam are the same word]
Context. No man is mentioned being formed prior to Adam.

:Adam = earthly man
:1Co 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy:…
:Gen 2:7 … of the dust of the ground,
:Synonym earth:dust of the ground

:Christ = second man
:1Co 15:47 …the second man is the Lord.
:Synonym Christ:Lord

:Christ = heavenly man
:1Co 15:47 … from heaven.
:Synonym heavenly:from heaven

=Cain:Abel=

:Cain = first son (of Adam)
:Ge 4:1 …she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
:Context No others mentioned previously

:Cain = earthly son
:Ge 4:2 … but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
:Synonym earth:ground

:Abel = second son (of Adam)
:Ge 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel…
:Context. No other mentioned between Cain and Abel

:Abel = heavenly son
:Mt 23:35 … from the blood of righteous Abel …
:Synonym heavenly:righteous

=Ishmael:Isaac=

:Ishmael = first son (of Abraham)
:Ge 16:11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;
:Context No others mentioned previously

:Ishmael =earthly son
Deduced: God had promised a son (Isaac) and Ishmael was begotten in the flesh by a handmaid

:Isaac =second son
:Ge 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: …
:Context

:Isaac =heavenly son

:Ge 17:19 …and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Defined: Inheritance of the covenant is given to the heavenly son
:Note: Name order reversal suggesting “first shall be last and last shall be first”.
:Ge 25:9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;

=Esau:Jacob=

:Esau = first son
:Ge 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
Defined: first

:Esau =earthly son
:Gen 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
Deduced: Esau did not value the birthright

:Jacob =second son
:Ge 25:26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau‘s heel; and his name was called Jacob:
:Context

:Jacob =heavenly son
:Gen 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
Deduced: Jacob valued the birthright

Too long to complete the full genealogy of Christ here. See idontknownuthin.com/wiki/index.php/Matthew%27s_Geneology_of_Christ for the full treatment.

Christ is both the first son and the second son. Without attributing any sin to Christ, the first sons represent Christ in the shadows. Christ’s perfect obedience in the flesh was an “ordinary sacrifice” as was Cain’s in that we all are supposed to offer perfect obedience, which is insufficient. Christ still had to die. And Cain:Christ slew Abel:;Christ as it was Christ who nailed himself to the cross by the act of His will. And God said “If you do right, won’t you be lifted up” as a foreshadow of Christ.

You know in your spirit that Jacob foreshadows Christ, but the rules of typology are too restrictive. The rules for shadow are summarized by Rabbi Eliezer, though he never used them with the full canon of scripture, which would have enabled him to see Christ.

I’m not sure I understand the distinction between type and shadow. could you clarify?

To be fair, in your original post you did use the term birthright while describing the story of Isaac’s blessing.

[quote]:wink:

My bad :doh2:

I think it possible that in earlier eras, with sensibilities different than ours, Rebecca’s ploy would have been admired for its intelligence, ingenuity and practicality. There seems to be no punishment meted out by Isaac for either Rebecca or Jacob even though he calls what Jacob did “deceitful.” In fact, Jacob is again blessed by Isaac before leaving for Syria in the next chapter. Think also of the example of fidelity to one’s word that God teaches here through the resolve of Isaac not to take away his blessing once given.

I look at these as real, imperfect humans, warts and all. Any typology in the Bible will most likely be only partly congruous in its details with what it prefigures. And those parts are probably where our focus should be as in the case of St. Louis de Montfort
[/quote]

Tell me what you think about this:

The very first ‘Catholic’ thing I believed was purgatory. This was because as I was thinking about some different issues I realized how God works in parallels. I thought I figured out something all on my own. Turns out though the church was there all along and called it typology. Anyway I started to think about the priestly robes designed by God to cover the priests. R.C. Sproul sees this as a prefiguration of the covering of Christ. I agreed with that but then I realized that that robe didn’t finish the story. If the priest wasn’t ritual cleansed before going into the Holy of Holies, he was dead! So I figured that covering or ‘faith’ alone wasn’t the whole story.

So what I’m getting at, is that this seems to be something like that. I think that Luther was right in that we are covered by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice as prefigured here and in the passover lamb and the priestly robes, but that isn’t all; there is much more to it.

It seems that there must be some more to this when we see that because of this act, Jacob had to flee for his life, work for 20 years for a dishonest relative and then wrestle with God. That part seems really significant to me. He even has his name changed because of it. He is Israel because he has wrestled with God and
man. Does this seem to have a bearing on the question?:newidea:

The distinction is a modern invention. Some modern theologians require that a type must be mentioned in the New Testament in order to be valid. Others claim that pairs in a type must share moral characteristics. The New Testament authors made no such distinctions.

The rock that followed Israel had no moral character at all. Modern typology would not accept Cain as a type of Christ because of his negative moral character. Shadows do not require the same moral integrity between type and ante type. Shadows are the result of word play.

Rebekah was an honorable woman, but in shadows she has a “taint” of the prostitute. The scripture says the servant ‘took’ her. And the word also means ‘married’. Now the servant didn’t marry her, but the shadow has the taint. This taint is one of the elements that contributes to the same theme where Mary is suspected of adultery. It is the prostitute-virgin bride theme.

Together Leah and Rachel are one P-B. Ruth an honorable woman who slept with Boaz. Rahab a prostitute who became the bride. Gomer is a prostitute, but she has the shadow hints of the virgin: Her name means ‘complete’ and her first son was named “God sows” as a hint of the virgin birth. The story of Tamar is a perfect shadow of the birth of Christ. And she played the prostitute yet she was more honorable than Judah, Judah was told there was no prostitute, and she had bracelets indicating she was clean. (There are dozens of parallels that make Tamar a wonderful picture of the birth of Christ.)

Almost every woman in the Bible works into the P-B theme, yet typology misses it because of the modern restrictive rules.

So you might think of typology as a subset of shadows. When you have a hint that there is something more in a verse, there usually is, and the methods of revealing shadows reveal it.

You can read what St. Louis had to say about this:

ewtn.com/library/montfort/truedevo.htm

starting from para. 183

I will anticipate your curiosity:

The key to this comes from Samson’s riddle: “If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.” This first tells us that God’s riddles cannot be discerned unless you know the answer to start with (which is Christ) AND that you plow (turn over the earthly or the literal) with the heifer (the sacrifice or Christ).

So without going into all the details, let me plow the story of Tamar:

The name ‘Er’ means ‘awake’. In the scriptures it is said that when we are dead we are asleep, and we are in the dust. So being called ‘awake’ means to be called ‘alive and ‘from the dust’. Is it coincidence that this first child of Judah who was killed by God for sin would look a lot like Adam who died without a ‘living’ or spiritual heir?

Onan was supposed to bear living children on behalf of his brother, just as Israel was supposed to beget living children on behalf of Adam, yet Israel ‘spilled its children’ in the earth.

It is appointed unto man to die once, and Christ dies once for all, so is it a coincidence that Timnath means ‘the appointment’ and Tamar met Judah before Timnath just as Mary met God before the appointed time of Christ’s death?

Is it coincidence:
That Tamar was offered a goat, and Mary a scapegoat; for “he will save his people from their sin.”
That Tamar and Mary each wanted an assurance of the promise.
That Tamar was given the rod while Mary was told “The power of God…”
That Tamar was given a signet ring while Mary was told “He will be called the son of the Most High…”
That and empty vessel without bracelets in unclean, but that Tamar received bracelets while Mary was told the Holy Ghost would come upon her.
That Judah was told “There was no prostitute here and Joseph was told not to be afraid to take Mary.
That when they were discovered to be pregnant that Tamar was threatened with death while Mary with divorce.
That they both were honored when the father was discovered.
That Tamar had twins and Mary the God-man
That their names mean “breaking forth” and “Morning sun” and Jesus was called “Dayspring”
That Pharez was a usurping second son just as Jesus was the second man who obtained the promise.

There is much more in the details.

I have found pictures of Christ in Uzziah, Elgon, Samson, Gideon. Jephthah and many more.

Either I am a very clever guy. Or these pictures of Christ are really there. They differ from allegory in that once a picture is established it is the same everywhere. For instance a donkey is always a prophet. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the old female donkey was the old prophets who didn’t see clearly, and the colt was John the Baptist, the newest prophet who knew who Christ was. The rest of the details all work out at well. . All of them are derived from the meaning attached to the words.

These are examples of shadows that you won’t find in “typology”. But as I said the distinction is really a modern invention.

If I’m understanding you correctly, you are saying that a type is a kind of analogy or historical parable to make sense of the big picture, i.e. Mary as the Ark of the covenant. But a shadow is a type of analogical wordplay to connect one theme in various ways. Like the donkey in your example. Which would mean that when Balaam’s donkey speaks or Sampson destroys his enemies with an asses jaw, there is a reference to a or the prophets.

Is that accurate?

Because ‘type’ is used differently by others, you are probably close enough on that…

You have accurately described what I have said about shadows.

Herod and Balaam were compromisers. Balaam had suggested to lead the Israelites into fornication, Herod was confronted with this.

Then there are three confrontations with the donkey, and three with Herod:

Luke 3.19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

  1. Philip’s wife 2. All the evils he had done 3. The teaching of one greater than himself.

A threat of death in a shadow is a symbol of death. Balaam threatens the donkey, and John is killed.

The donkey did not die, living after a threat of death is usually a symbol of resurrection, but here the donkey continues to talk after the threat, just as Herod is haunted by the words of John after his death.

Samson as Christ uses the words of the prophets to slay 1000 men. The number 1000 in shadows represents ‘king’ and so he slays the King-man (himself) by the words of the prophets. The jawbone is freshly rotting, just as John’s death ended the ministry of the prophets.

Oh an I almost forgot… the first two letters of the three letter word for jawbone are another word meaning fresh, moist and vigor. Just as the living water was hidden in the words of the dead prophets, and was about to spring out. (pun intended) :wink:

I can’t speak to the significance of the specific events you mention concerning Jacob. However you are right to look beyond Luther and the Calvinist Sproul on the nature of sin or salvation because they misunderstand them. Our sin is not “covered” by Christ. Through Christ we are made clean. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: 1989 …Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.

**1990 **Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.
I think this page offers a very good explanation of the differences between Catholic and Protestant understanding of justification.

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