Monday, June 30, 2014

Rebekah - High Priestess of Domestic Religion

Today, world-class athletes grace the front of cereal boxes, but it was Rebekah at the well who was placed on household goods to inspire women as they ministered at the nineteenth-century's domestic altars. In 1851 the E.and W. Bennett Company of Baltimore introduced the "Rebekah at the Well" teapot.* Identified by title in a raised panel under the teapot decoration, Rebekah, who answered Eliezer's prayer in this act of hospitality, reminded women of the day that they, too, could be in accordance with God's plan through their acts of hospitality and service. Pouring and offering a cup of tea to a caller was an echo of Rebekah's offer of water to Eliezer.

In addition to gracing teapots, "Rebekah at the well" was also used on ABC plates. These plates, made in Great Britain and America in the 19th century, were designed as educational aids for children. The entire alphabet - upper and lower case - was paired with a picture that might be an animal, a literary rhyme or character or a Bible story. Children could learn while they ate. England's Brownhill Pottery produced ABC plates in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century and included Rebekah at the well in their Bible Pictures series.
Given what you know of Isaac and Rebekah's family life, how well does this interpretation of Rebekah work for you? Would you consider her an exemplary wife? An exemplary mother?

Other artists chose other ways to illustrate this text. See the Art&Faith Matters Facebook page ( for another consideration of Rebekah. 

*Many companies adopted and adapted the subject matter, so not all "Rebekah" teapots will be Bennett. Produced well into the 1930s, the teapot can be found in pastel-colored glazes in addition to the caramel-brown Rockingham glaze shown here. Both the Brownhill plates and a variety of "Rebekah" teapots are available online through antiques dealers and auction sites.

No comments:

Post a Comment