And the young woman ran and told her mother’s household [l’beit imah]…
…And Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah as wife. [–Genesis/Breishit 24:28, 24:67]
[Note:] The conclusion of the betrothal tale in this way creates a curious symmetry between the household of the bride and the household of the groom. She, evidently, is fatherless, living in “her mother’s household.” It is quite likely that he, too, if fatherless; and through he was bereaved of his mother still earlier, it is to “his mother’s tent” that he brings his bride.
–from Alter’s Five Books of Moses*
David Zvi Hoffman (1843-1921), an Orthodox German rabbi, is cited in the Stone Chumash* with a different interpretation of the first verse:
The Torah introduces us to Rebecca’s family, where it seems that her father played little role, and her brother, Laban, was dominant. In those days, the women had separate houses where they did their work, and since a daughter naturally confides only in her mother, Rebecca ran and told her mother about her encounter at the well.
The Women’s Commentary* notes that “the mention of women’s domain (tent or house) occurs only in Genesis 24, the book of Ruth (1:8), and Song of Songs (3:4, 8:2)…”
*See Source Materials for full citations and more details.
Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.
The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.