Odd Fellows, recognizing the need for a woman's touch and her helpfulness in carrying out the principles of Odd Fellowship, brought into being the Rebekah degree, founded upon the principles of faithfulness, hospitality, purity and dedication to the principles of the Order as portrayed by women characters of the Bible.
The degree of Rebekah was accepted in 1851 as written by Schuyler Colfax.
The degree was originally written for Brothers to confer on their wives and daughters and was considered an "Honorary Degree". The degree could only be conferred at a special meeting and Brothers could also receive the degree, much the same as today.
Later the Sisters were allowed to confer the degree on other Sisters, a ritual was adopted with the Sisters taking the parts. Rebekah Lodges were instituted and have continued to flourish.
This ritual has changed very little since 1851. It includes lessons from the biblical stories in the Old Testament of the women of the Bible.
We use emblems teaching lessons that are invaluable to be a Rebekah. The beehive, representing associated industry and the result of united effort. The moon and seven stars which teaches us the value of regularity in all our work. The dove, the beautiful emblem of peace. The white lily, a symbol of purity.
When in 1851, the Grand Lodge of the United States gave its sanction to establish the Rebekah Degree, it added the fairest pollar which adorns and supports the Temple of Odd Fellowship. Woman's valuable cooperation in our work of benevolence has long been recognized and at last, to her, was cheerfully assigned to her a place in our history thereby attesting the claims to nobility of character, to faithfulness in friendship, to self-sacrificing love and nondeviating perseverance in all that is good and true. That she has been noble, vindicated that claim is the universal testimony of the Order everywhere and Odd Fellows are not only proud but thankful that her sympathy has been enlisted and her womanly influence added to our strength.
Woman is naturally an Odd Fellow in our acceptance of the term. Did ever the cry of the suffering or the moan of the disconsolant fall unheeded upon her ear? Did ever distress or want call for active ministration of woman in vain? Never! The natural promptings of her heart, kindness, love and tenderness forbid the thought. The full measure of woman's influence in the work of Odd Fellowship has never been properly estimated and only time will enable us to establish its true value and then glancing backward upon its glorious achievements know her true value.
Man in his pride and vigor, when health, like a strong arm circles him about, enabling him to battle alone against the storms of life, may refuse to acknowledge and recognize the true worth of woman but when sickness lays its prostrating hand upon him and strength departs, leaving the boasted giant helpless. When adversity, like a cloud of darkness encompasses him about, when friends who once sang his praises and fattened upon his plenty, turn coldly away and desert him in his need. When life is slowly fading, Rebekah assumes her station.From Searching for Treasures by J. Edward Stallings.