Part J. Abraham’s Old Age (22:1—24:67)
J4. A wife for Isaac (24:1–67)
· Abraham dispatched his servant to obtain a wife for Isaac in anticipation of imminent succession.
· When Rebekah was challenged to leave family and homeland, she unreservedly answered, “I will go” (Heb. halak), so that she was sometimes described as the “female Abraham”.
· The story demonstrates that success is the result of God’s providential oversight, both overtly and inferentially. But the human dimension is also real; their decisions are authentic choices.
· While Abraham and Jacob left their homeland, Isaac never left his land of birth.
24:1 blessed: (Heb. barak) indicating Abraham’s prosperity. The Hebrew term b-r-k in various forms repeatedly appears in the story, reinforcing the idea of divine favour (v.1,27,31,35,48,60).
24:2 chief servant: senior administrator of the household, possibly Eliezer of Damascus (Gen 15:2).
Put your hand under my thigh: This was the rite for swearing an oath (also Gen 47:29). The thigh indicates the procreative power and heritage of the patriarch’s position as the source of the family.
24:3 to swear by the LORD: The oath must be undertaken in the sight of God, who would judge the effectiveness of the servant’s actions.
not get a wife (from Canaanites): Abraham objected strongly to Isaac marrying a pagan Canaanite.
24:6 Make sure: literally “watch yourself” was Abraham’s warning against taking his son to Haran.
24:7 he will send his angel: Abraham recounted God’s past blessings as an assurance of continued blessings for his servant.
24:10 Aram Naharaim: meaning “Aram of the two rivers”, at the upper bend of the Euphrates River. The servant arrived at the town of Nahor, bearing the family name of Abraham’s brother.
24:11 toward evening: The women appeared at the well at the cool of the evening, to complete their daily task of obtaining water for the family.
24:12 show kindness to my master: By appealing to God’s “kindness”, the servant alluded to the divine promises to his “master”. This prayer was not spoken aloud (v.45).
24:14 The servant was seeking a woman for Isaac who demonstrated the revered quality of hospitality, including costly provisions for his 10 camels.
24:15 Before he had finished praying: God’s answer was so quick that the Hebrew word “behold” (Heb. hinne) and the participle “coming out” describes the suddenness of Rebekah’s appearance.
24:16 a virgin: (Heb. betula) a young woman of good reputation who is under the care of her father’s household. The Bible also makes it clear of her sexual chastity.
went down to the spring…came up: This indicates that the drawing of water from the spring was not an easy job, involving certain climbing. Her generosity matched the generosity of Abraham.
24:17 The servant hurried: meaning “ran” (Heb. rus). His action initiated the narrative chain of events where Rebekah “ran” (v.20,28) and Laban “ran” (v.29). Rebekah’s hospitality was demonstrated by her enthusiasm for entertaining her guests, just like Abraham.
24:19 for your camels too: Rebekah even volunteered to care for the animals without the servant’s request. The job of bringing water for the camels was not easy as one camel may need up to 100 litres of water and there were 10 camels.
24:22 a gold nose ring weighing a beka: The weight cannot be determined definitively. he nose ring and two gold bracelets must be generous gifts because Laban was excited by the gifts (v.30).
24:27 Praise: (Heb. baruk) again a variation of the frequent word “bless” (Heb. barak) in this chapter. The servant did not forget God in the midst of his excitement. He fell prostrate and praised God, recognizing that God alone brought him to the very person required.
24:29 he hurried out: Laban did not wait for Abraham’s servant to approach; rather he raced outside to greet him, motivated at the sight of the gifts. Laban’s fondness for such riches was a characteristic that later motivated his mistreatment of Jacob.
24:33 I will not eat until: The servant wanted to complete his task and immediately got an answer.
24:42 I said, O LORD: He testified irrefutably that God led him precisely to Rebekah.
24:49 tell me: The servant used “tell me” twice to pressure on the men (Laban and Bethuel) to decide positively and without delay. Rebekah would yet have the final say, but perhaps the servant must convince the elders first out of proper protocol.
24:50 This is from the LORD: The men admitted that it was God’s will and that they could not refuse.
24:58 I will go: just one word in Hebrew (halak) expressing her strong wish to go.
24:59 along with her nurse: The wet nurse of Rebekah, named Deborah (Gen 35:8).
24:60 possess the gates of their enemies: overcome all the enemies. Laban’s blessing repeated virtually the same wording found in the promise (Gen 22:17).
24:62 Beer Lahai Roi: the same well designated by Hagar where the angel encountered her, promising her child a great future; it was also where Isaac and Rebekah would live when they succeeded Abraham (Gen 25:11).
24:63 to meditate: Jewish tradition interprets the word to mean “prayer”, thus painting Isaac as a man of contemplation or prayer. An alternative meaning is “complain, lament” which could refer to Isaac’s consolation later (“was comforted”) over his mother’s death (v.67). Isaac was distressed, lamenting the loss of his mother although it had been 3 years. However, the meaning of meditation appears to fit well with the providence-prayer motif of the chapter.
24:64 She got down from her camel: Rebekah dismounted her camel immediately, perhaps to better see the man or to express polite courtesy.
24:67 he loved her: Mention of love in marriage is not always found in Hebrew story, thus indicating that the couple had a real loving relationship.
· Abraham’s servant asked for the sign of extraordinary hospitality and an attitude of service from Isaac’s prospective wife. He properly asked for something shown from the internal personality, not from external appearance. When we make judgment on people, be sure to put our emphasis on their internal qualities.
· When Abraham’s servant recounted his story to Laban, he spoke openly of God and His goodness. Often we do the opposite, afraid that we will be misunderstood or rejected or seen as too religious. Do we have the courage to share openly what God has done for us?