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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Genesis

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FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 24 : Finding a Wife for Isaac

 

v.1-9 Abraham Instructs his Servant

v.10-14 The Servant travels to a well near Nahor and prays

v.15-20 Rebekah comes and serves him

v.21-27 The servant watches her and enquires of her background

v.28-33 Laban welcomes the Servant

v.34-41 The Servant recounts Abraham's Instructions

v.42-48 The Servant recounts what happened at the Well

v.49-52 The Family agree this is from the Lord

v.53-61 After presenting gifts, and discussion, the Servant leaves with Rebekah

v.62-67 They arrive at home and the couple are married

 

 

v.1-9 Abraham Instructs his Servant

 

v.1 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way.

v.2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh.

v.3,4 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

v.5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

v.6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said.

v.7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land'—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

v.8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.”

v.9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

 

[Notes: The main point of import here is that Abraham knows he has a special calling and that will continue with Isaac and so as Isaac needs a wife, she must not come from Canaan. He's now an old man probably unable to do much travelling and so he is sending his servant to go looking for a wife for Isaac. Note the key points of his instructions:

1. He makes the servant promise he will not find a girl in Canaan.

2. He must go back to the land they came from, possibly from his own relatives.

3. If there is a problem, Isaac must not go back there because this is the promised land.

4. The Lord will go before him to help find a wife.

5. If the girl refuses to come, then he is excused from his oath.]

 

 

v.10-14 The Servant travels to a well near Nahor and prays

 

v.10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master's camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor.

v.11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.

v.12 Then he prayed, “ Lord , God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.

v.13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.

v.14 May it be that (i) when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and (ii) she says, ‘Drink, and I'll water your camels too'— (iii) let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

 

[Notes: The servant aims for Aram Naharaim, otherwise known as Paddan Aram or Haran, where Abraham had lived with his father Terah after leaving Ur. The term ‘the town of Nahor' is either a town near Haran or simply the town where Nahor, Abraham's brother [v.15] lived, or had lived. 

When he arrives outside the town he stops at a well and prays for the Lord's guidance. In his prayer he trusts in the Lord's providence, His guiding hand to be on all that happens.]

 

 

v.15-20 Rebekah comes and serves him

 

v.15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor.

v.16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

v.17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

v.18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

v.19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.”

v.20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.

 

[Notes: While he is still praying Rebekah arrives, the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham's brother. The servant approaches her and, working on the requests of his prayer, asks for a little water. Matching the second request of his prayer, she graciously responds and even offers to water his camels.]

 

v.21-27 The servant watches her and enquires of her background

 

v.21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

v.22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.

v.23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?”

v.24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” [Nahor had a son, Bethuel, who had a daughter, Rebekah. i.e. she is Nahor's granddaughter]

v.25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”

v.26,27 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, saying, “Praise be to the Lord , the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives.”

 

[Notes: The servant now wants to check out the third part of his prayer and see if she ‘fits' the requirements of a wife for Isaac. He asks about her family and she confirms she is from the family of Nahor, conforming to Abraham's instructions, “from my own relatives”. When she offers hospitality for him, the servant knows God has led him to the right family.]

 

 

v.28-33 Laban welcomes the Servant

 

v.28 The young woman ran and told her mother's household about these things.

v.29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban , and he hurried out to the man at the spring. [For future reference, Laban is Nahor's grandson]

v.30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring.

v.31 “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord ,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”

v.32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet.

v.33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.” “Then tell us,” Laban said.

 

[Notes: Rebekah runs home and tells her brother, Laban, who goes to the well, greets the man and offers him hospitality. Back at the house, before eating, the servant insists on telling Laban his mission.]

 

 

v.34-41 The Servant recounts Abraham's Instructions

v.34 So he said, “I am Abraham's servant.

v.35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.

v.36 My master's wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns.

v.37,38 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live,  but go to my father's family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.'

v.39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?'

v.40 “He replied, ‘The Lord , before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father's family.

v.41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.

 

[Notes: He carefully recounts Abraham's instructions. The fact that it is recorded so carefully suggests just how important Abraham's understanding of his calling was, and how strongly it had been conveyed to his servant.]

 

 

v.42-48 The Servant recounts what happened at the Well

 

v.42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘ Lord , God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.

v.43,44 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” and if she says to me, “Drink, and I'll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master's son.'

v.45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.'

v.46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I'll water your camels too.' So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

v.47“I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?' “She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.' “Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms,

v.48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master's brother for his son.

 

[Notes: The servant then repeats in great detail his praying and the events that followed at the well. He goes to some length to indicate his sureness that he had the Lord's leading. As we say, this was a match made in heaven.]

 

 

v.49-52 The Family agree this is from the Lord

 

v.49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

v.50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord ; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.

v.51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has directed.”

v.52 When Abraham's servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord .

 

[Notes: Having poured out these two accounts in such detail, he wants to know if his words have been accepted by his listeners. Rebekah's father and brother agree that this must be God's leading.]

 

 

v.53-61 After presenting gifts, and discussion, the Servant leaves with Rebekah

v.53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewellery and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother.

v.54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

v.55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

v.56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

v.57 Then they said, “Let's call the young woman and ask her about it.”

v.58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”   “I will go,” she said.

v.59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham's servant and his men.

v.60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase  to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.”

v.61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

 

[Notes: The servant has brought gifts from Abraham, which he hands over. In the morning when he goes to leave, they ask for Rebekah to stay another ten days but he asks that he may complete his task so they ask Rebekah what she feels and she consents to go with him now. Note in v.59 the reference to the servant's men, indicating that this senior servant has travelled with an entourage, no doubt for protection. Now they all travel back with Rebekah.]

 

 

v.62-67 They arrive at home and the couple are married

 

v.62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev.

v.63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching.

v.64,65 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

v.66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done.

v.67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

 

[Notes : Beer Lahai Roi is in the far south of Canaan (the Negev) and so the camel train brigning Rebekah has to travel right through the land. As they come near it is evening and the couple first catch sight of each other and she demurely veils herself. Everything in this chapter speaks well of Rebekah. She and Isaac are then married.]

             

  

Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 24

 

1. When Isaac needs a wife, we see something marvellous in Abraham. He has come to realise the significance of the land in God's purposes, even though it is a pagan country at present, which is why he instructs his servant to search for a wife for Isaac outside of Canaan but to make sure he brings her back here.

2. The account of Abraham's servant going looking for a wife for Isaac is a wonderful demonstration of a God-centred faith which stands out as an example, a beacon to be followed in principle. Praying, committing each stage to the Lord, and watching how each step unfolds, brings the reward of success – a wife for his master's son.

    

     

Continue to Chapter 25