Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) 2004
Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30
31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScript
Table Of Contents:
|Genesis 24:1-3||Genesis 24:34-49|
|Genesis 24:4-9||Genesis 23:50-62|
|Genesis 24:10-14||Genesis 24:63-67|
GENESIS 24:1-9 (Abraham sends his servant to find a bride for Isaac)
24:1 Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old (21:5), and when Sarah died Isaac was a young man of 37 years (23:1). By then Abraham was richly blessed in material things (13:6; 21:22), and it was time for his heir to be married.
24:2-3 Abraham’s steward, perhaps Eliezer of Damascus (15:2-3), was a trusted slave in charge of all his property. Abraham made him swear (outwardly signed by putting his hand under the servant’s thigh, as in 47:29) that he would not choose a bride for Isaac from among the local Canaanites. This solemn oath was by the LORD (yehwah, often translated Yahweh, as in 22:14), the God of heaven and earth.
Note: In the first verse of the Bible God is called the Creator of the heavens and the earth (1:1), and the Creator was called the LORD God (2:4, 22; 3:1, 8, 13, 14, 21-23; ). Abraham had previously referred to the LORD as the Lord God (15:2), but this is the first example of the Son of God being called the God of heaven and earth. It is the basis of the New Testament view of the Messiah as the eternal Son of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John1:1-3). “No one has ever seen God (the Father). It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18). After his conversion Paul said of Jesus, whom he had persecuted, that “all things have been created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
We noted the work of the Holy Spirit in creation (1:2). This means that already in the first book of the Bible, God is not a single unitarian Person (as in Islam and Judaism) but an eternal Oneness of three Persons held together by love (as in Jesus’ baptism, Matthew 3:16-17, Christian baptism, Matthew 28:19, the Christian grace, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and all genuine Christian theology).
24:4 Abraham’s servant was told that, after 65 years of separation, his master’s relatives were still living in the area of Haran (12:4). He had eight nephews there, and one of them had a daughter named Rebekah (22:20-23). This was why Abraham had decided to send his steward 500 miles, 800 km, north to the area of Haran to find a bride for his son Isaac.
24:5-6 The faithful servant obviously had a question about this very difficult assignment. Normally a marriage arrangement would require Isaac to be present. If the steward failed as Abraham’s representative, could he assure the family in Haran that he would make a second journey and bring Isaac in person? Abraham was adamant that he and Isaac had been promised a future in the land of Canaan, and there was no question of Isaac going back to Haran.
24:7-9 Using the same expression, the LORD, the God of heaven (24:3), Abraham assured his servant that the LORD’s angel (messenger) would go ahead (as in Exodus 23:20) to prepare the way for the marriage arrangement. By now Abraham and his family were familiar with angelic appearances (16:7-11; 18:2; 19:1; 21:17; 22:11, 15). But the woman had the freedom to refuse, and if no arrangement could be made the servant would be freed from his oath. So the servant accepted the terms of this difficult assignment.
GENESIS 24:10-21 (Abraham’s servant arrives in Haran)
24:10 The servant took ten camels and their drivers, and loaded the saddles with “all kinds of choice gifts.” The slower pack animals could travel 30 miles, 48 km, a day, but even the fast camels would have taken two weeks for the journey. They arrived in Aram-naharaim (Aram of the Rivers) which was the area around the city named after Abraham’s brother Haran between the bend in the Euphrates and the Tigris river (see 11:31-32). This was the original home of the Shemitic Arameans (see 10:22), who would have spoken Sumerian before they adopted the language of the Assyrian and Babylonian Hamitic people who had taken over Mesopotamia (see10:8-12).
24:11 Arriving there in the late afternoon, the camel drivers made their ten camels kneel down by the well built around a spring (24:29) outside the city. One can imagine the astonishment of the women who came out to fill their water jars from the well when the caravan of ten camels arrived. .
24:12-14 He prayed for success in his task, and then addressed a very bold prayer to the LORD God (the same name as in 24:3, 6) of his master Abraham. “I am going to ask this young woman to give me a drink from her water jar. If she not only gives me a drink but offers to draw the water needed for the ten camels, I will know she is the one you have appointed for Isaac. And if she proves to be the bride chosen for Isaac I will see this as evidence of your khesed love for Abraham.”
Note : The servant used the term khesed three times (24:12, 14, 27). It is a very important word used here for the first time in the Bible. In this chapter the KJV translated the word as “kindness” but in many other places (as in over 80 verses in the Psalms) the KJV used the misleading translation “mercy.” The word “mercy” unhelpfully suggests that humans have to cringe in terror before a heavenly potentate and plead for forgiveness. The NRSV “steadfast love”, and the Jerusalem Bible “faithful love” connect much better with the tender parent love of God that Jesus revealed for us.
This kind of khesed love was already hinted at in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:6; Numbers 14:18,19; Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9; 13; Psalm 89:24, 33; 103:13). Psalm 136 celebrates the steadfast love of God in each of it 36 verses. God is both like a Father (Deuteronomy 8:5; 14:1; Psalm 89:26; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4, 19; Hosea 11:1-4) and a Mother (Genesis 1:26-27; Numbers 11:12; Deuteronomy 32:11-12; Psalm 131:2; Isaiah 49:15; 66:12-13. This is why in the New Testament God is addressed as Abba (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15-17.; Galatians 4:6) God is also compared to a woman and a loving mother (Matthew 13:33; 23:37; Luke 13:20-21; 13:34; 15:8-10).
The khesed steadfast love of God includes such essential facts as : “Love is from God” (1 John 4:7); “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16); “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10); “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18); “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God’s khesed love is not a love that is earned. It is pictured perfectly in the love of the father who welcomed back his prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
24:15-16 As the servant was still talking to God, a beautiful young woman went down into the well and filled her water jar. He did not know her name, or her family background, till he asked her after she had watered the camels (24:23).
24:17-20 Although this must have been a serious breach of Middle Eastern etiquette, he boldly ran towards her and took the first step he had specified in his prayer (24:14). When he asked for a sip of water from her jar, she gave him a drink. Then, without being asked, she drew water again and again till the water trough was filled, and the ten camels drank all that they needed after their long journey.
24:21 The servant watched with astonishment as this was going on, and wondered whether the LORD was really fulfilling the purpose of this very difficult assignment.
GENESIS 24:22-33 (The servant meets with the family of Rebekah)
24:22-23 The servant gave the girl a golden nose ring and two bracelets (their weight was half an ounce, 114 grams, of gold, see note on 23:8-16. In our day the price of gold is $421 US an ounce). He had carefully taken these with him for this purpose (24:10). When she had received the gifts, he felt free to ask whose family she came from, and whether there would be room in her home for him and ten camel drivers, and fodder for ten hungry camels.
24:24-25 Rebekah (Hebrew ribkah) turned out to be the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor (22:20-23) and she assured him her family could welcome the visitors.
24:26-27 The girl must have been impressed to see the old man bow his head and worship the LORD God of Abraham (see 24:3, 7, 12). The khesed love of the LORD had not failed his master. And he was very conscious of the fact that the same khesed love had guided him on his 500 mile, 800 km, journey to the very relatives of his master Abraham.
24:28-32 Rebekah ran home with the news of the visitors. Her brother Laban saw the nose ring and gold bracelets on his sister’s arms, heard what the servant had said to Rebekah. He ran out to the well where he saw the servant standing with the ten camels, and invited the visitors into the family home. There was straw for the camels to sleep on and food for them to eat. And as was the custom there was water to wash the feet of the servant and the ten camel drivers.
24:33 But when the meal was ready Abraham’s servant refused to eat until he had told his story.
GENESIS 24:34-49 (The servant gives his account of how and why he had come)
24:34-41 He introduced himself as Abraham’s servant, and described his master’s wealth and prosperity. Sarah had given birth to Isaac when Abraham was a hundred years old (21:5). That meant that the whole inheritance would pass to Isaac. And Abraham’s brother Nahor’s granddaughter (22:20-23) was just the right age to marry Isaac. As Abraham’s steward, he was to make sure Isaac did not marry a Canaanite woman. And Abraham had assured him that the LORD would provide a bride for Isaac from his own family.
24:42-49 Then he recounted how he had prayed, and the sign by which he would know the girl was the right one. Rebekah arrived even as he was still talking to the LORD. She did exactly what he had set out as the sign. So he had put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her arms. That was sufficient evidence for him to know that the LORD, the God of his master Abraham (as in 24:12, 27, 42) had guided him. Now it was time for Bethuel and his family to decide on the next step.
GENESIS 24:50-62 ( The betrothal of Isaac and Rebekah is arranged)
24:50-51 That was sufficient for Rachel’s brother Laban and her father Bethuel (22:20-23; 24:24; 25:20) to agree to a betrothal. And they could see that the LORD had indeed guided in the matter.
24:52-53 Again Abraham worshiped the LORD (as in 24:26-27). In addition to the gifts he had already given to Rebekah, he now added silver and gold jewelry and clothes. He also had gifts for Laban and for Rebekah’s mother.
24:54-58 Only then did Abraham agree to eat the food that had been served for him and his camel drivers. In the morning he insisted on going on his way with Rebekah back to his master. Her relatives tried to delay her departure for ten days. Finally they left the decision to Rebekah, and she said she was ready to go that same day.
24:59 Rebekah took her nurse with her. Perhaps she had minded Rebekah as a baby, and had remained as her governess and trusted older friend. She is distinguished from her personal servants (24:61).
24:60-62 After the family’s prayer of blessing for victory over enemies, Rebekah and her maids mounted the camels each behind one of the camel drivers, and set off on the two or three week ride back into Canaan. Apparently they did not stop in Hebron where Abraham and Sarah had lived (23:2), and from where the servant had set out with the ten camels loaded with gifts. By then Isaac had moved away into the Negeb near Beersheba where he had been raised (21:31-34). He was perhaps upset that his father Abraham had remarried so quickly (25:1).
GENESIS 24:63-67 (The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah)
24:66-67 There was a clear distinction between a betrothal when the financial arrangement was made and the marriage which was only consummated and counted as legal when the couple had sexual intercourse. There could be a celebration before this, but it was not a necessary part of the marriage. In this case, having heard the servant’s account of the betrothal, Isaac took Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent which he had kept specially for this occasion. It was sexual intercourse that began their marriage, and Isaac’s love for Rebekah flourished in due course (as in many arranged marriages in the east to this day).
Apparently Isaac had been very upset when his mother died at the age of 127 (23:1). He was born when Sarah was already 90 years old, and by the time he married Rebekah he was about 40 years old. After the marriage Rebekah remained barren for about 20 years until Isaac prayed specially for a male heir (25:21, 26).
Note : If we chart the dates given for events in the lives of the Old Testament patriarchs, it is obvious they all hang together and interlock perfectly. This makes nonsense of the idea that these are ancient myths resulting for generations of hearsay. Either these events were carefully recorded by those who were involved (as we assume) or they were concocted by some scribe hundreds of years after the events (in which case we wonder who this scribe could have been and what was his motive?). If we read the events as history, they make perfect sense, and the hand of God and the faith of Abraham and others is powerfully evident (see Hebrews 11:8-22).. .
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