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Chapter 24

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Isaac And Rebekah  (ch. 24:1 - 66)


Verse 1 says that at this point in time Abraham was very old.  Most scholars suggest he was around 140 years old because he was 100 years old when Isaac was born and we learn later in Genesis 25 that Abraham was 40 years old when he got married.


Verse 1 also says that "the Lord bless Abraham in every way".   This is a direct fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham.  God told Abraham that He would bless him, and here we see this blessing came in every way.  He was wealthy, living in peace, with a large community of people around him.  This was the beginning of the nation of Israel.   If you remember, a few chapters earlier, Abraham had 318 soldiers in his community.  How many he would have now is unknown, but if he had that many soldiers, how many other people would have been in the community of Abraham.  When thinking of Abraham here, we must think in terms of him being wealthy and large in numbers by this time. 


In verse 2 we see that Abraham called his chief servant in for a conversation.  This servant was in charge of everything that belonged to Abraham. 


Also in verse 2 Abraham had the servant place his hands "under his thighs".  The servant put his hands on Abraham's testicles and penis.   This may appear to be strange to us, but it was clearly meant to be a symbolic gesture for an agreement, or an oath, that was going to be made.  There is no real agreement from Bible scholars to the significance of this act.  There is not too much historical record of this being a common practice of the day, so the meaning behind the act is speculative.


I'd suggest, as some others suggest, that placing the hands on the testicles and penis of Abraham is linked to the reason why the agreement was going to be made, which we see in verse 3.


Abraham told his servant the he was "to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth".   We see both names for God used here, that is, Yahweh and Elohim.  Yahweh means "I AM", and is always associated with the covenant.  Therefore, Yahweh is the God of the covenant.  Elohim is the Almighty Master Creator God.  The servant was to swear by this God, no other god.   Note that God is the God of both heaven and earth.  This means that He is supreme over all there is.


Some scholars suggests that Abraham was polytheistic, meaning he believed in more than one God, but the God he had come to know was the supreme God over all Gods, and that is why God is seen here as God over both heaven and earth.  I don't really believe this to be true.   I believe that Abraham was monotheistic, that is, believing in one God, and no other gods.  Critics of this view suggest that the monotheistic nature of God had not yet been clearly revealed by God at this point in time.  I'm not convinced of that


In verses 3 and 4 we see what Abraham wanted his servant to swear to do.  Abraham wanted the servant to find a wife for Isaac, but not from the land of Canaan where they presently lived.  He wanted Isaac's wife to come from his homeland, that is, Ur, and from his own relatives.  We see right here in the first generation of Jews, although they weren't so named as yet, that mixed marriages were considered to be wrong.  They were wrong in the since that mixing a godly race with and ungodly race was not acceptable.  It had nothing to do with culture or colour of skin.  There was no prejudice here. 


We should also note that this could easily be another time in history when satan could disrupt the lineage of Abraham through Isaac, the lineage that Jesus would eventually be born through.  Abraham wanted to make sure that would not happen.  Satan over the centuries had tried on numerous occasions to defile the lineage of Abraham.  He is still messing with the Jews today.   


In verse 5 the servant asked a legitimate question.  He was wondering what he should do if the lady that he picked out didn't want to return with him.  This would be important.  Isaac was not to return to Ur to live, but his wife was to come out of Ur, just as Abraham did, and live with Isaac.  It would make no sense that God would call Abraham out of Ur , only for his son to return to Ur to live.  Ur at this point is seen as a place of the world.  Canaan was seen as a place that God has chosen for His people.  Returning to Ur would be a form of back-sling.  It's like many today, they come to Jesus.  They leave the world behind, then when things get rough, they look back to the world they left with fond memories that draw them back into the world Jesus called them out of. 


In verse 6 Abraham emphatically replied that in no way  was Isaac to go with him to Ur and stay there.  Isaac did not go on the trip with the servant.  Abraham did not want Isaac to even get close to Ur.   This reminds me of what Paul said centuries later, "come out from among them and be separate".  (2 Corinthians 6:17)  Once again we see the need for separation between Godly people and worldly people.  Yet throughout the history of the Jews we see this was a constant problem with them.  It is also a constant problem with Christians today and the church as well.  God clearly does not want or like what I call "mixture", the defilement of His people.


Abraham, in verse 7 continues to clarify why Isaac must not go to Ur.  He said, "the Lord, (Yahweh) the God (Elohim) of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household … who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land – He will send His angel and get a wife for my son there".  We should notice that the reason why Isaac was not to live in Ur was tied to the promise that though him Abraham's offspring would be born, and we've learned that the offspring spoken of here is Jesus.


It appears to me, that because Abraham said that the land would be given to "his offspring", that might mean that he never really did think that he would get the land.  That might be the reason why Abraham didn't seem to have no real desire to spend his life in Canaan, the promised land.  Basically, when he first arrived in Canaan, because of the famine, he left, and it seems, never returned until he was an old man. 


In verse 8 Abraham told the servant that if the woman, and it's a particular woman, would not come back with him, then he would be released from the oath.  But to be sure, the servant must know that by no means was Isaac to go and live in Ur.  I believe in Abraham's heart, he knew that his servant would find that one woman that was set aside for Isaac. By now, Abraham indeed trusted God.  That might not have always been the case, but since the time he went up the hill to sacrifice Isaac, he had learned what it meant to fear God.


Verse 9 simply states that after haring what he had to do, the servant put his hands under Abraham's thighs and swore on oath to do as his master told him.  Obviously this servant was a well trusted servant.  This was one very important task that he had to do for Abraham, maybe the most important task he has been asked to do.


In verse 10 the servant leaves on his trip with ten camels and lots of good things that he would eventually offer to Isaac's wife to be.  We will also learn later that he took with him other servants to help him along the way.   The was taking many valuable things and could have been easily robbed along the way.  So a company of men went with him. 


In verse 11 the servant came to where he was heading to, and that was the city of Nahor.  Nahor was Abraham's brother, and by this time had grown into a large community of people. Thus the city being named after him.  It was in the evening, and it was by a well.  It was in the evening when women would come and draw water from the well.  Note that women worked hard in those days. 


Wells in those days were wholes that were dug deep into the ground with steps descending downward to the bottom of the whole where the well of water was.  So women would have had to carry their jars down a number of steps in order to get the water, and then bring them up the steps to the surface full of water.  In this part of the world women carried the water in jars on their hips, whereas in places to the west, as n Egypt, women carried water on their heads.  Both ways would have been difficult.  Carrying water was not an easy chore.  Although this was the tradition in these parts, Rebekah carries the water on her shoulders, as the text says.  


In verse 12 we see the servant kneeling down to pray.  He prayed, "O, Lord God of my master…"   You might wonder why he prayed to the God of his master.  Did he not believe that the Lord God was his God as well.  I believe he did.  But this was a man very respectful of his master Abraham.  This might be one reason why he prayed like this.  Also, the only way that the servant would have come to believe in the Lord God would have been through Abraham, so it is only logical that the servant would call the Lord God, the Lord God of his master. 


Once again, this reminds me of what Paul wrote in Romans 4 and 5.  Paul speaks of us having the faith of Abraham, that is, believing like and in the same God as Abraham believed.  This servant was doing what Paul says we should do today.  He had the same faith as Abraham. Jesus said something similar in John 8 when He accused the Jewish leadership that they really weren't the children of Abraham because they did not believe like Abraham.  They did not have the same faith as Abraham.  This servant had the faith of Abraham.  


The servant prayed that God would "give success and kindness to his master".  The servant was not exactly praying for his own benefit here, although in a round about way he was.  He was praying for the benefit of Abraham.  The servant shows himself not to be a selfish man here.


So in verses 13 and 14 the servant devises a plan that he speaks to the Lord about.  He said to the Lord, that when the girls from town come out to get their water, when he would ask one of them for a drink and she agreed not only to give him a drink but his camels as well, that this girl would be the one for Isaac.  It is clear that the Lord God agreed with his plan.  I'm not suggesting that this should always be the way we pray, but I would suggest that at times, this might well be a valid prayer, that is assuming our hearts are in the right place before the Lord.


Why would the servant ask this of God.  Well, I believe that the servant was looking for a certain quality of woman for Isaac.  Being willing to give a stranger some water would show a since of kindness on the part of the woman.  Just remember, the servant would have been sitting at the top of this big whole in the ground in which there were steps leading down to a well.  He could have gone down himself to get some water, but he didn't.  He expected the girl to get water for him.  That would show a gracious spirit on the part of the girl.


But the servant went even farther. He expected the girl to give water to his ten camels as well.  That would really show a lot of graciousness on the part of the woman. 


The carrying of all this water would also show that the woman was willing, ready and able to work.  She would have had to be strong to carry all this water.  The combination of these things in the mind of the servant were good qualities to find in a wife for Isaac.


If the Lord God could do this, then the servant would know for sure that God would have chosen the woman for Isaac, and that is very important.  Everyone wanted God's choice in this situation.


In verse 15 we see God answering the servant's prayer immediately.  While he was still praying he saw Rebekah coming from the well with a jar of water.  We learn here, as we learned in the last chapter,  that Rebekah is the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Nahor, who was Abraham's brother.  Rebekah is therefore Abraham's great niece.


In verse 16 we see that Rebekah was very beautiful looking, something that probably truck a chord in the servant's heart.  We also learn that Rebekah was a virgin, although the servant would not have known that at the time. Remember, Moses is writing this many  years after the event had taken place.


So upon seeing the beauty of Rebekah, verse 17 says that the servant hurried over to greet her. I can just see the servant thinking, "maybe this is her.  It sure would be nice if it were."   So he jumps up and runs to her and asks her for water as he had planned in his prayer to the Lord. 


In verses 19 to 22 we see the prayer of the servant being answered.  Rebekah gave the servant some water and told him that she'd give all ten of his camels water as well, until they had drank all they wanted.  The servant simply sat back and watched her work.  You might think that this is a bit strange, that is, a man sitting back watching a woman do this heavy work.  Well, that was the culture of the day, yet beyond that, I'm sure the servant was amazed at how fast the Lord worked.  Sometimes we need to simply stand back and watch the Lord work without any interference  from us.  Sometimes we get in the way of the Lord's work.


In verse 22 the camels had drunk all the water they wanted.  At this point the servant pulls out a fairly heavy nose ring and a couple of bracelets.  He puts the nose ring in her nose.  These pieces of jewelry were what women wore in those days.  They often wore bracelets from their wrist all the way up to their elbows, and  even beyond.  You might notice that nose rings are not a new phenomena. 


In verse 23 the servant asked whose daughter Rebekah was and if there was sufficient room in his house that he and those with him could spend the night.  In verse 24 she states that she is the daughter of Bethuel, the grand-daughter of Nahor.  The servant's heart most likely started jumping for joy.  He knew that one of the qualifications for Isaacs wife must be that the girl was to be part of Abraham's extended family, and Rebekah was.  In verse 25 Rebekah continues by saying that they had ample food and shelter for both the servant, those with him, and his camels.


The servant's prayer was now answered.  In verses 26 and 27 he falls down to the ground and worships the Lord God of Abraham.  Note again, that it is the God of Abraham.  As I said before, I'm sure that the servant considered God to be his God as well, but being a servant to Abraham, it would only be natural for him to say that God was the God of Abraham. 


The servant does personalize the God of Abraham in the last part of verse 26 when he states that the Lord God had led him successfully on this journey.  In this phrase we see the personal nature of God to the servant.  We see the God was his God as well as Abraham's God.


In verses 28 to 32 we note that Rebekah went to her mother's household to tell everyone what had just happened.  It seems to me that she was quite excited about what had just transpired.  This might be strange to us today.  Here she just had a proposal of marriage, and she didn't even know who he was, or at the least, had never met the man.  I'm sure the servant explained to her the whole story.  This was the culture of the day.  Rebekah was at the stage in life where she was looking forward to being married, and this was simply the way in which it took place n those days.


Note that Rebekah went into her "mother's household".  In those days, even though men and woman were married, they had their own separate households with their own servants. 


We also see Laban in this portion of Scripture.  He is Rebekah's brother.  Once he sees what is going on, he ran out to the well, where apparently Rebekah left  him and invited him and those with him home.


In verse 31 Laban calls the servant "blessed by the Lord".  Does this mean that Laban is monotheistic?  Does he believe in one God, and is He the same God that Abraham believes in?  We can't say for sure, but this might well be the case.  At the least, Laban recognizes the God of Abraham, and believes He has blessed this servant.  It appears to me that Laban is just as excited about his sister getting married off as she is herself.


Verse 32  merely states that the servant's camels were looked after and fed for the night.


In verse 33 the servant was given a nice meal, but before he ate he needed to explain this situation.  In verse 34 the servant begins his explanation by saying that he was Abraham's servant.  These people would have known who Abraham was, although they may not have seen him for years, or perhaps decades.  Some of them might never have seen Abraham.


The first thing he says about Abraham in verse 35  is that Abraham had been really blessed by God, and in this case, the blessings meant, wealth.  Some Prosperity Gospel teachers might use this an example that if you have faith like Abraham, then you will be blessed too.  That's not true.  It was God's choice to bless Abraham with wealth.  It may not be His choice to bless you in the same way, especially light of New Testament thinking.  That being said, we need to remember why Abraham finally came to trust God with everything.  After getting the knife out to kill Isaac in sacrifice as God commanded, God told him to put down his knife because He knew that Abraham finally feared God. (Genesis 22:12)  Abraham's faith was based on fear.  Our faith should be based on fearing God as well, and that would shape the way we understand God and how He blesses people.  He is not Santa.  So if the Prosperity teachers want to teach that we can all be rich, they should not teach that the riches come through faith, but through fear, that is fearing God.   That would surely change the prosperity gospel around.  


In verse 36 the servant tells how Sarah had given birth to Isaac in her old age.  These people may or may not have known this.  They lived quite a distance from Abraham.  The servant also said that Abraham had given all he had to Isaac.  Isaac had received his inheritance and had become head of the family before Abraham died.  Isaac therefore was very wealthy. 


In verses 37 and 38 the servant spoke about the oath that he made with Abraham, that he would not find Isaac a wife in Canaan, but from among his own people, back in his homeland.  Thus the reason for the trip and his appearance among these people.  Once again, it seems strange for us, but the custom back then, and in some parts of the world today, is that the parents would choose the spouse for a child.


In verse 39 to 41 the servant explains that Abraham believed and angel from God would accompany the servant on his way, and that clearly is what happened.  The servant also said that if the girl or the family would not allow the girl to return with him to be Isaac's wife, he would be released from the oath.  All of what we see in these verses have been previously stated and talked about earlier in this chapter.


In verse 42 we see that the servant calls God the God of his master.  As I said before,  I do believe that the servant viewed God as being his God, but he was a submissive servant, a man under his master's authority, and out of respect, I believe he called God the God of his master.


In verse 44 the servant relates the plan that he had worked out with the Lord concerning asking the girl for some water and she saying yes, and that she would also get sufficient water for his camels.  This is what happened while at the well.  Those listening now, and  especially Rebekah must have been quite impressed by how the Lord God of Abraham had worked this out.  This is most likely why they would be so willing to let Rebekah leave with the servant.


From verses 45 through 47 the servant  continues on with the events at the well.


In verse 47 the servant recalls at this point how he put the nose ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, and then immediately bowed down and worshipped the Lord.  We see here that his servant clearly believed in the God of his master.  Yet again, God was his God as well as his master's.  You see every step of the way how the servant acknowledged and worshipped God.  Every step of the way, even when retelling the story, the servant acknowledges the leading of the Lord.  This is a good example for us to follow.  We should both acknowledge our Lord and worship every step we take in life, just as this servant did. 


In verse 48 we see again that Rebekah was the grand-daughter of Abraham's brother Nahor.  Isaac and Rebekah were probably around the same age, even though they were of a different generation.  Isaac was Abraham's son.  Rebekah was Nahor's, Abraham's brother's grand-daughter.  The reason for the different generations is that Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah when they were really old, at the time Abraham's brother's kids were having their own kids.


In verse 49 the servant begins to ask to take Rebekah back with him.  He says, "if you will be kind to my master".  Notice, he is asking Laban and Nahor to be kind to Abraham, not to him.  It's all about Abraham.  Again, this servant is a very loyal servant.


In verse 50 both Laban and Nahor say, "this is from the Lord", as if they themselves might believe, nor might now have come to believe in the God of Abraham as well.  They then say, "we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has directed".  Clearly, everyone was in agreement that this was God's will, and it had been demonstrated in the miraculous event at the well, which in reality, was a plan devised by the servant, and agreed upon by God.  This tells me that at times, maybe not all the time, that if we derive a plan from the goodness of our hearts before the Lord, He might well agree with our plan and bless it.  But first must come pure and unselfish motives.


Once again in verse 52 we see the servant bow down before the Lord in worship.  This truly was a godly man, a humble man.  Humility is important if you want to be used by the Lord.  You might even say it is more than important, it is a prerequisite.  Look at the life of Paul, as I always do.  He was probably a proud man until the Lord struck him to the ground in humiliation.  Only then could the Lord use him for His service.


In verse 53 and 54 the servant brings out all sorts of gifts, gold, silver, clothes, and more for Rebekah, for Laban, and for Nahor.  This would be a dowry, gifts in exchange for Rebekah.  This was not really seen as buying Rebekah as people back then bought slaves.  This was simply a grand token of appreciation for the family who were giving away one of their girls in marriage.


In verse 55 we see that Rebekah's mother and brother wanted Rebekah to stay with them for another ten days.  This would seem to be a reasonable request.  This was certainly a quick and fast paced decision that had just been made.  They want to just be with her for another short while before she left.  Who knows, it was quite a distance away, and they might never see Rebekah again.  This shows you, that in doing the will of God, it doesn’t mean it will be easy.  We may have to leave family and friends, even as Jesus Himself said. 


In verses 57 and 58 we see that the servant was anxious to get back to Abraham with Rebekah and so he pleaded with them not to make him wait for ten days.  Once again, we see the graciousness of the servant.  He was not an arrogant man.  So the brother and mother decided to ask Rebekah herself to see what she wanted to do and she was more than willing to return with the servant immediately.  She was at the marrying stage in her life and she most likely was getting excited about her prospects.


Verse 59 tells us that they let Rebekah go. She took her nurse along with her.  This would have been her personal servant.  You might remember Hagar, she was Sarah's personal servant.  Women who had money had personal servants. 


In verse 60 Rebekah's family blesses her with the following words.  "Sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands, may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies."   You notice the mentality here.  People thought that thousands of descendents would be considered a great blessing. 


Notice the word "offspring" here.  All along, when we've seen this word in relation to the Abrahamic Covenant, we've said the offspring was Jesus because of what Paul said in his letter to the Galatians.  The question is, "should we interpret offspring here as Jesus?"  I would say no.  The text itself tells us that offspring here means descendents, as in, thousands of descendents.  The text says, "may your offspring possess the gates of 'their' enemy."  The word "their" tells us that we need to understand the word offspring as being plural, not singular, and therefore it cannot be Jesus.  That being said, Jesus will possess the gates of the enemies of Israel at the end of this age, and hand those gates over to Israel.


Notice in verse 61 that more than just Rebekah's nurse went with her.  She had maids as well go with her.  How many maids she had, we don't know, but were at least two. 


In verse 62 and 63 we see Isaac out in the field meditating.  This suggests to me that Isaac was a godly man. Isaac sees the camels and the people coming towards him.  In verses 64 and 65, Rebekah sees Isaac and asks the servant who he was.  The servant answered her by saying, "he is my master".  You might wonder why he called Isaac his master when all along the servant had been calling Abraham his master.  You might remember earlier in this chapter that Abraham had given everything to Isaac.  He had made Isaac the head of his family, thus Isaac would be the servants master as well as Abraham.   Once Rebekah finds this out, she gets off her camel and covers herself with her vale, which was the custom of the day.


In verse 66 the servant explained what had happened to Isaac.  I'm sure he was very happy. 


This chapter ends in verse 67.  Isaac takes Rebekah into his mother's tent and marries her, and because of this he was comforted.  It appears that Isaac had a hard time with the death of his mother.  Most scholars say this was about three years after Sarah, his mother, died.  This might well be why he was out in the field meditating.  It also appears that Abraham and Isaac left Sarah's tent the way it was when she died.  They did not make any changes to it.  And when Rebekah comes, and when Isaac brings her into Sarah's tent, Rebekah now takes Sarah's place in the family as being the first lady.  At the same time Isaac's love for Rebekah takes away the pain of is mother's death. 


The text clearly states that Isaac loved Sarah.  It was clearly love at first sight.  Both had waited for this day with great expectation, and now it had come.  It was the blessing of the Lord, and it was His will.


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