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Genesis 24

24
A Bride for Isaac
1Now Abraham was old, [well] advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2Abraham said to his servant [Eliezer of Damascus], the oldest of his household, who had charge over all that Abraham owned, “Please, put your hand under my thigh [as is customary for affirming a solemn oath], 3and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4but you will [instead] go to my [former] country (Mesopotamia) and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac [the heir of the covenant promise].” 5The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman will not be willing to follow me back to this country; should I take your son back to the country from which you came?” 6Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there! 7The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house, from the land of my family and my birth, who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land’—He will send His angel before you [to guide you], and you will take a wife from there for my son [and bring her here]. 8If the woman is not willing to follow you [to this land], then you will be free from this my oath and blameless; only you must never take my son back there.” 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
10Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels, and set out, taking some of his master’s good things with him; so he got up and journeyed to #Heb Aram Naharaim, “Aram of the two rivers.”Mesopotamia [between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers], to the city of Nahor [the home of Abraham’s brother]. 11He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of the evening when women go out to draw water. 12And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness (faithfulness) to my master Abraham. 13Behold, I stand here at the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14now let it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please, let down your jar so that I may [have a] drink,’ and she replies, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels water to drink’—may she be the one whom You have selected [as a wife] for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness (faithfulness) to my master.”
Rebekah Is Chosen
15Before Eliezer had finished speaking (praying), Rebekah came out with her [water] jar on her shoulder. Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel the #See 22:20-24.son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16The girl was very beautiful, a virgin and unmarried; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” 18And she said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19When she had given Eliezer a drink, she said, “I will also draw water for your camels until they have finished drinking.” 20So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran again to the well and drew water for all his camels. 21Meanwhile, the man stood gazing at Rebekah in [reverent] silence, [waiting] to know if the Lord had made his trip successful or not.
22When the camels had finished drinking, Eliezer took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her hands weighing ten shekels in gold, 23and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?” 24And she said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to [her husband] Nahor.” 25Again she said to him, “We have plenty of both straw and feed, and also room to lodge.” 26The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord. 27He said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not denied His lovingkindness and His truth to my master. As for me, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brothers.”
28Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household what had happened. 29Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran out to the man at the well. 30When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and when he heard Rebekah his sister, saying, “The man said this to me,” he went to Eliezer and found him standing by the camels at the spring. 31And Laban said, “Come in, blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have made the house ready and have prepared a place for the camels?” 32So the man came into the house, and Laban unloaded his camels and gave them straw and feed, and [he gave] water to [Eliezer to] wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33But when food was set before him, he said, “I will not eat until I have stated my business.” And Laban said, “Speak on.” 34So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great (wealthy, powerful); He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. 36Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was in her old age, and he has given everything that he has to him. 37My master made me swear [an oath], saying, ‘You must not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38but you shall [instead] go to my father’s house and to my family and take a wife for my son [Isaac].’ 39Then I said to my master, ‘But suppose the woman will not follow me [back to this land].’ 40He said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I walk [habitually and obediently], will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father’s house; 41then you will be free of my oath, when you come to my relatives; and if they do not give her to you, you will [also] be free of my oath.’
42“I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, if now You will make my journey on which I go successful; 43please look, I am standing by the spring of water; now let it be that when the maiden [whom You have chosen for Isaac] comes out to draw [water], and to whom I say, “Please, give me a little water to drink from your jar”; 44and if she says to me, “You drink, and I will also draw [water] for your camels”; let that woman be the one whom the Lord has selected and chosen [as a wife] for my master’s son.’
45“Before I had finished praying in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her [water] jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. And I said to her, ‘Please, let me have a drink.’ 46And she quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels’; so I drank, and she also watered the camels. 47Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him’; and I #This was a customary act of admiration and respect; otherwise, Rebekah would not have accepted it.put the ring in her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48And I bowed down my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s brother to his son [as a wife]. 49So now if you are going to show kindness and truth to my master [being faithful to him], tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right or to the left [and go on my way].”
50Then Laban and Bethuel answered, “The matter has come from the Lord; so we dare not speak bad or good [to you about it—we cannot interfere]. 51Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.”
52When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground [in worship] before the Lord. 53Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and articles of clothing, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and her mother. 54Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night [there]. In the morning when they got up, he said, “Now send me back to my master.” 55But Rebekah’s brother and mother said, “Let the girl stay with us a few days—at least ten; then she may go.” 56But Eliezer said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away, so that I may go back to my master.” 57And they said, “We will call the girl and ask her #Lit mouth.what she prefers.” 58So they called Rebekah and said, “Will you go with this man?” And she answered, “I will go.” 59So they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse [Deborah, as her attendant] and Abraham’s servant [Eliezer] and his men. 60They blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“May you, our sister,
Become [the mother of] thousands of ten thousands,
And may your descendants possess (conquer)
The [city] gate of those who hate them.”
61Then Rebekah and her attendants #The Hebrew verb “to stand” or “arise” is often used as an instruction to prepare to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”stood, and they mounted camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and went on his way.
Isaac Marries Rebekah
62Now Isaac had returned from going to Beer-lahai-roi (Well of the Living One Who Sees Me), for he was living in the #The South country, south and west of the Dead Sea.Negev. 63Isaac went out to bow down [in prayer] in the field in the [early] evening; he raised his eyes and looked, and camels were coming. 64Rebekah also raised her eyes and looked, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from her camel. 65She said to the servant, “Who is that man there walking across the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “He is my master [Isaac].” So she took a veil and covered herself [as was customary]. 66The servant told Isaac everything that he had done. 67Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah [in marriage], and she became his wife, and he loved her; therefore Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
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Isaac and Rebekah.#The story of Abraham and Sarah is drawing to a close. The promises of progeny (21:1–7) and land (chap. 23) have been fulfilled and Sarah has died (23:1–2). Abraham’s last duty is to ensure that his son Isaac shares in the promises. Isaac must take a wife from his own people (vv. 3–7), so the promises may be fulfilled. The extraordinary length of this story and its development of a single theme contrast strikingly with the spare style of the preceding Abraham and Sarah stories. It points ahead to the Jacob and Joseph stories.The length of the story is partly caused by its meticulous attention to the sign (vv. 12–14), its fulfillment (vv. 15–20), and the servant’s retelling of sign and fulfillment to Rebekah’s family to win their consent (vv. 34–49). 1Abraham was old, having seen many days, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2#Gn 47:29. Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all his possessions: “Put your hand under my thigh,#Put your hand under my thigh: the symbolism of this act was apparently connected with the Hebrew concept of children issuing from their father’s “thigh” (the literal meaning of “direct descendants” in 46:26; Ex 1:5). Perhaps the man who took such an oath was thought to bring the curse of sterility on himself if he did not fulfill his sworn promise. Jacob made Joseph swear in the same way (Gn 47:29). In both these instances, the oath was taken to carry out the last request of a man upon his death. 3and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live,#Gn 24:37; 28:1–2; Jgs 14:3; Tb 4:12. 4but that you will go to my own land and to my relatives to get a wife for my son Isaac.” 5The servant asked him: “What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6Abraham told him, “Never take my son back there for any reason! 7The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my relatives, and who confirmed by oath the promise he made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’—he will send his angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son there.#Gn 12:7; Ex 6:8; Tb 5:17; Gal 3:16. 8If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath to me. But never take my son back there!” 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him concerning this matter.
10The servant then took ten of his master’s camels, and bearing all kinds of gifts from his master, he made his way to the city of Nahor#Nahor: it is uncertain whether this is the place where Abraham’s brother Nahor (11:27) had lived or whether it is the city Nahur, named in the Mari documents (nineteenth and eighteenth centuries B.C.), near the confluence of the Balikh and Middle Euphrates rivers. Aram Naharaim: lit., “Aram between the two rivers,” is the Yahwist designation for Terah’s homeland. The two rivers are the Habur and the Euphrates. The Priestly designation for the area is Paddan-aram, which is from the Assyrian padana, “road or garden,” and Aram, which refers to the people or land of the Arameans. in Aram Naharaim. 11Near evening, at the time when women go out to draw water, he made the camels kneel by the well outside the city. 12Then he said: “Lord, God of my master Abraham, let it turn out favorably for me#Let it turn out favorably for me: let me have a favorable sign; cf. end of v. 14. today and thus deal graciously with my master Abraham. 13While I stand here at the spring and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water, 14if I say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jug, that I may drink,’ and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too,’ then she is the one whom you have decided upon for your servant Isaac. In this way I will know that you have dealt graciously with my master.”
15#Gn 22:23. He had scarcely finished speaking when Rebekah—who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—came out with a jug on her shoulder. 16The young woman was very beautiful, a virgin, untouched by man. She went down to the spring and filled her jug. As she came up, 17the servant ran toward her and said, “Please give me a sip of water from your jug.” 18“Drink, sir,” she replied, and quickly lowering the jug into her hand, she gave him a drink. 19When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels, too, until they have finished drinking.” 20With that, she quickly emptied her jug into the drinking trough and ran back to the well to draw more water, until she had drawn enough for all the camels. 21The man watched her the whole time, silently waiting to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. 22When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose-ring weighing half a shekel, and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels for her wrists. 23Then he asked her: “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please. And is there a place in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24She answered: “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. 25We have plenty of straw and fodder,” she added, “and also a place to spend the night.” 26The man then knelt and bowed down to the Lord, 27saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not let his kindness and fidelity toward my master fail. As for me, the Lord has led me straight to the house of my master’s brother.”
28Then the young woman ran off and told her mother’s household what had happened. 29#Gn 27:43. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban. Laban rushed outside to the man at the spring. 30#Laban becomes hospitable only when he sees the servant’s rich gifts, which is in humorous contrast to his sister’s spontaneous generosity toward the servant. Laban’s opportunism points forward to his behavior in the Jacob stories (31:14–16). When he saw the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms and when he heard Rebekah repeating what the man had said to her, he went to him while he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31He said: “Come, blessed of the Lord! Why are you standing outside when I have made the house ready, as well as a place for the camels?” 32The man then went inside; and while the camels were being unloaded and provided with straw and fodder, water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33But when food was set before him, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my story.” “Go ahead,” they replied.
34“I am Abraham’s servant,” he began. 35“The Lord has blessed my master so abundantly that he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys. 36My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37My master put me under oath, saying: ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live; 38instead, you must go to my father’s house, to my own family, to get a wife for my son.’ 39When I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not follow me?’ 40he replied: ‘The Lord, in whose presence I have always walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey successful, and so you will get a wife for my son from my own family and my father’s house.#Tb 5:17; 10:13. 41Then you will be freed from my curse. If you go to my family and they refuse you, then, too, you will be free from my curse.’#Curse: this would be the consequence of failing to carry out the oath referred to in v. 3.
42“When I came to the spring today, I said: ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, please make successful the journey I am on. 43While I stand here at the spring, if I say to a young woman who comes out to draw water, ‘Please give me a little water from your jug,’ 44and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too—then she is the woman whom the Lord has decided upon for my master’s son.’
45“I had scarcely finished saying this to myself when Rebekah came out with a jug on her shoulder. After she went down to the spring and drew water, I said to her, ‘Please let me have a drink.’ 46She quickly lowered the jug she was carrying and said, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. 47When I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ she answered, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor, borne to Nahor by Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. 48Then I knelt and bowed down to the Lord, blessing the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49Now, if you will act with kindness and fidelity toward my master, let me know; but if not, let me know that too. I can then proceed accordingly.”
50#Tb 7:11–12. Laban and Bethuel said in reply: “This thing comes from the Lord; we can say nothing to you either for or against it. 51Here is Rebekah, right in front of you; take her and go, that she may become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has said.” 52When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed to the ground before the Lord. 53Then he brought out objects of silver and gold and clothing and presented them to Rebekah; he also gave costly presents to her brother and mother. 54After he and the men with him had eaten and drunk, they spent the night there.
When they got up the next morning, he said, “Allow me to return to my master.”#Tb 7:14; 8:20. 55Her brother and mother replied, “Let the young woman stay with us a short while, say ten days; after that she may go.” 56But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go back to my master.” 57They answered, “Let us call the young woman and see what she herself has to say about it.” 58So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” She answered, “I will.”#Marriages arranged by the woman’s father did not require the woman’s consent, but marriages arranged by the woman’s brother did. Laban is the brother and Rebekah is therefore free to give her consent or not. 59At this they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60They blessed Rebekah and said:
“Sister, may you grow
into thousands of myriads;
And may your descendants gain possession
of the gates of their enemies!”#Gn 22:17.
61Then Rebekah and her attendants started out; they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and went on his way.
62Meanwhile Isaac had gone from Beer-lahai-roi and was living in the region of the Negeb.#Gn 16:13–14; 25:11. 63One day toward evening he went out to walk in the field, and caught sight of camels approaching. 64Rebekah, too, caught sight of Isaac, and got down from her camel. 65She asked the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking through the fields toward us?” “That is my master,” replied the servant. Then she took her veil and covered herself.
66The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done. 67Then Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of his mother Sarah. He took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her and found solace after the death of his mother.