1Abraham by now was old, really old, and the Lord had blessed him in every possible way. 2At that time Abraham told his oldest servant who was in charge of his whole household, “Put your hand under my thigh,#24:2. A customary action of the time when swearing an oath. 3and swear an oath by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you won't arrange for my son to marry any daughter of the these Canaanite people that I'm living among. 4Instead, go to my homeland where my relatives live, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”
5“What if the woman refuses to come back with me to this country?” the servant asked. “Should I take your son back to the country you came from?”
6“No, you mustn't take my son back there,” Abraham replied. 7“The Lord, the God of heaven, took me from my family home and my own country. He spoke to me and swore an oath to me in which he promised, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ He is the one who will send his angel ahead of you so that you can find a wife there for my son. 8However, if the woman refuses to return here with you, then you are released from this oath. But make sure you don't take my son back there.”
9The servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to do as he had been told. 10Then the servant arranged for ten of his master's camels to carry all kinds of valuable gifts from Abraham and left for the town of Nahor in Aram-naharaim.#24:10. “Aram-naharaim”: or “Mesopotamia.” 11Arriving in the evening, he had the camels kneel down by the spring that was outside the town. This was the time when women went out to fetch water.
12He prayed, “Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please let me be successful today, and please show your faithfulness#24:12. “Faithfulness”: this word, often translated “trustworthy love,” in this setting is really to do with “loyalty,” “commitment,” even “kindness.” to my master Abraham. 13Look, I'm standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming to get water. 14May it happen like this. The young woman that I ask, ‘Please hold your water jar so I can have a drink,’ and she replies, ‘Please drink, and I'll give your camels water too’ —may she be the one you've chosen as a wife for your servant Isaac. This way I'll know that you've shown your faithfulness to my master.”
15He hadn't even finished praying when he saw Rebekah coming to get water, carrying her water jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milkah. Milkah was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor. 16She was very beautiful, a virgin—no one had slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came back up. 17The servant ran over to meet her and asked, “Please let me drink a few sips of water from your jar.”
18“Please drink, my lord,” she replied. She quickly lifted the jar down from her shoulder and held it for him to drink. 19After she finished giving him a drink, she said, “Let me get water for your camels too until they've had enough.”
20She quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran back to the spring to get more water. She brought enough for all his camels.
21The man observed her in silence to see if the Lord had made his journey successful or not. 22Once the camels had finished drinking, he gave her a gold nose-ring and two heavy gold bracelets for her wrists.#24:22. The weights are given as a half-shekel for the nose-ring, and ten shekels for the bracelets. Since the price of gold at the time is not known, it is impossible to estimate their value. However, they were significant gifts.
23Then he asked her, “Whose daughter are you? Also could you tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?”
24She replied, “I'm the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor.” Then she added, “We have plenty of straw and food for the camels, 25and yes, we have room for you to spend the night.”
26The man kneeled down and bowed in worship to the Lord. 27“Thank you Lord, the God of my master Abraham,” he prayed. “You have not forgotten your commitment and faithfulness to my master. And Lord, you have led me directly to the home of my master's relatives!”
28She ran to her mother's house and told her family what had happened. 29Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he ran out to meet the man who had remained at the spring. 30He'd noticed the nose-ring and the bracelets she was wearing, and he'd heard his sister Rebekah explaining, “This is what the man told me.” When he arrived the man was still there, standing with his camels beside the spring.
31“Please come home with me, you who are blessed by the Lord,” said Laban. “What are you standing out here for? I've got a room at home ready for you, and a place for the camels to stay.”
32So the man went home with him. Laban unloaded the camels and gave them straw and food to eat. He also provided water for the man to wash his feet, as well as for the men who were with him. 33Then Laban had food brought in.
But the man told him, “I'm not going to eat until I've explained why I'm here.”
“Please explain,” Laban replied.
34“I'm Abraham's servant,” the man began. 35“The Lord has blessed my master so much, and now he is a wealthy and powerful man. The Lord has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36His wife Sarah has had a son for my master even in her old age, and my master has given him everything he owns. 37My master made me swear an oath, saying, ‘You must not arrange for my son to marry any daughter of the Canaanite people in whose land I'm living. 38Instead, go to my family home where my relatives live, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.’
39I said to my master, ‘What if the woman refuses to come back with me?’
40He told me, ‘The Lord, in whose presence I have lived my life, will send his angel with you, and he will make your journey successful—you will find a wife for my son from my relatives, from my father's family. 41You will be released from the oath you swear to me if, when you go to my family, they refuse to let her return with you.’
42Today when I arrived at the spring, I prayed, Lord, God of my master Abraham, please let the journey I have taken be successful. 43Look, I'm standing here beside this spring. May it happen like this. If a young woman comes to get water, and I say, ‘Please give me a few sips of water to drink,’ 44and she says to me, ‘Please drink, and I'll get water for your camels too’ —may she be the one you've chosen as a wife for your servant Isaac.”
45“I hadn't even finished praying silently when I saw Rebekah coming to get water, carrying her water jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring to get water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46She quickly lifted the jar down from her shoulder and she said, ‘Please drink, and I'll get water for your camels too.’ So I drank, and she got water for the camels.
47I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘I'm the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor.’ So I put the ring in her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.
48Then I kneeled down and bowed in worship to the Lord. I thanked the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, for he led me directly to find my master's niece for his son. 49So please tell me now, will you show commitment and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no so I can decide what to do next.”
50Laban and Bethuel replied, “Clearly all this is from the Lord, so we can't argue one way or the other. 51Rebekah's here, you can take her and leave. She can become the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has decided.”
52As soon as Abraham's servant heard their decision, he bowed down in worship to the Lord. 53Then he unpacked silver and gold jewelry and expensive clothes and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave valuable presents to her brother and her mother. 54He and the men with him ate and drank, and spent the night there. When they got up in the morning, he said, “Let me leave now and go home to my master.”
55But her brother and her mother said, “Let her stay with us for another ten days or so. She can leave after that.”
56“Please don't delay me,” he told them. “The Lord has made my journey successful, so let me leave and go back to my master.”
57“Let's call Rebekah and find out what she wants to do,” they suggested.
58They called Rebekah in and asked her, “Do you want to go with this man now?”
“Yes, I'll go,” she replied.
59So they let Laban's sister Rebekah leave with Abraham's servant and his men, together with the woman who had nursed her as a child. 60They asked a blessing on her, saying, “Our dear sister, may you become the mother to thousands and thousands of descendants, and may they conquer their enemies.” 61Then Rebekah and her servant girls got on the camels. They followed Abraham's servant and left.
62Meanwhile Isaac, who was living in the Negev, had just come back from Beer-lahai-roi. 63He went out into the fields one evening to think things over.#24:63. “Think things over”: often translated “meditate,” the word's meaning is uncertain. However, Isaac must have known that possibly his bride-to-be would soon be arriving, an event of considerable importance in his life. He looked into the distance and saw camels coming.
64Rebekah was also keeping a look out. When she saw Isaac, she got down from her camel. 65She asked the servant, “Who is this walking through the fields to meet us?”
“He's my master, Isaac,”#24:65. Isaac is not specifically identified in the text here, however the servant simply says, “He's my master,” which would normally mean Abraham. he replied. So she put on her veil to cover herself.
66The servant told Isaac everything he'd done. 67Isaac took Rebekah into his mother Sarah's tent, and he married her. He loved her, and she brought him comfort after his grief over his mother's death.