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Berĕshith (Genesis) 24

24
1And Aḇraham was old, advanced in years. And יהוה had blessed Aḇraham in every way.
2And Aḇraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh,
3so that I make you swear by יהוה, the Elohim of the heavens and the Elohim of the earth, that you do not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Kena‛anites, among whom I dwell,
4but to go to my land and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Yitsḥaq.”
5And the servant said to him, “What if the woman refuses to follow me to this land? Do I then take your son back to the land from which you came?”
6And Aḇraham said to him, “Beware lest you take my son back there!
7“יהוה, Elohim of the heavens, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my relatives, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, ‘To your seed I give this land,’ He sends His messenger before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
8“And if the woman refuses to follow you, then you shall be released from this oath; only, do not take my son back there.”
9Then the servant put his hand under the thigh of Aḇraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
10And the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, for all his master’s good gifts were in his hand. And he arose and went to Aram Naharayim, to the city of Naḥor.
11And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a fountain of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.
12And he said, “יהוה, Elohim of my master Aḇraham, please cause her to meet before me this day, and show loving-commitment to my master Aḇraham.
13“See, I am standing here by the fountain of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.
14“Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar to let me drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and let me water your camels too,’ let her be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Yitsḥaq. And let me know by this that You have shown loving-commitment to my master.”
15And it came to be, before he had ended speaking, that see, Riḇqah, who was born to Bethu’ĕl, son of Milkah, the wife of Naḥor, Aḇraham’s brother, came out with her jar on her shoulder.
16And the young woman was very good-looking, a maiden, no man having known her. And she went down to the fountain, filled her jar, and came up.
17And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.”
18And she said, “Drink, my master.” And she hurried and let her jar down to her hand, and gave him a drink.
19And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “Let me draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.”
20And she hurried and emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the fountain to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
21And watching her, the man remained silent in order to know whether יהוה had prospered his way or not.
22And it came to be, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a sheqel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten sheqels of gold,
23and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please inform me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
24And she said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethu’ĕl, Milkah’s son, whom she bore to Naḥor.”
25And she said to him, “We have both straw and fodder enough, and room to spend the night.”
26And the man bowed down his head and worshipped יהוה.
27And he said, “Blessed be יהוה Elohim of my master Aḇraham, who has not forsaken His loving-commitment and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, יהוה led me to the house of my master’s brothers.”
28Then the young woman ran and informed those of her mother’s house these matters.
29And Riḇqah had a brother whose name was Laḇan, and Laḇan ran out to the man, to the fountain.
30And it came to be, when he saw the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of his sister Riḇqah, saying, “Thus the man spoke to me,” that he went to the man and saw him standing by the camels at the fountain.
31And he said, “Come in, O blessed of יהוה! Why do you stand outside? I myself have prepared the house, and a place for the camels.”
32So the man came into the house, while he unloaded the camels and provided straw and fodder for the camels and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him,
33and set food before him to eat. But he said, “Let me not eat until I have spoken my word.” And he said, “Speak on.”
34And he said, “I am Aḇraham’s servant.
35“And יהוה has blessed my master exceedingly, and he has become great. And He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.
36“And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old. And he has given to him all that he has.
37“And my master made me swear, saying, ‘Do not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Kena‛anites, in whose land I dwell,
38but go to my father’s house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.’
39And I said to my master, ‘What if the woman does not follow me?’ ”
40“But he said to me, ‘יהוה, before whom I walk, sends His messenger with you and shall prosper your way. And you shall take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father’s house.
41Then, when you go to my relatives, you are to be released from this oath. And if they do not give her to you, then you are released from my oath.’
42And this day I came to the fountain and said, ‘יהוה, Elohim of my master Aḇraham, please, if You are prospering the way in which I am going,”
43see, I am standing by the fountain of water, and when the young woman#See Explanatory Notes "Maiden". comes out to draw water, and I say to her, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,”
44and she says to me, “Drink, and let me draw for your camels too,” let her be the woman whom יהוה has appointed for my master’s son.’
45“I had not yet ended speaking in my heart, then see, Riḇqah was coming out with her jar on her shoulder. And she went down to the fountain and drew water. And I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’
46“And she hurried and let her jar down from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and let me water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels too.
47“And I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethu’ĕl, Naḥor’s son, whom Milkah bore to him.’ Then I put the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists.
48And I bowed my head and worshipped יהוה, and blessed יהוה, Elohim of my master Aḇraham, who had led me in the true way to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.”
49And now, if you are going to show loving-commitment and truth to my master, let me know, and if not, let me know, so that I turn to the right or to the left.
50And Laḇan answered – Bethu’ĕl too – and said, “The matter comes from יהוה, we are not able to speak to you either evil or good.
51See, Riḇqah is before you. Take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as יהוה has spoken.
52And it came to be, when Aḇraham’s servant heard their words, that he bowed himself towards the earth before יהוה.
53And the servant brought out ornaments of silver, and ornaments of gold, and garments, and gave them to Riḇqah. He also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother.
54And he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning he said, “Let me go to my master.”
55But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten, then you go.”
56And he said to them, “Do not delay me, since יהוה has prospered my way. Let me go so that I go to my master.”
57And they said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.”
58So they called Riḇqah and said to her, “Are you going with this man?” And she said, “I shall go.”
59So they let go Riḇqah their sister and her nurse, and Aḇraham’s servant and his men.
60And they blessed Riḇqah and said to her, “Let our sister become the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let your seed possess the gates of those who hate them.”
61And Riḇqah and her young women arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Riḇqah and left.
62And Yitsḥaq came from the way of Be’ĕr Laḥai Ro’i, for he dwelt in the South.
63And Yitsḥaq went out to meditate in the field in the evening. And he lifted his eyes and looked and saw the camels coming.
64And Riḇqah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Yitsḥaq she dismounted from her camel,
65and she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?” And the servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself.
66And the servant told Yitsḥaq all the matters he had done.
67And Yitsḥaq brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. And he took Riḇqah and she became his wife, and he loved her. Thus Yitsḥaq was comforted after his mother’s death.
24
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.