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Genesis 24

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.

Genesis 24

24
A Wife for Isaac
1Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in everything he did. 2He said to his oldest servant, who was in charge of all that he had, “Place your hand between my thighs#24.2: Place … thighs: This was the way in which a vow was made absolutely unchangeable. and make a vow. 3I want you to make a vow in the name of the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not choose a wife for my son from the people here in Canaan. 4You must go back to the country where I was born and get a wife for my son Isaac from among my relatives.”
5But the servant asked, “What if the young woman will not leave home to come with me to this land? Shall I send your son back to the land you came from?”
6Abraham answered, “Make sure that you don't send my son back there! 7The Lord, the God of heaven, brought me from the home of my father and from the land of my relatives, and he solemnly promised me that he would give this land to my descendants. He will send his angel before you, so that you can get a wife there for my son. 8If the young woman is not willing to come with you, you will be free from this promise. But you must not under any circumstances take my son back there.” 9So the servant put his hand between the thighs of Abraham, his master, and made a vow to do what Abraham had asked.
10The servant, who was in charge of Abraham's property, took ten of his master's camels and went to the city where Nahor had lived in northern Mesopotamia. 11When he arrived, he made the camels kneel down at the well outside the city. It was late afternoon, the time when women came out to get water. 12He prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today and keep your promise to my master. 13Here I am at the well where the young women of the city will be coming to get water. 14I will say to one of them, ‘Please, lower your jar and let me have a drink.’ If she says, ‘Drink, and I will also bring water for your camels,’ may she be the one that you have chosen for your servant Isaac. If this happens, I will know that you have kept your promise to my master.”
15Before he had finished praying, Rebecca arrived with a water jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham's brother Nahor and his wife Milcah. 16She was a very beautiful young woman and still a virgin. She went down to the well, filled her jar, and came back. 17The servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a drink of water from your jar.”
18She said, “Drink, sir,” and quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and held it while he drank. 19When he had finished, she said, “I will also bring water for your camels and let them have all they want.” 20She quickly emptied her jar into the animals' drinking trough and ran to the well to get more water, until she had watered all his camels. 21The man kept watching her in silence, to see if the Lord had given him success.
22When she had finished, the man took an expensive gold ring and put it in her nose and put two large gold bracelets on her arms. 23He said, “Please tell me who your father is. Is there room in his house for my men and me to spend the night?”
24“My father is Bethuel son of Nahor and Milcah,” she answered. 25“There is plenty of straw and fodder at our house, and there is a place for you to stay.”
26Then the man knelt down and worshiped the Lord. 27He said, “Praise the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has faithfully kept his promise to my master. The Lord has led me straight to my master's relatives.”
28The young woman ran to her mother's house and told the whole story. 29Now Rebecca had a brother named Laban, and he ran outside to go to the well where Abraham's servant was. 30Laban had seen the nose ring and the bracelets on his sister's arms and had heard her say what the man had told her. He went to Abraham's servant, who was standing by his camels at the well, 31and said, “Come home with me. You are a man whom the Lord has blessed. Why are you standing out here? I have a room ready for you in my house, and there is a place for your camels.”
32So the man went into the house, and Laban unloaded the camels and gave them straw and fodder. Then he brought water for Abraham's servant and his men to wash their feet. 33When food was brought, the man said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.”
Laban said, “Go on and speak.”
34“I am the servant of Abraham,” he began. 35“The Lord has greatly blessed my master and made him a rich man. He has given him flocks of sheep and goats, cattle, silver, gold, male and female slaves, camels, and donkeys. 36Sarah, my master's wife, bore him a son when she was old, and my master has given everything he owns to him. 37My master made me promise with a vow to obey his command. He said, ‘Do not choose a wife for my son from the young women in the land of Canaan. 38Instead, go to my father's people, to my relatives, and choose a wife for him.’ 39And I asked my master, ‘What if she will not come with me?’ 40He answered, ‘The Lord, whom I have always obeyed, will send his angel with you and give you success. You will get for my son a wife from my own people, from my father's family. 41There is only one way for you to be free from your vow: if you go to my relatives and they refuse you, then you will be free.’
42“When I came to the well today, I prayed, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, please give me success in what I am doing. 43Here I am at the well. When a young woman comes out to get water, I will ask her to give me a drink of water from her jar. 44If she agrees and also offers to bring water for my camels, may she be the one that you have chosen as the wife for my master's son.’ 45Before I had finished my silent prayer, Rebecca came with a water jar on her shoulder and went down to the well to get water. I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels. 47I asked her, ‘Who is your father?’ And she answered, ‘My father is Bethuel son of Nahor and Milcah.’ Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms. 48I knelt down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me straight to my master's relative, where I found his daughter for my master's son. 49Now, if you intend to fulfill your responsibility toward my master and treat him fairly, please tell me; if not, say so, and I will decide what to do.”
50Laban and Bethuel answered, “Since this matter comes from the Lord, it is not for us to make a decision. 51Here is Rebecca; take her and go. Let her become the wife of your master's son, as the Lord himself has said.” 52When the servant of Abraham heard this, he bowed down and worshiped the Lord. 53Then he brought out clothing and silver and gold jewelry, and gave them to Rebecca. He also gave expensive gifts to her brother and to her mother.
54Then Abraham's servant and the men with him ate and drank, and spent the night there. When they got up in the morning, he said, “Let me go back to my master.”
55But Rebecca's brother and her mother said, “Let her stay with us a week or ten days, and then she may go.”
56But he said, “Don't make us stay. The Lord has made my journey a success; let me go back to my master.”
57They answered, “Let's call her and find out what she has to say.” 58So they called Rebecca and asked, “Do you want to go with this man?”
“Yes,” she answered.
59So they let Rebecca and her old family servant go with Abraham's servant and his men. 60And they gave Rebecca their blessing in these words:
“May you, sister, become the mother of millions!
May your descendants conquer the cities of their enemies!”
61Then Rebecca and her young women got ready and mounted the camels to go with Abraham's servant, and they all started out.
62Isaac had come into the wilderness of#24.62: Some ancient translations into the wilderness of; Hebrew from coming. “The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me” and was staying in the southern part of Canaan. 63He went out in the early evening to take a walk in the fields and saw camels coming. 64When Rebecca saw Isaac, she got down from her camel 65and asked Abraham's servant, “Who is that man walking toward us in the field?”
“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her scarf and covered her face.
66The servant told Isaac everything he had done. 67Then Isaac brought Rebecca into the tent that his mother Sarah had lived in, and she became his wife. Isaac loved Rebecca, and so he was comforted for the loss of his mother.