Genesis 24 (NRSV)
The Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
We have just had a proposal in our family and we are delighted! Son Devlin asked Courtney Hulbert, and she said yes! Dev planned the whole day — a walk together through the campus, the ask on bended knee in the Princeton University chapel, lunch at a nice restaurant, then a surprise party with many of their closest friends that evening. Such memories will be fun for them to remember over the coming years! And what wonderful memories for Rebekah to treasure as she thinks of the work that went into her proposal . . .
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh 3and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
According to ancient custom, to “put your hand under my thigh” describes a very serious oath. Abraham is extremely concerned that Isaac not be married to a Canaanite bride.
5The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land 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 and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not 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 departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. 11He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water.
12And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.
Devotional Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
Gen. 24:12 (KJV) — O Lord God . . . I pray Thee, send me good speed this day.
Matt. 6:7-8 (KJV) — But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.
Our Lord told His disciples that there was no need for many words when they prayed. A brief prayer goes straight to the heart of God. Abraham’s servant teaches us a prayer we can pray at all times, however pressed for time we may be. It covers everything. O Lord God, send me good speed this day. Give me success today, in my prayer life, in my work, in what I think and say and do, in what I am.
It is a telegram prayer. Let us use it at moments of sudden need. We know it will be answered, for “our Father knows” our needs long before we ask Him.
13I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14Let the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ —let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”
15Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up.
17Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.”
18“Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink.
19When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. 21The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.
She would be a remarkable woman to volunteer for this task! Considering that a camel may drink up to 20 gallons, watering ten camels meant at least an hour of hard work.
22When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23and said, “Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
24She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25She added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder and a place to spend the night.”
26The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the way to the house of my master’s kin.”
Eliezer and Rebekah at the Well, by Nicolas Poussin, 1648 (The Louvre, Paris). Click HERE. Notice the looks on some of the other girls’ faces!
28Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran out to the man, to the spring. 30As soon as he had seen the nose-ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man; and there he was, standing by the camels at the spring. 31He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside when I have prepared the house and a place for the camels?”
32So the man came into the house; and Laban unloaded the camels, and gave him straw and fodder for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33Then food was set before him to eat; but he said, “I will not eat until I have told my errand.” He said, “Speak on.”
34So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys. 36And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has. 37My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38but you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.’
39I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’ 40But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you and make your way successful. You shall get a wife for my son from my kindred, from my father’s house. 41Then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my kindred; even if they will not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’
42“I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going! 43I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also” —let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’
The servant stresses the role of God in his mission to find a wife for Abraham’s son. It is important for Rebekah and her family to understand that there is more at stake here than just finding a wife in Abraham’s family in order to strengthen the family line. They must also know that God’s larger purposes are at work here.
–Linda B. Hinton
45“Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’
46She 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.’
“So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms. 48Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left.”
50Then Laban and Bethuel answered, “The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you anything bad or good. 51Look, Rebekah 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 before the Lord. 53And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments.
54Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they rose in the morning, he said, “Send me back to my master.”
55Her brother and her mother said, “Let the girl remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.”
56But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go that I may go to my master.”
57They said, “We will call the girl, and ask her.” 58And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.”
59So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“May you, our sister,
become thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
of the gates of their foes.”
61Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
62Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. 63Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. 64And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, 65and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?”
The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself.
66And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Proverbs 18:22 (NIV)
He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD.
“The Wedding Song (There Is Love)” sung by Noel Paul Stookey, the “Paul” of “Peter, Paul & Mary,” the mid-century folk-singing group. HERE it is — a real golden-oldie, but my daughter Maureen chose it to be sung at her wedding twelve years ago!
The Meeting of Rebekah and Isaac, by G. B. Castiglione, c. 1640. Click HERE. But the story doesn’t say anything about horses!
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.