Genesis 24: Abraham’s Servant Finds Isaac a Wife Named Rebekah 

06062rHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Abraham sends his servant to his relatives in Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son Isaac. Yahweh provides the servant with a sign by sending Rebekah to give him and his ten camels water to drink. Rebekah is brought from her family to Isaac, who finds comfort in her after the death of his mother Sarah.

II. Photo

Rebekah is the chosen one: “Quickly emptying her jar into the trough, she ran back to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels.” (v. 20)

III. Select Verses

2-4:  And Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell, but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

12-24: And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with my master Abraham: Here I stand by the spring as the daughters of the townsmen come out to draw water; let the maiden to whom I say, ‘Please, lower your jar that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels’ — let her be the one whom You have decreed for Your servant Isaac. Thereby shall I know that You have dealt graciously with my master.”  He had scarcely finished speaking, when Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. The maiden was very beautiful, a virgin whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up.  The servant ran toward her and said, “Please, let me sip a little water from your jar.” “Drink, my lord,” she said, and she quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and let him drink. When she had let him drink his fill, she said, “I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking.” Quickly emptying her jar into the trough, she ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. The man, meanwhile, stood gazing at her, silently wondering whether the LORD had made his errand successful or not. When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half-shekel, and two gold bands for her arms, ten shekels in weight. “Pray tell me,” he said, “whose daughter are you? Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She replied, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.”

58-60: They called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will.” So they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “O sister! May you grow Into thousands of myriads; May your offspring seize The gates of their foes.”

67: Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.

IV. Outline

1. Abraham’s old age

2-9. Abraham’s servant swears to get a bride for Isaac from Abraham’s homeland instead of Canaan, assuming she agrees

10-11. The servant travels to Nahor in Mesopotamia with ten camels [and men – v. 32], and stops at a well

12-14. The servant asks Yahweh for a sign: a girl who will not only give him water, but his camels too

15-20. Rebekah, the beautiful virgin daughter of Abraham’s nephew, acts out the servant’s sign

22-25. The servant gives Rebekah golden jewelry; Rebekah reveals her lineage; The servant is granted lodging for the night

26-27. The servant blesses Yahweh for guiding him to the house of Nahor, Abraham’s brother

28. Rebekah tells her mother’s household of the events

29-32. Rebekah’s brother Laban brings the servant and his men into the home, washes their feet, and feeds the camels

33. The servant is offered food, but demands to speak

37-49. The servant recounts his story in great detail and asks for Rebekah

50-51. Laban and Bethuel agree

52-53. The servant bows before Yahweh and gives presents to Rebekah, Laban, and his mother

54-59. Despite a debate about time, the servant is permitted to leave immediately with Rebekah, who agrees to the plan

60. Rebekah’s family blesses her

61. Rebekah and her servant girls leave with the servant

62-65. Rebekah falls off her camel when she first sees Isaac

66-67. Isaac takes Rebekah into his mother’s tent and finds comfort after his mother’s death

 

V. Comment

A few notes:

  • Verse 7 appears to be yet another retelling of the covenant between Abraham and Yahweh, this time from Abraham’s perspective.
  • Nahor is both the name of the place where the story unfolds and the name of the brother of Abraham (vv. 10, 15).
  • According to Genesis 22:21-23 and verses 15, 24, and 47 of our chapter, Nahor is the brother of Abraham, Bethuel is Nahor and Milcah’s son, and Rebekah is Bethuel’s daughter. Laban is Rebekah’s brother and Bethuel’s son.
  • Rebekah runs to the “house of her mother,” a phrase that appears only four times in the Bible (Gen 24:28; Ruth 1:8; Song 3:4; 8:2), compared to the one hundred and forty occurrences of the “house of the father.” The mother also plays a role in verse 53 and 55.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Photo copied from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/matpc/item/mpc2004006140/PP/resource/

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