Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rebekah's Marriage to Isaac

A Wife for Isaac

Genesis 24

1Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.
2Abraham said to his oldest servant, who was in charge of everything he owned,
“Put your hand under my leg. 3Make a promise to me before the LORD, the
God of heaven and earth. Don’t get a wife for my son from the Canaanite girls
who live around here. 4Instead, go back to my country, to the land of my
relatives, and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

5The servant said to him, “What if this woman does not want to return with
me to this land? Then, should I take your son with me back to your homeland?”

6Abraham said to him, “No! Don’t take my son back there. 7The LORD, the
God of heaven, brought me from the home of my father and the land of my
relatives. And he promised me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ The
LORD will send his angel before you to help you get a wife for my son there. 8If
the girl won’t come back with you, you will be free from this promise. But you
must not take my son back there.” 9So the servant put his hand under his master’s
leg and made a promise to Abraham about this.

10The servant took ten of Abraham’s camels and left, carrying with him many
different kinds of beautiful gifts. He went to Northwest Mesopotamia to Nahor’s
city. 11In the evening, when the women come out to get water, he made the
camels kneel down at the well outside the city.

12The servant said, “LORD, God of my master Abraham, allow me to find a
wife for his son today. Please show this kindness to my master Abraham. 13Here I
am, standing by the spring, and the girls from the city are coming out to get
water. 14I will say to one of them, ‘Please put your jar down so I can drink.’ Then
let her say, ‘Drink, and I will also give water to your camels.’ If that happens, I
will know she is the right one for your servant Isaac and that you have shown
kindness to my master.”

15Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel,
came out of the city. (Bethuel was the son of Milcah and Nahor, Abraham’s
brother.) Rebekah was carrying her water jar on her shoulder. 16She was very
pretty, a virgin; she had never had sexual relations with a man. She went down to
the spring and filled her jar, then came back up. 17The servant ran to her and said,
“Please give me a little water from your jar.”

18Rebekah said, “Drink, sir.” She quickly lowered the jar from her shoulder
and gave him a drink. 19After he finished drinking, Rebekah said, “I will also
pour some water for your camels.” 20So she quickly poured all the water from her
jar into the drinking trough for the camels. Then she kept running to the well
until she had given all the camels enough to drink.

21The servant quietly watched her. He wanted to be sure the LORD had made
his trip successful. 22After the camels had finished drinking, he gave Rebekah a
gold ring weighing one-fifth of an ounce and two gold arm bracelets weighing
about four ounces each. 23He asked, “Who is your father? Is there a place in his
house for me and my men to spend the night?”

24Rebekah answered, “My father is Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor.”
25Then she said, “And, yes, we have straw for your camels and a place for you to
spend the night.”

26The servant bowed and worshiped the LORD 27and said, “Blessed is the
LORD, the God of my master Abraham. The LORD has been kind and truthful to
him and has led me to my master’s relatives.”

28Then Rebekah ran and told her mother’s family about all these things. 29She
had a brother named Laban, who ran out to Abraham’s servant, who was still at
the spring. 30Laban had heard what she had said and had seen the ring and the
bracelets on his sister’s arms. So he ran out to the well, and there was the man
standing by the camels at the spring. 31Laban said, “Sir, you are welcome to come
in; you don’t have to stand outside. I have prepared the house for you and also a
place for your camels.”

32So Abraham’s servant went into the house. After Laban unloaded the
camels and gave them straw and food, he gave water to Abraham’s servant so he
and the men with him could wash their feet. 33Then Laban gave the servant food,
but the servant said, “I will not eat until I have told you why I came.”

So Laban said, “Then tell us.”

34He said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35The LORD has greatly blessed my
master in everything, and he has become a rich man. The LORD has given him
many flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants,
camels, and horses. 36Sarah, my master’s wife, gave birth to a son when she was
old, and my master has given everything he owns to that son. 37My master had
me make a promise to him and said, ‘Don’t get a wife for my son from the
Canaanite girls who live around here. 38Instead, you must go to my father’s
people and to my family. There you must get a wife for my son.’ 39I said to my
master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ 40But he said, ‘I serve
the LORD, who will send his angel with you and will help you. You will get a
wife for my son from my family and my father’s people. 41Then you will be free
from the promise. But if they will not give you a wife for my son, you will be
free from this promise.’

42“Today I came to this spring. I said, ‘LORD, God of my master Abraham,
please make my trip successful. 43I am standing by this spring. I will wait for a
young woman to come out to get water, and I will say, “Please give me water
from your jar to drink.” 44Then let her say, “Drink this water, and I will also get
water for your camels.” By this I will know the LORD has chosen her for my
master’s son.’

45“Before I finished my silent prayer, Rebekah came out of the city with her
water jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and got water. I said to
her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46She quickly lowered the jar from her shoulder
and said, ‘Drink this. I will also get water for your camels.’ So I drank, and she
gave water to my camels too. 47When I asked her, ‘Who is your father?’ she
answered, ‘My father is Bethuel son of Milcah and Nahor.’ Then I put the ring in
her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48and I bowed my head and thanked the
LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, because he led me
on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son.
49Now, tell me, will you be kind and truthful to my master? And if not, tell me so.
Then I will know what I should do.”

50Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is clearly from the LORD, and we
cannot change what must happen. 51Rebekah is yours. Take her and go. Let her
marry your master’s son as the LORD has commanded.”

52When Abraham’s servant heard these words, he bowed facedown on the
ground before the LORD. 53Then he gave Rebekah gold and silver jewelry and
clothes. He also gave expensive gifts to her brother and mother. 54The servant
and the men with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up
the next morning, the servant said, “Now let me go back to my master.”

55Rebekah’s mother and her brother said, “Let Rebekah stay with us at least
ten days. After that she may go.”

56But the servant said to them, “Do not make me wait, because the LORD has
made my trip successful. Now let me go back to my master.”

57Rebekah’s brother and mother said, “We will call Rebekah and ask her
what she wants to do.” 58They called her and asked her, “Do you want to go with
this man now?”

She said, “Yes, I do.”

59So they allowed Rebekah and her nurse to go with Abraham’s servant and
his men. 60They blessed Rebekah and said,

“Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands of people,

and may your descendants capture the cities of their enemies.”

61Then Rebekah and her servant girls got on the camels and followed the
servant and his men. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62At this time Isaac had left Beer Lahai Roi and was living in southern
Canaan. 63One evening when he went out to the field to think, he looked up and
saw camels coming. 64Rebekah also looked and saw Isaac. Then she jumped
down from the camel 65and asked the servant, “Who is that man walking in the
field to meet us?”

The servant answered, “That is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face
with her veil.

66The servant told Isaac everything that had happened. 67Then Isaac brought
Rebekah into the tent of Sarah, his mother, and she became his wife. Isaac loved
her very much, and so he was comforted after his mother’s death.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

Rebekah's life story. Rebekah was a granddaughter of Abraham's brother, Nahor. Nahor had accompanied Abraham and their father Terah when the family left the fabled city of Ur and settled in Haran. Haran was located in northern Mesopotamia, along a well-traveled trade route. After the death of his father, Abraham had left his brother in Haran and continued southward to Canaan where God had directed him. Rebekah was of marriageable age, probably in her early teens, when one of Abraham's servants came to Haran in search of a bride for Abraham's son, Isaac. To tell Rebekah's life story in brief is simply to note that Rebekah accompanied the servant back to Canaan, married Isaac, and later bore him two sons who both became famous. But there is much more to Rebekah's life story than this.

Rebekah's courtship (Gen. 24). After Sarah's death Abraham determined to find a bride for their son, Isaac. In ancient times the finding of a suitable bride was the responsibility of the parents, even as it was the responsibility of a young woman's parents to negotiate for a fitting husband. Abraham had lived for decades as an alien among the Canaanites, who in his day controlled what we know as Palestine. Abraham was unwilling to link his family with any of them. So Abraham sent a servant back to Haran to find a bride for Isaac from within his own family.

Rebekah is identified as God's choice (Gen. 24: 11-27). When the servant finally reached Haran, a journey of some 400 miles, he prayed to the God of Abraham:

"Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, 'Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink' - let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master" (Gen. 24:14).

Before the servant finished his prayer, Rebekah approaches the well to draw water.

This is the first recorded prayer for divine guidance in selecting a wife. It is also the first expression of the belief still held by many that there is one person whom God Himself has chosen to be an individual's mate. Later the rabbis asked, What has God been doing since he completed Creation in six days? Their answer? He has been selecting this husband for that woman, and that wife for this man!

Whatever we might draw from the incident, we do know that Rebekah was unusual for more than her beauty. Camels which had completed a journey might drink twenty or thirty gallons of water. The servant had proposed a truly difficult test for any future bride to pass. Rebekah's cheerful "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have

finished drinking" (Gen. 24:19) convinced the servant that God had answered his


When the servant learned that Rebekah was indeed the granddaughter of Abraham's brother. he "bowed down his head and worshiped" (Gen. 24:24).

The negotiations (Gen. 24:28-53). As Rebekah's father was dead, the servant negotiated with her brothers. When the servant told :he family the whole story, Rebekah's brothers Laban and Bethuel were convinced. God's hand in this marriage was unmistakably clear.

When the family had agreed, the servant gave Rebekah and her family the gifts Abraham had supplied.

Rebekah's Journey (Gen. 24:54-67). The servant was anxious to start home, but the family urged delay. Rebekah herself was ready to .eave. When asked if she was willing to accompany the servant and wed Isaac, she quickly answered, "I will go."

Rebekah's faith and courage are impressive, for this young girl must have known that she would never again see her family or the home in which she had grown up. At the same time we can perhaps imagine the appeal of such a journey to a young girl, and imagine how she pressed the servant for tales of Isaac as they took the month-long journey to Canaan.

At journey's end Rebekah found something for which all men and women yearn. The Bible says, "She became his wife, and he loved her."

(From Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards).

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