This scripture describes a truly dedicated and loving servant. Abraham was now getting old. He asks his eldest servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. Abraham wanted Eliezer to find a wife from Abraham's home country. Eliezer goes to the city of Nahor to a well outside the city. Eliezer meets Rebekah at the well. He explains the situation of searching for a husband. It turns out that Rebekah was Abraham's second cousin. Rebekah was released by Laban, Rebekah's brother, and Bethuel, her father (the son of Milcah, Nahor's wife), to go with Eliezer to be Isaac's wife (Gen. 24:51).
Abraham was now getting old. He asks his eldest servant, probably Eliezer (his heir before Abraham had any children - Gen. 15:2), to go to locate a wife for Isaac. This was one of the traditions of the people in those days. The father's responsibilities for a son was to teach him the religion of the times, to assure that his sone had a skill to do for his life, and to locate a good wife for his son. Abraham asked Eliezer to swear with the "hand under thigh" method that he would not take a Canaanite wife for Abraham's son Isaac. The "hand under thigh" was a common method of making a promise. There is a great deal of misunderstanding of this seal of a promise. We may never know exactly the meaning. However, many believe it appears to be a euphemism (a less offensive expression substituted for one that is considered offensive) for the creative organ of the body. This probably is referring to the future yet unborn children either keeping the covenant sign, circumcision, or taking actions against any violation of the covenant. Abraham wanted Eliezer to find a wife from Abraham's home country. If the wife would not come, Eliezer was not held to the responsibility of obtaining the wife from the home country. However, Eliezer was not to allow Isaac to return to the home country. Adam Clarke says the meaning of the oath seems to be this:
The servant takes ten camels and other supplies and some "good things". A dowry was normally given for a wife. Eliezer goes to city of Nahor to a water well outside the city. The scripture describes a truly dedicated and loving servant. He prays for the fulfillment of the promise of the propagation of the Abraham's seed that was made to Abraham by God. Eliezer prays that the sign to him that the woman is the correct woman would be a woman who offers him water and offers to water his camels. Eliezer meets Rebekah at the well. She was Abraham's second cousin. Laban is Rebekah's brother. Bethuel was her father (son of Micah, Nahor;s wife) (genealogy of Terah). Rebekah was very beautiful and a virgin. She came to the well to draw water. Eliezer asks for a drink of water. She very cordially gives him water and told him that she would water his camels also. This is for what the servant waiting. A woman was sent to him from God. He also paid for the water with a gold ring weighing a 1/2 shekel and two bracelets weighing 10 shekels. A shekel is about 0.4 oz. The KJV states the ring was an earring. Most likely it is not for the ears for two reasons: 1) it only mentions one ring, not two, and 2) the most worn of the times by a woman of this culture was a nose jewel or a nose ring.
The servant asks Rebekah to whom she belongs. She describes her family (see the above genealogy of Terah). Eliezer then asks if there are enough rooms and food for the him and food and stables for the animals. Rebekah says she has enough for all. The servant then states a blessing on the God of his master Abraham. God has led him to the house of Abraham's brothers. He bows in respect for Rebekah who will now put him and the camels up; but, also to prostrate himself to the Lord.
Now scripture says that Rebekah "runs" to her family. She apparently was very happy about this stranger coming to stay at her house. Rebekah tells her family, including Laban her brother and Bethuel her father, of this man at the spring and she shows the gold ring and two bracelets. Laban then ran also to the spring to meet this man, the servant of Abraham. The scriptures saying that there was running seems to indicate the possibility that they knew who was being represented by the servant. Perhaps they even suspected that part of the family was there.
When this is read, one wonders whether they knew what was going to come about. Although scripture does not say so, it appears they had a notion that the hand of Rebekah was going to be requested. Even though these people of the time were more apt to help a stranger, they seem to be over enthusiastic. Consider also that he had ten camels with him. That certainly did not infer a pauper or poor man.
Laban excitedly asks the servant to come into the house. The camels will be cared for by Laban s servants. Servants will also wash the hands and feet of the servant's caravan. Abraham's servant said he will eat with them but only after he completes the work for which he was there. Laban then listens.
Laban is fully listening to the details. He wants to know what the servant wants them to do. The servant tells of his master being blessed with many things, including riches. God, Abraham's master has given Abraham camels , donkeys, servants, maids, silver, gold, and whatever needed in life. Sarah, Abraham's sife (servant's master's wife), had a child named Isaac. This was done even at Abraham's and Sarah's old ate. Now Isaac will have all of what Abraham has by inheritance. It appears that Isaac now has his father's inheritance only for control because Abraham has not died yet. The servant continues his explanation of why he is there at Bethuel's house. Abraham desires a wife for his son Isaac. However, she must not be a Canaanite (as the Living Bible ways "one of the local girls". These people are very sinful. The servant was given the responsibility to find the wife. The servant swore by the "hand under thigh" method to assure there would not be a Canaanite woman chosen.
The servant was to one of Abraham's relative's house (most likely his brother's house) and get a wife for Isaac. As we study, we must keep in mind that in those days the father's responsibilities to the son were 3-fold: teach the son the right way to live for God; to assure the son had a trade with which to make a living; and help to find a wife for his son. The servant even covers the possibility that the woman would not go back with the servant to Abraham and Isaac. Abraham told the servant that God, through an angel, would assure success. The servant wouldbe taking a wife home. If the relatives did not release the relative's women, the servant is freed of the oath.
So the servant prayed to God for success. In some previous scripture (Gen.24:12-14) the servant asks for a sign from God to recognize the right woman. The servant restated the sign details of his request. The sign was fulfilled when Rebekah went to the well where the servant was resting and watering the camels. She immediately gives the servant water and offers to water the camels. THIS WAS THE SIGN FULFILLED.
The servant asks the woman who she was. Lo and behold (God really works, doesn''t He?), she was the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son through Milcah, the daughter of Haran. (See the genealogy again). That was when the servant gave the ring and bracelets to Rebekah (Gen. 24:22). The servant bowed to God and gave thanks that the right woman (with respect to heritage) was found. However, at that time, he had not received the family's decision.
The big question was given to Laban, the brother, and Bethuel, the father. Will they release Rebekah to the servant's master? Laban and Bethuel said that the decision was God's. Therefore, they have not real way in the matter.
They say to take Rebekah and go to let her become Isaac's sire. The servant shows his respect and thanks by bowing down to God. The servant pays a dowry of precious items to Laban and her mother. In addition, he gives articles of silver and gold plus clothes to Rebekah.The servant and his men stayed aver night and prepared to leave in the morning. Their leaving was delayed because Laban and Rebekah's mother requested that Rebekah spend 10 more days with the family. This would be something like a going away from home time. The servant said he did not want to delay any further. Since the Lord had made all of this possible, he did not want to delay any longer taking Rebekah to the master. The family decided to leave the decision up to Rebekah. She said she would go with the servant. So, the family releases Rebekah to go.
The family said their farewells and blessed Rebekah. The blessing included the ability to have children and may "the gate" of those who hate (review gate).
Rebekah and her maids mount the camels and they all depart heading toward Abraham's home. Isaac was living in the area of Negev (review map). He goes to Beer-lahai-roi (Gen. 16:14). Isaac was meditating in the fields when he was the camels coming. Rebekah sees Isaac and gets off her camel to meet him. She asks the servant who the man was that was coming to greet them. He says it is Isaac, his master. At this point she covered her fice with her veil. The servant tells Isaac everything that happened on his journey to find him a wife as his father requested.
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