1 “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed
Abraham in all things.” And Abraham was old and well stricken in age: - literally,
gone into days (compare ch. 18:11), being now about 140 (see ch. 25:20) - and the
Lord – Jehovah; not because the chapter is the exclusive composition of the Jehovist
(Tuch, Bleek, Kalisch), but because the writer aims at showing how the God of
redemption provided a bride for the heir of the promise (Hengstenberg) - had blessed
Abraham in all things.
2 “And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over
all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make
thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that
thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites,
among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred,
and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” And Abraham said auto his eldest servant of
his house, that ruled over all that he had, - literally, to his servant, the old man,
ancient or elder, of his house, the ruler over all which (sc. belonged) to him. The term
זָקֵן (an old man) is in most languages employed as a title of honor, - compare sheikh,
senatus, γέρων – geron - old, presbyter, signor, seigneur, senor, sir (Gesenius, p. 252),
- and is probably to be so understood here. Eliezer of Damascus, upwards of half a
century previous regarded as heir presumptive to Abraham's house (ch. 15:2), is
commonly considered the official meant, though the point is of no importance –
Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: and I will make thee swear. This
ancient form of adjuration, which is mentioned again only in ch. 47:29, and to
which nothing analogous can elsewhere be discovered, - the practice alleged to
exist among the modern Egyptian Bedouins of placing the hand upon the membrum
virile in solemn forms of asseveration not forming an exact parallel, was probably
originated by the patriarch. The thigh, as the source of posterity (compare ch. 35:11;
46:26; Exodus 1:5), has been regarded as pointing to Abraham's future descendants
(Keil, Kalisch, Lange), and in particular to Christ, the promised seed (Theodoret,
Jerome, Augustine, Luther, Ainsworth, Bush, Wordsworth), and the oath to be
equivalent to a swearing by him that was to come. By others the thigh has been
viewed as euphemistically put for the generative organ, upon which the sign of
circumcision was placed, and the oath as an adjuration by the sign of the covenant
(Jonathan, Jarchi, Tuch). A third interpretation considers the thigh as symbolizing
lordship or authority, and the placing of the hand under it as tantamount to an oath
of fealty and allegiance to a superior (Aben Ezra, Rosenmüller, Calvin, Murphy).
Other explanations are modifications of the above. By the Lord (Jehovah; since
the marriage to which this solemn adjuration was preliminary was not an ordinary
alliance, such as might have taken place under the providence of Elohim, but the
wedding of the heir of the promise), the God of heaven, and the God of the earth
(a clause defining Jehovah as the supreme Lord of the universe, and therefore as
the sole Arbiter of human destiny), that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son –
not investing him with authority to provide a wife for Isaac in the event of death
carrying him (Abraham) off before his son's marriage, but simply explaining the
negative side of the commission with which he was about to be entrusted. If it
evinced Isaac's gentle disposition and submissive piety, that though forty years
of age he neither thought of marriage, but mourned in devout contemplation
for his mother (Lange), nor offered resistance to his father s proposal, but
suffered himself to be governed by a servant (Calvin), it was also quite in
accordance with ancient practice that parents should dispose of their children in
marriage (compare ch. 28:2) - of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom
I dwell. Being prompted to this partly by that jealousy with which all pastoral tribes
of Shemitie origin have been accustomed to guard the purity of their race by
intermarriage (Dykes; cf. Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 591), and partly no doubt
by his perception of the growing licentiousness of the Canaanites, as well as his
knowledge of their predicted doom, though chiefly, it is probable, by a desire to
preserve the purity of the promised seed. Intermarriage with the Canaanites was
afterwards forbidden by the Mosaic legislation (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3).
But (literally, for, i.e. the former thing must not be done because this must be done)
go unto my country (not
Though enforced by religious considerations, this injunction to bring none but a
relative for Isaac's bride "was in no sense a departure from established usages
and social laws in regard to marriage" ('Land and Book,' p. 591).
5 “And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing
to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from
whence thou camest?” And the servant said unto him (not having the same faith
as his master), Peradventure (with perhaps a secret conviction that he ought to say,
"Of a surety") the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land. Prima
facie it was a natural and reasonable hypothesis that the bride elect should demur
to undertake a long and arduous journey to marry a husband she had never seen;
accordingly, the ancient messenger desires to understand whether he might not be
at liberty to act upon the other alternative. Must I needs bring thy son again unto
the land from whence thou camest? In reply to which the patriarch solemnly
interdicts him from attempting to seduce his son, under any pretext whatever,
to leave the land of promise.
6 “And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither
again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and
from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me,
saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee,
and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8 And if the woman will
not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only
bring not my son thither again.” And Abraham said, Beware thou - literally,
beware for thyself, the pleonastic pronoun being added by way of emphasis
(compare ch. 12:1; 21:16; 22:5) - that thou bring not my son thither again.
Literally, lest thou cause my son to, return thither; Abraham speaking of Isaac s
unborn, as having come out with him
(Wordsworth), or because he viewed himself and his descendants as a whole, as
in ch.15:16 (Rosenmüller). The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father's
house, and from the house of my kindred, - see ch. 12:1. This was the first
consideration that prevented the return of either himself or his son. Having emigrated
were they at liberty to return - and who spake unto me, - i.e. honored me with
Divine communications - and (in particular) that sware unto me, - see ch. 15:17-18;
the covenant transaction therein recorded having all the force of an oath (compare
ch. 22:16) - saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land. Here was a second
consideration that negated the idea of Isaac's return, - he was the God-appointed
heir of the soil, - and from this, in conjunction with the former, he argued that the
Divine promise was certain of fulfillment, and that accordingly the mission for a
bride would be successful. He shall send his angel before thee, - i.e. to lead and
protect, as was afterwards promised
Church (Hebrews 1:14) - and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence
(meaning, thy mission shall be successful). And if the woman will not be willing
to follow thee, then shalt thou be clear of this my oath (i.e. at liberty to hold
thyself as no longer under obligation in the matter; thy responsibility will at that
point cease and determine): only bring not my son thither again - or, observing
the order of the Hebrew words, only my son bring not again to that place; with
almost feverish entreaty harping on the solemn refrain that on no account must
Isaac leave the promised land, since in that would be the culmination of unbelief
No Turning Back (v. 6)
“And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son
thither again.” Abraham’s care to prevent the leaven of idolatry entering his
family (compare Exodus 34:16; I Corinthians 15:33; James 1:27).
Worldly wisdom would have led him to seek a wife for his son among the
solemnly charged his steward, in sending him on a marriage embassy, not
to do this (compare I Kings 11:3; II Corinthians 6:14). A wife was to be
sought from his brother’s family. Out of the earnestness of this godly desire
came the trial of his faith. An obvious difficulty; what if the damsel should
not be willing to follow a stranger? There had been little interaction
between the families. The news in ch. 22:20 was plainly the first
for many years. Must Isaac go in person to take a wife from her father’s
house? Much might be urged in favor of this. If the presence of Isaac were
importance, might he not return for a little, though
appointed home? Was it not hindering the very thing Abraham desired, to
refuse to do so? Was it not unreasonable to look for a blessing and yet to
neglect obvious means for obtaining it? Not for a moment would Abraham
listen to the suggestion. At God’s call he had left
send his son back would be contrary to the principle of his whole life. It
would be to put expediency above faith, to distrust God’s promise, to think
His will changeable (compare I Kings 13:19). Contrast the faithlessness of the
Israelites in their wilderness journeys. Abraham would not allow even a
temporary return. They “in
their hearts turned back again into
7:39-43; compare Luke 9:62).
BACK FOR A LITTLE. With a laudable aim, some step which seems
likely to lead to it is not quite what in itself we know to be right. To gain
the means of doing good, some little departure from truth may seem almost
necessary. In the eagerness of some plan of usefulness the time for prayer
can hardly be found, or the ordinary daily duties of life seem to interrupt
the greater and higher work; or, to gain an influence over the playful and
worldly, it may seem the course of wisdom to go, a little way at least, with
them. And is not a Christian, under the law of liberty, freed from strict
observance of the letter? Does not that savor of the spirit of bondage? Nay,
“to obey is better than sacrifice.” (I Samuel 15:22) There is always danger
when men seek to be wiser than God (Proverbs 14:12). We cannot foresee
the difficulties of returning.
trust God to order all — not only the ends towards which He would have
us strive, but the means to be used? We are to live by every word of God
(Matthew 4:4), not by some special saying only. Promise and precept,
instruction and direction, are alike His words, by which every step should
be guided. It is want of faith which leads to departure from obedience; want
of full trust in God which leads to ways of fancied wisdom. We have to do
with efforts, not with results; these are in God’s hand. Where obedience is
not in question we rightly use our judgment; reason was given us to be our
guide, but not to take the guidance out of God’s hands.
9 “And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and
sware to him concerning that matter.” And the servant (understanding the nature
of his mission, and feeling satisfied on the points that impinged upon his conscience)
put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning
that matter - to be true to his master and his mission, and to the hope and promise
of the covenant.
The power of the oath was derived from the character of the
Divine Being — the Lord God of heaven and of earth:
Ø in whose presence it was taken,
Ø to whose witness it appealed, and
Ø whose wrath it invoked in case of failure
to perform what was vowed.
The tenor of the oath.
Ø Negative — not to marry Isaac to a daughter of the Canaanites, an
already doomed race; and
Ø positive — to seek a wife for Sarah’s son among his kinsmen in
Padanaram, amongst whom as yet the knowledge of the true God
1. The interest which should be taken by pious parents in the marriage of
2. The care which should be exercised by those who marry to secure pious
3. The lawfulness of imposing and taking oaths on important occasions,
and for sufficient reasons.
4. The clearer sight which belongs to faith than to sense and reason.
5. The folly of anticipating difficulties that may never arise.
6. The danger of taking any step in life without Divine guidance or
10 “And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed;
for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to
Mesopotamia, unto the city of
camels of his master, - to bear the presents for the bride, to enhance the dignity
of his mission, and to serve as a means of transport for the bride and her companions
on the return journey. On the word Gamal see ch. 12:16 - and departed. Either from
the goods of his master were in his hand. Literally, and every good thing of his
master in his hand; meaning that he selected (sc. as presents for the bride) every
best thing that belonged to his master – compare II Kings 8:9 (Septuagint, Vulgate,
Murphy, Kalisch), though some regard it as explaining how he, the servant, was
able to start upon his journey with such an equipage, viz., because, or for, he had
supreme command over his master's household (Calvin, Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's
Commentary'). And he arose, and went - if along the direct route, then "through
out through the
p. 591) - to Mesopotamia, - Aram-Naharaim, i.e. the
Hes., 'Theog.,' 304; Strabo, 13:4 (Gesenius). Standing alone it signifies
is intended it is conjoined with Naharaim (upon Egyptian monuments Naharina;
see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 2.
pp. 32, 61, 67), the two rivers being the
an Elohistic expression as distinguished from the former, which some ascribe to
the Jehovist (Knobel, et al.), but a more exact description of a portion of
thither either along with or shortly after Torah.
11 “And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water
at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.”
And he made his camels to kneel down - "a mode of expression taken from actual life.
The action is literally kneeling; not stooping, sitting, or lying down on the side like a
horse, but kneeling on his knees; and this the camel is taught to do from his youth"
(Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 592) - without the city by a well of water. "In the East,
where wells are scarce and water indispensable, the existence of a well or fountain
determines the site of the village. The people build near it, but prefer to have it
outside the city, to avoid the noise, dust, and confusion always occurring at it,
especially if the place is on the highway (Ibid.). At the time of the evening, even
the time that women go out to draw water. Literally, that women that draw go forth.
"It is the work of females in the East to draw water both morning and evening; and
they may be seen going in groups to the wells, with their vessels on the hip or on
the, shoulder" (Roberts' Oriental Illustrations, p. 27). "About great cities men often
carry, water, both on donkeys and on their own backs; but in the country, among
the unsophisticated natives, women only go to the well or the fountain; and often,
when traveling, have I seen long files of them going and returning with their
pitchers "at the time when women go out to draw water" (Thomson, 'Land and
Book,' p. 592).
12 “And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good
speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I stand
here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to
draw water: 14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say,
Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink,
and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast
appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast
shewed kindness unto my master.” And he said, - commencing his search for
the maiden by prayer, as he closes it with thanksgiving (v. 26) - a beautiful
example of piety and of the fruits of Abraham's care for the souls of his household,
ch. 18:19 (Wordsworth) - O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send
me good speed this day. Literally, cause to meet (or come before) me, i.e. what
I wish, the maiden of whom I am in quest; hence εὐόδεσον ἐναντίον ἐμοῦ -
euodeson enantion emou - make the way prosperous before me (Septuagint);
less accurately, occurre obsecro mihi (Vulgate). And show kindness unto my
master Abraham. The personal humility and fidelity displayed by this aged
servant are only less remarkable than the fervent piety and childlike faith
which discover themselves in the method he adopts for finding the bride.
Having cast the matter upon God by prayer, as a concern which specially
belonged to him, he fixes upon a sign by which God should enable him to
detect the bride designed for Isaac. Behold, I stand here by the well of water;
literally, Behold me standing (compare v. 43) - and the daughters of the men of
the city come out to draw water (see on v. 11, and compare ch. 29:9; Exodus 2:16):
and let it come to pass that the damsel - הַגַּעַרָ, with the vowels of the Keri; the
word used for Abraham's young men (compare 14:24; 18:7; q.v.). In the Pentateuch
it occurs twenty-two times, without the feminine termination, meaning a girl
(see vs.16, 28, 55; ch. 34:3, 12); a proof of the antiquity of the Pentateuch, and
of this so-called Jehovistic section in particular, since in the latter books the
distinction of sex is indicated by the affix ה being appended when a girl is
intended ('Speaker's Commentary'); but this happens at least once in the
Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 22:19) - to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher,
I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels
drink also: - the sign fixed upon was the kindly disposition of the maiden, which
was to be evinced in a particular way, viz., by her not only acceding with
promptitude to, but generously exceeding, his request It is probable that the
servant was led to choose this sign not by his own natural tact and prudence,
but by that Divine inspiration and guidance of which he had been assured
(v. 7) before setting out on his important mission - let the same be she that thou
hast appointed for thy servant Isaac. "The three qualifications in the mind of this
venerable domestic for a bride for his master's son are a pleasing exterior, a kindly
disposition, and the approval of God" (Murphy). And thereby - ἐν τούτῳ - en touto
(Septuagint), per hoc (Vulgate); but rather, by her, i.e. the damsel - shall I know
that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.
15 “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah
came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's
brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.” And it came to pass (not certainly
by accident, but by Divine arrangement), before he had done speaking, that, - his
prayer was answered (compare Isaiah 65:24; Daniel 9:20-21). From v. 45 it appears
that the servant's prayer was not articulately spoken, but offered "in his heart;"
whence the Septuagint add ἐν τῇ διανοίᾳ αὐτοῦ - en tae dianoia autou - behold,
Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor,
Abraham's brother (see ch. 22:23), with her pitcher - the cad (compare κάδος –
- kados - cadus) was a pail for drawing water, which women were accustomed
to carry on their shoulders; it was this sort of vessel Gideon's men employed
(Judges 7:20) - upon her shoulder - in exact correspondence with Oriental custom –
the Egyptian and the black woman carrying on the head, the Syrian on the
shoulder or hip (see Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 592).
16 “And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man
known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.”
And the damsel was very fair to look upon. Literally, good of countenance, like
Sarah (ch. 12:11) and Rachel (ch. 29:17; compare ch. 26:7 of Rebekah). A virgin.
Bethulah, i.e. one separated and secluded from intercourse with men; from batik,
to seclude (compare Deuteronomy 22:23, 28; II Samuel 13:2, 18). Neither had
any man known her. A repetition for the sake of emphasis, rather than because
bethulah sometimes applies to a married woman (Joel 1:8). And she went down
to the well, - "nearly all wells in the East are in wadys, and have steps down to
the water" (Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 592) - and filled her pitcher, and came
up - probably wholly unconscious of the old man's admiration, though by no means
unprepared for his request, which immediately followed.
17 “And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a
little water of thy pitcher. 18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted,
and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when
she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels
also, until they have done drinking.” And the servant ran to meet her, and said,
Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher (a request which was at once
complied with). And she said, Drink (and with the utmost politeness), my lord (and
with cheerful animation): and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand,
and gave him drink. "Rebekah's address to the servant will be given you in the
exact idiom by the first gentle Rebekah you ask water from; but I have never found
any young lady so generous as this fair daughter of Bethuel" ('Thomson, Land and
Book,' p. 592). And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw
water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking - thus proving that the
kindly disposition within her bosom was "not simply the reflex of national customs,
but the invisible sun beaming through her mind, and freely bringing forward the
blossoms of sterling goodness" (Kalisch).
20 “And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again
unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.” And she hasted, and
emptied her pitcher into the trough (or gutter made of stone, with which wells
were usually provided, and which were filled with water when animals required
to drink), and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
"At one point we came upon a large village of nomad Bedouins dwelling in their
black tents. For the first time we encountered a shepherd playing on his reeden
pipe, and followed by his flock. He was leading them to a fountain, from which
a maiden was meanwhile drawing water with a rope, and pouring it into a large
stone trough. She was not so beautiful as Rebekah" ('In the Holy Land,' by Rev.
A. Thomson, D.D. p. 198).
21 “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD
had made his journey prosperous or not.” And the man wondering at her –
gazing with attention on her (Septuagint, Vulgate, Gesenius, Furst); amazed and
astonished at her (Rosenmüller, Delitzsch, Keil, Lange, Calvin) - held his peace,
to wit - i.e. that he might know - silence being the customary attitude for the soul
in either expecting or receiving a Divine communication (compare Leviticus 10:3;
Psalm 39:2; Acts 11:18) - whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.
This inward rumination obviously took place while the whole scene was being
enacted before his eyes - the beautiful young girl filling the water-troughs, and the
thirsty camels sucking up the cooling drink. The loveliness of mind and body, both
which he desired in Isaac's bride, was manifestly present in Rebekah; but still the
questions remained to be determined, Was she one of Abraham's kindred, was
she single? and
would she follow him to
solution of which he now proceeds.
Eliezer (v. 21)
“And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord
had made his way prosperous or not.” “The man” spoken of was probably
selected by Abraham to be his heir, but of course when Isaac was born he
could not hold that position. He became honored and trusted as “the eldest
servant of (Abraham’s) house, who ruled over all that be had” (v. 2).
To him was committed the delicate business recorded in this
chapter; and the way in which it was executed was just that which would
be expected from one who had so won the confidence of Abraham as to be
selected as heir. We cannot but admire the thoughtfulness of Abraham for
his son. He sought to prevent Isaac from being brought under the polluting
influence of the Canaanitish people in the midst of whom he dwelt. He also
desired to prevent Isaac from going back to the country from which he had
himself been Divinely led. Hence he sends his steward to select from
among his kindred one who shall be a suitable life-companion for his son.
He takes an oath of his steward that he will in no wise permit a wife to be
taken from among the Canaanites, or lead Isaac to
The mission of Eliezer was indeed difficult and delicate. We must not think
of it according to the customs of our land. In Oriental nations to this day it
is the practice to employ a third person to negotiate a marriage between
those who seem by report to be suitable for such relationship. Eliezer
undertook the affair with every desire to gratify his master, and to serve
well even the one who had supplanted him in heirship. We cannot too
highly praise “the man” for his unselfishness, or too warmly admire the
devoutness which characterized his whole conduct.
recorded here was probably not the first offered with respect to the subject.
His mission was not only delicate, but rather indefinite. He is sent to the
relations of his master to choose from among them a wife for Isaac. He
knows that much of the satisfaction of Abraham and welfare of Isaac will
depend on his right performance of the duty. He feels the responsibility
resting upon him, and makes every needful preparation for discharging it.
He starts on the camels prepared, and carries with him presents suitable.
long journey he arrives at a city in
Nahor, his master’s brother. It is eventide when he reaches the well outside
the city. The graceful daughters of the city, with pitchers poised on their
shoulders, are just coming forth to draw water for their households. The
camels turn their long necks and weary eyes in the direction of the
approaching maidens. They know that on their arrival the dry troughs,
which only tantalized thirst, will be filled. The shade from the palms avails
not now to break the fierce rays of the sun setting so rapidly in the west.
Long shadows are over the landscape. Eliezer stands with the golden light
about him. He feels that this may be the moment of great import. Clasping
firmly his hands, and lifting fervently his face heavenward, he breathes the
beautiful prayer, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send
me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham.” It
Ø Brief prayer, because there was not time to say much more, but it was
most appropriate. He asked for what he felt he needed. He did not use
prayer as a mere mystical method of pleasing God, but as the expression
of a felt need. This is true prayer. God does not want fine words, long
sentences, and wearying repetitions. None are heard for their much
speaking. (Matthew 6:7) That is a heathenish notion. God is not glorified
by the length of time we remain on our knees, or the number of things
we can crowd into a certain time. The longest prayers are often the most
unmeaning. This is true of prayers in the home and in the Church. Brief,
earnest, sincere prayer is that which wings its way to heaven. When Peter
was sinking in the waters his cry was brief and pointed enough: “Lord,
Ø Eliezer did not hesitate to ask God’s guidance in respect to a subject
which many would have accounted as quite within the scope of their own
judgment to decide. Many also would have thought it beneath the notice
of God. Many would have made their way direct into the city to Nahor’s
house to choose for themselves. And many would have left the matter to
be decided by chance; but Eliezer seeks guidance from God. Only those
who are ignorant of the value of trifles, of their relative power, or who
are ignorant of the fact that there are no trifles but which may become
all important circumstances, would think of such an affair as that Eliezer
had in hand, as beneath God’s notice. If not beneath God’s notice, it may
be the subject of prayer. Many who contemplate forming relationships
might with the greatest advantage imitate the example of Eliezer in
this case, and seek direction from God. Were this the practice there
would be fewer unhappy marriages! Eliezer, in carrying out his
master s wish, seeks success from God.
opportune time the steward prays. He committed his way unto the Lord at
the juncture when he felt he needed the guidance. God honors the man’s
trust. “It came to pass that before he had done speaking Rebekah came
out.” She was the very one whom God had appointed. She knew not that
she was moving to fulfill the intention of God. In her acts and in her words
she was doing that which was in harmony with the sign the man had asked.
Courteously, on being asked for a draught from her vessel, she had offered
even to draw for the camels also. In the first one addressed Eliezer had the
answer to his prayer. Compare Isaiah 65:24: “Before ye call I will answer,”
and Daniel 9:23: “At the beginning of thy supplication the
commandment came forth.” We lose much of the comfort of prayer
because, after having put up a petition, we either forget to look for the
answer, or because we have but a semi-belief in the power of prayer. If
prayer be a reality to us, it is no less so in God’s sight. Some put up
prayers in the spirit which seems to say, “Now I will see whether God will
answer that.” God is not to be subject to mere testings. Christ showed that,
when on earth he refused to gratify the curiosity or submit to the testings
the Pharisees prepared for Him. Where God is perfectly trusted the answer
will, in some way or other, overtake, or even anticipate, the prayer.
BELIEF. “He, wondering at her, held his peace,” waiting to know whether
the “Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” God had not only
answered speedily, but in the manner desired. Sometimes He sends the
answer, but in a way so different from that we expected, that we discern not
the fact that we have an answer. But what heavenly telegraphy is here! No
sooner the petition sent than the answer is given. The very correspondence
between the sign desired and its rapid fulfillment only sets Eliezer
speculating as to whether it may not have been simply a very remarkable
coincidence rather than a Divine response. Meanwhile he acts as though he
believed. He offers to Rebekah the gifts which indicated already his
business. He offers such as shall become the character of his master, who
was princely in his possessions as well as position. He offers and waits. The
man “held his peace.” He knows that if God has answered in part He will
also answer fully. God’s dealings should always induce awe and patient
waiting. He will often surprise us with the blessings of goodness. In our
lives we have probably known like surprisingly-rapid answers to prayer.
We have even disbelieved in the answer. What if God had withdrawn the
help or blessing given because received in such unbelief! There are times
when we, like Eliezer, and like
the Israelites on the shores of the
have to be still and know that the Lord is God. Then God’s action staggers
WONDERING HOPE. Eliezer inquires of the maiden whether there is
room in her father’s house for him to lodge. After the manner of the
Orientals, she readily replies, “We have both straw and provender enough,
and room to lodge in.” He follows Rebekah. Laban acts as host in place of
his father Bethuel. He welcomes Eliezer heartily. “Come in, thou blessed of
the Lord,” &c. Eliezer enters and attends to the wants of his men and
camels, but will not attend to his own until he has unburdened his mind. He
tells of his errand, of the meeting with Rebekah at the well, of his praying,
of the speedy answer, and of the sign fulfilled. Laban and Bethuel are
surprised, and see in it God’s hand. They say, “The thing proceedeth from
the Lord; we cannot speak unto thee good or ill.” Then the man “bowed
his head and worshipped.” Rebekah consented to accompany him and
become the wife of Isaac, his master’s son. Everything fell out better than
the steward could have expected; he could only see in it God’s hand, God’s
mercy in guiding him and in confirming his hope.
1. God is as willing to answer us as to answer Eliezer of Damascus.
2. Prayer can overcome difficulties that seem insurmountable. When the
cup of sorrow is not removed the strength is given to bear it, and so prayer
is answered. If the way we expected does not open up in answer to our
supplication, another and better is sure to be made plain. Prayer also
“makes the darkened cloud withdraw.”
3. When in the other world we look at our past life, we shall all see that
God had answered all prayers that it would have been for our good to have
answered, and that in others the withholding has been kindliest response.
There we shall “bow our heads and worship.” Him who made our earthly
journey prosperous, and who had brought us to the “city which hath
foundations.” Whatever, then, our anxiety, trial, perplexity, let us lay all
before God. If we are earnestly trying for the salvation of members of our
own family, or for the advancement of God’s kingdom, let us by prayer and
supplication make our requests known to God, and HE WILL SEND US
AN ANSWER OF PEACE even as He did to Eliezer.
22 “And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took
a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of
ten shekels weight of gold; 23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me,
I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?
24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah,
which she bare unto Nahor. 25 She said moreover unto him, We have both
straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. 26 And the man bowed
down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 27 And he said, Blessed be the
LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master
of His mercy and His truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house
of my master's brethren.” And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, -
"If it is remembered that camels, though endowed in an almost marvelous degree
with the power of enduring thirst, drink, when an opportunity offers, an enormous
quantity of water, it will be acknowledged that the trouble to which the maiden
cheerfully submitted required more than ordinary, patience" (Kalisch) - that
the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, - the נֶזֶם, was neither
a pendant for the ear (Septuagint, Vulgate) nor a jewel for the forehead (Authorized
Version, margin), but a ring for the nose (v. 47), the side cartilage, and sometimes
the central wall, of which was pierced for the purpose of admitting it (compare
Ezekiel 16:11-12). Such rings are still worn by Oriental women, and in particular
"the nose-ring is now the usual engagement present among the Bedouins"
(Delitzsch). The weight of that presented to Rebekah was one בֶקַע, or half
(shekel), from בָקַע, to divide - and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels
weight of gold; - the עָמִיר, from צָמַר, to bind or fasten, meant a circle of gold
for the wrist or arm. So favorite an ornament is this of Oriental ladies, that
sometimes the whole arm from wrist to elbow is covered with them; sometimes
two or more are worn one above the other; and not infrequently are they so
numerous and heavy as almost to appear burdensome to the fair owners (Kalisch) –
and said, Whose daughter art thou! tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy
father's house for us to lodge in? The production of the bridal presents, and the
tenor of the old man's inquiries, indicate that already he entertained the belief
that he looked upon the object of his search. All dubiety was dispelled by Rebekah's
answer. And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah,
to show that she was not descended from Nahor's concubine (compare v. 15) –
which she bare unto Nahor. This appears to have been the stage at which the
jewels were presented (v. 47). She said moreover unto him, We have both straw
and provender enough, and room to lodge in. It was now conclusively determined,
by her answering all the pre-arranged criteria, that the Lord had heard his prayer
and prospered his way, and that the heaven-appointed bride stood before him.
And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. The first verb
expressing reverent inclination of the head, and the second complete prostration
of the body, and both combining "to indicate the aged servant's deep thankfulness
for the guidance of the Lord." And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master
Abraham (on the import of בָּרוּך ch. 9:26), who hath not left destitute my master
of His mercy and His truth: - literally, who hath not taken away His grace (i.e. the
free favor which bestows) and His truth (i.e. the faithfulness which implements
promises) from = ( from the house of, as in Exodus 8:8, 25-26; Gesenius) my master
(compare Psalm 57:3; 115:1; Proverbs 20:28) - I being in the way, the Lord led
(or, hath led) me to the house of my master's brethren.
28 “And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.”
And the damsel - הַגַּעַרָ (see on v. 16) - ran (leaving the venerable stranger in the
act of devotion), and told them of her mother's house - a true touch of nature.
With womanly instinct, discerning the possibility of a love-suit, she imparts the
joyful intelligence neither to her brother nor to her father, but to her mother
and the other females of the household, who lived separately from the men
of the establishment - these things - in particular of the arrival of a messenger
from Abraham. Perhaps also the nose-jewel would tell its own tale.
The Finding of the Bride (vs. 10-28)
Ø The departure from Hebron. With promptitude and alacrity, as became a
servant executing the instructions of a master — attended by a cavalcade
of ten camels and their drivers, as ambassadors of princes are wont to
signalize their dignity by ample retinues; and laden with the choicest of
his master’s goods as presents for the bride, since they who go to woo
must not neglect to carry gifts — the venerable steward issued forth upon
The journey northwards.
East” would probably be the route followed by Eliezer of Damascus;
thence closely skirting the spot where in after years Tadmor in the
wilderness arose with its palaces and temples, now magnificent in their
ruins, till at length, crossing the Euphrates, he would
Ø The arrival at Haran. If the time at which the patriarchal envoy reached
the city of
water, was an indication of the guiding hand of
the spot at which he halted and partially unloaded his weary camels,
viz., at the well, was a testimonial to his own shrewd sagacity, which
discerned that for meeting with the virgins of the district, and in
particular the females of Nahor’s family, no better place could be
selected than the city well, which was besides the customary
resting-place for travelers.
Ø Its reverent humility. Not only does he adore the Divine greatness, but,
leaving himself altogether out of account, he bespeaks an interest in the
Divine favor entirely as an act of kindness to his master.
Ø Its childlike simplicity. He proposes a test by which he may be able to
recognize the bride whom God has selected for his master’s son. In doing
so he practically casts the matter over upon God, asking Him in the
fashion indicated to point out the object of his search, thus exemplifying
the very spirit of the Christian rule, “In everything by prayer and
supplication let your requests be made known unto God.”
Ø Its immediate answer. “Before he had done speaking, Rebekah came
out” to the well, and acted precisely as he had desired that the bride
should do. It was a striking illustration of the promise, “While they
are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)
Ø A description of her person.
o As to parentage, the daughter of Bethuel;
o in respect of condition, of virgin purity;
o with regard to appearance, very fair to look upon;
o concerning education, trained to domestic duties.
Ø An account of her kindness. Coming up from the well, she graciously
complies with the servant’s request to be allowed to take a draught from
her pitcher. Then with winning sweetness she promptly offers to fill the
stone troughs for his wearied animals. And finally, when asked her name,
she with ingenuous frankness tells it, adding, in reply to a request for
lodging, that in Bethuel’s house there was not only room for himself and
camels, but sumptuous hospitality for both. Such spontaneous acts of
kindness to an unknown and aged stranger bespoke a tender and
susceptible heart within the breast of the fair Rebekah.
Ø The impression which she made on, Eliezer.
o Her appearance arrested him and made him run to meet her (v. 17)
with his pre-arranged request. Clearly this old man had a singular
discernment of character as well as a quick eye for beauty.
o Her kindness touched him, and made him silent in wonder (v. 21),
struck dumb with amazement at her minute fulfillment of every
one of his stipulated conditions.
o Her invitation overpowered him, causing him to bow his head and
worship (v. 26), acknowledging God’s goodness in so quickly
leading him to the house of his master’s brethren, and so
unmistakably pointing out the bride.
1. The fidelity and devotion to the interests of masters and mistresses
which should be evinced by servants.
2. The spirit of prayer and supplication which Christians should display in
all the perplexing and difficult paths of life.
3. The kind of brides which young men should select, viz., maidens
distinguished by Rebekah’s amiable and obliging disposition, even should
they not be gifted with Rebekah’s grace of form.
29 “And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran
out unto the man, unto the well.” And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was
Laban. "White," whose character has been considerably traduced, the Biblical
narrative not representing him as "a monster of moral depravity," but rather as
actuated by generous imputes and hospitable dispositions (Kalisch). And Laban
ran out unto the man, unto the well. That Laban, and not Bethuel, should have
the prominence in all the subsequent transactions concerning Rebekah has been
explained by the supposition that Bethuel was now dead (Josephus), but see v. 50;
that he was altogether an insignificant character (Lange, Wordsworth); that
firstborn sons enjoyed during their father's lifetime a portion of his authority,
and even on important occasions represented him (Kalisch); that in those times
it was usual for brothers to take a special interest in sisters' marriages – compare
ch. 34:13; Judges 21:22; II Samuel 13:22 (Rosenmüller, Michaelis).
30 “And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's
hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake
the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the
camels at the well.” And it cams to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets
upon his sister's hands (see v. 22), and when he heard the words of Rebekah
his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man
(this explains the cause of the action mentioned in the previous verse); and,
behold, he stood by the camels at the well.
Laban’s Eye of Greed (v. 30)
“And when he saw the bracelets,” &c. One thing moved Laban to offer
hospitality to a stranger — the vision of gold on his sister’s form.
APPEARING TO BE GENEROUS. Laban had not been so pressingly
urgent in his invitation if he had not cherished a hope of further
advantages. He was a churlish man. He said, “Come in, thou blessed of the
Lord,” because he saw that which was to him the greatest sign of
blessing — wealth. Laban helped the more readily to ungird Eliezer’s
camels because he hoped thereby to loosen the girdle-purse of his visitor.
He had the eye of greed. He could not see anything valuable belonging to
another without wishing to possess it.
WITH RESPECT TO HIS OWN BEST INTERESTS. Laban
gave Eliezer a bad impression of himself. The latter would soon see
through such a man as Laban. He showed this when he gave presents not
only to the sister and mother, but to the brother (v. 53). He knew that it
would not he advisable to overlook Laban. Eliezer knew he could be
bought. Laban, when treating with Jacob, was just as short-sighted. He
gave Leah and Rachel to Jacob as wives only after years of service for
which he stipulated. He changed Jacob’s wages ten times. Through his
greed he at last lost Jacob. He confessed how great a helper Jacob had
been. “The Lord hath blessed me for thy sake” (ch. 30:27). Jacob
would not tarry with him, and even the daughters were glad enough to get
away from such a father. Covetousness is opposed to our temporal and
eternal interests. We lose by it the respect of others here and of God
CLAIMS OF OTHERS. It will ignore those claims altogether, if possible.
Ø We find Laban thus ignored the influence of his father throughout the
whole transaction. Perhaps Bethuel was infirm or aged, but he is,
consistently with the character of Laban, thrust into the background.
Laban also takes all presents, and there is no mention of any being given
to his father.
Ø We find also he was in great measure indifferent to the happiness of his
sister. He was subtle in tongue, and spoke of the Lord arranging things,
but he believed in the arrangement because his family was the gainer. A
good chance is offered by the Damascene stranger, and Rebekah soon
saw that it was a foregone conclusion that she should go with him.
Covetousness will make parents careless as to the physical, mental,
and moral well-being of their children, and employers careless of
the state of their servants. It is covetousness also that leads many to
spread temptations, too strong to be resisted, before others, and one
nation to get rich out of that which is sapping the life-blood of another.
MOST MISERABLE. “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his house.”
(Proverbs 15:27_ “Envy is rottenness to the bones.” (ibid. 14:30)
Misers perish in the midst of plenty. Riches possessed, the desire for
more is generally intensified. The desire is no more checked than a lamp
is extinguished by added oil. Jesus said, “....a man’s life consiseth not in
the abundance of the things which he posseses.” (Luke 12:15)
REBUKED. The greed in Laban’s eye which glistened at the sight of the
golden ornaments on his sister’s form deepened with the passage of years.
At last, in his pursuit of Jacob, he was rebuked by God in a vision, and
afterwards by the man he had wronged.
1. Medium prosperity is better than great riches gained by greed.
“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty
nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be
full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be
poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”
2. Despise not the comforts of life, but live for something higher.
What is gained in the world is speedily gone. If we gain much
and ruin our souls, we shall not only be rejected by God, but
shall bitterly condemn ourselves.
31 “And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou
without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.”
And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord. בְּרוּך יהוָה (compare ch. 26:29;
Numbers 24:9); the usual form being לַיַהוָה (see ch. 14:19; Ruth 2:20; I Samuel
15:13). Though Laban was an idolater (ch. 31:30), it seems more satisfactory to
regard him as belonging to a family in which the worship of Jehovah had
originated, and by which it was still retained (Murphy, Wordsworth), than to
suppose that he first learned the name Jehovah from the servant's address
(Keil, Lange, Hengstenberg). Wherefore standest thou without? (as if his not
accepting Rebekah's invitation were almost a reflection on, the hospitality
of the house of Abraham s kinsmen) for (literally, and, in expectation of thine
arrival) I have prepared the house, - or, put the house in order, by clearing it
from things in confusion (compare Leviticus 14:36) - and room (i.e. place)
for the camels.
Laban, The Solicitous Host (v. 31)
“Wherefore standest thou without?” The character of Laban has been well
explained by Blunt in his ‘ Coincidences.’ It is one of consistent greed. He
was sincere in inviting Eliezer because he saw the bracelets on his sister’s
hand, and expected still further favors from a guest who can so lavishly
bestow gifts. Christ asks us to enter His kingdom, but He expects nothing
from us in return but love. We may adapt this inquiry of Laban to souls as
yet outside the Church.
realized pardon, no enjoyment in religion, no future prospects of joy. Life
is a dread mystery to them. They are saying, “Who will show us any good?”
(Psalm 4:6) They may be just awakened spiritually, like the Philippian jailor.
They may be under the condemnings of law and conscience, and in dread
of the consequences of sin. Those within the true Church know in whom
they have believed, and rejoice in forgiveness and the prospect of heaven.
They are no longer outside the gates of mercy. We may be in a visible
Church without being of Christ’s fold. It is penitence, faith, and character
that determine our position, and not birth, rank, or ceremonial observances.
OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.
Ø They are ccustomed to the state, and unwilling to change. They are
like the prisoner who, after many years’ imprisonment in the Bastile,
was liberated, and went forth only to find all his friends gone and
himself a mere burden to society. He went back and entreated to
be allowed to retain his cell until he should pass out of the world.
Ø Many, because they are ignorant of the fullness of Divine mercy.
Ø Others, because they think there is so much to be done ere they can be
fitted to be received within, and are looking to their own efforts to
Ø Many, because they fear their opportunity of admittance is past.
Ø Others are undecided as to whether they shall give up the pleasures
of the world for the privileges of Christian fellowship.
Ø Others lack faith in God and HIS POWER TO JUSTIFY!
Ø Many stand outside because they think themselves as secure outside as
within. They forget that Christ demands open confession, and that to be
united openly, to His Church is one way of confessing His name before
men. Let there be a personal and searching inquiry, “Wherefore
standest thou without?” The invited guest passed within, and found
his highest expectations more than realized, because God
“had prospered his journey.”
32 “And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave
straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's
feet that were with him.” And the man came into the house: and he (i.e. Laban)
ungirded his (literally, the) camels, and gave straw - cut up by threshing for fodder
(compare Job 21:18; Isaiah 11:7; 65:25) - and provender for the camels, and water
to wash his feet (compare ch. 18:4; 19:2), and the men's feet that were with him –
the first intimation that any one accompanied the messenger, though that assistants
were necessary is obvious from the narrative.
33 “And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat,
until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.” And there was set –
appositus est (Vulgate); i.e. if the first word be taken, as in the Keri,* as the
hophal of שׂוּם; but if the Kethib* be preferred, then וַיַּישֶׂם is the future Kal of
יָשַׂם, signifying, "and he set;" παρέθηκεν – parethaeken – food was set –
(Septuagint) - meat before him to eat (the crowning act of an Oriental reception):
but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. Oriental politeness
deferred the interrogation of a guest till after he had supped ('Odyss.' 3:69); but
Abraham's servant hastened to communicate the nature of his message before
partaking of the offered hospitality - an instance of self-forgetful zeal of which
Christ was the highest example (see Mark 6:31; John 4:34). And he (i.e. Laban)
said, Speak on.
* (The unauthoritative readings of something not in the text are called K’ri
and technically the written text is called K’tib.)
34 “And he said, I am Abraham's servant. 35 And the LORD hath blessed my
master greatly; and he is become great: and He hath given him flocks, and
herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels,
and asses. 36 And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she
was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. 37 And my master made
me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the
Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: 38 But thou shalt go unto my father's house,
and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. 39 And I said unto my master,
Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 40 And he said unto me, The LORD,
before whom I walk, will send His angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou
shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house: 41 Then
shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and
if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. 42 And I came
this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if
now thou do prosper my way which I go: 43 Behold, I stand by the well of
water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw
water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to
drink; 44 And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy
camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out for
my master's son. 45 And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold,
Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down
unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.
46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said,
Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the
camels drink also. 47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou?
And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto
him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.
48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the
LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to
take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. 49 And now if ye will deal
kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn
to the right hand, or to the left.” Availing himself of the privilege thus accorded,
the faithful ambassador recounted the story of his master's prosperity, and of the
birth of Isaac when Sarah his mother was old (literally, after her old age); of the
oath which he had taken to seek a wife for his master s son among his master's
kindred, and of the singularly providential manner in which he had been led to
the discovery of the chosen bride. Then with solemn earnestness he asked for a
decision. And now if ye will deal kindly and truly - literally, if ye are doing, i.e.
are ready or willing to extend kindness and truth (compare v. 27) - with (or, to)
my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn (literally, and I will turn)
to the right hand, or to the left - in further prosecution of my mission, to seek in
some other family a bride for my master's son.
50 “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from
the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is
before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the
LORD hath spoken. 52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant
heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.”
Then Laban and Bethuel (see on v. 29) answered and said, The thing proceedeth
from the Lord: - Jehovah (see on v. 31) - we cannot speak unto thee bad or good –
i.e. they could not demur to a proposal so clearly indicated by Divine providence;
a proof of the underlying piety of those descendants of Nahor. Behold, Rebekah
is before thee, take her, and go, - that the consent of the maiden is not asked was
not owing to the fact that, according to ancient custom, Oriental women were at
the absolute disposal, in respect of marriage, of their parents and elder brothers
(Bush), but to the circumstance that already it had been tacitly given by her
acceptance of the bridal presents (Kalisch), or, from her amiable and pious
disposition, might be taken for granted, since she, no more than they, would resist
the clearly-revealed will of Jehovah (Lange, Wordsworth) - and let her be thy
master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken. Words which again kindled the flame
of reverential piety in the old man's heart, so that he worshipped the Lord, bowing
himself to the earth - literally, he prostrated himself to the earth to Jehovah
(compare v. 26).
53 “And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and
raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her
mother precious things. 54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that
were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and
he said, Send me away unto my master.” And the servant brought forth jewels –
literally, vessels (σκεύη – skeuae - , Septuagint), the idea being that of things
finished or completed; from כָּלָה, to finish (compare ch. 31:37; 45:20) - of silver,
and jewels (or vessels) of gold, and raiment, - covering garments, e.g. the outer
robes of Orientals (ch. 29:12-13,15; 41:42); especially precious ones (I Kings 22:10) –
and gave them to Rebekah - as betrothal presents, which are absolutely essential,
and usually given with much ceremony before witnesses (see 'Land and Book,' p. 593).
He gave also to her brother and to her mother (here mentioned for the first time)
precious things, מִגְדָּנֹת from מֶגֶד precious, occurring only elsewhere in II Chronicles
21:3 and Ezekiel 1:6; both times as here, in connection with gold and silver - probably
describes valuable articles in general. And (having thus formally concluded the
engagement) they did eat and drink, - i.e. partook of the victims which had been
set before them at an earlier stage (v. 33) - he and the men that were with him,
and tarried all night; - literally, and passed the night (compare ch. 19:2; v.25 here)
– and they rose up in the morning (indicative of alacrity and zeal), and he said,
Send me away unto my master - being impatient to report to Abraham the success
of his expedition.
55 “And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few
days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.” And her brother and her mother –
Laban as usual (v. 50) having the first place; probably because of the prominence
which from this time he assumes in the theocratic history - said, Let the damsel
abide with us a few days, at least ten. Literally, days, at least (Vulgate, saltem);
as it were (Septuagint, &c.); perhaps (Murphy); or (Furst, Ewald, Kalisoh);
if she wish, with the idea of choice. (Gesenius); a ten or decade of days;
the עָשׂור being used as a measure of time analogous to the שָׁבוּעַ or hebdomad
(a period of seven days). That ten months are meant (Chaldee, Arabic, Ainsworth)
is probably incorrect. After that she shall go.
56 “And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered
my way; send me away that I may go to my master. 57 And they said, We will
call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. 58 And they called Rebekah, and
said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59 And they
sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his
men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be
thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those
which hate them.” Still urging his suit for permission to depart, Laban and the mother
of Rebekah proposed that the maiden should be left to decide a matter so important
for her by her own inclinations. When consulted she expressed her readiness at once
to accompany the venerable messenger to his distant home; and accordingly, without
more delay, she was dismissed from her mother's tent, attended by a faithful nurse
(ch. 35:8) and enriched by the blessing of her pious relatives, who said unto her,
Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions (literally, our
sister thou, become to thousands of myriads, i.e. let thy descendants be very
numerous), and let thy seed possess the gate (see ch. 22:17) of those which hate them.
Eliezer and Laban (vs. 29-60)
Ø The eager invitation. “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord!”
o The speaker was Laban, Rebekah’s brother, who on hearing his
sister’s call had hurried to the well.
o The motive which impelled him was not unlikely:
§ a little greed of filthy lucre, the appetite for which
a sight of Rebekah’s jewels may have whetted;
§ a little feeling of friendship, since he would
learn from Rebekah that the stranger had come
from Abraham; and
§ a little sense of religion, as the family of Nahor appear
still to have retained the knowledge of Jehovah.
Most people’s motives are mixed, and so probably were Laban’s.
Ø The kindly reception.
o Eliezer’s camels were unpacked, stalled, and fed — a proof of
Laban’s humanity (Proverbs 12:10).
o Eliezer’s men’s feet and his own were refreshed by washing —
a necessary part of Oriental hospitality, evincing Laban’s
thoughtfulness (compare Luke 7:44).
o Meat and drink were set before himself and his companions —
the crowning act of an Eastern reception, showing that Laban
and the other members of the household were accustomed to
“use hospitality without grudging.” (I Peter 4:9)
Ø Impatient. The nature of his mission urged him to dispatch, as knowing
well that his master was old, that Isaac was needful of a bride, that coy
maidens are soonest caught by fervent suitors, and that successful wooing
brooks no delay.
Ø Skillful. The first recorded speech in the Bible, Eliezer’s bride-wooing
cannot fail to be admired for its wisdom.
o He secures the sympathy of his auditors by declaring himself to
be the servant of Abraham;
o he details to them the wealth of his master, reasoning probably
that no mother would ever think of sending away her daughter
into a foreign country to be a poor man’s bride;
o he advances to the great religious consideration that Isaac’s
wife must be a worshipper of God; and
o he narrates the singular providence that had pointed out
Rebekah as the destined bride.
Ø Pious. The religious character of this wooing is apparent from the
reverent use of the Divine name throughout the old man’s speech, the
importance assigned to piety as one of the bride’s qualifications, the
devout recognition of God’s hand in prospering his journey, and the
impression he conveys that Jehovah has Himself selected Rebekah.
Bethuel, and the mother of Rebekah was:
Ø Unhesitatingly given. “Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her,
and go, and let her be thy master s son’s wife.” A little reluctance
on their part would not have been surprising.
Ø Piously dictated. “The thing proceedeth from the Lord!” Not the
eligibility of the match, but the approbation of Heaven, secured their
Ø Thankfully acknowledged. “Abraham’s servant worshipped the Lord,
bowing himself to the earth.” How eminent the piety which traces
every blessing to its primal source; how beautiful the religion which,
the more’ it gets, the more it stoops!
Ø Richly rewarded. “The servant brought forth jewels of silver,” &c.
(v. 53). While adoring the original Giver, he did not neglect the
second cause. Young men who receive fair Rebekahs in marriage
should not forget to recompense with love and gifts the fathers and
mothers who have given them up.
Ø The proposed delay. “Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at least
ten.” This was natural, and would be convenient both for the preparation
of the bride’s trousseau and for the gratification of friends who might
wish to bid her farewell.
Ø The urgent request. “Hinder me not; send me away.” The old man
accepted his prosperity in wooing as an indication that God intended
his immediate return.
Ø The important question. “Wilt thou go with this man?” No maiden,
however urged by relatives and friends, should contract a forced and
Ø The decisive answer. “I will go.” After this there could be no mistaking
how Rebekah’s heart inclined. It augured well for the coming marriage
that it would prove, a union of love, and not simply of convenience.’
Ø The fraternal benediction. Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of
thousands of millions.” (v. 60)
61 “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and
followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.”
And Rebekah arose (expressive of the promptitude, celerity, and decision of her
departure), and her damsels, - probably a company, at least two, though Laban
afterwards only gave each of his daughters one (ch. 29:24, 29) - and they rode
upon camels (most likely those which Abraham's servant had brought), and followed
the man (not in fear, but in hope): and the servant took (in the sense of undertook
the charge of) Rebekah (who, in his eyes, would now be invested with additional
charms, as his young master's intended bride), and went his way - returning by the
road he came.
62 “And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south
country.” And (when the bridal train was nearing home) Isaac came from the way
of the well Lahai-roi; - Hagar's well (ch. 16:7, 14) - for he dwelt in the south country –
on the Negeb
(see ch. 12:9). Abraham may by this time have removed
to Hagar's well (Lange).
63 “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted
up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.” And Isaac went
out to meditate - לָשׂוּח; to think (Septuagint, Vulgate, Murphy, Kalisch); to pray
(Onkelos, Samaritan, Kimchi, Luther, Keil); to lament (Knobel, Lange); doubtless
to do all three, to commune with his heart and before God; not, however, about
agricultural affairs, or the improvement of his property (Knobel), but concerning
his deceased mother, whom he still mourned (v. 67), though chiefly, it is probable,
about the marriage he contemplated (Keil) - in the field at the eventide. Literally,
at the turning of the evening (compare Deuteronomy 23:11; and for corresponding
phrase, "when the morning draws on," Exodus 14:27; Judges 19:26; Psalm 46:5).
And he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. The
bride's first glimpse of her intended spouse being, with artless simplicity though
with dramatic picturesqueness, described in similar terms.
Isaac in the Field (v. 63)
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide.” Isaac was one of
the less prominent among the patriarchs. He seems to have lacked energy
of character, but there was great devoutness. His life was like a toned
picture, lacking garish coloring, but having a depth of interest. Possibly the
fact that an uplifted knife had once gleamed death upon him, and that he
had so narrowly escaped, may have had great influence in giving a sober
tinge to his life. Not only so, but training by such a father as Abraham must
have inculcated a ready obedience to God’s will (God’s testimony of
Abram “.....for I know him that he will command his children and his
household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord”
(ch. 18:19), and a constant desire to know that will. In the passage
above we have:
There is a great difference between reverie and meditation. The one is
aimless dreaming, the other, thought tending to an object. Prayer is the
thought expressed. Meditation is the “nurse of prayer.” Meditation stirs up
the spiritual fire within. It brings us nearer to the Divine. It should be
cultivated as a habit rather than be left to spasmodic impulses.
open country, where we can get away from men, is the place for fellowship
with God. A free prospect lets God’s power be more plainly seen. It is an
advantage to get out to sea, and, leaning over the bulwark of a vessel, to
Ø the width of the world,
Ø the vastness of the universe and
Ø THE GREATNESS OF GOD.
We should seek some place where we can specially realize the
presence and power of God. “Enter into thy closet” (Matthew 6:6)
is a command which many find it difficult to obey. At school, in business
houses, there is little or no provision for solitary meditation; but with a
book in hand the believer may in spirit get alone with God.
went into the field at eventide. When the fret and toil of the day were over;
when the sun was setting, glorified by crimson clouds, or shaded by the
purplish haze; when the blossoms were closing, and flocks were being
folded; when the moon was just showing, and the stars beginning to shine
out; when a hush was over nature and entering into the soul — then Isaac
sought to pray; then he sought to realize the certainty of the Divine
promises and the faithfulness of the Divine performance. The time
accorded well with his own feelings. He still mourned for his mother
(v. 67). Sorrow makes solitude congenial. Moreover, he was anticipating a
change of state. He knew his father had sent Eliezer to seek for him a wife
from among his own kindred, and he may have been praying that God
would send him a suitable partner FOR LIFE! While he was praying
the answer was approaching. By prayer Isaac was prepared also to bear
with the selfishness and wrong-doing of others. In ch. 26. we see how he
avoided quarrelling with the Philistines. Gentleness made him great, and
that gentleness was intensified by prayer.
64 “And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off
the camel.” And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw (literally, and
she saw, though as yet she did not know that it was) Isaac, she lighted - literally,
fell; the word signifying a hasty descent (compare I Samuel 25:23; II Kings 5:21);
κατεπήδησεν – katepaedaesen – dismounted (Septuagint); descendit (Vulgate) –
off the camel. "The behavior of Rebekah was such as modern etiquette requires"
(see Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 593).
65 “For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the
field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took
a vail, and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he
had done.” For she had said (literally, and she said; not before, but after alighting)
unto the servant (of Abraham), What man is this that walketh in the field to meet
us? - Isaac having obviously hastened forward to give a welcome to his bride. On
learning who it was she took a veil
- "the cloak-like veil of
covers not merely the face, but, "like a kind of large wrapper, nearly the whole
form, rendering it impossible to recognize the person" (Kalisch) - and covered
herself. That married ladies did not always use the veil when traveling appears
from the case of Sarah (ch. 20:16); but that brides did not discover their faces
to their intended husbands until after marriage may be inferred from the case
of Leah (ch. 29:23, 25). Thus modestly attired, she meekly yields herself to
one whom she had never before seen, in the confident persuasion that SO
67 “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah,
and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after
his mother's death.” And Isaac - receiving an account (v. 66) from his father's
faithful ambassador of all things that he had done - brought her into his mother
Sarah's tent (which must have been removed from
the family, if by this time they had changed their abode), and took Rebekah,
and she became his wife - the primitive marriage ceremony consisting solely
of a taking before witnesses (see Ruth 4:13). And he loved her. And he had
every reason; for, besides being beautiful and kindly and pious, she had for
his sake performed a heroic act of self-sacrifice, and, better still, had been
both selected for and bestowed upon him BY HIS OWN AND HIS FATHER’S
GOD! And Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. Literally, after his
mother; the word death not being in the original, "as if the Holy Spirit would
not conclude this beautiful and joyful narrative with a note of sorrow"
The Unfolding of the Divine Purpose (vs. 1-67)
stretches itself out to
Jehovah in all things, is fading from our sight. We must look on a new
generation and see the blessing expanded.
he will overrule the events and wills which seem to stand in the way. The
marriage of Isaac was a matter of most solemn moment. The earthly bonds
are blessed only when they are held up by the Divine covenant.
servant prayed for good speed, because it was in the spirit of dependence
upon Jehovah that the whole errand was undertaken. We have no ground
for expecting supernatural indications of the future, but when we commit
our way unto the Lord we may ask Him to show it. If it be well for us to
see it beforehand, which it sometimes is not, He will send us “kindness”
both in the occurrences and persons we meet.
SUPERINTENDENCE. The fair Mesopotamian is a suitable companion
for the heir of the patriarch. She is full of graciousness and activity, free
from pride, gentle, unsuspicious, generous, patient, self-sacrificing,
benevolent. Such characteristics are what the children of God desire to
transmit to their descendants. In the sight of so much that was lovely both
in person and character, the servant held his peace with wondering
thoughtfulness, waiting for and already anticipating the blessing of the
receiving the simple answer to his inquiry, and perceiving how the hand of
the Lord had been guiding him, he bowed his head, and worshipped (vs.
26-27). Those who wait for “the mercy and the truth” will not be left
destitute of it. Oh to be able at every step and stage of life to say, “Blessed
be the Lord!” to hear the salutation rendered us, “Come in, thou blessed of
connection from this moment with the thread of human affection,
sanctified by the grace of God, uniting them together. The house of
the house of
the measurement of space, but closely bound together henceforth by the
spiritual ties of a common faith and obedience IN THE NAME OF
JEHOVAH! The same Divine purpose which directed the servant’s way
moved the heart of the damsel. “She said, I will go.” She went out of the
midst of pure family affections; she was welcomed by one who saw her
coming when he was “meditating in the field at eventide,” doubtless in the
spirit of prayerful expectation; and who took her to his mother Sarah’s tent,
where she might be sure one who so tenderly mourned the loss of a mother
would know how to cherish a wife sent of God to comfort him. “He loved her.”
Religion is the only true guardian of domestic happiness, the only deep soil
in which the affections flourish.
Rebekah and Isaac (vs. 61-67)
Ø Mourning for his mother. Isaac’s meditation clearly includes this. Good
mothers, when they die, should be deeply and affectionately sorrowed for
by grateful and loving sons. A son who loves his mother living forgets not
to lament her dead. The best testimonial of filial piety is to know that a
son tenderly regards his mother while she lives, and cherishes her memory
when she is gone.
Ø Musing on his bride. This too the language will admit. Scarcely could
the thought of Eliezer’s mission be excluded from Isaac’s mind.
Doubtless he would often, during the interval of his absence, have his
silent wonderings about his return with the God-provided spouse.
Almost certainly too his prayers would ascend to heaven on her behalf.
He who asks a wife from God is most likely to receive one (I know I
did, praying from my youth – approximately 12 yrs. on – He did not
disappoint and this is one of the many reasons that I know God knows
best and that “...it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
Jeremiah 10:23 - CY – 2019), and he who frequently prays for the wife
of his youth is most likely to love her when she comes. Note that Isaac’s
mournings and musings were in the field at eventide. While any place
and time will suffice for heart exercises, some places and times are more
suitable than others, and none more so than the solitude of nature and the
darkening of eve.
intended husband, “she took a veil and covered herself.” The actions
Ø Rebekah’s politeness. Etiquette required both. It was satisfactory at
least that Isaac was about to receive as his wife a lady, one acquainted with
the gentle manners of the day. Refinement, while desirable in all, is
specially beautiful in woman. Elegance of manners are only second to
beauty of form in a bride.
Ø Rebekah’s modesty. Nothing can palliate immodesty in any, least of all in
the gentler sex. Hence, not only should maidens be educated with the
greatest possible attention to the cultivation of pure and delicate emotions,
but nothing should ever tempt them to cast aside that shield of maidenly
reserve which is one of their surest protections in the midst of life’s
dangers and seductions.
Ø The giving of the bride. This we can suppose was performed by Eliezer,
who, by his recital of “all things that he had done,” practically certified that
Rebekah was the maiden whom Jehovah had provided, and now in formal
act handed over to him to be his wife.
Ø The taking of the bride. “Isaac took Rebekah”, i.e. publicly and solemnly
accepted her in the presence of witnesses as his bride. Thus, without
elaborate or expensive Ceremonial, Rebekah “became his wife.”
Ø The home-coming of the bride. “Isaac brought her into his mother
Sarah’s tent,” and thus installed her in the honors as well as invested her
with the privileges of matron of his house.
Ø Isaac loved Rebekah. “So ought husbands to love their wives as their
own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). It is their duty; it ought to be their
happiness; it certainly will prove their interest.
Ø Rebekah comforted Isaac. So ought wives not merely “to reverence their
husbands” (ibid. v. 33), but to soothe their sorrows, cure their
cares, and dispel their despondencies.
1. That the son who sorrows for a mother will likely prove a husband that
can love a wife.
2. That maidens’ charms are most attractive when seen through a veil of
3. That those marriages are most auspicious which are made by God.
4. That those homes are happiest where husband and wife love and
comfort one another.
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