Well thank you for once again joining me as we continue in our study through the book of Genesis. I am your host Randy Duncan, and in this episode we are going to conclude chapter 24, which again, is the longest chapter in all of Genesis. Now, I will go ahead and give you a heads-up here, that there will be a bit more reading in this episode than normal, simply because we are covering more verses
In the last episode, we covered the first 28 verses, which dealt with Abraham’s servant being sent to find a wife for Isaac. And as you recall, he devised a test, which Rebekah passed with flying colors after their encounter at the well. And so it is here, beginning in verse 29 that we pick up the action, as Abraham’s servant will now meet Rebekah’s family.
29 Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. 30 As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32 So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”
So, Rebekah runs into the house and tells the family what has happened. Her brother Laban comes out to meet the servant, but notice that it says “as soon as he saw the rings and bracelets on his sister’s arms”. So whereas Rebekah innocently showed hospitality to a stranger, Laban appears to be motivated by greed. And this is a hint as to Laban’s character and what motivates him, as we will see in his later dealings with Jacob
Laban even says to the servant, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord”, but you kind of get the feeling he is not being genuine, and that his words lack sincerity, like he is just trying to butter him up.
So, the servant has food brought out to him, but he refuses to eat until he states why he has come, and what his purpose is for being there. He once again proves himself to be very responsible and determined, and even puts the mission before his own needs. And so he states his purpose beginning in verse 34.
34 -41 – 34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell, 38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my clan and take a wife for my son.’ 39 I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’ 40 But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. 41 Then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my clan. And if they will not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’
So the servant recounts his story up to this point. He speaks of how much God has blessed Abraham, of Isaac’s birth, and that Isaac is the sole heir of everything Abraham has. He also mentions the oath Abraham made the servant swear, which demonstrates the seriousness of the matter at hand.
Notice also that the servant doesn’t mention that Abraham is a God-fearing man, or that he was a moral and righteous man. Rather, he mentioned how wealthy Abraham was. The servant had probably already picked up on the fact that Laban was interested in material wealth, and so he focuses on that, most likely to impress Laban
By mentioning that Isaac was born to Sarah when Sarh was much older, it provides Rebekah’s family with the assurance that Isaac is not too old.
The servant also mentions the rejection of a Canaanite wife as a possibility, which was also an important detail, because, one, it explains why Isaac is not already married, and two, this would have told Rebekah’s family that her and Isaac’s children would be the sole heirs of all that Isaac had.
The servant continues to recount to Rebekah’s family the story that we are already familiar with from the last episode. And so he begins his recounting of the story in verse 42 – 42 “I came today to the spring and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, 43 behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’ 45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels drink also. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her arms. 48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
So again, the servant is recounting the story which we have already read, but that Rebekah’s family has not heard. It is necessary for him to do this in order to persuade the family that God has played a role in what has happened.
But once he has finished telling them the story, I love how he gets straight to the point in Verse 49 – Now then, if you are going to show love and faithfulness to my master, then tell me. And If not, tell me so that I can look elsewhere for a bride.
50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing has come from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.”
So both Rebekah’s brother and father admit that this is from God. Where they say that “we cannot speak to you bad or good”, that Hebrew expression “either good or bad” is an example of a merism, which is a literary device that expresses the totality of something through the combination of opposites. A modern-day example would be like saying that you have searched high and low, or near and far, simply meaning that you have searched everywhere.
And so when they respond to the servant that they can’t speak to the servant about this good or bad, they’re saying, this is from God, we can’t speak to this matter one way or the other, we have no choice in the matter. So take Rebekah and go, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken
52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the Lord. 53 And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments.
Notice again, and we touched on this in the last episode, that the servant never fails to stop and thank God
Also, in addition to the gifts he gives Rebekah, he now also gives gifts to the family. This was perhaps the bride price, which was compensation for the loss of the bride’s services and her potential offspring, which would now belong to the groom’s family
54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” 58 And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” 59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.
So what is at issue here is not consent to marriage, because that has already been given. What’s at issue is leaving right away and foregoing the customary leave-taking ceremonies
Now Laban and Rebekah’s mother say, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that, she may go”. Regarding this “at least 10 days”, the Hebrew literally says “days or ten”.
The duration of this time is actually ambiguous. The Targums interpret it to mean a year or 10 months, the Septuagint translated it as “a few days, say ten”. It could mean a few days or a few years.
But the servant said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way.” Interesting that he invokes God’s involvement as sort of a warning not to detain him or delay him.
But either way, they call Rebekah and ask her if she will go. Now, some believe they were asking Rebekah if she would leave right away, since it was customary for there to be ceremonies. However, others interpret this as unethical since they had already agreed to the marriage. And again, this hints at Laban’s shady conduct and greed which will later cause Jacob troubles.
But what was Rebekah’s response? I will go. It is a very direct and decisive response. In fact, it reminds us of Abraham’s faith to leave his family when God called him. Abraham left his family, he left his land, and Rebekah is about to do the same.
And so they sent Rebekah and her nurse away. Now the nurse was a bit different from what we think of as a nurse. The Hebrew refers to a “wet nurse”, who also had responsibility to raise the child and serve as a sort of guardian. She would have been an esteemed member of the family. She will now go with Rebekah as as a chaperon. We will learn later that this nurse is Deborah, and she will have a role to play in Rebekah’s future story.
60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him! 61 Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way.
This farewell and blessing for Rebekah is concerned with progeny and security, and is the same blessing that God bestowed upon Abraham following the Akedah, the sacrifice of Isaac.
To this day, at Jewish weddings, these words of blessing are directed by the rabbi to a bride when she is veiled just prior to the wedding ceremony
The last five verses of this chapter…62 Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65 and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Now it says that Isaac went out to “meditate” in the field. That Hebrew word used here for meditate ???, has a bit of an uncertain meaning. Some interpret it to mean “in order to talk with friends, others as “in order to meditate”, but the most popular rabbinic understanding has Isaac praying”
But Isaac looks up, and he sees the caravan of camels approaching. It also says that Rebekah lifted up her eyes and saw Isaac. In fact, the Hebrew uses the same phraseology for the actions of both Isaac and Rebekah, which conveys the idea that this happened simultaneously. IOW, their eyes met in instant recognition, with each one instinctively knowing who the other was.
Notice that the servant introduces Isaac as “my master”. We see the transition from Abraham to Isaac, where Isaac is the successor to Abraham, and now Rebekah will be the successor to Sarah.
We also see that Rebekah took her veil and covered herself. Rebekah’s veiling of herself upon meeting her future husband is the origin of the custom of veiling the bride in the Jewish marriage ceremony
It also tells us in the last verse that Isaac took Rebekah as his wife, and he loved her. The first reference to love in the Bible was back a couple of chapters, in chapter 22, when God instructed Abraham to take his son Isaac, whom he loved, and offer him. That was the first reference to love in the Bible, and it was a love a parent has for a child. Right here, in this last verse, we see the second reference of love in the Bible, and it relates to the love between husband and wife. These are the two greatest loves in life.
And I want to bring this episode to a close by reminding you about the typology, the foreshadowing, that we discussed a couple of episodes ago. Remember, Abraham, the father, sacrificing the son, Isaac. It was a foreshadowing of God the father’s sacrifice of His only son. And Isaac, the son, carrying the wood for his own sacrifice up the hill. And we know that 2000 years later, in that spot, a Father would sacrifice his son. Like I said, we went over this a couple of episodes ago.
But now, I want to layer on one additional piece, Abraham’s servant. We have already talked about the typology, the foreshadowing, of the father and son, but what about the Holy Spirit? This is where Abraham’s servant comes in.
Remember, the father, Abraham, sent his servant to obtain a bride for his son. The servant is never named, and never speaks of himself. He is always talking about either the father or the son. The Spirit of God, like the servant of Abraham, has come to talk about another, to introduce us to another, namely, the father and the son.
In this story, this servant has gone to get a bride for Isaac, just like the Holy Spirit has come to obtain a bride for Christ.
Again, the servant’s name is not given. Jesus told us in John chapter 16 that when the Holy Spirit comes, he will not talk of Himself, but will take the things of mine and show them to you.
And this is exactly what we see with the servant here. The servant doesn’t come to speak of himself, but of another. The servant tells about the father’s house. He tells that the son will inherit all things from the father. The servant has come to tell this family that he is after a bride for his master’s son, who is going to inherit all things. Remember also, that once Isaaac, the son, is “sacrificed”, we do not see him or hear from him again until when? When he is united with his bride. Likewise, once Jesus was sacrificed, crucified, and rose again, and ascended, he will not be seen again until when? until he comes for his bride, the church, that is, believers
When Rebekah was introduced to the father and the son, and asked if she would go, she said, “I will go”. But what about you? When the spirit of God introduces you to God the father, and to the son, Jesus Christ, how will you respond? Will you, like Rebekah, follow? Will you go? Will you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior? I pray you will.