Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
After the death of Sarah, Abraham had still to arrange for the marriage of Isaac. He was induced to provide for this in a mode in harmony with the promise of God, quite as much by his increasing age as by the blessing of God in everything, which necessarily instilled the wish to transmit that blessing to a distant posterity. He entrusted this commission to his servant, "the eldest of his house," - i.e., his upper servant, who had the management of all his house (according to general opinion, to Eliezer, whom he had previously thought of as the heir of his property, but who would now, like Abraham, be extremely old, as more than sixty years had passed since the occurrence related in Genesis 15:2), - and made him swear that he would not take a wife for his son from the daughters of the Canaanites, but would fetch one from his (Abraham's) native country, and his kindred. Abraham made the servant take an oath in order that his wishes might be inviolably fulfilled, even if he himself should die in the interim. In swearing, the servant put his hand under Abraham's hip. This custom, which is only mentioned here and in Genesis 47:29, the so-called bodily oath, was no doubt connected with the significance of the hip as the part from which the posterity issued (Genesis 46:26), and the seat of vital power; but the early Jewish commentators supposed it to be especially connected with the rite of circumcision. The oath was by "Jehovah, God of heaven and earth," as the God who rules in heaven and on earth, not by Elohim; for it had respect not to an ordinary oath, but to a question of great importance in relation to the kingdom of God. "Isaac was not regarded as a merely pious candidate for matrimony, but as the heir of the promise, who must therefore be kept from any alliance with the race whose possessions were to come to his descendants, and which was ripening for the judgment to be executed by those descendants" (Hengstenberg, Dissertations i. 350). For this reason the rest of the negotiation was all conducted in the name of Jehovah.
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:
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:
But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
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?
Before taking the oath, the servant asks whether, in case no woman of their kindred would follow him to Canaan, Isaac was to be conducted to the land of his fathers. But Abraham rejected the proposal, because Jehovah took him from his father's house, and had promised him the land of Canaan for a possession. He also discharged the servant, if that should be the case, from the oath which he had taken, in the assurance that the Lord through His angel would bring a wife to his son from thence.
And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
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.
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 the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
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 Nahor.
The servant then went, with ten camels and things of every description belonging to his master, into Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor, i.e., Haran, where Nahor dwelt (Genesis 11:31, and Genesis 12:4). On his arrival there, he made the camels kneel down, or rest, without the city by the well, "at the time of evening, the time at which the women come out to draw water," and at which, now as then, women and girls are in the habit of fetching the water required for the house (vid., Robinson's Palestine ii. 368ff.). He then prayed to Jehovah, the God of Abraham, "Let there come to meet me to-day," sc., the person desired, the object of my mission. He then fixed upon a sign connected with the custom of the country, by the occurrence of which he might decide upon the maiden (הנּער puella, used in the Pentateuch for both sexes, except in Deuteronomy 22:19, where נערה occurs) whom Jehovah had indicated as the wife appointed for His servant Isaac. הוכיח (Genesis 24:14) to set right, then to point out as right; not merely to appoint. He had scarcely ended his prayer when his request was granted. Rebekah did just what he had fixed upon as a token, not only giving him to drink, but offering to water his camels, and with youthful vivacity carrying out her promise. Niebuhr met with similar kindness in those regions (see also Robinson, Pal. ii. 351, etc.). The servant did not give himself blindly up to first impressions, however, but tested the circumstances.
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 said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.
Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:
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 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 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 servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
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 the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.
"The man, wondering at her, stood silent, to know whether Jehovah had made his journey prosperous or not." משׁתּאה, from שׁאה to be desert, inwardly laid waste, i.e., confused. Others derive it from שׁאה equals שׁעה to see; but in the Hithpael this verb signifies to look restlessly about, which is not applicable here.
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;
After the watering of the camels was over, the man took a golden nose-ring of the weight of a beka, i.e., half a shekel (Exodus 38:26), and two golden armlets of 10 shekels weight, and (as we find from Genesis 24:30 and Genesis 24:47) placed these ornaments upon her, not as a bridal gift, but in return for her kindness. He then asked her about her family, and whether there was room in her father's house for him and his attendants to pass the night there; and it was not trill after Rebekah had told him that she was the daughter of Bethuel, the nephew of Abraham, and had given a most cheerful assent to his second question, that he felt sure that this was the wife appointed by Jehovah for Isaac. He then fell down and thanked Jehovah for His grace and truth, whilst Rebekah in the meantime had hastened home to relate all that had occurred to "her mother's house," i.e., to the female portion of her family. חסד the condescending love, אמת the truth which God had displayed in the fulfilment of His promise, and here especially manifested to him in bringing him to the home of his master's relations.
And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?
And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.
She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.
And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.
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 the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.
And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.
As soon as Laban her brother had seen the splendid presents and heard her account, he hurried out to the stranger at the well, to bring him to the house with his attendants and animals, and to show to him the customary hospitality of the East. The fact that Laban addressed him as the blessed of Jehovah (Genesis 24:31), may be explained from the words of the servant, who had called his master's God Jehovah. The servant discharged his commission before he partook of the food set before him (the Kethibh ויישׂם in Genesis 24:33 is the imperf. Kal of ישׂם equals שׂוּם); and commencing with his master's possessions and family affairs, he described with the greatest minuteness his search for a wife, and the success which he had thus far met with, and then (in Genesis 24:49) pressed his suit thus: "And now, if he will show kindness and truth to my lord, tell me; and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand or to the left," sc., to seek in other families a wife for Isaac.
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 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 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 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 he said, I am Abraham's servant.
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.
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.
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:
But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.
And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.
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:
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.
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:
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.
Laban and Bethuel recognised in this the guidance of God, and said, "From Jehovah (the God of Abraham) the thing proceedeth; we cannot speak unto thee bad or good," i.e., cannot add a word, cannot alter anything (Numbers 24:13; 2 Samuel 13:22). That Rebekah's brother Laban should have taken part with her father in deciding, was in accordance with the usual custom (cf. Genesis 34:5, Genesis 34:11, Genesis 34:25; Judges 21:22; 2 Samuel 13:22), which may have arisen from the prevalence of polygamy, and the readiness of the father to neglect the children (daughters) of the wife he cared for least.
Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken.
And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.
After receiving their assent, the servant first of all offered thanks to Jehovah with the deepest reverence; he then gave the remaining presents to the bride, and to her relations (brother and mother); and after everything was finished, partook of the food provided.
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.
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.
The next morning he desired at once to set off on the journey home; but her brother and mother wished to keep her with them עשׁור או ימים, "some days, or rather ten;" but when she was consulted, she decided to so, sc., without delay. "Then they sent away Rebekah their sister (Laban being chiefly considered, as the leading person in the affair) and her nurse" (Deborah; Genesis 35:8), with the parting wish that she might become the mother of an exceedingly numerous and victorious posterity. "Become thousands of myriads" is a hyperbolical expression for an innumerable host of children. The second portion of the blessing (Genesis 24:60) is almost verbatim the same as Genesis 22:17, but is hardly borrowed thence, as the thought does not contain anything specifically connected with the history of salvation.
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 he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.
And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth.
And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.
And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men.
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.
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.
When the caravan arrived in Canaan with Rebekah and her maidens, Isaac had just come from going to the well Lahai-Roi (Genesis 16:14), as he was then living in the south country; and he went towards evening (ערב לפנות, at the turning, coming on, of the evening, Deuteronomy 23:12) to the field "to meditate." It is impossible to determine whether Isaac had been to the well of Hagar which called to mind the omnipresence of God, and there, in accordance with his contemplative character, had laid the question of his marriage before the Lord (Delitzsch), or whether he had merely travelled thither to look after his flocks and herds (Knobel). But the object of his going to the field to meditate, was undoubtedly to lay the question of his marriage before God in solitude. שׂוּח, meditari, is rendered "to pray" in the Chaldee, and by Luther and others, with substantial correctness. The caravan arrived at the time; and Rebekah, as soon as she saw the man in the field coming to meet them, sprang (נפל signifying a hasty descent, 2 Kings 5:21) from the camel to receive him, according to Oriental custom, in the most respectful manner. She then inquired the name of the man; and as soon as she heard that it was Isaac, she enveloped herself in her veil, as became a bride when meeting the bridegroom. צעיף, θέπιστρον, the cloak-like veil of Arabia (see my Archologie, 103, 5). The servant then related to Isaac the result of his journey; and Isaac conducted the maiden, who had been brought to him by God, into the tent of Sarah his mother, and she became his wife, and he loved her, and was consoled after his mother, i.e., for his mother's death. האהלה, with ה local, in the construct state, as in Genesis 20:1; Genesis 28:2, etc.; and in addition to that, with the article prefixed (cf. Ges. Gram. 110, 2bc).
And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.
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 Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
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.
And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
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.