And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
Verse 1. - And Abraham was old and well stricken in age: - literally, [lone into days (cf. Genesis 18:11), being now about 140 (vide Genesis 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.
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:
Verses 2-4. - 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, - cf. sheikh, senatus, γέρων, 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 (Genesis 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 chap. 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 (cf. Genesis 35:11; Genesis 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 (cf. Genesis 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) thou shalt go unto my country (not Ur of the Chaldees, but the region beyond the Euphrates generally), and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 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).
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?
Verse 5. - 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.
And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
Verses 6-8. - And Abraham said, Beware thou - literally, beware for thyself, the pleonastic pronoun being added by way of emphasis (cf. Genesis 12:1; Genesis 21:16; Genesis 22:5) - that thou bring not my son thither again. Literally, lest thou cause my son to, return thither; Abraham speaking of Isaac s going to Mesopotamia as a return, either because he regarded Isaac, though then unborn, as having come out with him from Mesopotamia, cf. Hebrews 7:10 (Wordsworth), or because he viewed himself and his descendants as a whole, as in Genesis 15:16 (Rosenmüller). The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father's house, and from the house of my kindred, - vide Genesis 12:1. This was the first consideration that prevented the return of either himself or his son. Having emigrated from Mesopotamia in obedience to a call of Heaven, not without a like instruction were they at liberty to return - and who spake unto me, - i.e. honored me with Divine communications (vide supra) - and (in particular) that sware unto me, - vide Genesis 15:17, 18; the covenant transaction therein recorded having all the force of an oath (cf. Genesis 22:16) - saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land. Here was a second consideration that negatived 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 to Israel (Exodus 23:20), and to the Christian Church (Hebrews 1:14) - and thou shalt take a wife unto my Ben 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 bold 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 and disobedience.
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.
Verse 9. - 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.
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.
Verse 10. - And the servant took ten camels of the 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 vide Genesis 12:16 - and departed. Either from Hebron (Genesis 23:19), or from the south country, near Beer-lahai-roi (Genesis 24:62). For all 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 - cf. 2 Kings 8:9 (LXX., 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 Palestine along the west side of the Jordan and the lakes, into the Buk'ah, and out through the land of Hamath to the Euphrates, and thence ('Land and Book,' p. 591) - to Mesopotamia, - Aram-Naharaim, i.e. the Aram of the two rivers; Aram meaning the high region, from aram, to be high - an ancient and domestic name for Syria, not altogether unknown to the Greeks; vide Hom., 'Il., 2:783; Hes., 'Theog.,' 304; Strabo, 13:4 (Gesenius). Standing alone it signifies Western Syria (Judges 3:10; 1 Kings 10:29; 1 Kings 11:25; 1 Kings 15:18), and especially Syria of Damascus (2 Samuel 8:6; Isaiah 7:1, 8; Amos 1:5); when Mesopotamia is intended it is conjoined with Naharaim (upon Egyptian monuments Naharina; vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 2. pp. 32, 61, 67), the two rivers being the Tigris and the Euphrates, or Padan, the field or plain, as in Genesis 25:20. The latter is not 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 Mesopotamia, viz., of that where Laban dwelt. Unto the city of Nahor - i.e. Haran, or Charran (Genesis 28:10; vide Genesis 11:31). Nahor must have migrated thither either along with or shortly after Torah.
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.
Verse 11. - 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).
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.
Verses 12-14. - And he said, - commencing his search for the maiden by prayer, as he closes it with thanksgiving (ver. 26) - a beautiful example of piety and of the fruits of Abraham's care for the souls of his household, Genesis 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, make the way prosperous before me (LXX.); 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 (cf. ver. 43) - and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water (vide on ver. 11, and cf. Genesis 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 (cf. Genesis 14:24; Genesis 18:7; q.v.). In the Pentateuch it occurs twenty-two times, without the feminine termination, meaning a girl (vide Genesis 24:16, 28, 55; Genesis 34:3, 12; Deuteronomy 20:15, &c.); 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 (ver. 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 (LXX.), per hoc (Vulgate); but rather, by her, i.e. the damsel - shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.
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.
Verse 15. - And it came to pass (not certainly by accident, but by Divine arrangement), before he had done speaking, that, - his prayer was answered (cf. Isaiah 65:24; Daniel 9:20, 21). From ver. 45 it appears that the servant's prayer was not articulately spoken, but offered "in his heart;" whence the LXX. add ἐν τῇ διανοίᾳ αὐτοῦ ( <ΒΤΤ·Ξομμενταρψ Ωορδ>behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother (vide Genesis 22:23), with her pitcher - the cad (cf. κάδος, 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 hip (vide Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 592).
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.
Verse 16. - And the damsel was very fair to look upon. Literally, good of countenance, like Sarah (Genesis 12:11) and Rachel (Genesis 29:17; cf. Genesis 26:7 of Rebekah). A virgin. Bethulah, i.e. one separated and secluded from intercourse with men; from batik, to seclude (cf. Deuteronomy 22:23, 28; 2 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.
And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
Verses 17-19. - 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).
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.
Verse 20. - 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).
And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.
Verse 21. - And the man wondering at her - gazing with attention on her (LXX., 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 (cf. 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 Canaan? - points of moment to the solution of which he now proceeds.
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;
Verses 22-27. - 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 (LXX., Vulgate) nor a jewel for the forehead (A.V., margin), but a ring for the nose (ver. 47), the side cartilage, and sometimes the central wall, of which was pierced for the purpose of admitting it (cf. 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 (sc. 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; some- times 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 (cf. ver. 15) - which she bare unto Nahor. This appears to have been the stage at which the jewels were presented (ver. 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 vide Genesis 2:26), 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 ale truth (i.e. the faithfulness which implements promises) from ( = from the house of, as in Exodus 8:8, 25, 26; Gesenius) my master (cf. Psalm 57:3; Psalm 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.
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.
Verse 28. - And the damsel - הַגַּעַרָ (vide on ver. 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.
And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.
Verse 29. - 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 vide ver. 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 - cf. Genesis 34:13; Judges 21:22; 2 Samuel 13:22 (Rosenmüller, Michaelis).
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.
Verse 30. - And it cams to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands (vide ver. 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.
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.
Verse 31. - And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord. בְּרוּך יהוָה (cf. Genesis 26:29; Numbers 24:9); the usual form being לַיַהוָה (vide Genesis 14:19; Ruth 2:20; 1 Samuel 15:13). Though Laban was an idolater (Genesis 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 learnt 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, arid, in expectation of thine arrival) I have prepared the house, - or, put the house in order, by clearing it from things in confusion (cf. Leviticus 14:36) - and room (i.e. place) 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.
Verse 32. - 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 (cf. Job 21:18; Isaiah 11:7; Isaiah 65:25) - and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet (cf. Genesis 18:4; Genesis 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.
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.
Verse 33. - And there was set - appositus eat (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 fur. Kal of יָשַׂם, signifying, "and he set;" παρέθηκεν (LXX.) - 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 (vide Mark 6:31; John 4:34). And he (i.e. Laban) said, Speak on.
And he said, I am Abraham's servant.
Verses 34-49. - 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 (cf. ver. 27) - with (or, to) my master, tell me: and if not, toll 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.
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.
Verses 50-52. - Then Laban and Bethuel (vide on ver. 29) answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: - Jehovah (vide on ver. 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 (cf. ver. 26).
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.
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.
Verses 53, 54. - And the servant brought forth jewels - literally, vessels (σκεύη, LXX.), the idea being that of things finished or completed; from כָּלָה, to finish (cf. Genesis 31:37; Genesis 45:20) - of silver, and jewels (or vessels) of gold, and raiment, - covering garments, e.g. the outer robes of Orientals (Genesis 20:11, 12, 13, 15; Genesis 41:42); especially precious ones (1 Kings 22:10) - and gave them to Rebekah - as betrothal presents, which are absolutely essential, and usually given with much ceremony before witnesses (vide '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 2 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 (ver. 33) - he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; - literally, and passed the night (cf. Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:25) - 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.
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 her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.
Verse 55. - And her brother and her mother - Laban as usual (ver. 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, sagtem); as it were (LXX., &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 שָׁבוּעַor hebdomad. That ten months are meant (Chaldee, Arabic, Ainsworth) is probably incorrect. 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.
Verses 56-60. - 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 (Genesis 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 (vide Genesis 22:17) of those which hate them.
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.
Verse 61. - 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 (Genesis 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 he invested with additional charms, as his young master's intended bride), and went his way - returning by the road he came.
And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.
Verse 62. - And (when the bridal train was nearing home) Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; - Hagar's well (Genesis 16:7, 14) - for he dwelt in the south country - on the Negeb (vide Genesis 12:9). Abraham may by this time have removed from Hebron; or, if Hebron be included in the south country, Isaac may have been only on a visit to Hagar's well (Lange).
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.
Verse 63. - And Isaac went out to meditate - לָשׂוּח; to think (LXX., 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 (ver. 67), though chiefly, it is probable, anent the marriage he contemplated (Keil) - in the field at the eventide. Literally, at the turning of the evening (cf. Deuteronomy 23:12; and for corresponding phrase, "when the morning draws on," Exodus 14:27; Judges 19:26; Psalm 46:6). 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.
And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
Verse 64. - 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 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:23; 2 Kings 5:21); κατεπήδησεν (LXX.); descended (Vulgate) - off the camel. "The behavior of Rebekah was such as modern etiquette requires" (vide Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 593).
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.
Verse 65. - 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 Arabia" (Keil), which 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 (Genesis 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 (Genesis 29:23, 25). Thus modestly attired, she meekly yields herself to one whom she had never before seen, in the confident persuasion that so Jehovah willed.
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.
Verse 67. - And Isaac - receiving an account (ver. 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 Hebron as a precious relic of 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 (vide 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" (Wordsworth).