And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.Genesis 24:1. Abraham was old — One hundred and forty years of age, as appears by comparing Genesis 21:5, with Genesis 25:20. This was about three years after Sarah’s death, and when Isaac was forty years old. So that, although a numerous progeny was so much desired, no great haste was made to get Isaac married. The Lord had blessed Abraham in all things — And yet Abraham had many and severe trials; but even these were blessings in disguise.
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:Genesis 24:2. His eldest servant — Probably Eliezer of Damascus. Abraham spake of him, sixty years before this, as the steward of his house. He was, therefore, far advanced in years; and he appears, in this chapter, to have been a person of singular wisdom and piety. Thy hand under my thigh — A ceremony used in swearing by inferiors toward superiors, as a testimony of subjection, and a promise of faithful service; see also Genesis 47:29.
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:Genesis 24:3. I will make thee swear — This was both for Abraham’s own satisfaction, and to engage his servant to all possible care and diligence in this important business. Thus God swears his servants to their work, that, having sworn, they may perform it. By the Lord, (Hebrews Jehovah,) the God of heaven and the God of earth — Observe with what reverence Abraham speaks of God, and with what solemnity this oath is administered and taken! And see how careful Abraham is that his son should not marry one of corrupt principles and manners. He was in such high esteem among the Canaanites, that, undoubtedly, he could have married Isaac to a daughter of one of the princes of the land. But he saw that the Canaanites were degenerating into great wickedness, and knew that they were designed for ruin; and he would not marry his son among them, lest they should be a snare to his soul. To obtain for him, as a partner in life, a person of piety and virtue, is his chief, if not his sole concern, and therefore he sends even to a distant country for such a one. Alas! how different is this from the conduct of many! Wealth and dignity are the chief objects they fix their thoughts on in marrying their children. They seek not in their choice those that are sincere and devout worshippers of God, but those who have the largest possessions; not those rich in good works, but those rich in the world. And this, perhaps, is one chief and principal cause of the great corruption of manners among us.
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?
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.Genesis 24:7. He shall send his angel before thee — God’s angels are ministering spirits, sent forth, not only for the protection, but guidance of the heirs of promise, Hebrews 1:14. And they who are thus guided are sure to speed well.
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.
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.Genesis 24:11. He made his camels to kneel down — Probably to unload them; kneeling, however, is the posture in which they take their rest. Dr. Shaw, giving an account of his journeys between Cairo and mount Sinai, says, “Our camels were made to kneel down in a circle round about us; and in this situation, as they are very watchful, and awake with the least noise, they served us instead of a guard.”
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.Genesis 24:12. Send me good speed — What a noble example is here for all servants to imitate their masters in all goodness! Abraham’s servant, we find, had not lived in his master’s house without profiting by his example; he shows the like faith and dependance upon God as his master manifested; and this being a business of great consequence about which he is sent, he does not rest upon his own prudence and wisdom, but begs the blessing and direction of God in it. And what can be more desirable in our undertakings than to be under the guidance of infinite wisdom? And we have leave to be particular in recommending our affairs to the care of Divine Providence. Those that would have good speed must pray for it this day, in this affair. Thus we must, in all our ways, acknowledge God, and then he will direct our paths.
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.Genesis 24:14. Let it come to pass — He prays that God would be pleased to make his way plain and clear before him, by the concurrence of minute circumstances in his favour. It is the comfort, as well as the belief, of a good man, that God’s providence extends itself to the smallest occurrences, and admirably serves its own purposes by them.
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.Genesis 24:15. And before he had done speaking, behold, Rebekah came out — Who, in all respects, answered the characters he wished for in the woman that was to be his master’s wife; handsome and healthful, humble and industrious, courteous and obliging to a stranger. And Providence so ordered it, that she did that which exactly answered his sign. God, in his providence, doth sometimes wonderfully own the prayer of faith, and gratify the innocent desires of his praying people, even in little things, that he may show the extent of his care, and may encourage them at all times to seek him, and trust in him; yet we must take heed of being over bold in prescribing to God, lest the event should weaken our faith rather than strengthen it. And the concurrence of providences, and their minute circumstances, for the furtherance of our success in any business, ought to be particularly observed with wonder and thankfulness to the glory of God. We have been wanting to ourselves, both in duty and comfort, by neglecting to observe providence.
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.Genesis 24:19. She said, I will draw water for thy camels also — What amiable qualities does Rebekah show! What condescension! what good-nature! what humanity! The servant asks only to drink a little water out of her pitcher, and she not only gives this with the most obliging courtesy, but hastens to draw water for all his camels. Well might the servant wonder with pleasure, and conclude that God had made his journey prosperous. The only thing that kept him in doubt about it was his not knowing whether she was of Abraham’s kindred. One of so much condescension, good-nature, humanity, courtesy, and readiness to oblige, he concluded, would certainly make his master’s son happy in the marriage state; and therefore he had requested of God that the person whom he had appointed for Isaac’s wife should act in such a manner.
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.
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;Genesis 24:22. Two bracelets of ten shekels weight of gold — That is, about six ounces. According to Sir J. Chardin, the women wear rings and bracelets of as great weight as this through all Asia, and even much heavier. St. Paul and St. Peter have directed Christians to a more excellent way of adorning themselves; “not with gold, or pearls, or costly array, but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works;” “whose adorning, let it not be that outward plaiting of the hair, and of wearing of gold, but in that which is not corruptible, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which, in the sight of God, is of great price.”
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.Genesis 24:27. Blessed be the Lord God of my master — Here again this servant shows a noble example in returning thanks to God, as soon as he finds that his errand is likely to succeed. He had prayed for good speed, and, having sped well so far, he blesses God, although, as yet, he is not certain what the issue may be. Thus ought we to do: when God’s favours are coming toward us, we ought to meet them with our praises; giving thanks for all our successes in business, for all our prosperous and safe journeys, for our being comfortably situated in life, our being happily married, our having obedient children, our being placed among, and in favour with good men. For all these things we ought to give God the glory, and return him continual thanks and praise from grateful hearts, truly sensible that it is he that giveth us all good things. The Lord hath led me to the house of my master’s brethren — Those that were come out of Ur of the Chaldees, though they were not come to Canaan, but stayed in Haran. They were not idolaters, but worshippers of the true God, and inclinable to the religion of Abraham’s family.
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.
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.Genesis 24:31. Come in, thou blessed of the Lord — Such was the beautiful language of those ancient times, whereby a sense of God was constantly kept up in their minds. How little is this language used in our day! Perhaps, because they heard from Rebekah of the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, they concluded that he was a good man, and therefore blessed of the Lord.
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.Genesis 24:33. I will not eat till I have told my errand — What a fine picture of diligence and zeal for a master’s service is this! How worthy to be imitated by all servants! Though it was after a long journey, and much fatigue, yet so impatient is he to do his master’s business, that he will not eat till he has proceeded in it.
And he said, I am Abraham's servant.Genesis 24:34. I am Abraham’s servant — Abraham’s name, no doubt, was well known among them, and respected; and we may suppose them not altogether ignorant of his state; for Abraham knew theirs, Genesis 22:20.
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.Genesis 24:45. Before I had done speaking in my heart — Which perhaps he mentions, lest it should be suspected that Rebekah had overheard his prayer, and designedly complied with it; no, saith he, I spake it in my heart, so that none heard it but God, to whom thoughts are words, and from whom the answer came.
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.Genesis 24:50. The thing proceedeth from the Lord — He, in his providence, evidently favoured it, and therefore they properly concluded that it was his will; which is the only safe rule of conduct in all cases. And in those which are of peculiar importance, as the proper choice of a partner in marriage certainly is, we should use every prudent means to know God’s will, especially the means used by Abraham’s servant, fervent prayer, and observing the openings of providence. A marriage is then likely to be comfortable, when it appears to proceed from the Lord.
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.Genesis 24:52. He worshipped the Lord — As his good success went on, he went on to bless God. Those that pray without ceasing, should in every thing give thanks, and own God in every step of mercy.
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.
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.Genesis 24:55. Let her abide a few days, at least ten — The words in the Hebrew here, ימים או עשׂור, are rather equivocal, and may be rendered, as in the margin, a full year, or ten months, the word translated days being sometimes put for a year. And if we may credit Jewish writers, it was customary for a virgin to have twelve months allowed her to furnish herself with ornaments. But it is very improbable that Rebekah’s friends should desire or expect such a thing from this man, considering how anxious he was to return immediately.
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.Genesis 24:57. Call the damsel, and inquire — As children ought not to marry without their parents’ consent, so parents ought not to marry them without their own. Before the matter is resolved on, ask at the damsel’s mouth; she is a party concerned, and therefore ought to be principally consulted.
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.Genesis 24:59. Rebekah and her nurse — Deborah, as appears from chap. Genesis 35:8; where we learn that she was held in great esteem, as indeed nurses in general were in ancient times, both in Asia and in Greece.
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.Genesis 24:60. They blessed Rebekah — The meaning of this verse is, that they prayed God to make her very fruitful, and to render her posterity victorious over their enemies. They said, Thou art our sister — Our near kinswoman; distance of place shall not alienate our affections from thee; but we will still own thee as our sister, and be ready to perform all the duties of brethren to thee.
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.Genesis 24:61. And her damsels — It seems then, when she went to the well for water, it was not because she had no servants at command, but because she took pleasure in these instances of humanity and industry.
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.Genesis 24:63. He went out to meditate (or pray) in the field at the even-tide — Some think he expected his servants about this time, and went out on purpose to meet them. But it should seem he went out to take the advantage of a silent evening, and a solitary field, for meditation and prayer. Our walks in the field are then truly pleasant, when in them we apply ourselves to meditation and prayer: we there have a free and open prospect of the heavens above us, and the earth around us, and the hosts and riches of both, by the view of which we should be led to the contemplation of the Maker and Owner of all. Merciful providences are then doubly comfortable, when they find us in the way of our duty. It is probable Isaac was now praying for good success in this affair, and meditating upon that which was proper to encourage his hope in God concerning it; and now, when he sets himself, as it were, upon his watchtower, to see what God would answer him, he sees the camels coming.
Genesis 24:64-65. She lighted off her camel, and took a veil, &c. — In token of humility, modesty, and subjection. The bride was wont to be veiled when she was introduced to her husband. Among the Arabs the women never appear in public without veils.
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.