Genesis 24:50
Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceeds from the LORD: we cannot speak to you bad or good.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(50) Laban and Bethuel.—See Note on Genesis 24:28. Even when thus tardily mentioned, the father is placed after the brother; and of this we need look for no further explanation than that by polygamy the father was estranged from his own children, while each separate family held very closely together. Thus when Dinah was wronged, it was two of her mother’s sons, Simeon and Levi, who avenged her (Genesis 34:13-25); and so it was Absalom who avenged Tamar (2Samuel 13:22). Still, Bethuel’s consent was finally necessary; but as soon as it was given all active arrangements were left to the mother and Laban (Genesis 24:53-55), and Bethuel is mentioned no more.

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.24:29-53 The making up of the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah is told very particularly. We are to notice God's providence in the common events of human life, and in them to exercise prudence and other graces. Laban went to ask Abraham's servant in, but not till he saw the ear-ring, and bracelet upon his sister's hands. We know Laban's character, by his conduct afterwards, and may think that he would not have been so free to entertain him, if he had not hoped to be well rewarded for it. The servant was intent upon his business. Though he was come off a journey, and come to a good house, he would not eat till he had told his errand. The doing our work, and the fulfilling our trusts, either for God or man, should be preferred by us before our food: it was our Saviour's meat and drink, Joh 4:34. He tells them the charge his master had given him, with the reason of it. He relates what had happened at the well, to further the proposal, plainly showing the finger of God in it. Those events which to us seem the effect of choice, contrivance, or chance, are appointed out of God. This hinders not, but rather encourages the use of all proper means. They freely and cheerfully close with the proposal; and any matter is likely to be comfortable, when it proceeds from the Lord. Abraham's servant thankfully acknowledges the good success he had met with. He was a humble man, and humble men are not ashamed to own their situation in life, whatever it may be. All our temporal concerns are sweet if intermixed with godliness.The servant's return with Rebekah. So plain an interposition of Providence admits of no refusal on the part of those who revere the Lord. Bethuel now appears as a concurring party. Laban, as the full brother of Rebekah, has a voice in the disposal of her hand; but the father only has the power to ratify the contract. The patriarch's servant first bows in acknowledgment to the Lord, who had now manifested his approval of the choice he had made, and then proceeds to distribute costly gifts to the bride, and to her brother and mother. Now at length the thankful guest partakes of the fare set before him along with his entertainers, and after the night's repose requests to be dismissed. "A few days;" perhaps a week or ten days. The mother and brother naturally plead for a little time to prepare for parting with Rebekah. They could not expect the servant, however, to stay months.

"Inquire at her mouth." This is the only free choice in the matter that seems to be given to Rebekah. Her consent may have been modestly indicated, before her family ratified the contract. It is plain, however, that it was thought proper that the parents should receive and decide upon a proposal of marriage. The extent to which the maiden's inclinations would be consulted would depend very much on the custom of the country, and the intelligence and good feeling of the parents. In later times the custom became very arbitrary. Rebekah's decision shows that she concurred in the consent of her relatives. "And her nurse." Her name, we learn afterward Genesis 35:8, was Deborah. The nurse accompanied the bride as her confidential adviser and faithful attendant, and died in her service; a beautiful trait of ancient manners. The blessing consists in a boundless offspring, and the upper hand over their enemies. These are indicative of a thin population, and a comparatively rude state of society. "And her damsels." We here learn, again, incidentally, that Rebekah had more female attendants than her nurse.

50. Then Laban and Bethuel answered—The brothers conduct all the marriage negotiations, their father being probably dead, and without consulting their sister. Their language seems to indicate they were worshippers of the true God. Laban is put first, either because this Bethuel was not his father, but his younger brother, as Josephus thinks; or because Laban was the chief manager of this business, to whom his father seems to have committed the care of his family, being himself unfit for it through age or infirmity.

The thing proceedeth from the Lord, from God’s counsel and special providence. Hereby it appears they had the knowledge and worship of the true God among them, though they added idols to him. We cannot without opposing God speak or act any thing which may hinder thy design, or thwart thy desire. Compare Genesis 31:24,29 2 Samuel 13:22. Then Laban and Bethuel answered,.... The order of the words in the original is, "then answered Laban and Bethuel"; the word for "answered" is in the singular number, from whence it may be concluded, that Laban gave the answer in the name of Bethuel, he consenting to it, who might be an old man, and left the management of his family affairs to his son, who, Aben Ezra thinks, excelled his father in wisdom and honour; but Jarchi represents him as a wicked and impudent man, who took upon him to speak before his father: but some have thought that this Bethuel was not old Bethuel, the father of Rebekah, but young Bethuel his son, the younger brother of Laban and Rebekah, their father Bethuel being dead, as Josephus says, before observed; and this seems to be countenanced by Genesis 24:59, where they are represented as blessing Rebekah, and calling her their sister:

and said, the thing proceedeth from the Lord: that Rebekah should be given to Isaac, as the Targum of Jonathan adds: this matter appears to be according to his will and pleasure, he seems to have appointed it in his decree, and to be bringing it about by his providence; for these men, though they were in part idolaters yet had some good notions of the true God, and of his government of the world, and of his ordering all things in it according to the counsel of his will:

we cannot speak unto thee good or bad; cannot deny the request; the thing was so plain that they had not anything to object to it.

Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, {b} The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.

(b) As soon as they perceived that it was God's ordinance they yielded.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
50. Laban and Bethuel] The only passage in which, if the text is correct, Bethuel takes a prominent part in the transaction. Even here Laban is mentioned before him. For some reason, Bethuel is in the background: cf. Genesis 29:5. Hence Kittel reads “and his house,” ûbêthô; Holzinger, “and Milcah”: see Genesis 24:53.

from the Lord] It is recognized that Jehovah, the God of the family, has brought this thing to pass.

speak … bad or good] They have no voice. God has settled the matter. To accept will mean a good marriage for Rebekah, but her separation, at a great distance, from her family. To refuse is to reject a chance for her wealth and happiness, as well as to act in apparent opposition to the signs of Jehovah’s will. “Bad and good,” “yes and no,” are evenly balanced. It is a proverbial phrase, cf. Genesis 31:24; Numbers 24:13; 2 Samuel 13:22.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). 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.
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