Genesis 24:53
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(53) Jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.—Heb., vessels. In ancient times a wife had to be bought (Genesis 34:12), and the presents given were not mere ornaments and jewellery, but articles of substantial use and value. Quickly indeed in a country of such ceremonial politeness the purchase took a more honourable form, but Orientals do not let their courtesy interfere with their interests, and the relatives would take care that the freewill offerings did not fall below the usual standard. These went partly to the bride, and partly to her relatives: and as they are described here as going exclusively to the brother and mother, Jewish tradition has invented the story that Bethuel was ill at the time, and died on the day of the servant’s arrival. But the manner in which Isaac speaks of him in Genesis 28:2 does not allow us to suppose that he was either dead at the time of her departure, or that he was a person of no ability or importance. Possibly, therefore, polygamy had led to the custom of the purchase presents going to the mother’s tent.

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.

53. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and … gold—These are the usual articles, with money, that form a woman's dowry among the pastoral tribes. Rebekah was betrothed and accompanied the servant to Canaan. The precious fruits of the land from which he came; see Deu 33:13, &c.; or in general, other rare and excellent things. In those days men gave portions for their wives, as now they have portions with them. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold,.... Ornaments for women, which he had brought along with him for presents, and which were a proof of the riches of his master, and of his generosity and liberality, who had furnished him with such a profusion of rich things to bestow on the person that should be got for his son's wife:

and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah; costly suits of clothes such as in those times were given to persons at their marriage, or in order to it; and which custom still continues among the Arabs, who, as Dr. Shaw says (p), have the marriage contract previously made between the parents, wherein is express mention made not only of the "saddock", as they call that particular sum which the bridegroom settles on the bride; but of the several changes of raiment, and the quantity of jewels, and the number of slaves that the bride is to be attended with when she first waits upon her husband; a gold and silver "sarmah", he says (q), which is a thin flexible plate of gold or silver, of a triangular shape, artfully cut through and engraven in imitation of lace; one or two sets of earrings bracelets and shekels, a gold chain to hang over their breasts, with half a dozen vests, some of brocades, others of rich silk, were usually the wedding clothes of a lady of fashion. And so in Barbary, the man buys his bride a suit of apparel, earrings, bracelets, a chest, &c. and gives the father a considerable sum of money, according to the qualities and circumstances of the parties (r):

and he gave also to her brother, and to her mother, precious things; things of worth and value, which were part of the good things he brought with him from Abraham, Genesis 24:10; the word being sometimes used for fruit, Jarchi interprets it of various kinds of the fruits (s) of the land of Israel; but it is not likely that these should be carried by him on so long a journey; much better Aben Ezra understands by them honourable and costly raiment; and it is observed by some (t), that the word in general signifies everything valuable and excellent, as gold, silver, &c. no mention being made of her father, only of her brother Laban, and of her mother, seems to confirm the notion of Josephus that he was dead; or however he concerned himself no further in this affair than to give his consent to the marriage, and left everything else to his wife and son to take care of, and therefore the presents are only made to them.

(p) Travels, p. 239. (q) Ib. No. 9. p. 229. (r) Ockley's Account of Southwest Barbary, c. 6. p. 76. (s) So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed. fol. 76. 1. Aruch in voce (t) Ib.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
53. jewels … silver … gold … raiment] The word “jewels” in the original is indefinite, and might be rendered “vessels,” as LXX σκεύη and Lat. vasa. The servant’s first act is to ratify the betrothal by making the betrothal gifts to the bride. Oriental custom required that, at the betrothal, gifts should be made to the parents or nearest representative relations of the bride. Mention of marriage gifts (mohar) to the bride’s family is found also in Genesis 34:12; Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:19; 1 Samuel 18:25. The custom must be regarded as a remnant of still earlier times, when the bride was purchased, and the marriage ceremony consisted chiefly of a financial transaction. In this verse, the “precious things,” given by the servant to Rebekah’s brother and mother, constitute the customary mohar to the bride’s family. This custom is also mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi, §§ 159–161.

It is noticeable that the “precious things” are given, not to Rebekah’s father, Bethuel, but to her brother and mother. This is an important point in favour of the view, mentioned above, that Bethuel’s name in Genesis 24:50 is an interpolation (see note on Genesis 24:15).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. 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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