Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.TWELFTH SECTION
Abraham’s care for Isaac’s marriage. Eliezer’s wooing of the bride for Isaac. The theocratic founding of a picous bride-wooing. Isaac’s marriage
1And Abraham was old, and well stricken [come in days] in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2And Abraham said unto his eldest servant1 of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3And 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: 4But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5And the servant said unto him, Peradventure, the woman will not be willing to follow me into this land; must I needs bring thy son again into the land from whence thou camest? 6And Abraham said unto him, Beware that thou bring not my son thither again.
7The 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. 8And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this thine oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
10And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master [with every kind of costly goods] were in his hand: and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. 11And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water, at the time of the evening, even at the time that women go out to draw water. 12And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed2 this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. 13Behold I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14And 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 showed kindness unto my master.
15And 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. 16And 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. 17And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water from thy pitcher. 18And she said, Drink, my lord; and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 21And the man, wondering at her, held his peace [waiting to know], to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not. 22And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden ear [nose] ring, of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands, of ten shekels weight of gold, 23And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in? 24And she said unto him, I am the 25daughter 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. 26And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. 27And 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. 28And the damsel ran and told them of her mother’s house these things.
29And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban [the white]: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. 30And it came to pass, when he saw the ear [nose] ring, 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. 31And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.
32And the man came into the house: and he [Laban] ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for his camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men’s feet that were with him. 33And there was set [as the imperf. Hoph. of יָשַׂם] meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat until I have told mine errand. And he [Laban] said, speak on.
34And he said, I am Abraham’s servant. 35And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great; and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, 36and gold, and men-servants, and maid-servants, 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. 37And 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. 38But thou shalt3 go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. 39And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 40And he said unto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and will prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred and of my father’s house. 41Then shalt thou be clear from this mine oath [the oath given by me] when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. 42And 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: 43Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher [כָד, bucket; a jug similar to a pail or bucket, of wide mouth] to drink: 44And 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. 45And before I had done speaking in my heart [in myself], 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. 46And 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. 47And 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 ear [nose] ring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands. 48And 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. 49And now if ye will [are ready to] 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. 50Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord; we cannot speak [in our own choice] unto thee bad or good. 51Behold Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken. 52And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. 53And 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. 54And 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. 55And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days [a circle of days], at the least ten [a decade]; after that she shall go. 56And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away, that I may go to my master. 57And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. 58And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men. 60And 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 [enemies].
61And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62And Isaac came from the way of [visit to] the Well Lahai-roi [of the living—animating, quickening-vision]; for he dwelt 63[had his station] in the south country. And Isaac went out [now northwards] to meditate in the field [the northern field-region] at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. 64And Rebekah lifted up her eyes; and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 65For she had said4 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 veil and covered herself. 66And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 67And 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.
To the chapter upon the sepulchre and the burial of the dead, there follows now a chapter upon the wooing of the bride. The former has greater strength of expression, grounded in the last need, death and the care for the dead; the latter has greater richness and life, and glows in all the freshness and fulness of a sacred, biblical idyll, the first pearl in that string of pearls, in the religious glorification of the human bridal state which runs down through the wooing of Rachel by Jacob, the little book of Ruth, to its culmination in the Song of Songs. Abraham was warned by the death of Sarah, to set the concerns of his house in order, to seek a bride for Isaac, and thus to provide for his descendants. The narrative joins one beautiful trait to another, until the circle is complete; the spirit of his master Abraham, who had instructed him, is clearly reflected in the faithful and prudent bridal journey of his servant, and Rebekah appears from the beginning as the glorious, lovely and boldly-determined maiden, peculiarly fitted for the quiet, patient Isaac. “Humanly speaking, the following history belongs to the most attractive portions of the first book of Moses; we are tempted to call it a biblical idyll. Everything in these verses, down to the most minute part, is finished and elaborated with inimitable beauty.” Schröder. Delitzsch refers to the excellent treatment of this narrative by F. C. V. Movers. The fundamental thought in the narrative is the providence of God in Isaac’s marriage. It appears in Abraham’s believing foresight and care for Isaac, in the faithfulness and prudence of his servant, in the happy meeting of Rebekah and the servant, in the forming of the life and character of Rebekah, in the hospitality and the pious spirit of her house, even in the self-interested conduct of Laban, in the meeting of Isaac and Rebekah, in the movement of her heart, and in his love. “It is thus through the providence of God that Rebekah became the wife of Isaac, and an ancestress of the people of Israel.” Knobel. The documentary hypothesis falls into perplexity here, since, according to Gen 23 and Gen 25:19, the fundamental writing must have related this marriage. It relieves itself with the conjecture that the brief Elohistic narration has been displaced by this longer Jehovistic narrative. Knobel finds in the fact that the mission proceeds from Abraham, and the report is made to Isaac, although he has no real ground for the conjecture, as also in similar cases, the traces that the narrative is not genuine. [Which is much the same as if he had said, since the narrative is not constructed as I think it should have been, it cannot be genuine.—A. G.] It may be divided into the following particular portions: 1. The arrangement of the theocratic journey for the bride, the spiritual image and character of the bride (Gen 24:1–9); 2. the journey for the bride, and the choice of the bride (Gen 24:10–21); 3. the entrance into the house of the bride (Gen 24:22–33); 4. the wooing of the bride (Gen 24:34–49); 5. the rewards for the bride (Gen 24:50–54); 6. the bridal journey (Gen 24:54–61); 7. the meeting of the bridegroom and the bride (Gen 24:62–67).
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. The arrangement of the theocratic journey for the bride (Gen 24:1–9).—And Abraham.—The motives for his arrangement: 1. After Sarah’s death his age warned him to provide for Isaac’s marriage. 2. the blessing of Jehovah warns him, he must now through the marriage of his son, do his own part, that the blessing might be preserved. His faith and his acts of faith must correspond to the promise of blessing of Jehovah. Isaac could not marry a Canaanitess, but only a Shemitess, one who was of equal birth in a theocratic point of view. It might possibly be from his own ancestral home, and the account which he had received of the home of Nahor, favored his hope. He could not think of Lot’s daughters.—Unto his eldest5 servant.—It is usually inferred from Gen 15:2, that Eliezer of Damascus is here meant. Gerlach says it is not probable, because he is not named. For the same reason the CALWERHandbuch concludes that he is intended, because otherwise the servant would be named in so important a mission, and this inference is just. Eleazer was peculiarly fitted for this mission, as an old man in the school of Abraham (more than 60 years had elapsed since Gen 15:2). Eleazer thus stands for all time as the type of all pious and prudent bride-wooers. He is a steward or ruler of the whole house, thus a trusted servant. [The word servant like the word elder, is an official title. Bush refers to Gen. 40:30; Ex. 12:30; Deut. 34:5; Heb. 3:5; and for elder to Gen. 50:7; Ruth 4:2; Tim. 5:17.—A. G.] Still the present mission of Abraham is so important, that he lays him under the obligations of an oath.—Put thy hand under my thigh.—This usage in the oath is referred to only in one other place (Gen 47:29). The person who took the oath, was to place his hand under the thigh of him to whom it was given. Some refer this rite to a heathen idea or imagination. “It points to the generating member, which, as the organ of the generative strength of nature had a kind of sacredness among the ancients, and in the Phallus (or Bacchus) worship, had a kind of religious honor (ARNOB. advers. Gent. 5), e.g.: among the Egyptians (HEROD., ii. 48; PLUTARCH; THEODORET), among the Syrians (Lucian), at times even among the Hebrews (1 Kings 15:13?). It is recorded of the Egyptian Bedouin in modern times, that in a solemn asseveration or oath he places his hand upon the generative organ (SONNIM.: ‘Travels,’ ii. p. 474).” Knobel. According to the Jewish idea (which the Targums, Jonathan, Jarchi, Tuch, etc., follow), the rite relates to the generative member in its relations to God, by virtue of circumcision. Von Bohlen, Gesenius, Knobel, bring together these two ideas or explanations. The explanation of the ancients, that Abraham, with reference to the promise of the covenant, “had in his mind the promised seed of the covenant, the future Christ,” is a mystical and Christian idea, not improperly adduced here, remarks Delitzsch, although the thought is “usually regarded as belonging to the New Testament (see STRIPPELMANN: ‘The Christian Oath,’ p. 22). It is doubtful whether ὅρκος and ὅρκις, testari and testiculus, stand in a relation referring back to this custom.” Since the hand in the oath has always the signification of pledging oneself, we must inquire first of all, what rite-forms of the hand in the person who takes the oath, usually appear. But now Abraham, when he takes the oath (Gen 14:22), raises his hand to heaven, before those around him, when he worshipped the El Eljon, the heavenly exalted God (comp. Rev. 10:5–6). According to Ezek. 20:5, the object of the hand is generally to mark the subject in respect to which the obligation is taken. In this idea the Christian oath is taken upon the gospel, or even upon a chest of relics. When, therefore, Eleazer and Joseph give the oath, in that they place their hands upon the thigh of the one swearing them, the act had a special meaning. The thigh is the symbol of posterity; in Israel the symbol of the promised posterity, with the included idea of the promise, Gen. 46:26; Ex. 1:5. Eleazer and Joseph thus must swear by the posterity, the promise and the hope of Abraham and Israel.6 This promise should be changed into a curse for them if they did not regard the oath. This oath was required in Eleazer because he did not belong to the house of Abraham, in Joseph, because, as a prince in the land of Egypt, he might be tempted to be false to the faith of the promise. It is sufficient to regard the thigh as the symbol of the whole posterity, the generative organ as symbolical of the immediately succeeding generation.—By Jehovah [It is not an ordinary marriage which is here about to be made, which would fall under the providence of Elohim; but a marriage which concerns the kingdom of God, and therefore, Jehovah appears in the whole narrative. KEIL, p. 183.—A. G.], the God of heaven.—Eleazer knows the God of Abraham, and the faith of the promise. He should swear by the God of the promises, the God of Abraham, and with this the rite of laying the hand upon the thigh corresponds.—That thou shalt not take a wife.—Eleazer does not appear as the guardian of Isaac, now forty years old, after the death of Abraham (Knobel), but the negation in his oath designates only the negative side of his mission. Since Abraham had appointed him to gain a bride for Isaac, he might easily, as an old man, have given free play to his own opinion, and viewed a brilliant match in Canaan as advantageous for Isaac’s future. Abraham himself certainly exercises a patriarchal and guardian-like care over the patient and yielding Isaac, who, although forty years of age, appears not to have thought of marriage, but mourned his mother in earnest, devout contemplation. It involves also the decisive patriarchal and theocratic union under the providence of Jehovah.—Peradventure the woman will not be willing.—The servant has not an equal measure of faith with Abraham. Since the journey to Mesopotamia for a Shemitic bride is thus strongly enjoined, and Isaac must not marry a Canaanitess, it appears to him that it may easily happen that he must take Isaac back to Mesopotamia, if he should indeed be married.—Beware thou.—Abraham opposes him. As the father of faith upon the promise, of the people of the future, he had the watch-word, “never backward.” To the syllogism of the reflecting and calculating servant, he opposes the syllogism of faith. Its major premise: Jehovah had brought him out of his fatherland into a strange land; its minor: he had promised to his seed the land of Canaan; its conclusion: therefore he will crown the mission of Eleazer, through the leading of his angel, with a successful issue. In this assurance he can easily quiet the sworn servant with the explanation, if the otherwise proper wife will not follow him from Mesopotamia, he should be clear from his oath.
2. The journey for the bride, and the choice of the bride (Gen 24:10–21).—And the servant took.—The ten camels, and the accompanying train of servants, must, on the one hand, bear the presents and represent the riches of his master; and on the other hand, are already carefully prepared, and destined for the caravan of the bride and her maidens. He provides himself, in case of success, with every kind of jewels from the treasures of his master, which came later into legitimate use. He could take of every kind which he wished, they were all at his disposal; Abraham risking all upon the issue of this journey.—To Mesopotamia (Aram,7 of the two rivers.)—Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and Tigris, Padan-Aram (Gen 25:20), according to Knobel, an Elohistic expression; upon Egyptian monuments, Neherin = Naharaina.—To the city of Nahor—i.e., to Haran (see Gen 11:31; 12:4).—By a well of water at the time of the evening.—As the arrangement of the stately caravan, so also the encampment here reveals the master-servant. The lions find the gazelles by the springs of water. Eleazer would here, in a peaceful way, find the bride of Isaac. The camels lie down at the well of water without the city, at evening, not to rest for the night, but to rest temporarily, and during the delay. (When the camels kneel down they are unloaded, since their burden lies upon the ground.)—Even the time that women go out to draw water.—The maidens and women in the East still bring the water they need from the well at evening (VON SCHUBERT, ii. p. 401; ROBINSON, “Palestine,” ii. p. 351).8 They held their female conversations at the wells, as the men did in the gate.—O Lord God of my master.—He had done his part, but knew that the result depended upon the blessing of God. In humility he calls upon Jehovah, the God of his master Abraham, for whose sake he would hear him.—Send me good speed (grant that it may come to meet, anticipate me), i.e., what he wished, Keil adds. The usual explanation, however, seems more significant, the success appointed by God cannot be secured by force; Jehovah causes that it shall meet the pious. We emphasize, the coming to meet. Now he determines the sign for the discovery of the bride destined by God for Isaac. The sign consists in this, that she should go far beyond his request, in her friendliness and readiness to serve him. His request merely expresses the desire that he might sip a little water from her pitcher; her trial consists in this, that she should give him to drink fully, and in addition, with voluntary friendliness, give to his camels also. This proof of love was, on the one hand, certainly not usual, but on the other, it was not unheard of, nor prohibited by any custom. NIEBUHR (“Travels,” ii. p. 410) has still experienced the same or similar volunteered service (comp. ROBINSON, “Palestine,” ii. p. 351). But we should recollect that many things of the kind to-day, are imitations of the partriarchal tradition, as e.g. also, the previously mentioned oath of the Bedouin, with the hand upon the thigh.—Before he had done speaking.—She came already, to the surprise of the narrator himself.—Behold Rebekah.—She is no other than Rebekah, the grandchild of Nahor, the legitimate daughter born to Bethuel, son of Milcah. She had thus the quality of theocratic descent in an eminent degree. [On both sides, maternal as well as paternal.—A. G.] Then she was very beautiful, as Sarah before, and Rachel after her, a tender maiden, pure from contact with any man. And how politely (“my lord,”), how graciously (“she hasted and let down”), with what animation (“she hasted, ran”), and how cheerfully she fulfilled all the conditions of the sign chosen and determined.—The Kad upon her shoulder is rather a bucket, or wide-mouthed jar, than a pitcher, otherwise it would not be fitted to give the camels drink. [This jar was sometimes borne on the head, and sometimes strapped upon the shoulder. The כר is the same term used for the vessels borne by the men of Gideon, and which were broken with a blow, Judg. 7:20: and differs from the חמה, the term for bottle in the narrative of Hagar.—A. G.]
3. The sojourn at the home of the bride (Gen 24:21–33).—Wondering at her, held his peace (waiting).—Knobel prefers the explanation of שאה by Gesenius: attentive look, view, following the Septuagint and Vulgate. Delitzsch and Keil prefer the explanation, wondered, was astonished. The following phrase, held his peace in order to know, is in favor of the latter explanation.9 The attentive, inquiring look was not limited through the silence, but through the astonishment. He restrained himself in his astonishment. She had indeed fulfilled the sign, and as to his prayer all was clear, but as to his reflection the question now first arose, was she a Shemitess? was she single? would she be willing to go with him?—The man took a golden ear-(nose) ring.—The present which he now makes her could not have been a bridal present, but simply a friendly recognition and reward of her friendly service (although “the nose-ring is now the usual engagement present among the Bedouins.”) Delitzsch. The conviction that the right person was found here truly finds expression, otherwise he would have been rewarding her at too lavish an expense. At this moment Rebekah had even somewhat disconcerted the aged Eliezer. The ring was a golden nose-ring, worn from the central wall of the nose, of about a half shekel in weight. The two bracelets of gold, worn upon the wrist, were each of about five shekels weight (see WINER, art. Schmuck, Isa. 3:18 ff.). Eliezer’s heart knew well what would rejoice the-the heart of even a pious maiden, and with this present, the choice of which expresses his assurance, introduces his question as to her family. The question as to entertainment in her house is an utterance of the full assurance of his hope. It reveals the working of his mind, in so far as he asks the second question, without waiting for the answer to the first. Rebekah’s answer accords entirely with his wish. She answers also his second question, but as the prudent Rebekah, with the reservation which became her, for it did not belong to her expressly to invite the strange man in. But Eliezer knew enough, as is evident from his profound bowing before Jehovah, and his praise and thanksgiving. [חֶסֶר is the free grace, with which Jehovah had given the promise to Abraham, אֶמֶה the faithfulness and truth with which he fulfils the promise. The two words often occur in the Scriptures. Baumgarten, p. 243.—A. G.] For Rebekah the prayer is a mysterious, joyful announcement from the home of Abraham, and beautiful is the contrast that she thereupon hastens away, while the servant completes his prayer. Of her mother’s house.—Bethuel was living, and therefore the maiden-like presentiment of a love-suit reveals itself as she hastens to her mother’s confidence.—And Laban ran.—As the first mention of Rebekah (Gen 22:23) prepares the way for this narrative, so here we make beforehand the acquaintance of Laban, who later exerts so important an influence upon the history of Jacob. Still the narrator has motives also for this allusion in the present history. His invitation of his own accord to Eliezer, to come into the house of his father, and the prominence which he has in the engagement of Rebekah, with and before his father, prove the great influence which he had in his parental home. His sister Rebekah appears also with similar energy in comparison with Isaac. There was, doubtless in the very arrangement of the patriarchal home, special room for the dynamic efficiency of a strong personality, in contrast with the retiring nature of the more receptive character. Laban appears always to have led his father Bethuel, as Abraham led his son Isaac: and Rebekah exercises a stronger influence upon the history of her house than Sarah or Rachel upon theirs. The sacred writer now appears to go back and bring up the narrative.—And it came to pass, when he saw—but purposely, to bring into prominence this motive with Laban, since he places the gold ornaments in the first rank, and the words of Eliezer, which Rebekah reports, in the second. We have here evidently a trait of that covetousness which appears so prominently in the later history of Laban. There may be also a characteristic of the courtly accommodation and exaggeration in the religious expression he uses, when he invites Eliezer, as “the blessed of Jehovah,” i.e., in a name of God which was not usual with him, and which he probably learned from the form of expression which the servant had used (although this cannot be asserted with certainty, since the calling upon Jehovah had already its beginnings in the house of Therah). But there is no more necessity, on account of these features, of misunderstanding the real central thing in Laban’s state of mind, than, on account of similar traits, of misunderstanding the character of Lot10 (see Gen 31:24). His words of invitation have been made the foundation of an Advent song: Wherefore wilt thou stand without, etc.—And the men’s feet.—The servants who accompanied Eliezer are here mentioned for the first time. That Laban took care for them also completes the expression of his polite hospitality.—I will not eat.—“No one had asked him as to the object of his journey, for that would have been a violation of the Eastern usages of hospitality, which places these and similar questions after the meal. But the servant of Abraham unburdens himself.” Delitzsch. A new mark of his faithful service, of his prudence and full assurance of hope.
4. The suit for the bride (Gen 24:34–39). The speech of Eliezer. The first speech in the Bible. A simple historical account of his journey, and still at the same time an example of a wise speech, which weaves skilfully the motives he would present with the account he gives. The motives from kindred are first urged: the mission is from Abraham. He is proud of being Abraham’s servant. Then the human interests. Abraham has grown very rich and great, and has one only legitimate son and heir. But even the human motive is religiously sanctified. His wealth and his son are peculiar blessings of God. Now follows the religious motive. Especially the oath to take no Canaanitess, but a Shemitess of his own race. This concern must have awakened in Nahor’s and Bethuel’s house not only kindred feelings, but also laid its claims upon the conscience. That arrested migration of Therah rested as a silent reproach upon the conscience of the family; the house of Bethuel might now enter again into direct and blessed fellowship, through the granting of Rebekah. This religious motive was strengthened through the statement of the trustful hope of Abraham, for a successful issue of the mission. Then, again, in the highest measure, through the recital of his prayer, and how the sign determined upon had been fulfilled. And here, as a result of this recital, the human motive is urged again—the indirect praise of Rebekah; she had proved herself unconsciously a moral ideal of a maiden worthy of love. But finally, with the pride of a free, God-entrusted suitor, he presses his suit upon them and demands an instant decision. He urges his opinion, that they would be refusing kindness and truth (חֶסֶר וֶאֱמֶת) towards his master, if they should give him a denial, because, indeed, they were not only his blood-relations, but also his theocratic spiritual kindred, nevertheless he would not beg of them a bride for the son of Abraham. If they would not deal thus kindly and truly, he would go into the same city, into the same land, to the right or to the left, especially to the other sons of Nahor, as he had already intimated in his previous words that he should be freed from his oath when he had used all possible efforts.—My master’s brother’s daughter, i.e., in the wider sense. His granddaughter, or the daughter of the son of his brother.
5. The betrothal of the bride (Gen 24:50–54). Laban and Bethuel. The decision. “Rebekah’s brother joins in the decision. The custom, according to which the brother must interest himself for the sister (Gen 34:5; 11:25; Judg. 21:22; 1 Sam. 13:22), justified him in so doing.” Knobel. Keil, with others, remarks, this usage grows out of polygamy, through which the father might easily come to have less concern for the children (daughters) of the less beloved wife. They recognize in the whole affair the will of Jehovah; they have neither good nor evil, i.e., indeed, nothing to speak (Numb. 24:13, etc.). The consent of Rebekah was not sought in the betrothal itself, but in the far less important point of the immediate departure. From this it follows that they were sure of her consent to the union, although the authoritative powers of the house must decide upon it.—Worshipped the Lord, bowing down to the earth.—A mute attestation of thankfulness, a sign of a mind moved with astonishment and joy. But notice here also the haste; his official zeal cuts short his prayer. [Baumgarten calls attention to this prayer of the servant, in his present circumstances, and surrounded by those who did not honor Jehovah, as a proof how well Abraham had instructed and trained his household.—A. G.] At first the bridal-presents for the bride must be produced, then the betrothal-presents for the family, especially for Laban and his mother. With respect to the last-named presents, they are an honorable form of the later, at least, usual purchase of the bride (see WINER: “Marriage”). The first were given to the bride, in the name of the bridegroom, after the existing custom, according to which the bridegroom sent to the bride presents, before the marriage, which should have the effect to cement the union—a custom still prevalent in the East (see KNOBEL, p. 20411). A shepherd prince in Canaan might purchase the necessary articles of this kind from Phœnician and Aramaic caravans.—And they did eat and drink.—Now first they could enjoy their food and drink, which would naturally constitute an evening feast.
6. The bridal journey (Gen 24:54–61).—Send me away, that I may go to my master.—If it was bold in Eliezer to insist upon an immediate decision, the successful issue makes him now, in his official zeal, still bolder. His earnestness assumes the appearance of harshness, and it can be excused only by his great joy, and his great anxiety to bring the affair to a happy issue, before anything should occur to make a disturbance. A few days, or a tenth of days, i.e., not as Keil thinks, a few or much more ten days, but at least ten days. An indefinite number of days is an indefinite period, which might easily be protracted into a long period. But since Eliezer will not consent to ten days, Rebekah must decide, and her declaration is characteristic again of her vigorous, determined, bold mind. She is equally ready for a departure. She says with modest but decided brevity, אֵלֵךְ. The sudden departure could hardly have occurred on the next day; it is sufficient that it was immediately prepared.—Rebekah their sister.—This is literally true only of Laban. Rebekah truly became also through her betrothal, the equal of her parents.—And her nurse.—Deborah (Gen 35:8). The nurse in noble families usually remained (2 Kings 11:2) a permanent and valued companion of her foster-child.—And they blessed Rebekah.—The words of blessing form a little song. They emphasize it that Rebekah is their sister, for they are proud of her dim but great hopes.—Be thou the mother of (grow to) thousands of millions.—This wish of a countless host of descendants (not of children alone, that would be senseless) is so far not hyperbolical, as in the origin and growth of the people of Israel, saying nothing of the church of believers, it has been richly fulfilled. The blessing of children was the highest happiness of the Hebrew woman. “It is still thus in the East (VOLNEY: “Travels,” ii. p. 359).” Knobel.—Let thy seed possess (see Gen 22:17). The house of Nahor itself formed a certain opposition to the heathen, and well knew also that Abraham and the children of Abraham should complete the opposition. These intuitions were doubtless refreshed through the communication of the servant. We ought not, however, to be surprised that the two clauses of this verse represent Abraham’s hope, rather in respect to the number than the character of his seed.—And her damsels.—The stately company of damsels corresponded not only to the stately equipage and approach of the suitor, but was an actual necessity, since she was going into a strange land, under the leading of strange men. “Laban gave, however, only one maiden to each of his daughters at her marriage (Gen 29:24, 29).” Knobel.
7. The meeting of the bridegroom and the bride (Gen 24:62–67).—And Isaac came.—The apparently confused narrative here is found to be a clear one, upon the supposition of a clear view of the land. The wells of Hagar alluded to, lay still southerly from Beer-sheba. If Eliezer journeyed home from Mesopotamia, or the northeast, he must have come to Hebron to Abraham, before he could have been visible to Isaac, in the way to these wells, or generally in his stations in the farther south. But if he was earlier visible to the young bridegroom, it follows, that he must now have gone from Hebron northwards into the field. The allusion to the wells as to his residence in the south region, is made with the purpose of bringing into prominence again, how it occurred, through a happy providence, that he went so far to meet the bride.12 He had returned in a happier frame from his visit to these wells, which were of greater importance to him, since he usually had his outposts in the south. But now he went out from Hebron (for Sarah’s tent was certainly still at Hebron, Gen 24:67) into the peculiar field, or cultivated region, without any intimation that Rebekah would meet him from that side, on the way down from Bethlehem. DELITZSCH: “He came from his arrival at the wells, not as Hupfeld and Ewald explain; he had even reached the wells.” Delitzsch, however, thinks the meeting took place in the region of the wells of Hagar, and that Isaac had for the sake of meditation removed his residence from Hebron into the south. The oak-grove of Mamre must certainly have been large enough to give opportunity for meditation. Isaac doubtless went into the south region, not to lead any technically hermit life, but to oversee the flocks of his father. Delitzsch also conjectures that he was laying the affair of his marriage before the Lord, at these wells. But the author rather points to the fact, that he was still clinging to his grief over his mother Sarah. [If, however, Abraham was now residing at Beer-sheba, then Isaac may have met the caravan to the northward of this place. Sarah’s tent would of course be taken with Abraham in his removals.—A. G.]—At the eventide.—“As the evening turned itself hither—drew on.” Delitzsch.—Went out to mourn (meditate).—לָשׂוּחַ. Explanations: 1. For the purpose of thinking. Septuagint, Vulgate, Baumgarten, Delitzsch. 2. In order to pray. Targums, Arabic version, Luther, and others. 3. For deliberation. Aquila and others. 4. For the purpose of walking, exercise. Syriac, Aben Ezra, Kinchi. 5. To bring the traveler (!) Bottcher. 6. For lamentation. Knobel. In order to give himself alone, and undisturbed, to mourning the death of his mother. [The first three explanations may well be thrown together, since thought, prayer, and deliberation, or meditation, are seldom separated in the experience of the pious.—A. G.] Knobel correctly quotes, in favor of this, the frequent signification of שִׂיחַ and Gen 24:67. One might almost think it was in the field of Ephron, but then we should have to seek the cave of Machpelah northerly from Hebron. But the remark of Knobel “that Isaac first after the death of Abraham, according to the Elohist (Gen 25:11), removed into the southern country,” is of no moment, since we must distinguish between the mere resting-place of a subordinate, and the chief abode of a shepherd-prince.—She lighted off the camel.—Another instance of the rapid, energetic Rebekah. “Fell from the camel, i.e., threw herself off from the animal she rode, sprang quickly down, and indeed as a mark of her reverence for Isaac, for she recognized him as a man of rank. This custom is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 25:23; 2 Kings 5:21), even by this same writer (Josh. 15:18); it appears also, elsewhere among the ancients, e.g., among the Romans (LIV. 24:44). In the East, today, the rider descends from the animal he rides when he meets a distiguished person (NIEBUHR: ‘Arabia,’ p. 50, and the ‘Description of his Travels,’ i. p. 239; JOLIFFE: ‘Travels,’ p. 274), and it is required of Jews and Christians when they meet a Mohammedan of rank (Niebuhr, etc.).” Knobel.—What man is this.—She thus assumes that Eliezer knew him. A womanly presentiment.—Therefore she took a veil.—KEIL: “The mantle-like Arabian veil for the head.” “The bride appears before the bridegroom veiled, hence the nubere viro. PLIN. H. N., 21, 22. When the two came together the veil was removed. The custom still exists in the East (Russel, etc.).” Knobel.—All things that he had done.—Meeting his young master, the self-importance of the old servant appears more freely in his words.—Into his mother Sarah’s tent.—The tent of Sarah was occupied by the new mistress, although Abraham was again married. It lay in Hebron, and there is no reason for the inference of Knobel, from Gen 24:62, that it must be sought in Beer-sheba (comp. Gen 31:33). The wives also of the Bedouin chiefs have their own tents.—And he loved her.—She became the object of his peculiar bridal love.—And Isaac was comforted.—[The word death is not in the original. It seems as if the Holy Spirit would not conclude this beautiful and joyful narrrative with a word of sorrow—death.—WORDS-WORTH, p. 109.—A. G.] Until this occurred he had mourned the death of his mother, from three to four years. Since the great mournings lasted from thirty to seventy days (Gen 50:3; Numb. 20:29; Deut. 34:3), Knobel cannot find anything here of the three or four years’ mourning of Isaac. But there is a plain distinction between the customary mournings and the weight of sadness in the life of a retiring and elegiac nature. Isaac appears to have clung to his mother Sarah, much as Jacob did afterwards to his mother Rebekah.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See the Critical and Exegetical remarks. This chapter evidently presents a picture for all time, of a sacred bride-wooing. Abraham designates as the chief requisite of a blessed theocratic marriage, spiritual kindred and equality of birth. The Shemites of his father’s house did not indeed stand upon the same line of theocratic hopes with himself, but they were still acquainted with his hopes and recognized them; they were free from the tendency of the grosser heathenism, and the result shows that Rebekah, the daughter from the home of Nahor, had a clearer insight into theocratic things than Isaac himself. And although, on the other hand, the Canaanites, at the time of Abraham, were not so sunken in corruption as the Canaanitish generations at the time of Joshua; although there were a Melchizedec, an Abimelech, and similar characters, and around them circles who feared God, among the people; still all this was a waning blessing, which the curse gradually overwhelms, as the history of Sodom shows, and Abraham, who knew the end of the Canaanites because Canaan was promised to him, could not mingle the future of his race with the race of the Canaanites. The τίκτειν ἐν τῷ καλῷ is according to PLATO’S Symposion, or the instruction of Diotima, a peculiar spiritual impulse of Eros, after the Greek ideal; but Abraham in the theocratic history has realized this fundamental principle in a far higher sense (see John 1:13).
2. The oath upon the loins of Abraham (see the exegetical notes under the first paragraph). It should be observed that Abraham himself here causes the oath to be taken.
3. The Angel of the Lord, who, as the Angel of the covenant, promised Isaac the heir of the covenant to Abraham, will, according to the assurance of Abraham, mediate and secure a marriage suited to the covenant.
4. The journey and position of Eliezer at the well in Haran, his aim and his prayer, prove that two things belong to a happy marriage: human foresight and wisdom, and the blessing of Jehovah; i.e., not merely the general blessing of God, but the blessing of the God of the covenant.
5. The mark which Eliezer fixed upon as the sign by which he should recognize the bride selected by Jehovah for Isaac, shows what an important estimate was placed upon genuine good works in the house of the father of the faithful, especially upon human friendliness, hospitality, kindness to animals and men. The cheerful service which Rebekah gives to the aged Eliezer, shows a love of men free from any sensual interest. But that on his side, Eliezer places a high estimate upon her beauty, and in his conduct treats her in a youthful and complimentary way, shows the glorious power and effect of her beauty.
6. The scripture has throughout a free estimate of the importance of beauty. It places the beautiful with the good, in the praise of the creation, as the Greeks place the good with the beautiful. But in the beauty of the ancestresses of Israel (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel,) it sees the symbolical manifestation of a consecrated, beautiful life of the soul. We must distinguish clearly in reference to the estimate of the beautiful, the purely Christian standpoint, from the ecclesiastical and monkish. This last has drawn from the words, “he was without form or comeliness” (Is. 53:2), the inference, that the most beautiful among the children of men (Ps. 45:3) was of an extraordinarily disagreeable appearance. The moral idea, and the moral estimate of the luxury, in the presents of Eliezer.
7. The expression חֶמֶר וֶאֱמֶת, which runs through the whole Old Testament as a description of the divine grace and truth (see Micah 7:20), and even in the New Testament (John 1:17), appears here in a remarkable manner for the first time, in reference to the conduct of man with man. “Thus also,” says Delitzsch, “mutual proofs of love between men are חֶסֶד, and the mutual truly intended, faithful acts between men are אֶמֶת.” We must, however, hold, indeed, that these ideas even in reference to the relations of man to man, have a theocratic definiteness and peculiarity. The house of Nahor must prove, through its love to Abraham, that it went with him in spirit, and through its truth preserves its connection with him. Under these circumstances, the refusal of their daughter would have been theocratic felony.
8. The importance of pious mothers for the kingdom of God.
9. The elevated distinction of the wife, in the history, and for the history of the kingdom of God.
10. Eliezer’s bride-wooing, the first speech in the Bible, a fit beginning for the whole circle of biblical speeches.
11. Eliezer, the earthly messenger of Abraham, in the convoy of the heavenly messengers. A pious diplomat, accompanied by the Angel of the Lord. The diplomats of this world are often accompanied by demons.
12. The propensity of Isaac for retirement and mourning, agrees with his passive individuality, and with his fearful and affecting experiences in his childhood upon Moriah. If, in after times, he does not seem fully to understand the great consequence of his father, and clings to and pines for his mother, this is explained by his history; but we see also how very greatly the hopes of Abraham were endangered through this retiring and melancholy propensity. But Abraham saw the right way to relief. Rebekah was a consoling providential gift from Jehovah for Isaac, and he was rescued from the lonely way of the recluse, since he now entered fully upon the way of the future of Israel.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Abraham’s marriage-suit for his son Isaac.—The sanctification of the bride-wooing.—The qualifications of a blessed bride.—The life pictures in this history: Abraham, Eliezer, Rebekah, Laban, Isaac.—The mother in history, the foundation of the kingdom of God.—The two remarkable meetings (that of Eliezer and Rebekah, and that of Rebekah and Isaac), a testimony for the old proverb that “marriages are made in heaven.”—How this proverb has its significance: a. In the narrower sense, in the marriage of the pious; b. in the wider sense, in the marriage of the ungodly (the providence of judgment); c. in the sense of a divine discipline and instruction, leading from the way of evil to the way of virtue and salvation.—Rebekah as a maiden, virgin, bride, wife, mother.—(The heroine at last acted too purely as a heroine. She must repent. She saw her Jacob no more after their separation).—The coöperation of parents in the marriage of their children: a. Its justice or propriety; b. its limits.—Eliezer in his faithfulness, prudence and piety.—Eliezer, an example of the way in which the blessing of the Lord, and the faithfulness of men, meet together in one.—Eliezer’s petition and thanksgiving.—The import of beauty in the kingdom of God.—Rebekah’s charming service, the peculiar, fundamental trait of a noble, pious womanliness.—The blessing of an unfeigned human friendliness.—Especially in the female sex.—Eliezer’s speech the first in the Bible: a. As the speech of a servant; b. of a master; c. which turns the heart to the master.—The love and truth of God, as a foundation for love and truth among men.—The bridal feast at Haran.—Detain me not, or the unrestrained eagerness to reach the goal.—The caravan of Rebekah, or the kingdom of God under the figure of a journeying pilgrim and wanderer.13—Isaac’s and Rebekah’s meeting.—Isaac’s transformation.—The blessing of pious love.—Rebekah in the tent of Sarah, or the joining of a new blessing to the old.
1. Gen 24:1–9. STARKE: Certainly it was no small thing, since Abraham is represented as a prince, that Eliezer, next to his master, should have supreme command in all the house. The word “servant,” therefore, is not a term of contempt here, but a truly marked name of honor, as the word עבד is elsewhere used also (Ex. 5:21, etc.). Joseph was such a servant afterward in the house of Pharaoh the king (Gen 39:4).—LUTHER: It is truly in the arrangement of a household a great, valuable gift, to have a faithful servant or maiden, since the dishonesty and wickedness of servants is a common complaint the world over.—CRAMER: The blessing of God makes rich without toil (Prov. 10:22; Ps. 128:4). When one has something important before him, let him attend to it with prudence and under good advice. (There follow here several remarks upon the true marriage, and upon the duties of parents and children in contracting marriage.) (Jer. 29:6; 1 Kings 11:4.) LANGE: Gen 24:5. Whoever allows himself to be used in important concerns, does well to seek beforehand full instructions.—The Angel (Heb. 1:14: Ps. 34:8).—CRAMER: Homes and goods are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife comes from the Lord (Prov. 19:14).—SCHRÖDER: The hoary head should impel us to set our household in order (Calvin).—The last labor of each of the patriarchs, is to attend to the necessary dispositions and arrangements with respect to their successors (Drechsler).—What Abraham in his faith here avoids, was expressly forbidden to the people of Abraham in the law (Gen 18:19; Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:1–3). Natural prudence would have led Abraham to coutract an alliance with one of the Canaanitish families through the marriage of Isaac, to have thus secured for himself support and protection, and indeed, thus to have taken the first step toward the possession of the land of Canaan; but he had learned already that God directed his way, etc. (Roos).—It occurs, even to-day, in the East, that the marriage of children is arranged by the parents, before the young persons have seen each other. Similar occurrence, Gen 21:21.—The doctrine we draw from this passage, is this, that parents should take care for their sons and daughters, that they may be advanced to an honorable marriage state, although parents at times misuse their power and right, and constrain children to take those in marriage whom they have not loved. Such parents should be punished, for they have no parental heart or disposition, but are as blocks or stones, etc. (Luther).—Here the angels are the servants of the bride or marriage (LUTHER against “The Romish Celibacy”). [Parents in disposing of their children, should carefully consult the welfare of their souls, and their furtherance in the way to heaven. Henry.—A. G.]
2. Gen 24:10–21. STARKE: (All the goods of his master were in his hand. The Jews infer from this that Eliezer had taken an inventory of his master’s goods with him to Haran, that he might persuade more readily the bride of Isaac to go with him!) Gen 24:14. Upon the desire of Eliezer to recognize the bride through a sign. We see that God himself was not displeased with it. But it does not follow, therefore, that we should follow this example, since that would be to tempt God. (But the general truth that the cheerful readiness to render service to the aged and helpless, and an affable demeanor, are to be viewed as qualities in maidens which render them worthy of love, and desirable in marriage, is, however, truly contained in this example.)—CRAMER: Gen 24:11. A reminding us of our duty, to relieve the animals from their toil, and to feed and water them at the proper time.
Gen 24:17. A Christian must begin his bride-wooing with prayer.—MUSCULUS: To be a creature of God, is common to all; to be beautiful is the mark of special favor.—(Upon Gen 24:19. This was a great offer surely, since it is well known that when camels have had nothing to drink for several days, they drink for a long time after one another before they are satisfied).—Christian parents should train their children, especially their daughters, not to idleness and pride, but to household duties and work.
Gen 24:21. A man often does something in the simplicity of his heart, and knows not what end God will make it serve.—We may serve our neighbors in a greater measure than they desire.—LISCO: The ring. Either a semicircular ring, as a diadem for the brow, pendent above the nose, or the customary nose-ring of the East (Isa. 3:21; Ezek. 16:12; Prov. 11:22).—CALWER Handbuch: A remarkable hearing of prayer.—SCHRÖDER: The Arabians still call Mesopotamia El Dschesireh, i.e., the island.—At one sign from the camel’s driver the camel kneels down; at another he rises up.—The Arabian geographers still recognize the fountains without the city, which provide the needy inhabitants with water.—VALERIUS HERBERGER: A young person, also, should not, as dazzled and blinded, cling to one only, and think that if he could not obtain that one, he must go out from the world, but should ever look to the Lord, and see whither he will lead him. What God gives prospers well, but what men and the lust of the eye gives, that becomes a pure purgatory. (But although the understanding, and, indeed, the spiritual understanding, should direct the affair, still the choice itself remains a matter of the heart). [We here learn to be particular in commending our affairs to the conduct and care of divine providence. It is our wisdom to follow providence, but folly to force it. Henry.—A. G.]
3. Gen 24:22–33. STARKE: (Upon Gen 24:22. Is it not in opposition with 1 Tim. 2:9, 10; 2 Tim. 3:4, 5, to put on these ornaments? We answer: 1. Rebekah had no conceit of herself in connection with them; 2. as Sarah was a princess, so Rebekah became the daughter of a prince, and we cannot refuse to distinguished persons a certain preëminence in clothing and ornaments; 3. the great abundance of gold, precious stones and jewels in the Levitical cultus, was not to contribute to pride.)—CRAMER: Gen 24:27. If God has heard us, we should thank him.
Gen 24:31. Blessed of the Lord. An honorable title of the believer in the Old Testament (Ps. 37:22, etc.).—To be obliging, mild, hospitable, is a Christian virtue.—CALWER Handbuch: (The bracelets were 42 ducats, the ring 2 ducats).14—SCHRÖDER: One may hold this before the sour hypocrites, who hold it a part of spirituality and peculiar sanctity not to wear gold or silver. God permits the pomp, splendor and ornaments at a marriage feast. Even the dance cannot be condemned, if it is carried on in a chaste, moral and honorable way. Luther. [The hypothetical “if” shows the doubtfulness of this announcement even in Luther’s mind, and in the circumstances by which he was surrounded.—A. G.]
Gen 24:31. Upon Laban’s sonorous words. As soon as a living consciousness of God springs up in any one, there enters, as its consequence, a sacred horror of going beyond one’s own stand-point (Hengstenberg). (But although Laban speaks here beyond his own proper measure, still we are not justified in denying his piety).
4. Gen 24:34–49. STARKE: Upon Gen 24:35. Herein Eliezer shows his prudence. He knew well that a mother would never give her daughter to a man who lived more than a hundred miles away, in scanty, perhaps needy circumstances. He thus also, when he says, “The Lord hath blessed my master,” turns away from his master every suspicion that he had gained such great wealth in any wrong way.—Upon Gen 24:37. Hence they could not entertain the thought, if Abraham is so rich why so great and expensive a journey? (he could indeed have easily taken a Canaanitess).—Upon Gen 24:47. In verses 22, 23, it is said, the servant had given her the presents before he had asked after her relationship, here the reverse seems to be true; but the two are easily reconciled upon the supposition that he brought out the presents before the question, but after it, laid them upon her.15 (They are rather reconciled upon the theory, that he here gives the order of things as he would have acted, while he himself above, in the joy of his heart, a little too hastily, or in the strong assurance of a prosperous issue, had actually done both things at the same time, leaving out of view, that by the presupposition and statement of the question here, he declares the friend-liness of the family of Bethuel.)—To the right hand or to the left. Nahor left several sons, and Eliezer was not therefore confined to one line of Nahor’s descendants.—The Christian suitor must not seek to constrain by power the consent of the bride, of her parents and friends, but leave all to the providence of God.—SCHRÖDER: The fulness and particularity with which the servant makes his narrative, agrees perfectly with the character of the affectionate, intelligent, and aged parents. He knows how to put every lever into play; he uses every possible means.—While in verse 14 he had used the common term maiden, he uses here with great diligence, in his circumstantial speech, the more elevated term virgin. [The distinction referred to is that between Bethulah and Almah. The latter appears in Is. 7:14. See Wordsworth.—A. G.]—The nose-ring, the golden ring, which penetrated the middle wall of the nose, hung down over the mouth, was a female ornament of the ancient East (Ezek. 16:12), and remains so still, according to Niebuhr and Arvieux. About the size of a dollar, it frequently surrounded the whole mouth. It is at present also used among the Arabians as an engagement present.
5. Gen 24:50–54. STARKE: Upon Gen 24:50. The received conjecture that Bethuel stands in the background because he was old or sick. Otherwise it appears as if the brother had somewhat to say in the marriage of his sister.—Upon Gen 24:52. Eliezer must have been a most devout worshipper (Gen 24:12, 26, 27).—Christian (pious) marriages are not by chance, but made by God.—Bibl. Wirt.: When parents see that God deals with their children in a favorable way, they should not have too much unseasonable consideration or hesitancy.—SCHRÖDER: Of a so-called purchase-price (for the wife) (Gen 29; Exod. 22:16, 17), which was usually analogous to the price of a slave,—as the Arab of to-day purchases his bride perhaps for from three to five camels—and of our word marriage,16 from to buy, or to hire, there is nothing said here, since the suitor divided richly his jewels between Laban and the mother.
6. Gen 24:54–61. STARKE: Upon Gen 24:55. Because she must go with him to about 124, or, according to another reckoning, 128 miles. The Jews have received it as a rule that there should be at least ten months between the engagement and the home-bringing of the bride. (The Jews understand ימים to mean a year, and under the tenth, ten months.)—LANGE: Although Eliezer would not be detained several days, it is not necessary to conclude that the departure took place on the very next day. (He reminds us, with good reason, that Rebekah had her things to arrange and pack for the departure, etc. It is certain that they hasted, and did not remain more than ten days). Upon Gen 24:56. A Christian must guard the times carefully.—Pious parents should not constrain their children to a marriage to which they have no inclination.—O ye maidens, see that the pious Rebekah has found her bridegroom, not as she gave way to idleness, or entered the unseemly dances, but as she discharged her duty. Follow her example, fear God and labor diligently, God will bring you to the one for whom he has assigned you.—OSIANDER: The desire of pious people for a blessing upon others are mighty prayers before God, and therefore are never in vain.
7. Gen 24:62–67. STARKE: Nothing is said here of Abraham, but he will doubtless receive his daughter-in-law in the most friendly manner and with many benedictions, and the account given hereof by Eliezer must have afforded much satisfaction, and furnished matter for praise to God. (An allegorical explanation of the marriage of Isaac, in reference to the marriage of Christ with his Church, is here introduced).—Upon Gen 24:62. Whoever will be free must know how he is to support and care for his wife.—(OSIANDER: Married men must love, not hate or strike their wives.)—A happy and well-sustained marriage, mitigates greatly the adversities of this life. (Sir. 36:24)—SCHRÖDER: The twilight resting upon the field is, in nature, what the vesper-bell is in the Church.—Rebekah throws herself from the animal she rode, immediately, in an impulsive, hasty manner.—The Arabian woman still comes down from her camel when she meets a man of the same or higher rank than herself. Niebuhr was a witness of such a meeting (1 Sam. 25:23; Ps. 45:12).—The bride was constantly led veiled to the bridegroom. After the completed marriage, he could first see her with her face unveiled.—In Gen 24:16 above, as also Rachel, Gen 29:9, Rebekah was engaged in her duties, and therefore, as was customary, without the veil.—(The above-quoted allegory of Rambach: As that (marriage of Isaac) happened according to the appointment of his father Abraham, so this (espousal of Christ) is according to the good pleasure of the Father, etc.)
1[Gen 24:2.—Heb. his servant, the elder of his house.—A. G.]
2Gen 24:12.—Heb. cause it to occur.—A. G.]
3Gen 24:38.—אמ לא, if thou shalt not.—A. G.]
4Gen 24:65.—Heb. and said.—A. G.]
5 [Here the term elder approaches its official signification. MURPHY, p. 353.—A. G.]
[“The elder was not a title of age, but of office. It passed into the Church, coming down to us from the Jewish Church.” Jacobus.—A. G.]
6[Since the generative virtue in the patriarch was through the promise blessed and sanctified by Jehovah, its seat was a sacred place, by contact with which the person swearing placed himself in union with Jehovah, the God of the promise. BAUMGARTEN, p. 241. Kurtz regards the thigh as the seat of strength and firmness.—A. G.]
7[Aram included more than Mesopotamia.—A. G.]
8[Pictorial Bible.—A. G.]
9[Keil urges also, that the Hithp. form of the verb to look, would be to look round here and there restlessly, which would not suit the sense here.—A. G.]
10[There is a striking contrast between Jacob and Laban; starting from points in many respects alike, the one gradually becomes better, the other worse. See WORDSWORTH, p, 107.—A. G.]
11[Also Pictorial Bible, and the books of travels.—A. G.]
12[The “South Country.” The נֶגֶב includes more than the country south of Palestine. The south country may have embraced Hebron. Comp. Gen 13:3.—A. G.]
13[Those who would see the resemblance here alluded to, elevated into a type, and drawn out at length, may consult WORDSWORTH, p. 107, who is rich in these—at times fancies, and at times very striking suggestions.—A. G.]
14[The bracelets were from four to five ounces in weight—their value would depend upon the precious stones connected with them. BUSH, ii. p. 43.—A. G.]
15[This is clearly the proper way of reconciling the two statements.—A. G.]
16[German: heirathen from heiren, i.e., miethen kaufen.]