Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.Abraham’s age and prosperity, Genesis 24:1. He makes his eldest servant swear not to take a wife for his son Isaac of the Canaanites, but of his own kindred, Genesis 24:2-4. The servant inquires into the nature and condition of the oath, Genesis 24:5. Abraham expresses his faith in the promise, Genesis 24:7; explains the oath, Genesis 24:8. The servant swears, Genesis 24:9. He goes to the city of Nahor, Genesis 24:10; prays for success, Genesis 24:12; and direction, Genesis 24:13,14. An immediate and particular answer, Genesis 24:15-20. He wonders at the providence, Genesis 24:21; makes a present to Rebekah, Genesis 24:22. Inquires of what family she was, Genesis 24:23. Her answer, Genesis 24:24,25. He blesseth the Lord, Genesis 24:26,27. Rebekah acquaints her friends with it, Genesis 24:28. They provide for him, &c. and invite him in, Genesis 24:31,32. He goes in, but refuses to eat till he had told his errand, Genesis 24:33. He acquaints them with his business, and God’s providence towards him, Genesis 24:34-49. They consent to his proposal, Genesis 24:50,51. He praises God, Genesis 24:52; makes presents to them all, Genesis 24:53; desires to return to his master, Genesis 24:54-56. Rebekah being content to go with him, they consent and bless her, Genesis 24:57-60. They depart, and meet Isaac meditating in the field, Genesis 24:61-65; who marries her, Genesis 24:67.
1857 He was one hundred and forty years old, comparing Genesis 21:5, with Genesis 25:20.
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:His eldest servant of his house; viz. Eliezer, Genesis 15:2. This ceremony was used in swearing, as now, so anciently in the eastern parts, as Genesis 47:29, either as a testimony of subjection, and promise of faithful service, for this rite was used only by inferiors towards superiors; or, as some think, with respect to the blessed Seed, Christ, who was to come out of Abraham’s thigh, as the phrase is, Genesis 46:26, because this rite was used only to believers.
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:i.e. Not persuade nor engage my son to take; for Isaac, though forty years old, was not only willing to be governed by his father in this affair, but also to hearken to the counsel of this wise and faithful servant, of whom both his father and himself had such long and large experience. He knew that
the Canaanites were not only gross idolaters and heinous sinners, for so many others were; but that they were a people under God’s peculiar curse, Genesis 9:25, and devoted to extirpation and utter destruction, which was to be inflicted upon them by Abraham’s posterity; and therefore to marry his son to such persons had been a high degree of self-murder, whereby the holy and blessed seed had been in danger of great infection from them, and utter ruin with them. And Abraham’s practice was afterwards justified by God, who hath oft showed his dislike of such unequal matches of his people with those infidels and idolaters, by severe prohibitions and sharp censures. See Exodus 34:16 Deu 7:3 Joshua 23:12 Ezra 9:1-3 Nehemiah 13:23,25 2 Corinthians 6:14,15.
But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.My country, i.e. Mesopotomia, Genesis 24:10, which being largely taken for the country between those two famous rivers Euphrates and Tigris, from which situation it hath that name; so Chaldea, whence Abraham came, Genesis 11:31 12:1, was a part of it.
My kindred, the family of Nahor, concerning the increase whereof he had received information, Genesis 22:20, &c., which he justly preferred before the Canaanites, partly because though they were idolaters, as appears from Genesis 31:19,30,32,35 Jos 24:2, yet they did worship the true God together with idols, as may be gathered from Genesis 24:31,50, and from other places; and therefore there was more hopes of the conversion of one of that family; and partly because they lived at a great distance from the place where Abraham and his posterity did and should live, and therefore one of that stock would be more easily disentangled from her superstition and idolatry, because she was removed from the influences of the evil counsels and examples of her nearest relations, and partly because they were of the race of blessed Shem, and not of cursed Canaan.
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?Note here the prudence and piety of this good man, who, before he would take an oath, doth diligently inquire into the nature and conditions of it, and expressly mentioneth that exception which might seem to be of course supposed in it.
And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.In case she will not come hither, do not thou engage that he shall go thither. Why so?
1. Because there was more danger of infection from his wife and her kindred, because of their friendly, and familiar, and constant converse with him, than from the Canaanites, who were strangers to him, and lived separately from him, and had but little conversation with him.
2. Because the command of God to Abraham to come out of Chaldea, and into Canaan, did extend to his posterity also, whom God would oblige to dwell there as long as they could, that they might live in constant faith and expectation of the performance of God’s promise in giving this land unto them.
Quest. How could he bring Isaac thither again, where he never was?
1. Isaac might be said to be there before virtually, or in the loins of his father, as Levi is said to pay tithes to Melchziedek by Abraham in whose loins he was.
again may be referred to the servant, that when he returned again he would not carry Isaac along with them.
3. He might reasonably suppose that Isaac must go once thither to fetch his wife; (for her coming so suddenly to him was an unexpected thing); but he would not have him promise, that when he had done so once, he should go thither again to live there with her.
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.He shall send his angel before thee, to direct and succeed thee in this enterprise. Compare Exodus 14:19 23:20.
Thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence; I doubt not of the success. He might say so, either by rational conjecture, both from the nature of the thing, and from the constant course of God’s providence blessing him in all his concerns; or by particular assurance and inspiration from God.
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.Thou shalt be clear from the obligation of this oath, and from the penalties of the violation of it.
And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The goods of his master were in his hand, i.e. in his power to take, without particular orders, what he thought fit and necessary, either for his own use, or for the promotion of the present business.
The city of Nahor was Haran, by comparing Genesis 28:10 29:4.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Or, mercy. He makes no mention of himself, nor of the merits of his master, but he ascribes even temporal blessings, and much more eternal salvation, merely to God’s mercy.
Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:No text from Poole on this verse.
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.That this was not a rash and vain fancy, but a special expectation and confidence wrought in him by God’s Spirit, appears both by the eminent prudence and godliness of this person, and by the exact correspondency of the event with his prayer, and by parallel examples, as Judges 6:36 1 Samuel 6:7 14:8.
She that thou hast appointed; Heb. evidently pointed out; or, exactly searched out, as a person meet for him.
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.According to the manner of the first and purest ages of the world, wherein humility and diligence, not, as in this degeneration of the world, pomp and idleness, were the ornaments of that sex and age. See Genesis 18:6 29:9,18,20 Exo 2:16 Proverbs 31:27.
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.She was a virgin not only in title and show, but in truth, for no man had known her, i.e. corrupted her.
And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.No text from Poole on this verse.
And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.She said, Drink, my lord; for his retinue showed him to be a person of more than ordinary quality.
And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.The man wondered at her, i.e. at the wonderful providence of God, and the eminent answer of his prayer.
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;The man took, i.e. gave to her, (as that word of taking, or receiving, is oft used, as Genesis 12:19 Exodus 18:12 29:25 Psalm 68:18, compared with Ephesians 4:8),
a golden earring; so the word signifies, Genesis 35:4 Exodus 32:2,3. Or, jewels for the forehead, which hung down from the forehead to the nose, or between the eyes. So the word is used, Genesis 24:47 Ezekiel 16:12.
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 said, or, for he had said; for it is probable he inquired who she was before he gave her those presents.
And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.So she signifies that she was Nahor’s daughter, not by his concubine, but by his lawful and principal wife.
She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.Giving thanks to God for his marvellous assistance hitherto, and begging the continuance of his presence and blessing.
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.His mercy and his truth, i.e. who hath showed his mercy in promising all manner of blessings, and his truth in performing his promises at this day. Or, it is a figure called hendyadis, for true mercy: q. d. he hath not only been kind to him in show, and in words, but in real and considerable effects.
My master’s brethren, i.e. near kinsmen, as that word is commonly used, as Genesis 24:48 Genesis 13:8 Mark 3:31,32.
And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.Not
of her father’s house; either because her father was now dead, and Bethuel, who is hereafter mentioned, was not Laban’s father, but his brother so called; or because the women had distinct apartments in the houses, and she went first thither according to her custom.
And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, i.e. whom God hath so eminently favoured and blessed.
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.Of which custom, see Genesis 18:4.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he said, I am Abraham's servant.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.i.e. Hath purposed and promised, and doth by me engage that he will give. Things are oft said to be done, in Scripture language, when they will certainly and shortly be done.
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:No text from Poole on this verse.
But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.No text from Poole on this verse.
And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:Before whom I walk, in obedience to all his commands, and in hearty trust in his promises and gracious providence towards me and mine.
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.Clear from this my oath; Heb. from my curse, denounced against thee if thou shouldst violate thine oath. The words oath and curse are ofttimes indifferently used, because they commonly go together, and sometimes they are both expressed, as Numbers 5:21.
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:i.e. The design or course in which I am engaged, as the word way is frequently used.
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;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.First he asks who she was, then he gives the gifts to her; which is the right order, and is here observed in the repetition; which was inverted in the first relation, Genesis 24:22,23.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.If you will show true kindness and real friendship to him in giving your daughter to his son,
tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may look out a wife for him elsewhere. It is a proverbial expression, Numbers 20:17 22:26 Deu 2:27.
Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.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.
Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken.Rebekah is before thee, i.e. in thy power and disposal; as this phrase is taken, Genesis 20:15, and elsewhere.
And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.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 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Others thus, a year, or at the least ten months, the word days being put for a year, as elsewhere. But it is very improbable that they would demand or expect such a thing from this man, whom they saw bent so much upon expedition.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth.i.e. Understand her mind by her words, not so much concerning the marriage itself, in which she resigned up herself to the disposal of her parents and friends, and to which she had given an implicit consent by her acceptance of those presents which were made to her for that end, as concerning the hastiness of her departure.
And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men.Her nurse was Deborah, by comparing Genesis 35:8. In this corrupt family, the mother and the nurse are two distinct persons; but in Abraham’s pious family there was no such principle or practice. See Genesis 21:7.
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.Thou art our sister, i.e. our near kinswoman; distance of place shall not alienate our affections from thee, but we shall still own thee as our sister, and, as far as we can, 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.In the southern parts of Canaan, as Genesis 12:9, at Beer-sheba, whither it seems, Abraham returned after Sarah’s death.
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.To meditate; to converse with God, and with himself, by pious and profitable thoughts and ejaculations, and fervent prayers, as for other things, so particularly for God’s blessing upon this great affair, and so his prayers are eminently answered. He chooseth a solitary place, wherein he might more freely attend upon God without any interruption or distraction,
in the field at the eventide; that as he had begun the day with God, so he might close it with him, and commit himself to his protection. Compare Psalm 55:17.
And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.As a testimony of her respect to him, whom by the servant she understood to be her lord and husband. Compare Joshua 15:18 1 Samuel 25:23.
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.In token of modesty, reverence, and subjection. See Genesis 20:16 1 Corinthians 11:10.
And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, partly to give her possession of it, and partly to consummate the marriage. Women then had their tents apart from men. See Genesis 18:10 24:67 31:33.
Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death; a sorrowful sense whereof he yet had retained, though she died three years before this time.