(Genesis 24:12) 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.
Abraham sent his servant to his relatives in Haran to find a wife for his son Isaac. Abraham did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite or be taken back to Haran to find a wife. Abraham’s servant knew the LORD, so he prayed to the LORD to help him successfully complete the task that Abraham had set before him. The servant recognized that if the LORD helped him find the perfect wife for Isaac that would show the LORD’s kindness to Abraham. The servant prayed a God-centered prayer that interceded for his master.
(Genesis 24:13) Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:
The servant prayed in a way that would make it possible for him to know the LORD’s choice of a wife for Isaac. He did not trust in his own understanding to select a wife for his master. Even though he knew the qualities that a good wife should have, he wanted God to reveal the woman he should select. The servant went near a spring that probably ran into and filled a well; then, water would be collected to a depth that would make it easier for people to lower their jars and fill them with water. A shallow spring would make filling jars difficult for the daughters of the village. He saw the daughters of the townspeople coming out to fill their water jars and thus began his prayer to know the LORD’S will.
(Genesis 24:14) 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.
The servant’s prayer was practical and detailed, so he would know if or when the LORD had answered him. He wanted a wife for Isaac who would be hospitable to strangers. He wanted a woman who would see a need of others and volunteer to meet that need no matter the extra exertion or time required. The servant had left home with 10 camels carrying gifts, supplies, and riders. The town provided a watering trough for animals, and the servant would not let his camels pollute the town’s water supply by letting them drink from the stream that filled the town’s well. A thirsty camel can drink 25 gallons of water. So, theoretically, the potential wife for Isaac would need to fill her water jar many times and carry 250 gallons of water to the water trough for 10 camels. The servant prayed that by this sign he would know the woman the LORD had chosen and that the LORD had shown his kindness to his master Abraham.
(Genesis 24:15) 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.
Most probably the Holy Spirit inspired the prayer of the servant, and most probably the Holy Spirit inspired Rebekah to go for water at the precise time she left the house. God begins to answer the prayers of His people before He inspires their specific prayers. The first woman the servant saw fulfilled Abraham’s command to choose a wife from his relatives in Haran, though the servant did not know that fact yet. Abraham’s brother, Nahor, had stayed in Haran when Abraham left for Canaan. Rebekah was the granddaughter Nahor and the grandniece of Abraham.
(Genesis 24:16) 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.
In addition to qualities of character that the servant had prayed for, the servant saw that Rebekah was beautiful and morally qualified to be Isaac’s wife. As in some cultures, to distinguish married from unmarried women, Rebekah may have been wearing her hair or clothing differently from the way a married woman would wear her hair or clothing, thus indicating externally that she was not married. [For example, the hairstyle of Princess Leia in the Star Wars Trilogy (sometimes called “cinnamon buns” or “the squash blossom whorl” hairstyle) was first worn by unmarried Hopi Indian girls in Arizona.] Rebekah did not waste any time going down to the spring and filling her water jar and coming back up again to do her family tasks.
(Genesis 24:17) And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
After seeing that Rebekah’s appearance was pleasing, and she was unmarried, and after she filled her water jar and was returning home, the servant did exactly as he had planned and prayed. He politely asked her for a drink from her water jar.
(Genesis 24:18) And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
Rebekah showed her respect for Abraham’s servant and her spirit of hospitality without delay and quickly gave him a drink of water. Later, the servant spoke to her father and asked him to give his daughter to be the wife for Isaac, and he recounted his prayer and how Rebekah had exactly answered his prayer. Her family then acknowledged that what had happened was from the LORD. Though Abraham had left Haran when he went to Canaan, his relations still had some knowledge of the true God, that God answers prayer, and the true God should be obeyed.
(Genesis 24:19) And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
As the servant drank, Rebekah probably watched the man as he drank the water from her jar, perhaps to judge if he were an honorable or dishonorable man. After she saw him drink, no doubt the Holy Spirit inspired her exact words to the servant that showed her willingness to do more than the servant asked. By offering to draw water for his camels, she gave the servant two ways to measure her character. First, she freely offered to water the servant’s camels without being asked or asking for compensation. Second, she said she would water them until they had enough to drink. She said she would begin and complete what she had offered to do and was willing to work hard to do what she had promised without charge. She expressed her desire to meet the needs of these thirsty camels, so she would probably have the character and willingness to care for a husband and her family.
(Genesis 24:20) 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.
Notice: Rebekah “ran” to begin keeping her word, and she kept her word. She did exactly what she said she would do. This character trait would make her a true blessing to Isaac as his wife. The fact that she went to the well indicates that the spring water obviously fed into the well. We are not told how many trips she made to the trough, but enough times to demonstrate that she was not only beautiful, but healthy and strong and willing to work quickly and hard to help others, even strangers in need.
(Genesis 24:21) And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.
Without needing to be reminded or encouraged to complete her task, Rebekah did what she promised, and the servant watched to see how she did what she did. She was careful and not slack or haphazard in doing her duty. Her offer may have been made from compassion for thirsty camels and the way she watered the camels would reveal how she truly felt about animals. This too would reveal more of her character traits. It became obvious to the servant that the LORD had made his journey successful if Rebekah and the family would agree for her to go with him to marry Isaac, also a stranger to her.
(Genesis 24:61) 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.
After Rebekah and her family agreed to the servant’s request that they leave quickly and return to Abraham and Isaac (without waiting ten days or so as the family had at first requested), Rebekah and her attendants mounted some of the camels the servant had brought and went with him. The journey through the Fertile Crescent from Haran to Canaan could have been about 500 miles and last many days, so the camels would be needed for tents, food, and other supplies as well as to be ridden (at least ridden by Rebekah and her attendants).
(Genesis 24:62) And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.
Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, meaning “Well of the Living One that sees me,” which was the place where Hagar met the angel of God who showed her the water well that saved her and her son Ishmael from dying of thirst — the LORD had seen her (Genesis 21:17-19). The Negev or Negeb was an area that would become the southernmost part of Judah. Therefore, Isaac was living in an area that would eventually be occupied by the tribe of Judah and the kingdom of Judah — just as the LORD had promised Abraham.
(Genesis 24:63) 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.
Isaac had been brought up by Abraham in the ways of the LORD, as was Abraham’s servant, and the LORD did what was best for Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, and Abraham’s servant. Isaac went into the field to be alone with the LORD, to pray, to think on God’s promises, and perhaps to think about if and when his servant would return with the woman who would be his wife. God worked out the perfect timing of the selection of Isaac’s future wife and God also worked out the perfect timing for Isaac to see his future wife for the first time.
(Genesis 24:64) And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
Rebekah had probably been looking forward to the end of their long journey with increasing anticipation for she was coming in faith that all Abraham’s servant had said about the LORD’s leading and Isaac were true. She had probably been told that they were nearing where Isaac was living; therefore, she was naturally interested when she saw the man in the field and got down from her camel to talk to Abraham’s servant.
(Genesis 24:65) 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.
Isaac would have recognized the servant and his caravan even from a distance. Perhaps he had even prayed that evening that the servant would return soon. So, when he saw his servant and the caravan he began walking toward them with anticipation rather than waiting for the caravan to come to him. The servant told Rebekah that Isaac was the man walking toward them, so she covered her face, which she may have uncovered while talking to the servant or at various times during the journey.
(Genesis 24:66) And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
The servant told Isaac exactly what he told Rebekah’s parents about his prayer and the LORD’s answer and the LORD’s leading of Rebekah to him at the well. He probably told him about the gifts that he had given to Rebekah and her family, and their willingness for him to take Rebekah to Isaac without delay. He gave this accounting as a responsible servant and to show Isaac that Rebekah had indeed been chosen for him by the LORD.
(Genesis 24:67) 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.
According to the customs of the day, which may have been more complex than detailed here, Isaac married Rebekah. The Bible does not describe this marriage ceremony as it will describe in more detail the marriage of Jacob to Leah and Rachel in Haran. As Sarah had cared for Isaac, so Rebekah cared for Isaac and Isaac loved the one the LORD had chosen for him.
1. What did the servant pray for God to do for himself and for his master?
2. From the servant’s prayer, what are some of the qualities that he wanted Isaac’s wife to possess?
3. What are some of the additional personal qualities that Rebekah showed she possessed?
4. What are some things that illustrate the spiritual life of Abraham’s family.
5. How do you think Isaac knew that his servant had chosen the right wife for him?
“May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I'll water your camels too—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master’” (Genesis 24:14).
Abraham’s servant prayed for the LORD to choose the wife He wanted for Isaac. His prayer reveals some of the qualities he thought the wife of Abraham’s son should possess. She must be young. Though Abraham was old, his son was young. She must show hospitality to strangers, such as himself. She must see the needs of others, even animals, and be willing to care for their needs without needing to be asked or commanded. She must be able and willing to work hard. The servant knew that carrying a water jar from a spring to aid thirsty camels would require the energy and strength of a healthy young woman. The servant also knew that if he prayed and found a woman with these qualities that God had indeed shown kindness to his servants Abraham and Isaac.Rebekah excelled the servant’s expectations. In addition to perfectly answering his prayer, she was beautiful and morally fit to be Isaac’s wife. She was not only strong and eager to serve others, but she quickly gave water to the servant and unselfishly ran to quickly water his camels. She did exactly what she told the servant she would do. Keeping her word, she completed the task as the servant watched her closely. Because God led the servant so perfectly, Rebekah did as he had prayed, and she agreed to go with Abraham’s servant to marry Isaac. — LG Parkhurst Jr.
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