Following the death and burial of Sarah, Abraham sent his servant to get a wife for Isaac, his son. The narrative mentioned how the servant journeyed and prayed asking for the Lord’s providence. Today, the passage teaches us lessons about keeping the promise of God, acting on His promise and relying on God’s guidance.
Did You Know...?
- Mesopotamia (24:10) is spelled Aram-Nahrayim in Hebrew. The word can be literally translated as Aram of the two rivers. Aram is an ancient and domestic name for Syria. [ref]
- “He made his camels kneel down” (24:11): This mode of expression is taken from the actual lifestyle. The action is literally kneeling on his knees; not stooping, sitting or lying down on the side like a horse. Usually the camel is taught this mode of kneeling from his youth. [ref]
- “Women go out to draw water” (24:11): In the Middle-East, it is customary for the females to do the work of drawing water both morning and evening. These women may be seen going in groups to the wells with their vessels on the hip or on the shoulder. [ref]
- Nose ring (24:22) was neither a pendant for the ear nor a jewel for the forehead. It was a ring for the nose, the side cartilage, and sometimes the central wall of which was pierced for the purpose of admitting it (Ezek 16:11-12). Such rings are still worn by Middle-Eastern women, and in particular the nose-ring is now the usual engagement present among the Bedouins. [ref]
- “The daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah” (24:24): Such an expression was to show that Rebekah was not the descendant from Nahor’s concubine. [ref]
What was the specific oath that Abraham required from his oldest servant?Hide Answer
Abraham told his oldest servant to swear by the LORD not to take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites but to take a wife from Abraham’s country and family (Gen 24:3-4).
What was the specific warning that Abraham gave to his oldest servant? For what reason?Hide Answer
Abraham warned his oldest servant not to take his son, Isaac, back to his home country (Gen 24:6). Abraham gave such a stern warning because he remembered and held fast of God’s promise. Not only that the LORD had taken Abraham from his father’s house and from the land of his family but the LORD had also spoken and sworn to Abraham that to his descendants the LORD would give the land of Canaan (Gen 24:7).
What can we learn about Abraham’s faith in regards to his warning to the oldest servant?Hide Answer
Abraham warned his servant not to take Isaac to his home country because of the promise that God had sworn to Abraham. Along with the warning, Abraham knew that there was a possibility the woman from his home-country was not willing to follow the servant back to where Isaac lived and thus, reducing the number of options of Isaac’s potential wife (Gen 24:8). At the worst, because of Abraham’s warning, Isaac would not be able to marry due to Abraham’s fixed decision in narrowing the choice of wife only from his home-country.
From Abraham’s words in Genesis 24:7-8, we can see that Abraham had the faith that the angel of the LORD would be sent to help the servant in finding a wife. But, in keeping with his faith, Abraham was also willing to face the worst fact that the woman from his home-country might not be willing to marry Isaac.
Abraham’s struggle is also our struggle today. At times, our faith and trust in God’s promise and providence will be challenged by the reality of events that are contradictory to God’s promise. At this moment, we are at the crossroads between keeping the faith with the consequence that things may not happen according to our hope or acting on our own will to achieve what we hope for. Abraham’s faith teaches us that God’s help will surely come if we choose to keep our trust in the Lord.
Why would Abraham search a wife for Isaac from his home country instead of from Canaan?Hide Answer
Abraham would search a wife for Isaac from his home country instead of from Canaan because he held on to God’s promise. The writer of the book of Genesis described how Abraham faithfully grasped the Lord’s promise that He would give the land of Canaan to his descendants (Gen 24:7) and fully believed God’s words that he would inherit the land of Canaan (Gen 15:7-10)—possessing the land of the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites (Gen 15:19-21). God had even revealed to Abraham that He would dispossess the Amorites because of their iniquity and would give their land to the descendants of Abraham (Gen 15:16). Thus, for Isaac to Marry a Canaanite woman would not have been in accord with God’s will of disinheriting the Canaanites.
Furthermore, If the woman was willing to migrate to Canaan to join Isaac based on God’s promise to Abraham, that would mean that she had faith like that of Sarah. Sarah had once also left her homeland, faithfully followed Abraham, and supported him on his journey to a foreign land, the land of promise. The companionship that Isaac’s wife provides to Isaac would likewise be a great support in their journey together in the land of promise.
How did the servant respond to the requested oath?Hide Answer
Upon receiving the requested oath, the servant of Abraham took the goods of his master and the camels and departed to Mesopotamia to search for a wife for his master’s son (Gen 24:10). Furthermore, in facing the difficult task, the servant also prayed to the Lord of Abraham asking for guidance in his journey (Gen 24:12f).
How did the servant pray to the LORD? For the success;Hide Answer
The servant prayed to the LORD to give him success that day, knowing that his commanded task was not easy and there was a possibility that his master’s request would be rejected by the woman (Gen 24:5, 12).
For the master;Hide Answer
The servant did not only care about his own success but he also prayed for the LORD to show kindness to his master, Abraham (Gen 24:12). At this point of time, Abraham was already old, well advanced in age and was blessed by the LORD in all things (Gen 24:1). When Abraham intended to find a wife for Isaac—so that the two of them could walk together on God’s promise (Gen 24:7)—the servant showed his empathy by hoping God would show kindness to his master through His divine appointment of the right woman (Gen 24:14).
For the guidance;Hide Answer
In doing the given-task, the servant humbly prayed asking for the LORD’s guidance in finding the appointed woman as Isaac’s wife (Gen 24:13-14). Though the servant might have known and heard the latest update on Abraham’s relatives in Genesis 22:20-24, he did not rely on his own effort to find the woman. Instead, he prayed for a step-by-step guidance of the LORD to lead him toward the appointed woman.
For the wife’s character;Hide Answer
The servant did not just ask for guidance for a wife, but he asked for a wife with good character. The servant’s specific request for the woman to draw and give water not only to him but also to his camels (Gen 24:14) showed that the appointed woman must have the compassion upon others and the initiative and willingness to help them.
What can we learn from the servant’s prayer?Hide Answer
There are several things that we can learn from the servant’s prayer to the Lord. First, the servant’s humility. Although the servant knew the updated information regarding Abraham’s family back in Mesopotamia, the servant did not take the mission for granted. He asked the Lord to lead the way of his journey. Sometimes our acquired knowledge on certain things can cause us to boast and to make decision based only on our knowledge rather than humbly asking for God’s guidance.
Second, the servant’s selflessness. In the difficulty of his mission, the servant still prayed for the well-being of his master. In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul encourages us not to do things through selfish ambition, but in lowliness of mind look out also for the interests of others (Phil 2:3-4). Such a spirit serves as an encouragement for us living in today’s selfish society. The servant’s selflessness teaches us to practice our love and to show our care for others despite our own difficulties.
Third, the servant’s diligence. The servant did not just search for a wife of his master’s home country simply for the sake of fulfilling the oath, but the servant took extra measures to look for a wife of good character for his master’s son. His diligence became the proof of his selflessness toward his master’s interest and also the evidence of his concern regarding God’s promise of a descendant to his master. The Scriptures tell us that not only should we be diligent in our salvation (Heb 4:11;
2 Pet 1:10) but that we should also be diligent in many things, such as in good work (1 Tim 5:10), in virtues and in knowledge (2 Pet 1:5). Likewise, in our daily life, diligence is not only shown on church-related matter but it must also be shown through our deeds of house-work, of family and work-related responsibilities.
How did the Scriptures describe the woman who came out with her pitcher?Hide Answer
The Scriptures described the woman who came out with her pitcher as Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel—son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor (Gen 24:15). Rebekah was a young woman and she was very beautiful to behold. Furthermore, she was a virgin and no man had known her (Gen 24:16).
Describe the Lord’s step-by-step guidance to the servant of Abraham from this passage.Hide Answer
From the passage, we can see the step-by-step guidance from the Lord to the servant regarding his prayer request. The Scriptures tell us that before the servant had finished speaking in his heart (Gen 24:45), a young woman with her pitcher on her shoulder came out to draw water from the well, where the servant was standing (Gen 24:13, 15). Then, the young woman did not only give the servant a drink from her pitcher when he requested it from her but the young woman also drew water for all the servant’s camels until they had finished drinking. Rebekah’s deeds were exactly in accordance to the servant’s request in his prayer (Gen 24:14, 18-19).
Apart from guiding the servant based upon his request, the Lord led him directly toward the relatives of Abraham. That young woman who gave him and all his camels water to drink was the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor—Abraham’s brother. Just as the servant had sworn to Abraham that he would take a wife from Abraham’s country and family, Rebekah was indeed the young woman from the country and family of Abraham (Gen 24:4, 15).
Why did the servant wonder at the young woman and remain silent?Hide Answer
The servant wondered at the young woman to observe her acts, whether her deeds were in accordance to his prayer. In addition, the servant remained silent so as to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous (Gen 24:21). Rather than making a hasty conclusion about the young woman, the servant chose to be silent and patiently observed how God revealed His guidance in His time.
What can we learn from the servant’s attitude in observing and remaining silent?Hide Answer
The servant’s attitude in observing the young woman’s deeds and his decision to remain silent can serve as a lesson to our spiritual life. Sometimes, even after we have prayed, we are still impatient waiting for God’s guidance and therefore, hastily take things into our own hands. But the servant’s attitude teaches us that remaining silent before the Lord is important. The Psalmists also have shared with us to wait silently for God’s salvation (Ps 62:1, 5) instead of taking the matter into our own hands. For us today, apart from hoping and trusting in the Lord’s providence, remaining silent also involves a responsibility to actively observe the occurring events. Such observations will prevent us from hastily outpacing God’s timing upon our hope.
What were the distinguished traits and deeds of the young woman?Hide Answer
The Scriptures tell us that the young woman was very beautiful to behold (Gen 24:16). Moreover, her hospitality to accept strangers to stay in her father’s place was noted (Gen 24:24). Lastly, her willingness to do extra work not only for the servant and his men but also for all his camels was extraordinary (Gen 24:19, 20).
Just as the woman drew water for all the servant’s camels, share an example of the “extra-mile” which you can do for others and for the church.(The answer is empty)Hide Answer