The Romance of Isaac and Rebekah

Genesis 24:

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, 3 that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6 Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

Two Oaths

Here’s the set up: an oath made with a clause. If she is unwilling to return, the servant is free from this oath. Isaac cannot go with him himself, however, because of an oath that God swore to Abraham concerning the land of Canaan.

Abraham trusts in the Lord to solve this problem, “he will send his angel before you“.

What happens next is one of the most romantic stories of the bible.

10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. 11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

The sign he asked for is not an easy thing. Water is heavy and a woman who draws it must not enjoy the task. It is a necessary thing though, to have water for the family, but to also draw water for a stranger? This test reveals her nature. Is she of the giving sort? Is she kind to strangers? Will she go the extra mile? 

This test is also a way to free the servant. He doesn’t seem too happy about the oath from the beginning. He doesn’t really believe that anything will happen. Maybe his heart has changed up to this point, but if it hasn’t then, perhaps this test is hard enough to make him go home early.

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.

He is in shock I think! She does more than he asked for. She is very kind to strangers. She has a spirit of hospitality!

Friend, learn from this. When pursuing a significant other, watch how he treats the people around him, especially strangers. Is he rude to the waiter or waitress? If so, ignore his flattery for he is only concerned with getting something for his efforts. How does he treat his parents, especially his mom? How does she treat her father? I’m telling you, how your potential mate will treat their parents or a stranger is how they will eventually treat you. Be careful of the flattery of a gentleman who is rude to others. Someday, when you don’t give him what he wants, he will be rude to you. Don’t be shocked when this happens. You’ve been warned!

My pastor once said, “If the person you are pursuing is full of pride in themselves I have three letters for you R U N!” Many kind people have been taken in by such narcissism. Narcissists only think of themselves. They only treat you nice if they want something from you, which, in the case of a date, means your love. So, watch how they treat people who aren’t giving them anything. That is how they will eventually treat you if you ever say no to them.

I have so much more to say, but I will have to cover the narcissist on another post.

So the servant is in shock! He isn’t quite sure what to do. Next we have an almost fairy tale moment (and here I was saying no fairy tales in my last post). The kindness like that of Cinderella is about to be rewarded.

22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” 26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27 and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” 28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things.

29 Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. 30 As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” 32 So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”

34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. 36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has.

The servant continues recounting the oath he made to Abraham including the part about her choosing to come or not, how that would free him. Now it seems that the fine print of the oath, the clause for the servant’s freedom is used her as a sign that Abraham is a wise master. 

The servant finishes the story with what happened at the well, how Rebekah responded to his prayer by giving water to him and his camels.

50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing has come from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.”

And so her brother and her father spoke for her in this moment. It is indeed an arranged marriage. In this day and age these things are frowned upon, and I myself prefer it that way. I actually do think the lover and beloved should choose themselves.

What can be gleaned from this? Young ladies, listen to your brothers and your fathers concerning someone who is pursuing you. They know the heart of a man. They will see things in him that you might have missed. If they speak well of him, consider their words and make your choice wisely. 

The father is the head of the household. He and his sons are assigned to guard and keep the household safe. Any man he speaks well of is free to pursue his daughter. This man should be welcomed into hospitality, for according to the authority by the father of that house, he is safe.

Be careful and guard against false accusations and slander. When these things occur, the father should have the final word. A wise father will meet with the man to be sure he is upright in character. If the father says “he is good” then until proven otherwise, this man should indeed be accepted as good!

Cancel culture be damned! Fathers need to return as the head of the household! I tell you the truth, none of this story would be possible without the correct godly, authority in their rightful place.

52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the Lord. 53 And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments. 54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there.

All of this is just lovely! But in a second things could have gone the other way. Listen to the prudence of the servant the following morning.

When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” 58 And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” 

And here we have the wisdom of Rebekah. She has heard all of these things and has yet to have a voice. When given one, her reply is like an “I do” at the wedding ceremony.

If she had refused to go with him in that moment, he would have been free of his oath. I tell you dear ones, it takes courage to start a relationship.

Love is not a passive thing. Just like that old 90s composer Toby Mac from the DC Talk troupe once said, “Love is a verb.”

The servant is also wise for not staying to wait. If he did so, all that had happened might change. People can make promises very easily, but the temptation to break an oath is easier over time. This is why you must act swiftly!

I once tried to reconcile with some friends. I wrote them a letter expressing my desire for this. The letter cut deep to their hearts. In it I admitted my wrong but also pointed out theirs. I asked to meet them so that we might reconcile. They said they were busy. I foolishly let them be thinking, “of course you’re busy. Let’s speak of it when you are free.” Weeks and weeks passed. I finally spoke with one of them. Reconciliation did not happen. In fact, they pushed me out of their lives even further. 

To this day I do not understand? They were professing Christians and yet, they did not forgive me even though I forgave them. How can you call yourself a Christian and refuse forgiveness? It is not for me to judge. 

So, if the Lord is putting something in your heart to do, do it soon! Don’t wait. Don’t overthink it. Other evil thoughts might enter in and steal the beautiful thing that was given as a blessing. You can overthink all of God’s promises and blessings away given enough time. Many great relationships have been destroyed this way.

And so the servant acts hastily to return and Rebekah agrees. So after a blessing from her family, they return to Canaan.

62 Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65 and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

What practical things can we learn from this story?

Be wise when taking an oath.

Search for kindness when finding a significant other. Watch how they treat strangers.

Listen to your father and older brothers concerning a potential mate. They might see things that you don’t.

When the Lord has put something in your heart, do it swiftly. 

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