1And Abraham [is] old, he hath entered into days, and Jehovah hath blessed Abraham in all [things];
2and Abraham saith unto his servant, the eldest of his house, who is ruling over all that he hath, ‘Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh,
3and I cause thee to swear by Jehovah, God of the heavens, and God of the earth, that thou dost not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanite, in the midst of whom I am dwelling;
4but unto my land and unto my kindred dost thou go, and hast taken a wife for my son, for Isaac.’
5And the servant saith unto him, ‘It may be the woman is not willing to come after me unto this land; do I at all cause thy son to turn back unto the land from whence thou camest out?’
6And Abraham saith unto him, ‘Take heed to thyself, lest thou cause my son to turn back thither;
7 Jehovah, God of the heavens, who hath taken me from the house of my father, and from the land of my birth, and who hath spoken to me, and who hath sworn to me, saying, To thy seed I give this land, He doth send His messenger before thee, and thou hast taken a wife for my son from thence;
8and if the woman be not willing to come after thee, then thou hast been acquitted from this mine oath: only my son thou dost not cause to turn back thither.’
9And the servant putteth his hand under the thigh of Abraham his lord, and sweareth to him concerning this matter.
10And the servant taketh ten camels of the camels of his lord and goeth, also of all the goods of his lord in his hand, and he riseth, and goeth unto Aram-Naharaim, unto the city of Nahor;
11and he causeth the camels to kneel at the outside of the city, at the well of water, at even-time, at the time of the coming out of the women who draw water.
12And he saith, ‘Jehovah, God of my lord Abraham, cause to meet, I pray Thee, before me this day — (and do kindness with my lord Abraham;
13lo, I am standing by the fountain of water, and daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water;
14and it hath been, the young person unto whom I say, Incline, I pray thee, thy pitcher, and I drink, and she hath said, Drink, and I water also thy camels) — her Thou hast decided for Thy servant, for Isaac; and by it I know that Thou hast done kindness with my lord.’
15And it cometh to pass, before he hath finished speaking, that lo, Rebekah (who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, wife of Nahor, brother of Abraham) is coming out, and her pitcher on her shoulder,
16and the young person [is] of very good appearance, a virgin, and a man hath not known her; and she goeth down to the fountain, and filleth her pitcher, and cometh up.
17And the servant runneth to meet her, and saith, ‘Let me swallow, I pray thee, a little water from thy pitcher;’
18and she saith, ‘Drink, my lord;’ and she hasteth, and letteth down her pitcher upon her hand, and giveth him drink.
19And she finisheth giving him drink, and saith, ‘Also for thy camels I draw till they have finished drinking;’
20and she hasteth, and emptieth her pitcher into the drinking-trough, and runneth again unto the well to draw, and draweth for all his camels.
21And the man, wondering at her, remaineth silent, to know whether Jehovah hath made his way prosperous or not.
22And it cometh to pass when the camels have finished drinking, that the man taketh a golden ring (whose weight [is] a bekah), and two bracelets for her hands (whose weight [is] ten [bekahs] of gold),
23and saith, ‘Whose daughter [art] thou? declare to me, I pray thee, is the house of thy father a place for us to lodge in?’
24And she saith unto him, ‘I [am] daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah, whom she hath borne to Nahor.’
25She saith also unto him, ‘Both straw and provender [are] abundant with us, also a place to lodge in.’
26And the man boweth, and doth obeisance to Jehovah,
27and saith, ‘Blessed [is] Jehovah, God of my lord Abraham, who hath not left off His kindness and His truth with my lord; — I [being] in the way, Jehovah hath led me to the house of my lord's brethren.’
28And the young person runneth, and declareth to the house of her mother according to these words.
29And Rebekah hath a brother, and his name [is] Laban, and Laban runneth unto the man who [is] without, unto the fountain;
30yea, it cometh to pass, when he seeth the ring, and the bracelets on the hands of his sister, and when he heareth the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, ‘Thus hath the man spoken unto me,’ that he cometh in unto the man, and lo, he is standing by the camels by the fountain.
31And he saith, ‘Come in, O blessed one of Jehovah, why standest thou without, and I — I have prepared the house and place for the camels!’
32And he bringeth in the man into the house, and looseth the camels, and giveth straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the feet of the men who [are] with him:
33and setteth before him to eat; but he saith, ‘I do not eat till I have spoken my word;’ and he saith, ‘Speak.’
34And he saith, ‘I [am] Abraham's servant;
35and Jehovah hath blessed my lord exceedingly, and he is great; and He giveth to him flock, and herd, and silver, and gold, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and camels, and asses;
36and Sarah, my lord's wife, beareth a son to my lord, after she hath been aged, and he giveth to him all that he hath.
37‘And my lord causeth me to swear, saying, Thou dost not take a wife to my son from the daughters of the Canaanite, in whose land I am dwelling.
38If not — unto the house of my father thou dost go, and unto my family, and thou hast taken a wife for my son.
39‘And I say unto my lord, It may be the woman doth not come after me;
40and he saith unto me, Jehovah, before whom I have walked habitually, doth send His messenger with thee, and hath prospered thy way, and thou hast taken a wife for my son from my family, and from the house of my father;
41then art thou acquitted from my oath, when thou comest unto my family, and if they give not [one] to thee; then thou hast been acquitted from my oath.
42‘And I come to-day unto the fountain, and I say, Jehovah, God of my lord Abraham, if Thou art, I pray Thee, making prosperous my way in which I am going —
43(lo, I am standing by the fountain of water), then the virgin who is coming out to draw, and I have said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee, a little water from thy pitcher,
44and she hath said unto me, Both drink thou, and also for thy camels I draw — she is the woman whom Jehovah hath decided for my lord's son.
45‘Before I finish speaking unto my heart, then lo, Rebekah is coming out, and her pitcher on her shoulder, and she goeth down to the fountain, and draweth; and I say unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee,
46and she hasteth and letteth down her pitcher from off her and saith, Drink, and thy camels also I water; and I drink, and the camels also she hath watered.
47‘And I ask her, and say, Whose daughter [art] thou? and she saith, Daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor, whom Milcah hath borne to him, and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her hands,
48and I bow, and do obeisance before Jehovah, and I bless Jehovah, God of my lord Abraham, who hath led me in the true way to receive the daughter of my lord's brother for his son.
49‘And now, if ye are dealing kindly and truly with my lord, declare to me; and if not, declare to me; and I turn unto the right or unto the left.’
50And Laban answereth — Bethuel also — and they say, ‘The thing hath gone out from Jehovah; we are not able to speak unto thee bad or good;
51lo, Rebekah [is] before thee, take and go, and she is a wife to thy lord's son, as Jehovah hath spoken.’
52And it cometh to pass, when the servant of Abraham hath heard their words, that he boweth himself towards the earth before Jehovah;
53and the servant taketh out vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and giveth to Rebekah; precious things also he hath given to her brother and to her mother.
54And they eat and drink, he and the men who [are] with him, and lodge all night; and they rise in the morning, and he saith, ‘Send me to my lord;’
55and her brother saith — her mother also — ‘Let the young person abide with us a week or ten days, afterwards doth she go.’
56And he saith unto them, ‘Do not delay me, seeing Jehovah hath prospered my way; send me away, and I go to my lord;’
57and they say, ‘Let us call for the young person, and ask at her mouth;’
58and they call for Rebekah, and say unto her, ‘Dost thou go with this man?’ and she saith, ‘I go.’
59And they send away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men;
60and they bless Rebekah, and say to her, ‘Thou [art] our sister; become thou thousands of myriads, and thy seed doth possess the gate of those hating it.’
61And Rebekah and her young women arise, and ride on the camels, and go after the man; and the servant taketh Rebekah and goeth.
62And Isaac hath come in from the entrance of the Well of the Living One, my Beholder; and he is dwelling in the land of the south,
63and Isaac goeth out to meditate in the field, at the turning of the evening, and he lifteth up his eyes, and looketh, and lo, camels are coming.
64And Rebekah lifteth up her eyes, and seeth Isaac, and alighteth from off the camel;
65and she saith unto the servant, ‘Who [is] this man who is walking in the field to meet us?’ and the servant saith, ‘It [is] my lord;’ and she taketh the veil, and covereth herself.
66And the servant recounteth to Isaac all the things that he hath done,
67and Isaac bringeth her in unto the tent of Sarah his mother, and he taketh Rebekah, and she becometh his wife, and he loveth her, and Isaac is comforted after [the death of] his mother.
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Isaac and Rebekah.#The story of Abraham and Sarah is drawing to a close. The promises of progeny (21:1–7) and land (chap. 23) have been fulfilled and Sarah has died (23:1–2). Abraham’s last duty is to ensure that his son Isaac shares in the promises. Isaac must take a wife from his own people (vv. 3–7), so the promises may be fulfilled. The extraordinary length of this story and its development of a single theme contrast strikingly with the spare style of the preceding Abraham and Sarah stories. It points ahead to the Jacob and Joseph stories.The length of the story is partly caused by its meticulous attention to the sign (vv. 12–14), its fulfillment (vv. 15–20), and the servant’s retelling of sign and fulfillment to Rebekah’s family to win their consent (vv. 34–49). 1Abraham was old, having seen many days, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2#Gn 47:29. Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all his possessions: “Put your hand under my thigh,#Put your hand under my thigh: the symbolism of this act was apparently connected with the Hebrew concept of children issuing from their father’s “thigh” (the literal meaning of “direct descendants” in 46:26; Ex 1:5). Perhaps the man who took such an oath was thought to bring the curse of sterility on himself if he did not fulfill his sworn promise. Jacob made Joseph swear in the same way (Gn 47:29). In both these instances, the oath was taken to carry out the last request of a man upon his death. 3and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live,#Gn 24:37; 28:1–2; Jgs 14:3; Tb 4:12. 4but that you will go to my own land and to my relatives to get a wife for my son Isaac.” 5The servant asked him: “What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6Abraham told him, “Never take my son back there for any reason! 7The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my relatives, and who confirmed by oath the promise he made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’—he will send his angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son there.#Gn 12:7; Ex 6:8; Tb 5:17; Gal 3:16. 8If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath to me. But never take my son back there!” 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him concerning this matter.
10The servant then took ten of his master’s camels, and bearing all kinds of gifts from his master, he made his way to the city of Nahor#Nahor: it is uncertain whether this is the place where Abraham’s brother Nahor (11:27) had lived or whether it is the city Nahur, named in the Mari documents (nineteenth and eighteenth centuries B.C.), near the confluence of the Balikh and Middle Euphrates rivers. Aram Naharaim: lit., “Aram between the two rivers,” is the Yahwist designation for Terah’s homeland. The two rivers are the Habur and the Euphrates. The Priestly designation for the area is Paddan-aram, which is from the Assyrian padana, “road or garden,” and Aram, which refers to the people or land of the Arameans. in Aram Naharaim. 11Near evening, at the time when women go out to draw water, he made the camels kneel by the well outside the city. 12Then he said: “Lord, God of my master Abraham, let it turn out favorably for me#Let it turn out favorably for me: let me have a favorable sign; cf. end of v. 14. today and thus deal graciously with my master Abraham. 13While I stand here at the spring and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water, 14if I say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jug, that I may drink,’ and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too,’ then she is the one whom you have decided upon for your servant Isaac. In this way I will know that you have dealt graciously with my master.”
15#Gn 22:23. He had scarcely finished speaking when Rebekah—who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—came out with a jug on her shoulder. 16The young woman was very beautiful, a virgin, untouched by man. She went down to the spring and filled her jug. As she came up, 17the servant ran toward her and said, “Please give me a sip of water from your jug.” 18“Drink, sir,” she replied, and quickly lowering the jug into her hand, she gave him a drink. 19When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels, too, until they have finished drinking.” 20With that, she quickly emptied her jug into the drinking trough and ran back to the well to draw more water, until she had drawn enough for all the camels. 21The man watched her the whole time, silently waiting to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. 22When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose-ring weighing half a shekel, and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels for her wrists. 23Then he asked her: “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please. And is there a place in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24She answered: “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. 25We have plenty of straw and fodder,” she added, “and also a place to spend the night.” 26The man then knelt and bowed down to the Lord, 27saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not let his kindness and fidelity toward my master fail. As for me, the Lord has led me straight to the house of my master’s brother.”
28Then the young woman ran off and told her mother’s household what had happened. 29#Gn 27:43. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban. Laban rushed outside to the man at the spring. 30#Laban becomes hospitable only when he sees the servant’s rich gifts, which is in humorous contrast to his sister’s spontaneous generosity toward the servant. Laban’s opportunism points forward to his behavior in the Jacob stories (31:14–16). When he saw the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms and when he heard Rebekah repeating what the man had said to her, he went to him while he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31He said: “Come, blessed of the Lord! Why are you standing outside when I have made the house ready, as well as a place for the camels?” 32The man then went inside; and while the camels were being unloaded and provided with straw and fodder, water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33But when food was set before him, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my story.” “Go ahead,” they replied.
34“I am Abraham’s servant,” he began. 35“The Lord has blessed my master so abundantly that he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys. 36My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37My master put me under oath, saying: ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live; 38instead, you must go to my father’s house, to my own family, to get a wife for my son.’ 39When I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not follow me?’ 40he replied: ‘The Lord, in whose presence I have always walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey successful, and so you will get a wife for my son from my own family and my father’s house.#Tb 5:17; 10:13. 41Then you will be freed from my curse. If you go to my family and they refuse you, then, too, you will be free from my curse.’#Curse: this would be the consequence of failing to carry out the oath referred to in v. 3.
42“When I came to the spring today, I said: ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, please make successful the journey I am on. 43While I stand here at the spring, if I say to a young woman who comes out to draw water, ‘Please give me a little water from your jug,’ 44and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too—then she is the woman whom the Lord has decided upon for my master’s son.’
45“I had scarcely finished saying this to myself when Rebekah came out with a jug on her shoulder. After she went down to the spring and drew water, I said to her, ‘Please let me have a drink.’ 46She quickly lowered the jug she was carrying and said, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. 47When I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ she answered, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor, borne to Nahor by Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. 48Then I knelt and bowed down to the Lord, blessing the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49Now, if you will act with kindness and fidelity toward my master, let me know; but if not, let me know that too. I can then proceed accordingly.”
50#Tb 7:11–12. Laban and Bethuel said in reply: “This thing comes from the Lord; we can say nothing to you either for or against it. 51Here is Rebekah, right in front of you; take her and go, that she may become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has said.” 52When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed to the ground before the Lord. 53Then he brought out objects of silver and gold and clothing and presented them to Rebekah; he also gave costly presents to her brother and mother. 54After he and the men with him had eaten and drunk, they spent the night there.
When they got up the next morning, he said, “Allow me to return to my master.”#Tb 7:14; 8:20. 55Her brother and mother replied, “Let the young woman stay with us a short while, say ten days; after that she may go.” 56But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go back to my master.” 57They answered, “Let us call the young woman and see what she herself has to say about it.” 58So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” She answered, “I will.”#Marriages arranged by the woman’s father did not require the woman’s consent, but marriages arranged by the woman’s brother did. Laban is the brother and Rebekah is therefore free to give her consent or not. 59At this they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60They blessed Rebekah and said:
“Sister, may you grow
into thousands of myriads;
And may your descendants gain possession
of the gates of their enemies!”#Gn 22:17.
61Then Rebekah and her attendants started out; they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and went on his way.
62Meanwhile Isaac had gone from Beer-lahai-roi and was living in the region of the Negeb.#Gn 16:13–14; 25:11. 63One day toward evening he went out to walk in the field, and caught sight of camels approaching. 64Rebekah, too, caught sight of Isaac, and got down from her camel. 65She asked the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking through the fields toward us?” “That is my master,” replied the servant. Then she took her veil and covered herself.
66The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done. 67Then Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of his mother Sarah. He took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her and found solace after the death of his mother.
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