ISAAC AND REBEKAH
A Father's Concern
Abraham is old, and he is bereft of his wife. God had blessed Abraham in all things, but there was something bothering Abraham. Isaac needed a wife because he would soon assume leadership for their family and God's promise would continue through him. Abraham summoned his most trusted servant and made him swear an oath that he would not take a wife from the Canaanites but that he would go to Abraham's people and seek a suitable wife from his people. Abraham's servant inquired about what he was to do if this endeavor proved unsuccessful. Should Isaac return to their homeland? The answer is a definitive no. This was the land of promise that the Lord had promised to his descendants and so Isaac was not to return under any circumstances. Abraham declares his absolute trust in the God of heaven because he was certain that he would send his angel before this servant to prepare the way and bring success. However, he allows that if the woman was not willing to follow then, he would be free from his oath but he could never take Isaac back. The servant gave his word, and the oath was solemnized by the servant placing his hand under Abraham's thigh.
A Prayer For Success
The servant wasted no time in complying with Abraham's wishes. Ten camels were loaded with gifts for the bride-to-be, and he departed for Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. Just outside the city, the servant has the camels kneel by a well of water at the time when women go out to draw water. The servant prays and asks that he might be granted success and that God would show his steadfast love to his master Abraham. He sought a sign from the Lord. He would ask the maidens for a drink, and the maiden that would also offer to water the camels would be the chosen wife for God's servant Isaac. Before he reached the amen, Rebekah came to draw water. She was fair, and as she filled her water, the servant came to her and asked for a drink of water from her jar. The girl quickly extended hospitality and gave him a drink. After he had finished drinking, she offered to water the camels until they finished drinking. This was no small task because camels are notorious for the amounts of water they drink. Rebekah is quick about her work and makes multiple trips to water the camels. The servant watched in stunned silence to see if the Lord had answered his prayer. When the camels were through drinking, the servant gave this young woman a valuable ring and two bracelets. He inquired about her family and asked if they might be able to accommodate his lodging needs. Rebekah did not hesitate to extend an invitation to this stranger. The servant responded in worship as he marveled at God's love and faithfulness. He knew that he was an agent of God's kindness and Rebekah ran to tell her family about these extraordinary events.
A Family Reunion
Rebekah's brother Laban is anxious to meet this stranger that had given his sister such valuable treasures. Laban goes to Abraham's servant and issues a formal invitation. He invoked the name of the Lord as he addresses this stranger. When they arrived at the house, the camels were tended, and the guests washed their feet. Food was set before the group, but Abraham's servant would not eat until he relayed the purpose of this providential visit. The hosts invited him to speak. He begins by explaining his relationship to Abraham, their kinsman. The servant highlights the blessings that Abraham enjoyed because of God's goodness and emphasizes the wealth that Isaac was to inherit. He explains the circumstances which brought him to Haran, how he had prayed at the well, and how Rebekah had fulfilled precisely the requirements which had been stipulated in his prayer. The servant then called upon Laban and Bethuel to give some indication of how they were receiving this news. They believed that all this was from the Lord, and immediately they make a startling decision. They gave their blessing to a complete stranger and agreed that the servant could take Rebekah to a foreign land to be Isaac's wife! The servant is so overwhelmed that he bowed before the Lord. He lavished gifts upon Rebekah, her mother, and brother. They shared a meal and went to bed although it is not likely that anyone slept much.
The next morning Abraham's servant inquires about taking his leave so that he might return to his master. Her mother and brother fell that this may be a bit too hasty and ask for ten days so that they might give her a proper send-off. The servant insists, and they relent. They decided it might be best to let Rebekah decide for herself and she is ready to leave immediately. The family pronounces a blessing on Rebekah as they send her on her way along with her nurse and her young women. They mount the camels, and the caravan makes its way back to Abraham and Isaac. Isaac may have been pondering his marriage when he visited the sacred site of Beer-lahai-roi where the angel of the Lord had once appeared. One evening Isaac went out to meditate in a field when he sees the caravan approaching. Rebekah notices that a man is making his way toward them and she inquires about his identity. When she learns that it is Isaac, she dismounts her camel and covers her face with a veil. This was a demonstration of modesty and respect for her future husband. Imagine how Isaac's mind must have raced as the servant rehearsed every detail of his journey. Isaac believed that Rebekah was his divinely chosen mate. Isaac honors his bride by bringing her to the tent of his beloved mother. After the necessary arrangements could be made, Isaac married Rebekah. They had not dated and barely knew each other but Isaac loved Rebekah. She brought warmth, beauty, and companionship which brought Isaac great comfort after the loneliness he had experienced following the death of his mother, Sarah.
Things To Consider:
- Why is Abraham so concerned about his son's marriage?
- Is marriage important? Why or why not?
- How should one seek guidance from the Lord?
- What can young women learn from Rebekah?
- What are ways to show hospitality to our neighbors?
- How was Isaac preparing for marriage?
- What does Rebekah teach us about chastity, service, hospitality, and modesty?
- What is love?
- How could Isaac love a woman he barely knew?
- How can we comfort others?