But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. — Genesis 24:4
Choosing a marriage partner is a major life decision, and it is vital that we let God direct in this matter. My parents’ story is an example. In their late twenties, they were acquainted with each other through church-related activities. Dad observed Mom and was interested, but she rejected his initial approach. It wasn’t that she disliked him, but she was not interested in getting married. She was dedicated to the Lord’s work and felt called to full-time service. She was concerned that marriage would jeopardize that commitment. Dad, however, was persistent, and he said, “Well, I’ve been praying about it, and I feel it’s the Lord’s will.” She agreed to pray about the matter.
After a while, Mom confided to her brother, “I’ve been praying about this, and I want the Lord to say no, but the more I pray, the more I feel that the Lord wants me to say yes.” Since her brother was a devout Christian, he encouraged her to keep praying and trusting that the Lord would show her definitely what He wanted her to do. One day after a youth service, she went to her brother and and told him that the Lord had let her know that this was His will. Some months later they were married. Rather than finding that marriage was an encumbrance, their union was a source of spiritual strength and blessing to both of them. They had almost thirty-nine years together before God called my mother home to Heaven.
Isaac’s situation was somewhat different than that of my parents. In the culture of that time, the father typically would arrange the marriage, and today’s text gives the profound account of how God directed in the selection of a bride for Isaac.
Abraham recognized that the choice of a bride for his son was crucial. He instructed his servant, “Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac,” impressing upon him the extreme seriousness of the mission. When the servant suggested that perhaps the woman of choice would not be willing to leave her home and family, Abraham responded that God would send His angel before the servant. Clearly, this faithful man of God had unshakable confidence that God would direct.
Abraham’s servant set forth, looking to the God of Heaven to guide through an ordering of events which would indicate His direction. The servant’s confidence was not misplaced. The miraculous unfolding of events which pointed to Rebekah as the woman of God’s choosing was beyond question. The servant met with Rebekah’s father and brother, who accepted the servant’s proposal. Rebekah heard the proposition, and when the servant wanted to return home immediately, she said, “I will go,” without hesitation. Her heart had grasped the plan of God, and she was willing to follow it.
While times and customs have changed, the principle found in this compelling account is timeless. In the realm of human relationships, none is more important than the one between husband and wife. How vital it is, when we face this and other life-changing decisions in our own lives, that we obtain God’s guidance!
Chapter 24 contains the beautiful and amazing account of the seeking, selecting, and securing of a bride for Isaac.
When Abraham was 140 years old, he set about obtaining a bride for Isaac, who was forty years old. Arranged marriages were common in that culture. Abraham knew that God had called him to Canaan, and it was of prime importance to him that Isaac stay in that land. Yet Abraham wanted the woman to be God-fearing and not a local pagan.
Verses 1-9 tell how Abraham commissioned “his eldest servant” to secure a bride. Although the servant is not named, many scholars believe it may have been Eliezer (Genesis 15:2). If so, he had been Abraham’s foremost servant for at least fifty-four years, since before Ishmael was born. Abraham required his servant to vow that he would not pick a Canaanite woman. By placing his hand under Abraham’s thigh, the servant was performing an ancient eastern custom which pledged obedience. Abraham was not oblivious to the possibility that the girl would refuse to come, but he believed God would go with the servant and bring about His will.
The account of the servant’s expedition is given in verses 10-27. Abraham’s relatives were living in and near Haran, which was between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Scholars believe the city of Nahor could have been to the southeast of Haran, and may have been named after either Abraham’s brother or grandfather. It was about 470 miles from where Abraham lived, and it took the servant approximately seventeen days to travel there.
The well mentioned in verse 11 was located in a central area that many young women frequented. The prayer of the servant reflects the impact that Abraham’s faith had upon his household. The servant asked for God’s direction to be shown through specific events transpiring in a specific order. The original Hebrew word for kindness (verse 12) was chesed, which also means “faithfulness to a promise” and “mercy.” The servant’s prayer was quickly and precisely answered.
A camel can easily drink twenty to twenty-five gallons of water in a few minutes, so Rebekah volunteered to draw as much as two hundred gallons of water for the ten camels.
Verses 28-61 tell of the servant’s dealings with Rebekah’s family. She was a granddaughter of Abraham’s brother, Nahor, and her family was receptive to the servant’s proposal. Rebekah herself responded positively to the servant’s request that they leave for Canaan the next day. She was accompanied by her nurse, Deborah (Genesis 35:8), and “her damsels,” the number of which is unknown.
When they arrived in Canaan, Isaac was in the field meditating (verses 62-67). There were probably no wedding ceremonies in that day, but rather, great wedding feasts that lasted for days. God blessed the union with love.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
7. The choice of a bride for Isaac (24:1-67)
a. The commission of the servant (24:1-9)
b. The sojourn of the servant (24:10-49)
c. The consent of Rebekah (24:50-60)
d. The marriage of Isaac (24:61-67)
Just as God directed in the choice of a bride for Isaac, He will guide us in important life-decisions as we commit ourselves to finding His will.