SynopsisNow that Abraham is “old and well advanced in years” (verse 1), and Sarah is gone, he decides that it’s time to find a wife for Isaac.
He gives his servant instructions on finding one: he is not to find a wife for Isaac from among the Canaanites, but instead is to go back to the land from whence Abraham came, and find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s own relatives. The servant asks about the possibility of the woman not being willing to come back with him; should he then bring Isaac back home? But Abraham says no; the LORD brought him out of that land, and he is not going to send Isaac to return there. If the woman is not willing to come back with the servant, to marry Isaac, then the servant is released from his promise.
So the servant leaves, and heads off back for the land Abraham comes from. When he gets there, he sits down by a well, and prays to God, and asks for a sign:
Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” (verses 12–14)The next verse says that “before he had finished praying”, Rebekah came out to get some water from the well. Just as the servant had prayed, he asks her for a drink, and she gets him one, and offers to water the camels, too. The servant takes this to be the sign he was looking for; he gives the girl a gold nose ring and a gold bracelet, and asks her whose daughter she is. She confirms that she is a relative of Abraham’s, and the servant “worships the LORD” (verse 26), for giving him success in his mission.
Rebekah runs home to tell her family all of this, and her brother Laban comes out to see what’s happening. (We’ll be seeing Laban again, later on.) So the servant reiterates the story to Laban, and he brings the servant to the house to stay. That being said, Laban seems just as interested in the gold as he does in the servant’s story:
As soon as [Laban] had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. (verse 30)I could just be reading into it, of course.
Anyway, they bring the servant back to the house, and the servant reiterates his story for the family (again). He spends the night, and gets ready to leave the next morning. However, the next morning, the family asks the servant to let the girl stay for 10 days or so, I guess so that they can say goodbye. (Or so that they can just keep all of the gold that the servant has lavished on them, and let him go home empty-handed.) But the servant will have none of it:
But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.” (verse 56)So they decide to leave it up to the girl. They ask her what she wants to do, and she agrees to go back with the servant, to become Isaac’s wife.
ThoughtsFor such a long chapter, I don’t really have any thoughts about it.
The main reason it’s so long is that there is so much re-telling of the same story. Abraham gives the servant his task; when the servant meets Rebekah he tells her the story, then when he meets Laban he tells the story again, then when he meets Rebekah’s family, he tells the story again. (In fact, this last re-telling of the story is pretty much just as detailed as the original telling; verses 33–49 are pretty much a repeat of verses 1–32, making the chapter twice as long as it otherwise would have been.)