Genesis 23 – Sarah dies at the age of 127 years in Hebron, in the land of Canaan, among the children of Heth. Abraham pleads to the people in whose land he lives, for a burial site for his wife, and the children of Heth offer him any sepulcher of his choice, because he is a “prince of God” living among them. In a peaceful exchange of land and silver, Abraham deals with Ephron the Hittite; Abraham asked for a cave at the end of a field owned by Ephron, and Ephron offered the cave AND the field for Abraham. It was all witnessed by the children of Heth and justified and done.
Another instance where a foreign group “blesses” or treats Abram with respect. What will the future hold for the children of Heth or Ephron the Hittite? We’ve seen the maltreatment of the Pharaoh and Abimelech who treated Abraham well.
Genesis 24 – Abraham is old but well blessed by Jehovah. He makes his senior servant/slave swear a promise that Isaac will not be married to a Canaanite, those who took him in all these years, but he will take a wife from his kin, his family. The only thing that would break this vow is if the woman refuses to come with the servant, which would break his obligation with the oath. However, Abraham sternly warns not to bring Isaac back to this land for a wife. The servant packs his things and heads to Mesopotamia, the city of Nahor.
In an interesting scenario where the supplicant of prayer sets the rules, the servant prays to Jehovah, the God of his master, to have a damsel who offers him water at his request, be the chosen wife for Isaac, as he stands by a well in Nahor.
Before he could finish his words, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor (Abraham’s brother) appears. Rebekah = Abraham’s grand niece. The servant, realizing his prayer was being answered, inquires to Rebekah on her lineage, and inquires on lodging with her family for the night. Rebekah affirms, and the servant worships Jehovah:
Genesis 24:26 – And the man bowed his head, and worshiped Jehovah. And he said, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of my master Abraham, who hath not forsaken his lovingkindness and his truth toward my master: as for me, Jehovah hath led me in the way to the house of my master’s brethren.
Why is Jehovah not the god of the servant? Does he have his own god? He obviously recognizes the presence of Jehovah, so he is not godless in his knowledge. He doesn’t call Jehovah his own god yet he proclaims it’s Jehovah that led him to this successful trip. In other words, he acknowledges a god without claiming this god as his own, and fire and brimstone did not rain down upon him. So it was ok for the servant to worship Jehovah, who guided him through his mission, but still not acknowledge it was HIS god.
This puts a different spin on the word “worship”. Apparently you can worship (in this story the meaning gets redefined) a god that is not your own, because the actions of the god were good. In other words, a form of thanks. This can redefine the concept of worship from this point on when worship is mentioned in the bible.
After finishing Genesis 24 I have to ask: Just how old was Rebekah?
The servant (why is he not given a name, are slaves not worthy of names?) meets with the family of Rebekah and retells the tale.
24:47 – … and I put the ring upon her nose, and the bracelets upon her hands.
We know from verse 24:22 that the ring and bracelets were made of gold, but when I read this I thought, why would be put a ring on her nose? Then I thought of the nose ring they put through bulls. Bracelets upon her hands…. handcuffs? Did this servant, in a ritual of claiming a young virgin for his servant, ritually “claim” Rebekah with a gold nose ring and handcuffs? Don’t bracelets usually go on a person’s wrist?
The servant wishes to return in haste to Abraham, the family want’s Rebekah to stay with them for 10 days, but in the end they leave it to Rebekah and she decides to go with the servant. In the meantime, Isaac is dwelling in the land of the south:
24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide: and he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she alighted from the camel. And she said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant said, It is my master: and she took her veil, and covered herself.
Two interesting culture concepts here:
- Isaac is meditating… is this equivalent to prayer? Rest? This is the first mention of meditation. It doesn’t say he is meditating unto Jehovah, or God. It’d be nice to know the details of this meditation.
- Rebekah veils herself upon meeting Isaac. Is a woman veiling herself an act of piety or humility? Is this tradition carried on today?
- To skip forward, it is mentioned, in the New Testament, that woman cover themselves to keep the Angels from seeing their beauty, in a reference to Genesis 6 when the Angels saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and impregnated them, resulting in giants/Nephilim. Did Rebekah cover her face thinking Isaac could be one of these Angels? After all, he was conceived through Jehovah’s actions with the elderly Sarah.
In a nod to the beauty of a man and woman in union, it is noted that with Rebekah as his wife, Isaac was comforted after his mother Sarah’s death.