Abraham's Servant

INTRODUCTION: Isaac was still unmarried when Sarah died about 37 years after his birth. Abraham chose to send a trusted servant to his homeland to bring back a wife for Isaac from among his relatives while Isaac remained in Canaan. The servant was apparently not told who that woman should be, but Abraham told him he would be released of his oath if she would not return with him. The servant is not named in the account, but it is possible that it was Eliezer the man Abraham had much earlier thought would be his heir because Abraham was at that time childless.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the American King James Version.


A - DARAH'S DEATH AND BURIAL

Genesis 23 "1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burial plot with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. 5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6 Hear us, my lord: you are a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchers bury your dead; none of us shall withhold from you his sepulcher, but that you may bury your dead." ... "17 And the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure 18 To Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. 20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure to Abraham for a possession of a burial plot by the sons of Heth."

COMMENTS: When Sarah was 127 she died and Abraham purchased a burial property from the inhabitants of the land. This would become the burial location for the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well as for their three wives who were in the line of Christ. The owner of the field had wanted to give the property to Abraham, but Abraham insisted on a purchase, and it was documented in the gate of the city.


B - ABRAHAM'S SERVANT WAS BOUND BY OATH TO BRING BACK A WIFE FOR ISAAC

Genesis 24 "1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his oldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray you, your hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But you shall go to my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife to my son Isaac. 5 And the servant said to him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land: must I needs bring your son again to the land from where you came? 6 And Abraham said to him, Beware you that you bring not my son thither again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spoke to me, and that swore to me, saying, To your seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife to my son from there. 8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow you, then you shall be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning that matter."

COMMENTS: Since Abraham was about ten years older than Sarah, he would have been at least 137 years of age when he decided to send his trusted servant to bring back a wife for Isaac from among his relatives in his former country. Abraham asked his servant to swear an oath by the LORD, and to make a solemn gesture with the placement of his hand to signify their mutual agreement. This was the first hint that the servant was a devoted believer in the LORD God. The servant asked what he should do if the woman would not return with him. Abraham said the LORD God of heaven would send his angel before the servant, enabling him to take a wife to Isaac from that land. Abraham assured his servant that he would be released from the oath if the woman would not return. In any case, Isaac was not to go to the land himself.


C - ABRAHAM'S SERVANT PRAYED TO THE LORD TO REVEAL THE RIGHT WOMAN

Genesis 24 "10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. 11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. 12 And he said O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray you, send me good speed this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down your pitcher, I pray you, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give your camels drink also: let the same be she that you have appointed for your servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that you have showed kindness to my master. 15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher on her shoulder. 16 And the damsel was very fair to look on, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray you, drink a little water of your pitcher. 18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hurried, and let down her pitcher on her hand, and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for your camels also, until they have done drinking. 20 And she hurried, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not."

COMMENTS: Abraham's servant organized the men, supplies and ten camels for a caravan to carry gifts for the family and to be able to bring back the prospective wife and any attendants she might have with her. His authority was over all that Abraham had, so he made his preparations without any direct supervision from Abraham. His destination was the "city of Nahor" which appeared to be Haran as that is where Rebekah sent her son several decades later. Genesis 27 "43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; arise, flee you to Laban my brother to Haran;"

Upon his arrival, the prayer of the servant shows a measure of his own faith in the God of Abraham, and it indicates his firm loyalty to his master as he genuinely wanted to be successful in his mission to bring back a WIFE for Isaac. It is likely that such a specific content to his prayer was directed in his thoughts by the Holy Spirit. When the women came out to draw water the servant ran directly to Rebekah and requested that she give him a drink from her pitcher, and there is no indication at this point that he knew her identity. He carefully observed her in silence as she responded in the very fashion that he had prayed as she voluntarily drew water for his camels.


D - THE SERVANT ACTED UPON THE ANSWER TO HIS PRAYER

Genesis 24 "22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 23 And said, Whose daughter are you? Tell me, I pray you: is there room in your father's house for us to lodge in? 24 And she said to him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bore to Nahor. 25 She said moreover to him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. 26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brothers. 28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things."

COMMENTS: The servant immediately took out the valuable jewelry and asked Rebekah about her family. He bowed his head and worshipped the LORD when he saw such a direct answer to his prayer in the actions of the girl, and in the fact that she was indeed related to Abraham. His praise overflowed as what he said before the girl revealed that he was a servant of Abraham, and that the LORD God had showed mercy and truth to Abraham by allowing his servant to find Abraham's relatives. In all of the things he spoke, he continued to keep all emphasis on the LORD and on his master Abraham. With the gifts she had been given, the girl ran to tell her family what had happened.


E - ABRAHAM'S RELATIVES SHOW HOSPITALITY

Genesis 24 "29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out to the man, to the well. 30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets on his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spoke the man to me; that he came to the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. 31 And he said, Come in, you blessed of the LORD; why stand you without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. 32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. 33 And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told my errand. And he said, Speak on."

COMMENTS: When Rebekah's brother Laban saw the gifts of jewelry and heard her story, he graciously invited Abraham's servant and his party to be their guests. After the camels were fed and the normal courtesies were extended to the men, food was placed before them. However, Abraham's servant stayed on task for his mission and insisted that he fully explain why he had come to them before they would eat. Laban asked the servant to go ahead and give his explanation.


F - THE SERVANT IMMEDIATELY EXPLAINS HIS PURPOSE

Genesis 24 "34 And he said, I am Abraham's servant. 35 And the LORD has blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he has given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. 36 And Sarah my master's wife bore a son to my master when she was old: and to him has he given all that he has. 37 And my master made me swear, saying, You shall not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: 38 But you shall go to my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife to my son. 39 And I said to my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 40 And he said to me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you, and prosper your way; and you shall take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house: 41 Then shall you be clear from this my oath, when you come to my kindred; and if they give not you one, you shall be clear from my oath. 42 And I came this day to the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now you do prosper my way which I go: 43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin comes forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray you, a little water of your pitcher to drink; 44 And she say to me, Both drink you, and I will also draw for your camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD has appointed out for my master's son. 45 And before I had done speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down to the well, and drew water: and I said to her, Let me drink, I pray you. 46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give your camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also. 47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter are you? And she said, the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore to him: and I put the earring on her face, and the bracelets on her hands. 48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter to his son."

COMMENTS: Abraham's servant began by giving detail of how the LORD has blessed his master Abraham in wealth, and that he had a son through his wife Sarah in her old age. All that belonged to Abraham he gave to his son, and he sent his servant to get a wife from his relatives because he did not want his son to marry a Canaanite. The servant gave complete detail about how he had prayed to the LORD, and his prayer was answered very specifically at the well. He related that he then gave jewelry to the girl and bowed his head in thankful prayer to the LORD God of his master for leading him to be able to take his master's brother's daughter to his son. In each case of his reference the servant made it clear that the LORD he worshipped was the LORD of his master Abraham.


G - THE SERVANT ASK FOR A DEFINITE RESPONSE TO THE LORD'S LEADING

Genesis 24 "49 And now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. 50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceeds from the LORD: we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her, and go, and let her be your master's son's wife, as the LORD has spoken. 52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth. 53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things."

COMMENTS: The servant brought his story to a conclusion by asking that the family let him know if they would show kindness to Abraham and fill this request for a wife. Her brother Laban and her father Bethuel said the events had been from the LORD, so they would send Rebekah with the servant to become the wife of Abraham's son. The immediate response of the servant was to bow and worship the LORD. Then he presented jewels of silver and gold, and clothing to Rebekah. He also gave lavish gifts to her mother and to her brother Laban.


H - REBEKAH CONSENTED TO GO WITH ABRAHAM'S SERVANT

Genesis 24 "54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away to my master. 55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. 56 And he said to them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD has prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master. 57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. 58 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, Will you go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said to her, You are our sister, be you the mother of thousands of millions, and let your seed possess the gate of those which hate them. 61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode on the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way."

COMMENTS: Since the matter was agreed, they all ate together and then the guests stayed overnight. In the morning when the servant asked to take Rebekah back to his master, her mother and brother said she should stay for a period of time before they left with her. The servant replied by asking them not to delay him now that the LORD had made his trip prosperous. When Rebekah was asked if she was willing to go that day, she agreed, and they sent her off with their blessing that she would have many thousands of descendents who would have dominion over their enemies. Abraham's servant began the return trip to Canaan with Rebekah, her nurse, and her maidens.


I - REBEKAH BECOMES ISAAC'S WIFE

Genesis 24 "62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelled in the south country. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 65 For she had said to the servant, What man is this that walks in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death."

COMMENTS: Isaac had gone out into the field in the evening to meditate and he saw the caravan approaching. We can only imagine whether his thoughts in meditation had some elements of prayer related to the servant's mission designed to bring a wife to him. It appears that he was as much prepared to receive her, as she was prepared to become his wife. Rebekah asked the servant who the man was walking toward them in the field. When he said it was his master, she got off her camel and placed a veil over her face. This chief servant of Abraham also referred to Isaac as his master when he spoke to Rebekah. This time without all the specifics being repeated in the text, we have the simple statement that the servant told Isaac all that he had done. There is no detail of a report given to Abraham by the servant, but Isaac took Rebekah into his mother's tent and she became his wife. Isaac loved Rebekah and was comforted after his mother's death. This marks the beginning of the scriptural narrative to move focus to Isaac as the next patriarch of those who will become God's chosen people to be called Israel.


--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

The process of obtaining a wife for Isaac has provided much for me to contemplate about the way you LORD, carry out your purposes through those who will seek your direction. You had blessed this servant who was the manager over all of Abraham's possessions as this had been a prosperous life for him. The interaction between the servant and Abraham as he commissioned him to bring back a wife for Isaac has the markings of mutual respect as they placed trust in each other to uphold their respective portion of the exchanged oath. Abraham had the faith that success would be provided by you Lord, and the servant followed through in his own faith by depending on prayer to reveal the one who would become Isaac's wife. Each time the servant related his story, his emphasis was on his desire to serve Abraham; and each time he saw prayer answered he immediately worshiped you LORD. His prayers and open worship cause me to examine myself to see if I have any similarity to such responses. I want to have the devotion to serve others as a means of serving you. I need to remember to immediately offer worship to you my LORD when I see a specific answer to prayer. Help me LORD to have an appreciation for the number of your faithful servants who have gone before me, and let me give all glory and praise to you for those things you use in my life to serve the cause of Christ. Amen.

Published 18 June 2013