Genesis 24:1-9 . A MARRIAGE COMMISSION.
1. And Abraham was old . . . take a wife--His anxiety to see his son married was natural to his position as a pastoral chief interested in preserving the honor of his tribe, and still more as a patriarch who had regard to the divine promise of a numerous posterity.
2. said unto his eldest servant--Abraham being too old, and as the heir of the promise not being at liberty to make even a temporary visit to his native land, was obliged to intrust this delicate mission to Eliezer, whom, although putting entire confidence in him, he on this occasion bound by a solemn oath. A pastoral chief in the present day would follow the same course if he could not go himself.
3. thou shalt not take a wife, &c.--Among pastoral tribes the matrimonial arrangements are made by the parents, and a youth must marry, not among strangers, but in his own tribe--custom giving him a claim, which is seldom or never resisted, to the hand of his first cousin. But Abraham had a far higher motive--a fear lest, if his son married into a Canaanitish family, he might be gradually led away from the true God.
Genesis 24:10-67 . THE JOURNEY.
10. the servant took ten camels, &c.--So great an equipage was to give the embassy an appearance worthy of the rank and wealth of Abraham; to carry provisions; to bear the marriage presents, which as usual would be distributed over several beasts; besides one or two spare camels in case of emergency.
went to Mesopotamia, &c.--A stranger in those regions, who wishes to obtain information, stations himself at one of the wells in the neighborhood of a town, and he is sure to learn all the news of the place from the women who frequent them every morning and evening. Eliezer followed this course, and letting his camels rest, he waited till the evening time of water drawing.
12. And he said, O Lord God of my master--The servant appears worthy of the master he served. He resolves to follow the leading of Providence; and while he shows good sense in the tokens he fixes upon of ascertaining the temper and character of the future bride, he never doubts but that in such a case God will direct him.
15-21. before he had done speaking . . . behold, Rebekah came out--As he anticipated, a young woman unveiled, as in pastoral regions, appeared with her pitcher on her shoulder. Her comely appearance, her affable manners, her obliging courtesy in going down the steps to fetch water not only to him but to pour in into the trough for his camels, afforded him the most agreeable surprise. She was the very person his imagination had pictured, and he proceeded to reward her civility.
22. the man took a golden earring, &c.--The ring was not for the ear, but the nose; the armlets, such as young women in Syria and Arabia still appear daily at wells decked in. They are worn from the elbow to the wrist, commonly made of silver, copper, brass, or horn.
23-27. And said, Whose daughter art thou?--After telling her name and family, the kind-hearted damsel hastened home to give notice of a stranger's arrival.
28. and told them of her mother's house these things--the female apartments. This family was in an advanced stage of pastoral life, dwelling in a settled place and a fixed habitation.
29-31. Rebekah had a brother . . . Laban ran out--From what we know of his character, there is reason to believe that the sight of the dazzling presents increased both his haste and his invitation.
32-49. the man came into the house, &c.--What a beautiful picture of piety, fidelity, and disinterestedness in a servant! He declined all attention to his own comforts till he had told his name and his errand.
50. Then Laban and Bethuel answered--The brothers conduct all the marriage negotiations, their father being probably dead, and without consulting their sister. Their language seems to indicate they were worshippers of the true God.
53. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and . . . gold--These are the usual articles, with money, that form a woman's dowry among the pastoral tribes. Rebekah was betrothed and accompanied the servant to Canaan.
64. she lighted off the camel--If Isaac were walking, it would have been most unmannerly for her to have continued seated; an inferior, if riding, always alights in presence of a person of rank, no exception being made for women.
65. she took a veil, and covered herself--The veil is an essential part of female dress. In country places it is often thrown aside, but on the appearance of a stranger, it is drawn over the face, as to conceal all but the eyes. In a bride it was a token of her reverence and subjection to her husband.
67. And Isaac brought her into his mother's . . . tent--thus establishing her at once in the rights and honors of a wife before he had seen her features. Disappointments often take place, but when Isaac saw his wife, "he loved her."