Abraham was now an old man. God had blessed Abraham in every way.
Abraham spoke to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of everything he had, "Put your hand under my thigh
and swear by God - God of Heaven, God of Earth - that you will not get a wife for my son from among the young women of the Canaanites here,
but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac."
The servant answered, "But what if the woman refuses to leave home and come with me? Do I then take your son back to your home country?"
Abraham said, "Oh no. Never. By no means are you to take my son back there.
God, the God of Heaven, took me from the home of my father and from the country of my birth and spoke to me in solemn promise, 'I'm giving this land to your descendants.' This God will send his angel ahead of you to get a wife for my son.
And if the woman won't come, you are free from this oath you've sworn to me. But under no circumstances are you to take my son back there."
So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and gave his solemn oath.
The servant took ten of his master's camels and, loaded with gifts from his master, traveled to Aram Naharaim and the city of Nahor.
Outside the city, he made the camels kneel at a well. It was evening, the time when the women came to draw water.
He prayed, "O God, God of my master Abraham, make things go smoothly this day; treat my master Abraham well!
As I stand here by the spring while the young women of the town come out to get water,
let the girl to whom I say, 'Lower your jug and give me a drink,' and who answers, 'Drink, and let me also water your camels' - let her be the woman you have picked out for your servant Isaac. Then I'll know that you're working graciously behind the scenes for my master."
It so happened that the words were barely out of his mouth when Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel whose mother was Milcah the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with a water jug on her shoulder.
The girl was stunningly beautiful, a pure virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came back up.
The servant ran to meet her and said, "Please, can I have a sip of water from your jug?"
She said, "Certainly, drink!" And she held the jug so that he could drink.
When he had satisfied his thirst she said, "I'll get water for your camels, too, until they've drunk their fill."
She promptly emptied her jug into the trough and ran back to the well to fill it, and she kept at it until she had watered all the camels.
The man watched, silent. Was this God's answer? Had God made his trip a success or not?
When the camels had finished drinking, the man brought out gifts, a gold nose ring weighing a little over a quarter of an ounce and two arm bracelets weighing about four ounces, and gave them to her.
He asked her, "Tell me about your family? Whose daughter are you? Is there room in your father's house for us to stay the night?"
She said, "I'm the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah and Nahor.
And there's plenty of room in our house for you to stay - and lots of straw and feed besides."
At this the man bowed in worship before God
and prayed, "Blessed be God, God of my master Abraham: How generous and true you've been to my master; you've held nothing back. You led me right to the door of my master's brother!"
And the girl was off and running, telling everyone in her mother's house what had happened.
Rebekah had a brother named Laban. Laban ran outside to the man at the spring.
He had seen the nose ring and the bracelets on his sister and had heard her say, "The man said this and this and this to me." So he went to the man and there he was, still standing with his camels at the spring.
Laban welcomed him: "Come on in, blessed of God! Why are you standing out here? I've got the house ready for you; and there's also a place for your camels."
So the man went into the house. The camels were unloaded and given straw and feed. Water was brought to bathe the feet of the man and the men with him.
Then Laban brought out food. But the man said, "I won't eat until I tell my story." Laban said, "Go ahead; tell us."
The servant said, "I'm the servant of Abraham.
God has blessed my master - he's a great man; God has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, servants and maidservants, camels and donkeys.
And then to top it off, Sarah, my master's wife, gave him a son in her old age and he has passed everything on to his son.
My master made me promise, 'Don't get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live.
No, go to my father's home, back to my family, and get a wife for my son there.'
I said to my master, 'But what if the woman won't come with me?'
He said, 'God before whom I've walked faithfully will send his angel with you and he'll make things work out so that you'll bring back a wife for my son from my family, from the house of my father.
Then you'll be free from the oath. If you go to my family and they won't give her to you, you will also be free from the oath.'
"Well, when I came this very day to the spring, I prayed, 'God, God of my master Abraham, make things turn out well in this task I've been given.
I'm standing at this well. When a young woman comes here to draw water and I say to her, Please, give me a sip of water from your jug,
and she says, Not only will I give you a drink, I'll also water your camels - let that woman be the wife God has picked out for my master's son.'
"I had barely finished offering this prayer, when Rebekah arrived, her jug on her shoulder. She went to the spring and drew water and I said, 'Please, can I have a drink?'
She didn't hesitate. She held out her jug and said, 'Drink; and when you're finished I'll also water your camels.' I drank, and she watered the camels.
I asked her, 'Whose daughter are you?' She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel whose parents were Nahor and Milcah.' I gave her a ring for her nose, bracelets for her arms,
and bowed in worship to God. I praised God, the God of my master Abraham who had led me straight to the door of my master's family to get a wife for his son.
"Now, tell me what you are going to do. If you plan to respond with a generous yes, tell me. But if not, tell me plainly so I can figure out what to do next."
Laban and Bethuel answered, "This is totally from God. We have no say in the matter, either yes or no.
Rebekah is yours: Take her and go; let her be the wife of your master's son, as God has made plain."
When Abraham's servant heard their decision, he bowed in worship before God.
Then he brought out gifts of silver and gold and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive gifts to her brother and mother.
He and his men had supper and spent the night. But first thing in the morning they were up. He said, "Send me back to my master."
Her brother and mother said, "Let the girl stay a while, say another ten days, and then go."
He said, "Oh, don't make me wait! God has worked everything out so well - send me off to my master."
They said, "We'll call the girl; we'll ask her."
They called Rebekah and asked her, "Do you want to go with this man?" She said, "I'm ready to go."
So they sent them off, their sister Rebekah with her nurse, and Abraham's servant with his men.
And they blessed Rebekah saying, You're our sister - live bountifully! And your children, triumphantly!
Rebekah and her young maids mounted the camels and followed the man. The servant took Rebekah and set off for home.
Isaac was living in the Negev. He had just come back from a visit to Beer Lahai Roi.
In the evening he went out into the field; while meditating he looked up and saw camels coming.
When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she got down from her camel
and asked the servant, "Who is that man out in the field coming toward us?" "That is my master." She took her veil and covered herself.
After the servant told Isaac the whole story of the trip,
Isaac took Rebekah into the tent of his mother Sarah. He married Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her. So Isaac found comfort after his mother's death.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)