Abraham was now a very old man, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.
One day Abraham said to the man in charge of his household, who was his oldest servant,
"Swear a by the LORD, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not let my son marry one of these local Canaanite women.
Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac."
The servant asked, "But suppose I can't find a young woman who will travel so far from home? May I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives?"
"No!" Abraham warned. "Be careful never to take my son there.
For the LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my offspring. b He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a young woman there to be my son's wife.
If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there."
So the servant took a solemn oath c that he would follow Abraham's instructions.
He loaded ten of Abraham's camels with gifts and set out, taking with him the best of everything his master owned. He traveled to Aram-naharaim d and went to the village where Abraham's brother Nahor had settled.
There the servant made the camels kneel down beside a well just outside the village. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water.
"O LORD, God of my master," he prayed. "Give me success and show kindness to my master, Abraham. Help me to accomplish the purpose of my journey.
See, here I am, standing beside this spring, and the young women of the village are coming out to draw water.
This is my request. I will ask one of them for a drink. If she says, 'Yes, certainly, and I will water your camels, too!' -- let her be the one you have appointed as Isaac's wife. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."
As he was still praying, a young woman named Rebekah arrived with a water jug on her shoulder. Her father was Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham's brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah.
Now Rebekah was very beautiful, and she was a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again.
Running over to her, the servant asked, "Please give me a drink."
"Certainly, sir," she said, and she quickly lowered the jug for him to drink.
When he had finished, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough!"
So she quickly emptied the jug into the watering trough and ran down to the well again. She kept carrying water to the camels until they had finished drinking.
The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not she was the one the LORD intended him to meet.
Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he gave her a gold ring for her nose and two large gold bracelets e for her wrists.
"Whose daughter are you?" he asked. "Would your father have any room to put us up for the night?"
"My father is Bethuel," she replied. "My grandparents are Nahor and Milcah.
Yes, we have plenty of straw and food for the camels, and we have a room for guests."
The man fell down to the ground and worshiped the LORD.
"Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham," he said. "The LORD has been so kind and faithful to Abraham, for he has led me straight to my master's relatives."
The young woman ran home to tell her family about all that had happened.
Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban.
When he saw the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister's wrists, and when he heard her story, he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels. Laban said to him,
"Come and stay with us, you who are blessed by the LORD. Why do you stand here outside the village when we have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels!"
So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw to bed them down, fed them, and provided water for the camel drivers to wash their feet.
Then supper was served. But Abraham's servant said, "I don't want to eat until I have told you why I have come." "All right," Laban said, "tell us your mission."
"I am Abraham's servant," he explained.
"And the LORD has blessed my master richly; he has become a great man. The LORD has given him flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many servants and camels and donkeys.
When Sarah, my master's wife, was very old, she gave birth to my master's son, and my master has given him everything he owns.
And my master made me swear that I would not let Isaac marry one of the local Canaanite women.
Instead, I was to come to his relatives here in this far-off land, to his father's home. I was told to bring back a young woman from here to marry his son.
"'But suppose I can't find a young woman willing to come back with me?' I asked him.
'You will,' he told me, 'for the LORD, in whose presence I have walked, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must get a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father's family.
But if you go to my relatives and they refuse to let her come, you will be free from your oath.'
"So this afternoon when I came to the spring I prayed this prayer: 'O LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, please guide me in a special way.
Here I am, standing beside this spring. I will say to some young woman who comes to draw water, "Please give me a drink of water!"
And she will reply, "Certainly! And I'll water your camels, too!" LORD, let her be the one you have selected to be the wife of my master's son.'
"Before I had finished praying these words, I saw Rebekah coming along with her water jug on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water and filled the jug. So I said to her, 'Please give me a drink.'
She quickly lowered the jug from her shoulder so I could drink, and she said, 'Certainly, sir, and I will water your camels, too!' And she did.
When I asked her whose daughter she was, she told me, 'My father is Bethuel, the son of Nahor and his wife, Milcah.' So I gave her the ring and the bracelets.
"Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me along the right path to find a wife from the family of my master's relatives.
So tell me -- will you or won't you show true kindness to my master? When you tell me, then I'll know what my next step should be, whether to move this way or that."
Then Laban and Bethuel replied, "The LORD has obviously brought you here, so what can we say?
Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed."
At this reply, Abraham's servant bowed to the ground and worshiped the LORD.
Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and lovely clothing for Rebekah. He also gave valuable presents to her mother and brother.
Then they had supper, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight. But early the next morning, he said, "Send me back to my master."
"But we want Rebekah to stay at least ten days," her brother and mother said. "Then she can go."
But he said, "Don't hinder my return. The LORD has made my mission successful, and I want to report back to my master."
"Well," they said, "we'll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks."
So they called Rebekah. "Are you willing to go with this man?" they asked her.And she replied, "Yes, I will go."
So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham's servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah's childhood nurse went along with her.
They blessed her with this blessing as she parted: "Our sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants overcome all their enemies."
Then Rebekah and her servants mounted the camels and left with Abraham's servant.
Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahairoi.
One evening as he was taking a walk out in the fields, meditating, he looked up and saw the camels coming.
When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted.
"Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?" she asked the servant.And he replied, "It is my master." So Rebekah covered her face with her veil.
Then the servant told Isaac the whole story.
And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother's tent, and she became his wife. He loved her very much, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)