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Genesis 24 Study Notes

24:1-9 Abraham, now 140 years of age, had been blessed by the Lord in everything, but one thing was missing—a worthy wife for his forty-year-old son to ensure the continuance of the covenant line. Perhaps based on his experience with the inhabitants of Canaan—whether the Sodomites or the Philistines—Abraham did not want Isaac to marry a woman from the daughters of the Canaanites. Instead, she must come from his relatives hundreds of miles away in northwest Mesopotamia. Abraham himself was too old to make the journey back, so he summoned his most trusted servant, perhaps Eliezer (15:2), to fulfill the task. Finding the right wife for Isaac required divine help, so Abraham had his servant take an oath by the Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, and also to place his hand under Abraham’s thigh, the bodily zone associated with Abraham’s posterity.

This act symbolically underscored the importance of the task for Abraham’s future and that of his clan. With great faith and prophetic insight the patriarch promised that God would send his angel before the servant so that he could take a wife for Isaac from the clan. As part of the concern for his posterity, Abraham also warned his servant not to let Isaac abandon the promised land—and with it God’s covenant—by going back there himself to Aram-naharaim.

24:10-11 The chief servant and several other slaves (v. 32) took goods reflective of Abraham’s wealth, which could be used to pay the bride-price for Isaac’s wife. The journey from Beer-sheba to Aram-naharaim—located somewhere in northwest Mesopotamia—could have taken a couple of weeks. Nahor’s town could mean that “Nahor” was the name of the village or that it was Nahor’s hometown. “Nahor” was the name of Abraham’s brother and grandfather (11:25-26), thus suggesting that this village was populated by Abraham’s relatives.

24:12-14 Being in the ancestral village at the best time and spot to interact with eligible girls, the servant still needed divine help to accomplish his task. He had faith that God had appointed a worthy young woman from this area to marry Isaac and would show kindness to his master. He prayed to the Lord, suggesting a test of hospitality and service. A thirsty camel can drink as much as thirty gallons of water in fifteen minutes. Since ten camels accompanied the servant (v. 10), it is possible that the young woman would have had to draw three hundred gallons of water (equal to 2,500 lbs) from the spring to pass the servant’s test.

24:15-22 Before the servant finished speaking, God more than answered his prayer (Is 65:24) with the arrival of Rebekah. Not only was she the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor and a virgin, but she was also very beautiful. With courtesy and enthusiasm she passed the servant’s test. As a generous reward for her selfless act, the servant gave Rebekah a gold nose ring (Hb nezem) and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels (four ounces).

24:23-27 The servant received the best possible answers to two more questions: Rebekah was indeed the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, and the men and their camels could spend the night with her family. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the servant knelt low, worshiped the Lord, and praised him for his acts of kindness (Hb chesed; “covenant loyalty”) and faithfulness.

24:28-33 The generosity of Abraham’s servant generated a response in kind from Rebekah’s mother’s household. The level of hospitality provided by Rebekah and her family rivals the hospitality Abraham showed his visitors in 18:3-8.

halak

Hebrew pronunciation [hah LAK]
CSB translation walk, move
Uses in Genesis 121
Uses in the OT 1,554
Focus passage Genesis 24:40

Halak is a versatile word describing any motion, especially by humans. Go or move can be a good translation. People walk (Gn 13:17) or go about (Ps 42:9) Halak also denotes continuance. It indicates the flowing of water, slithering of snakes, or blowing of trumpets. Combined with other verbs it can signal the growth or increase of an action or state (2Sm 3:1). With a preposition halak can denote follow. Sometimes it means depart, and can metaphorically appear as die or pass on (Ps 39:13; Job 14:20). Conversely, halak describes life in general, since walking is such a part of daily conduct (Is 50:10). The latter sense often narrows to the moral or spiritual sphere, one’s conduct in relation to the law or before God. The intensive form of the verb can mean to tramp, the causative form to lead, and the reflexive-passive form to walk back and forth.

24:34-49 In the longest recorded speech by a slave in the OT (238 words in the Hebrew), Abraham’s servant recounted in detail three relevant matters: how the Lord had greatly blessed Abraham, why a young woman was needed from Bethuel’s family, and how God had revealed that he had appointed Rebekah for his master’s son. Then the servant gave them the opportunity to show kindness and faithfulness to Abraham by permitting Rebekah to accompany him back to his master’s household.

24:50-53 When Laban and Bethuel—the ruling adult males in the clan—were presented with evidence that the Lord had spoken and had selected Rebekah for Isaac, they released her to be a wife for Abraham’s son. As the bride-price the servant then presented gifts to Rebekah . . . her brother and her mother.

24:54-61 The next morning, Abraham’s servant asked Bethuel not to delay the return to Abraham, even though it was customary to spend several days with the wife’s family members (Jdg 19:8-10). Rebekah’s statement, I will go, expressed her willingness to leave immediately, not her acceptance of the marriage arrangement—that was already settled. As a wedding gift the family gave Rebekah the one who had nursed her, a beloved slave named Deborah (35:8) who attended to her for many years. The clan also gave her a prophetic blessing, commending both fruitfulness and victory for her offspring.

24:62-66 After a journey of hundreds of miles on camelback, the caravan returned to Isaac’s home. Rebekah saw Isaac for the first time on the day she married him. As was apparently the custom on the wedding day, Rebekah covered herself with a veil before meeting her husband. Before presenting Rebekah to Isaac, Abraham’s servant told Isaac everything he had done and what God had done for him.

24:67 As part of the marital ritual Isaac brought Rebekah into what had been his mother Sarah’s tent. This would now become her home, which marked her as the clan matriarch, the most powerful woman in the group. There Isaac and Rebekah consummated the marriage. Having waited forty years to marry, Isaac loved his wife deeply, and was finally comforted after his mother’s death, which had occurred three years earlier (17:17; 23:1; 25:20).

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