Genesis – Chapter 24

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 24


Abraham had now reached a ripe old age, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.


1 Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all his possessions: «Put your hand under my thigh,


and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not procure a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live,


but that you will go to my own land and to my kindred to get a wife for my son Isaac.»


The servant asked him: «What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you migrated?»


«Never take my son back there for any reason,» Abraham told him.


«The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my kin, and who confirmed by oath the promise he then made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’ – he will send his messenger before you, and you will obtain a wife for my son there.


If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath. But never take my son back there!»


So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him in this undertaking.


2 The servant then took ten of his master’s camels, and bearing all kinds of gifts from his master, he made his way to the city of Nahor in Aram Naharaim.


Near evening, at the time when women go out to draw water, he made the camels kneel by the well outside the city.


3 Then he prayed: «LORD, God of my master Abraham, let it turn out favorably for me today and thus deal graciously with my master Abraham.


While I stand here at the spring and the daughters of the townsmen are coming out to draw water,


if I say to a girl, ‘Please lower your jug, that I may drink,’ and she answers, ‘Take a drink, and let me give water to your camels, too,’ let her be the one whom you have decided upon for your servant Isaac. In this way I shall know that you have dealt graciously with my master.»


He had scarcely finished these words when Rebekah (who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor) came out with a jug on her shoulder.


The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, untouched by man. She went down to the spring and filled her jug. As she came up,


the servant ran toward her and said, «Please give me a sip of water from your jug.»


«Take a drink, sir,» she replied, and quickly lowering the jug onto her hand, she gave him a drink.


When she had let him drink his fill, she said, «I will draw water for your camels, too, until they have drunk their fill.»


With that, she quickly emptied her jug into the drinking trough and ran back to the well to draw more water, until she had drawn enough for all the camels.


The man watched her the whole time, silently waiting to learn whether or not the LORD had made his errand successful.


When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold ring weighing half a shekel, which he fastened on her nose, and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels, which he put on her wrists.


Then he asked her: «Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please. And is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?»


She answered: «I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.


There is plenty of straw and fodder at our place,» she added, «and room to spend the night.»


The man then bowed down in worship to the LORD,


saying: «Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not let his constant kindness toward my master fail. As for myself also, the LORD has led me straight to the house of my master’s brother.»


Then the girl ran off and told her mother’s household about it.


Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban.


As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister Rebekah and heard her words about what the man had said to her, Laban rushed outside to the man at the spring. When he reached him, he was still standing by the camels at the spring.


So he said to him: «Come, blessed of the LORD! Why are you staying outside when I have made the house ready for you, as well as a place for the camels?»


The man then went inside; and while the camels were being unloaded and provided with straw and fodder, water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.


But when the table was set for him, he said, «I will not eat until I have told my tale.» «Do so,» they replied.


«I am Abraham’s servant,» he began.


«The LORD has blessed my master so abundantly that he has become a wealthy man; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, and camels and asses.


My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns.


My master put me under oath, saying: ‘You shall not procure a wife for my son among the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live;


instead, you shall go to my father’s house, to my own relatives, to get a wife for my son.’


When I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not follow me?,’

40 he replied: ‘The LORD, in whose presence I have always walked, will send his messenger with you and make your errand successful, and so you will get a wife for my son from my own kindred of my father’s house.


Then you shall be released from my ban. If you visit my kindred and they refuse you, then, too, you shall be released from my ban.’

42 «When I came to the spring today, I prayed: ‘LORD, God of my master Abraham, may it be your will to make successful the errand I am engaged on!


While I stand here at the spring, if I say to a young woman who comes out to draw water, Please give me a little water from your jug,

44 and she answers, Not only may you have a drink, but I will give water to your camels, too – let her be the woman whom the LORD has decided upon for my master’s son.’


«I had scarcely finished saying this prayer to myself when Rebekah came out with a jug on her shoulder. After she went down to the spring and drew water, I said to her, ‘Please let me have a drink.’

46 She quickly lowered the jug she was carrying and said, ‘Take a drink, and let me bring water for your camels, too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.


When I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ she answered, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor, borne to Nahor by Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists.

48 Then I bowed down in worship to the LORD, blessing the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son.


If, therefore, you have in mind to show true loyalty to my master, let me know; but if not, let me know that, too. I can then proceed accordingly.»

50 Laban and his household said in reply: «This thing comes from the LORD; we can say nothing to you either for or against it.


Here is Rebekah, ready for you; take her with you, that she may become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has said.»

52 When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed to the ground before the LORD.


Then he brought out objects of silver and gold and articles of clothing and presented them to Rebekah; he also gave costly presents to her brother and mother.

54 After he and the men with him had eaten and drunk, they spent the night there. When they were up the next morning, he said, «Give me leave to return to my master.»


Her brother and mother replied, «Let the girl stay with us a short while, say ten days; after that she may go.»

56 But he said to them, «Do not detain me, now that the LORD has made my errand successful; let me go back to my master.»


They answered, «Let us call the girl and see what she herself has to say about it.»

58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, «Do you wish to go with this man?» She answered, «I do.»


At this they allowed their sister Rebekah and her nurse to take leave, along with Abraham’s servant and his men.

60 Invoking a blessing on Rebekah, they said: «Sister, may you grow into thousands of myriads; And may your descendants gain possession of the gates of their enemies!»


Then Rebekah and her maids started out; they mounted their camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and went on his way.

62 Meanwhile Isaac had gone from Beer-lahai-roi and was living in the region of the Negeb.


4 One day toward evening he went out. . . in the field, and as he looked around, he noticed that camels were approaching.

64 Rebekah, too, was looking about, and when she saw him, she alighted from her camel


and asked the servant, «Who is the man out there, walking through the fields toward us?» «That is my master,» replied the servant. Then she covered herself with her veil.

66 The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done.


Then Isaac took Rebekah into his tent; he married her, and thus she became his wife. In his love for her Isaac found solace after the death of his mother Sarah.

1 [2] Put your hand under my thigh: the symbolism of this act was apparently connected with the Hebrew concept of children issuing from their father’s «thigh» (⇒ Genesis 46:26; ⇒ Exodus 1:5). Perhaps the man who took such an oath was thought to bring the curse of sterility on himself if he did not fulfill his sworn promise. Jacob made Joseph swear in the same way (⇒ Genesis 47:29). In both these instances, the oath was taken to carry out the last request of a man upon his death.
2 [10] Nahor: it is uncertain whether this is to be understood as the name of Abraham’s brother (⇒ Genesis 11:27), Rebekah’s grandfather (⇒ Genesis 24:15), or the city of the same name (as known from the Mari documents): Aram Naharaim, situated near Haran (⇒ Genesis 11:31) in northern Mesopotamia.
3 [12] Let it turn out favorably for me: let me have a favorable omen; cf ⇒ Genesis 24:14.
4 [63] He went out: the meaning of the Hebrew term that follows this is obscure.