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.
Ge 24:10-67. The
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
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 it 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
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
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."