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The Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
A charming picture of patriarchal marriage customs. It is very characteristic of the Primitive source.
2. Put.. thy hand under my thigh] a form of taking an oath, only mentioned again in Genesis 47:29. ’It is from the thighs that one’s descendants come, so that to take an oath with one hand under the thigh would be equivalent to calling upon these descendants to maintain an oath which has been fulfilled, and to avenge one which has been broken’ (D.). Modern instances are recorded of Egyptian Bedouins acting similarly in making a solemn asseveration.
3. Marriage with Canaanites was afterwards strictly forbidden (Exodus 34:11-16).
4. My country] Haran, in Mesopotamia, where Nahor’s family still lived.
5-8. Isaac was on no account to leave Canaan, the land promised by God as his inheritance.
10. The sending of a deputy instead of Isaac himself is quite in accordance with Eastern custom. The Jews of the present day employ a professional matchmaker, the Shadchan, who arranges all the preliminaries of the marriage contract. For all the goods of his master were in his hand] RV ’having all goodly things of his master’s,’ i.e. presents for the bride and her family: see 53.
Mesopotamia] (from Gr mesos, ’middle,’ and potamos, ’river’) Heb. Aram-Naharaim, i.e. ’Aram (or Syria) of the two rivers,’ the country lying between the Khabour and the Orontes.
City of Nahor] Haran.
12-14. Throughout this beautiful story the direct guidance of God in all that happened is emphasised.
16. Went down to the well] To this day there is but one well of drinkable water at Haran, and the women still fill their water-skins at it. It bears every mark of great age and wear.
22. Earring] rather, ’nose-ring.’ It hung from the left nostril. Such rings are still the betrothal present in Arabia: see on rings at Exodus 32:2.
24. See Genesis 22:23.
49. Turn to the right hand, or to the left] i.e. ’to search in other families for the woman he desires’ (D.).
50. Speak.. bad or good] say ’yes’ or ’no.’
53. See on Genesis 12:16.
58. Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go] ’In W. Asia marriage consists in the betrothal or the contract, sometimes written, but more commonly verbal, of the parties concerned, after which nothing remains but the removal of the bride from her father’s house to that of the bridegroom or of his father. Isaac married Rebekah by proxy through a simple verbal contract’ (Van Lennep).
59. Her nurse] Deborah. Her death is mentioned in Genesis 35:8. In Genesis 29:24, Genesis 29:29 we have other instances that a handmaid formed part, if not all, of the bride’s dowry.
62. Lahairoi] near Beer-sheba: see Genesis 16:14.
63. Meditate] naturally, on the bride he had not seen and whose coming he awaited. But the Syriac version reads, ’to walk in the fields.’
64. She lighted off] to show respect.
65. She took a vail] It is the custom for the bride to appear veiled before the bridegroom until they are married: cp. Genesis 29:23-25.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 24". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20