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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Genesis 24

Verses 1-67

Rebekah the Farseeing

Genesis 24:0

I. In the case of Sarah the real drama opens with married life. In the case of Rebekah it opens with the proposal of marriage. The offer comes from Isaac. When she sees the servant approaching she has no idea of his errand. But Rebekah has a wonderful talisman against such surprise an astonishing power of putting herself instantaneously in the place of those to whom she is speaking.

II. There is a peculiarity about Rebekah's sympathetic insight. It is not only manifested to things near, but to things at a distance. I would call her a farseeing woman, by which I mean a woman with an insight into the future. What she sees is a vision of the coming will of God. From a worldly standpoint she could do better than marry Isaac. If Rebekah's insight had been limited to the things around her she would have rejected the suit of Isaac. To unite with a worshipper of another God was the revulsion of her soul, so from Rebekah's gaze all Hittite offers fade, and the figure of the Hebrew Isaac stands triumphant.

III. The heart of Isaac had been overshadowed by the death of Sarah. Rebekah crept into the vacant spot, and rekindled the ashes in the scene of the vanished fire. Then comes the actual motherhood of Rebekah. Two sons are born Esau and Jacob. Esau was the natural heir to the birthright and the blessing. In the ordinary course of things he would be both monarch and priest of the Clan. But now there comes into play the extraordinary foresight of this woman Rebekah. With the eye of an eagle she watches the youth of her two boys. She finds that the first-born is utterly unfit for the great destiny that is before him. She sees that Jacob and not Esau is the man for his father's priesthood. Might not Isaac be made to ordain God's man instead of his own? Rebekah fell by fanaticism for God. She never dreamed that she was working for any end but the cause of Providence.

G. Matheson, Representative Women of the Bible, p. 79.

References. XXIV. 1. G. Woolnough, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv. p. 366. XXIV. 5-8. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2047. XXIV. 12. T. L. Cuyler, Christian World Pulpit, 1890, p. 174.

The Choked Wells

Genesis 24:18

I. The wells of our father may get choked. There are some wells where men were drinking when the world was young, and spite of all the ages they are still fresh, and the dripping bucket plashed in them this day. Such was the well of Jacob, for example, and Jesus, weary with His journey, drank of that, though Jacob had been sleeping in his grave for centuries; and the traveller still slakes his thirst there. But the common fate of wells is not like that. Time, changing environment, or even malicious mischief, silts them up. Perhaps the most signal instance of that choking the world has ever seen was the law of Moses in the time of Christ. Once, in the golden days of Israel, the law of Moses had been a well of water. Then came the Pharisees and Jewish lawyers, and buried God's simple law in such a mass of learned human folly, poured such a cargo of sand upon the spring, that the wells were choked, and the waters that their fathers drank were lost. And have we not found the same thing in the Gospel? Take the great central doctrine of the sacrifice on Calvary. It was the gladdest news that ever cheered the world, that Jesus died on Calvary for men. But by and by that well got silted up. It became filled with intolerable views of God. It was buried under degrading views of man. The well was choked.

II. We must each dig for ourselves to reach the water. One great blight upon the Church today is just that men and women will not dig. They are either content to accept their father's creed, or they are content, on the strength of arguments a child could answer, to cast it overboard. You can always tell when a man has been digging for himself by the freshness, the individuality of his religion. The humblest souls, if they have dug for themselves, and by their own search have found the water, will have a note in their music that was never heard before, and some discovery of God that is their own.

III. Our discovered wells were named long since. When Isaac dug his well at Gerar men had forgotten about the wells of Abraham. But the day came when Isaac named his wells. And when the neighbours gathered and asked him what the names were, they found they were the names that had been given by Abraham. The wells were not new. They were but rediscovered. I never dig but a new well is found. And we think at first these wells are all our own. But the day comes when we find it is not so. They are the very waters our fathers drank; but the toil and effort, the struggle and the prayer that it took us to reach them, made them so fresh to us that we thought they were a new thing in the world.

G. H. Morrison, Flood-Tide, p. 148.

References. XXIV. 23. A. Mursell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii. p. 195. XXIV. 27. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Genesis, p. 173. XXIV. 40. H. J. Buxton, Common Life Religion, p. 258. XXIV. 49. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvii. No. 2231. XXIV. 55. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii. No. 772.

Love and Courtship

Genesis 24:58

So much of life's weal or woe is determined by a well-advised or ill-advised love and courtship that the question cannot be approached with too serious and sympathetic attention.

I. Parental and Friendly Interest in the Love Affairs of Young People. Nothing is more delightful, and delightfully instructive, in this idyllic tale, than the loving sympathy Abraham and Eliezer showed in the matrimonial concerns of Isaac. Look how excellently Abraham behaved himself in such a matter! He was deeply and tenderly interested that Isaac should secure a wife who would be a benediction to him. That is the right spirit. Let all parents and older friends note it and emulate it.

II. A Wife sought among the People of God. Beware of alliances with those who are morally Canaanites and Philistines! Seek a wife, a husband, among the people of God. The perils of a godless home are of all perils the most to be dreaded. Seek God's guidance and sojourn amid what is godly.

III. Confidence in Divine Guidance Amid Love and Courtship. Abraham never wavered in his faith that God would direct Isaac's future. He argued from God's care of his past interest to God's care of his son's future interests. Parents may be sure that, if they be believers, the God who has guided them will guide their children, His 'Angel' shall be sent to further their love and their courtship.

IV. Qualities which Promise Happiness. When Eliezer met Rebekah in her remote home he discovered features of her personality and character which foretold that she would make a suitable wife for his master's son. And amid many qualities these are well worthy to be noted. She was a domesticated woman. When she appeared upon the scene she had 'her pitcher upon her shoulder'. And she used it. There is a danger today of Rebekah being minus her pitcher and of her not using it though she may be possessed of it. Rebekah was a woman of a kindly disposition. The spirit of genial courtesy possessed her. A sweet, kind, generous spirit is a powerful factor in the happiness of wedded life. Rebekah and Isaac were both graced with filial devotion. Rebekah was a devoted daughter. And as for Isaac he is, as a son, beyond all praise. It is such daughters who make faithful and loving wives. It is such sons who are afterwards devoted and affectionate husbands.

V. True Love Irradiated this Ancient Courtship. 'He loved her' is the finale of the romantic and tender story. No qualities, however good or noble, can supersede the necessity of deep and strong mutual affection. The love of Isaac and Rebekah is an essential guarantee of happy married life.

Dinsdale T. Young, Messages for Home and Life, p. 75.

References. XXIV. 58. C. D. Bell, The Name Above Every Name, p. 137. W. H. Aitken, Mission Sermons, (3rd Series), p. 51. XXIV. 63. J. Aspinall, Parish Sermons (1st Series), p. 216. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 228. XXIV. 67. Bishop Thorold, The Yoke of Christ, p. 247. XXIV. F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 68. W. H. Buxton, Penny Pulpit, No. 834. T. Guthrie, Studies of Character from the Old Testament, p. 61. XXV. 8. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Genesis, p. 180. J. Parker, Adam, Noah, and Abraham, p. 191. A. Maclaren, Christ in the Heart, p. 117. XXV. 11. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 48. F. W. Farrar, The Fall of Man, p. 228. XXV. 27. L. D. Bevan, Penny Pulpit, No. 574. XXV. 27-34. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, p. 192. XXV. 29-34. C. Kingsley, The Gospel of the Pentateuch, p. 72.

The Attraction of the Present

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 24". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/genesis-24.html. 1910.