GENESIS CHAPTER 24
Abraham’s age and prosperity, Genesis 24:1. He makes his eldest servant swear not to take a wife for his son Isaac of the Canaanites, but of his own kindred, Genesis 24:2-4. The servant inquires into the nature and condition of the oath, Genesis 24:5. Abraham expresses his faith in the promise, Genesis 24:7; explains the oath, Genesis 24:8. The servant swears, Genesis 24:9. He goes to the city of Nahor, Genesis 24:10; prays for success, Genesis 24:12; and direction, Genesis 24:13,14. An immediate and particular answer, Genesis 24:15-20. He wonders at the providence, Genesis 24:21; makes a present to Rebekah, Genesis 24:22. Inquires of what family she was, Genesis 24:23. Her answer, Genesis 24:24,25. He blesseth the Lord, Genesis 24:26,27. Rebekah acquaints her friends with it, Genesis 24:28. They provide for him, &c. and invite him in, Genesis 24:31,32. He goes in, but refuses to eat till he had told his errand, Genesis 24:33. He acquaints them with his business, and God’s providence towards him, Genesis 24:34-49. They consent to his proposal, Genesis 24:50,51. He praises God, Genesis 24:52; makes presents to them all, Genesis 24:53; desires to return to his master, Genesis 24:54-56. Rebekah being content to go with him, they consent and bless her, Genesis 24:57-60. They depart, and meet Isaac meditating in the field, Genesis 24:61-65; who marries her, Genesis 24:67.
1857 He was one hundred and forty years old, comparing Genesis 21:5, with Genesis 25:20.
His eldest servant of his house; viz. Eliezer, Genesis 15:2. This ceremony was used in swearing, as now, so anciently in the eastern parts, as Genesis 47:29, either as a testimony of subjection, and promise of faithful service, for this rite was used only by inferiors towards superiors; or, as some think, with respect to the blessed Seed, Christ, who was to come out of Abraham’s thigh, as the phrase is, Genesis 46:26, because this rite was used only to believers.
i.e. Not persuade nor engage my son to take; for Isaac, though forty years old, was not only willing to be governed by his father in this affair, but also to hearken to the counsel of this wise and faithful servant, of whom both his father and himself had such long and large experience. He knew that
the Canaanites were not only gross idolaters and heinous sinners, for so many others were; but that they were a people under God’s peculiar curse, Genesis 9:25, and devoted to extirpation and utter destruction, which was to be inflicted upon them by Abraham’s posterity; and therefore to marry his son to such persons had been a high degree of self-murder, whereby the holy and blessed seed had been in danger of great infection from them, and utter ruin with them. And Abraham’s practice was afterwards justified by God, who hath oft showed his dislike of such unequal matches of his people with those infidels and idolaters, by severe prohibitions and sharp censures. See Exodus 34:16 Deuteronomy 7:3 Joshua 23:12 Ezra 9:1-3 Nehemiah 13:23,25 2 Corinthians 6:14,15.
My country, i.e. Mesopotomia, Genesis 24:10, which being largely taken for the country between those two famous rivers Euphrates and Tigris, from which situation it hath that name; so Chaldea, whence Abraham came, Genesis 11:31 12:1, was a part of it.
My kindred, the family of Nahor, concerning the increase whereof he had received information, Genesis 22:20, &c., which he justly preferred before the Canaanites, partly because though they were idolaters, as appears from Genesis 31:19,30,32,35 Jos 24:2, yet they did worship the true God together with idols, as may be gathered from Genesis 24:31,50, and from other places; and therefore there was more hopes of the conversion of one of that family; and partly because they lived at a great distance from the place where Abraham and his posterity did and should live, and therefore one of that stock would be more easily disentangled from her superstition and idolatry, because she was removed from the influences of the evil counsels and examples of her nearest relations, and partly because they were of the race of blessed Shem, and not of cursed Canaan.
Note here the prudence and piety of this good man, who, before he would take an oath, doth diligently inquire into the nature and conditions of it, and expressly mentioneth that exception which might seem to be of course supposed in it.
In case she will not come hither, do not thou engage that he shall go thither. Why so?
1. Because there was more danger of infection from his wife and her kindred, because of their friendly, and familiar, and constant converse with him, than from the Canaanites, who were strangers to him, and lived separately from him, and had but little conversation with him.
2. Because the command of God to Abraham to come out of Chaldea, and into Canaan, did extend to his posterity also, whom God would oblige to dwell there as long as they could, that they might live in constant faith and expectation of the performance of God’s promise in giving this land unto them.
Quest. How could he bring Isaac thither again, where he never was?
1. Isaac might be said to be there before virtually, or in the loins of his father, as Levi is said to pay tithes to Melchziedek by Abraham in whose loins he was.
again may be referred to the servant, that when he returned again he would not carry Isaac along with them.
3. He might reasonably suppose that Isaac must go once thither to fetch his wife; (for her coming so suddenly to him was an unexpected thing); but he would not have him promise, that when he had done so once, he should go thither again to live there with her.
He shall send his angel before thee, to direct and succeed thee in this enterprise. Compare Exodus 14:19 23:20.
Thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence; I doubt not of the success. He might say so, either by rational conjecture, both from the nature of the thing, and from the constant course of God’s providence blessing him in all his concerns; or by particular assurance and inspiration from God.
Thou shalt be clear from the obligation of this oath, and from the penalties of the violation of it.
The goods of his master were in his hand, i.e. in his power to take, without particular orders, what he thought fit and necessary, either for his own use, or for the promotion of the present business.
The city of Nahor was Haran, by comparing Genesis 28:10 29:4.
Or, mercy. He makes no mention of himself, nor of the merits of his master, but he ascribes even temporal blessings, and much more eternal salvation, merely to God’s mercy.
That this was not a rash and vain fancy, but a special expectation and confidence wrought in him by God’s Spirit, appears both by the eminent prudence and godliness of this person, and by the exact correspondency of the event with his prayer, and by parallel examples, as Jude 6:36 1 Samuel 6:7 14:8.
She that thou hast appointed; Heb. evidently pointed out; or, exactly searched out, as a person meet for him.
According to the manner of the first and purest ages of the world, wherein humility and diligence, not, as in this degeneration of the world, pomp and idleness, were the ornaments of that sex and age. See Genesis 18:6 29:9,18,20 Exo 2:16 Proverbs 31:27.
She was a virgin not only in title and show, but in truth, for no man had known her, i.e. corrupted her.
She said, Drink, my lord; for his retinue showed him to be a person of more than ordinary quality.
The man wondered at her, i.e. at the wonderful providence of God, and the eminent answer of his prayer.
The man took, i.e. gave to her, (as that word of taking, or receiving, is oft used, as Genesis 12:19 Exodus 18:12 29:25 Psalms 68:18, compared with Ephesians 4:8),
a golden earring; so the word signifies, Genesis 35:4 Exodus 32:2,3. Or, jewels for the forehead, which hung down from the forehead to the nose, or between the eyes. So the word is used, Genesis 24:47 Ezekiel 16:12.
And said, or, for he had said; for it is probable he inquired who she was before he gave her those presents.
So she signifies that she was Nahor’s daughter, not by his concubine, but by his lawful and principal wife.
Giving thanks to God for his marvellous assistance hitherto, and begging the continuance of his presence and blessing.
His mercy and his truth, i.e. who hath showed his mercy in promising all manner of blessings, and his truth in performing his promises at this day. Or, it is a figure called hendyadis, for true mercy: q. d. he hath not only been kind to him in show, and in words, but in real and considerable effects.
My master’s brethren, i.e. near kinsmen, as that word is commonly used, as Genesis 24:48 Genesis 13:8 Mark 3:31,32.
of her father’s house; either because her father was now dead, and Bethuel, who is hereafter mentioned, was not Laban’s father, but his brother so called; or because the women had distinct apartments in the houses, and she went first thither according to her custom.
Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, i.e. whom God hath so eminently favoured and blessed.
Of which custom, see Genesis 18:4.
i.e. Hath purposed and promised, and doth by me engage that he will give. Things are oft said to be done, in Scripture language, when they will certainly and shortly be done.
Before whom I walk, in obedience to all his commands, and in hearty trust in his promises and gracious providence towards me and mine.
Clear from this my oath; Heb. from my curse, denounced against thee if thou shouldst violate thine oath. The words oath and curse are ofttimes indifferently used, because they commonly go together, and sometimes they are both expressed, as Numbers 5:21.
i.e. The design or course in which I am engaged, as the word way is frequently used.
First he asks who she was, then he gives the gifts to her; which is the right order, and is here observed in the repetition; which was inverted in the first relation, Genesis 24:22,23.
If you will show true kindness and real friendship to him in giving your daughter to his son,
tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may look out a wife for him elsewhere. It is a proverbial expression, Numbers 20:17 22:26 Deuteronomy 2:27.
Laban is put first, either because this Bethuel was not his father, but his younger brother, as Josephus thinks; or because Laban was the chief manager of this business, to whom his father seems to have committed the care of his family, being himself unfit for it through age or infirmity.
The thing proceedeth from the Lord, from God’s counsel and special providence. Hereby it appears they had the knowledge and worship of the true God among them, though they added idols to him. We cannot without opposing God speak or act any thing which may hinder thy design, or thwart thy desire. Compare Genesis 31:24,29 2 Samuel 13:22.
Rebekah is before thee, i.e. in thy power and disposal; as this phrase is taken, Genesis 20:15, and elsewhere.
The precious fruits of the land from which he came; see Deuteronomy 33:13, &c.; or in general, other rare and excellent things. In those days men gave portions for their wives, as now they have portions with them.
Others thus, a year, or at the least ten months, the word days being put for a year, as elsewhere. But it is very improbable that they would demand or expect such a thing from this man, whom they saw bent so much upon expedition.
i.e. Understand her mind by her words, not so much concerning the marriage itself, in which she resigned up herself to the disposal of her parents and friends, and to which she had given an implicit consent by her acceptance of those presents which were made to her for that end, as concerning the hastiness of her departure.
Her nurse was Deborah, by comparing Genesis 35:8. In this corrupt family, the mother and the nurse are two distinct persons; but in Abraham’s pious family there was no such principle or practice. See Genesis 21:7.
Thou art our sister, i.e. our near kinswoman; distance of place shall not alienate our affections from thee, but we shall still own thee as our sister, and, as far as we can, be ready to perform all the duties of brethren to thee.
In the southern parts of Canaan, as Genesis 12:9, at Beer-sheba, whither it seems, Abraham returned after Sarah’s death.
To meditate; to converse with God, and with himself, by pious and profitable thoughts and ejaculations, and fervent prayers, as for other things, so particularly for God’s blessing upon this great affair, and so his prayers are eminently answered. He chooseth a solitary place, wherein he might more freely attend upon God without any interruption or distraction,
in the field at the eventide; that as he had begun the day with God, so he might close it with him, and commit himself to his protection. Compare Psalms 55:17.
As a testimony of her respect to him, whom by the servant she understood to be her lord and husband. Compare Joshua 15:18 1 Samuel 25:23.
In token of modesty, reverence, and subjection. See Genesis 20:16 1 Corinthians 11:10.
Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, partly to give her possession of it, and partly to consummate the marriage. Women then had their tents apart from men. See Genesis 18:10 24:67 31:33.
Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death; a sorrowful sense whereof he yet had retained, though she died three years before this time.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 24". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany