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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 24

 

 

Verses 1-67

Genesis 24. At his Master's Command, Abraham's Slave Brings Rebekah to Canaan as a Wife for Isaac.—The chapter has generally been assigned to J, but it is probably composite, and has been put together from J and E rather than from two J sources. Close scrutiny discloses features which negative its unity, but the combination has been skilfully effected and the story reads admirably. It is told with great literary skill.

Feeling the approach of death, Abraham summons his senior slave and extracts from him a solemn oath, in contact with the organs which are the sacred seat of life, that he would not take a Canaanite woman as wife for Isaac, but would bring one from Abraham's own country. If the woman would not come, he was by no means to defeat God's purpose by taking Isaac to her. God would prosper His mission, but if the woman would not come, the oath would bind him no longer. After taking the oath the slave made up a caravan of ten camels and came to Nahor's city. Arriving at the time when the women draw water, he halts by the well and prays that he may know Isaac's appointed bride by this sign, that she will satisfy his request for a drink of water, and spontaneously offer to water his camels. Rebekah, Nahor's granddaughter, fair and unwedded, fulfils the conditions, and he gives her a golden nose-ring and golden bracelets. He discovers her lineage and craves hospitality. This is cheerfully promised, and he thanks Yahweh who has led him to his master's kinsfolk. On hearing her news and seeing her jewels, Laban, her brother, welcomes the slave and his retinue. The slave refuses to eat till he has told his errand, which he does at great length, closing with the request for a definite answer. Laban accepts the offer of marriage for his sister; the leading of Providence is too clear to be ignored. So the slave makes costly presents to Rebekah, her mother, and her brother, and next morning asks leave to depart at once. The brother and mother wish to keep her with them for a few days, but the slave is urgent to return that he and the bride may see Abraham before he dies. They find that Rebekah is willing to go, and she goes with their blessing. On their arrival they meet Isaac, and she alights from her camel (cf. Judges 1:14), and when she learns that it is her destined husband veils herself. After hearing the slave's report, Isaac conducts her to his tent. The veiling is part of the marriage ceremony, the bringing to the husband's tent "is the essential feature of the marriage ceremony in the East" (Skinner). So Isaac was comforted after his father's death (see below).

Genesis 24:10. Mesopotamia: by Aram-naharaim the region known in the Tell el-Amarna tablets as Naharina is intended. The rendering in mg., "Aram of the two rivers," presupposes that Naharaim, which has a dual termination, is dual. If correct, the rivers are not the Euphrates and the Tigris but the Euphrates and the Khabor. It is questionable whether it is a dual; the Egyptian and Canaanite forms are not. The district is that which lies on both sides of the Upper Euphrates, and is not to be identified with what the Greeks meant by Mesopotamia.

Genesis 24:14. The test of unselfish good nature was not a slight one, for the camel is a heavy drinker, and there were ten of them. Thomson speaks of such kindness as quite unusual.

Genesis 24:30. The wealth implied in the gift of the jewellery and the maiden's story appeals to Laban. Obviously such a guest deserves to be cultivated, an impression deepened by what he hears in Genesis 24:35 f.

Genesis 24:49 b. Tell me, so that I may know what to do.

Genesis 24:50. and Bethuel: should probably be omitted; Laban, and in a less degree, his mother, arrange the affair and receive the presents; Bethuel was probably dead.

Genesis 24:53. The presents to Rebekah are the bridegroom's gifts to the bride, making the engagement binding, those to the mother and brother are the bride-price.

Genesis 24:62. The text is corrupt, and many emendations have been proposed.

Genesis 24:63. meditate: an uncertain rendering. Perhaps it means "to lament." Pesh. reads "to walk."

Genesis 24:67. The Heb. is ungrammatical; we should read "the tent" for "his mother Sarah's tent"; into his own tent is probably intended. The closing words are also changed. They are literally "and Isaac was comforted after his mother." Sarah's death lay some time in the past, moreover there are various indications that Abraham had died before the slave's return. Probably his death was mentioned after Genesis 6:1 in the original story, but omitted by the editor in favour of P's account (Genesis 25:7-10). We should probably read "and Isaac was comforted after his father's death."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 24:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-24.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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