Genesis 24, Isaac and Rebekah

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jun 24, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    Abraham had married his half-sister, Sarah. This was not incest. Incest was not defined or a problem for the human race yet. Adam and Eve had had no genetic problems. The problems would have built slowly in the human race at first, a little mutation here, a little one there. At the time of Abraham there was still no danger with marrying a close relative.

    In fact, it was preferable if you look at the text. Abraham specifically did NOT want his son to have a wife from the Canaanites, in whose area they were living. He wanted a wife for his son from their own family and had his servant go back to the family home in Mesopotamia (probably Haran) and get a wife for Isaac.

    The servant asks if Isaac should come along with him and Abraham says a definite NO -- Isaac is not to be tempted out of the land promised to his descendants, but is to stay there. Only the servant is to go.

    Why does the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham? The NIV study notes say, "Near the organ of procreation, probably because this oath was related to the continuation of Abraham's line through Isaac."

    Not entirely satisfied with that, I looked it up in the Concordance. No real help there. When my husband called, I asked him. He had a thought that I want to pass on because I think he may be right: the thigh bears the weight of the body and the servant was being asked to take the weight of the father's responsibility to find a suitable bride for his son. The chapter had opened up with "Abraham was now old and well advanced in years."

    All we have now, however, is guesses as to the meaning of this gesture. We can see it made the oath very serious and solemn, but we don't know why.

    The next really interesting point to me has to do with the servant. There are a number of people who claim Genesis is a series of oral histories passed down from generation to generation. Oral transmission is carefully taught and relies on exact repetition of the exact words. We see an example of this in this chapter regarding the servant. He did not, evidently, write down the events as they happened, but memorized them to tell his master. Thus we see a series of repetitions in the servant's account written down here which is very typical of oral transmission, and totally lacking in the rest of Genesis!

    In other words, the fact that we do have strong evidence of typical oral transmission in this chapter regarding what happened with the servant when he went to find the bride shows up in stark contrast to the rest of Genesis which does NOT exhibit this. This is one other small bit of evidence in favor of the Tablet Hypothesis, discussed earlier.

    Rebekah's family seems a bit stunned by this sudden turn of affairs and asks for ten days with her for goodbyes. It is Rebekah herself who turns down this proposal by saying she will go immediately. As a girl myself, I can only guess what was going on in her mind: excitement, getting away from the 'humdrum life at home', a wealthy marriage... There might well be one other point, though. We see her brother Laban's character much more fully when Rebekah's own son later returns to find a bride for himself. Laban proves to be conniving, deceitful, and selfish. These qualities may well already be showing up as Rebekah is growing up. She herself will resort to trickery and a lie later, but perhaps she is still young enough here to really be aiming for a more pure life?

    At any rate, she leaves with the servant and her own maids as soon as she and the maids are packed to go. I wonder how the maids felt about this?

    We see Rebekah's modesty and adherence to tradition when she is told that it is Isaac coming toward them in the field as they approach her new home. She immediately gets down from the camel and veils herself.

    The last lines in the chapter are that they get married and Isaac is comforted by her after his mother's death. This is one more indication that Isaac and Sarah were very close.

    To review Rebekah's personality from this chapter is important in light of her later failing. She is kind and giving, offering to water the camels. She is eager for adventure, being ready to go immediately with the servant. She is modest and traditional, covering herself when her husband-to-be approached. And she was a loving wife, comforting Isaac after the death of his mother.

    Things will happen later. Remember Rebekah the way she starts out.
     
  2. tyndale1946

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    Genesis 24:2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

    3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

    4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

    This is also mentioned in Genesis 15:2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

    Who was this Eliezer of Damascus who was the steward of Abrahams household and exactly what were his duties?... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  3. tyndale1946

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    Why couldn't Issac go into the same land and select his own wife from his fathers kindred. Inexperience? Why did Abraham send his steward Eliezer to get a wife for Issac from among his kindred and not allow Issac to go along?... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  4. LadyEagle

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    Wasn't the custom (it still is among some Jewish & Muslim groups) for the family to choose the bride for the groom?
     
  5. Helen

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    Yes, the parents chose the match for the young people. It was very often in conjunction with the choice of the betrothed, as we see in the case of Jacob and what he thought was Rachel, but it nevertheless was officially the parents' duty.

    What is interesting in this account of Abraham and his servant is that Abraham seems to have been caught out in the rain a bit. After all, he KNEW he was getting along in years, so it is surprising he had not already made arrangements for a bride for his son...

    Maybe Sarah had been sick a long time and he was concerned about her? So many ideas and not enough facts!

    Glen, you asked about the overseers' duties. I think if you recall Abraham's great grandson, Joseph, in Egypt, in Potiphar's household, you will have a general idea: the overseer took care of the household finances, the day-to-day operations of the establishment, and often, as in the case of Abraham's overseer, ended up a close personal confidante of the owner. The overseer did not need to be a slave but often was.

    It was a sign of the incredible trust Abraham had in his overseer that he asked him to go find a bride for his son!
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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