- Religion and Philosophy
Understanding Genesis 24: Being Called Out
Read the entire chapter 24 of Genesis on your own. You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, websites (blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com) or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it with questions and try to make sense of it.
A Faithful Worker
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: 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: Genesis 24:2,3
A few years have since Sarah’s death, and Abraham is old and mulling over Isaac and his future descendants. Abraham doesn’t just choose a young, able-bodied servant for this important task; but chooses his chief servant, his second-in-command, the wisest, and perhaps his closest friend, having worked together for so long. Not only does Abraham trust this servant with his household, but he also trusts this servant with the task of finding a wife for Isaac, the mother of God’s chosen people.
As Christians, we also have a duty to our employer, not because we must regard our manager higher than God, but because as Christians, we have a duty to represent God to our secular co-workers, customers, etc. We must be faithful workers, and do all we can to the best of our abilities. The Bible urges diligence and intelligence above sloth and negligent.
"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." Proverbs 22:29 "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds." Proverbs 27:23 Even the shepherds, who were socially looked-down upon, are urged to be diligent in their task.
Keeping a Promise
The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter. Genesis 24:7,9
The servant, having lived with Abraham for so many years, knows God and has seen the miracles that God has wrought in Abraham’s life. He also has faith in God’s faithfulness to Abraham and when Abraham tells him that God has sent his angel before him, the servant believes on this promise and makes the vow.
The Hebrew word for “thigh” is yarek and it seems to be used interchangeably with “side” and “loins.” "All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;" Genesis 46: 26 Either way, the cultural meaning of this method of sealing a promise, seems to be highly regarded and intimate. The servant chosen for this task was highly regarded by Abraham, and the servant deeply loved Abraham to make such a gesture and keep his vow.
And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. Genesis 24:14
The servant, from witnessing Abraham’s relationship with God, prays a prayer of faith. He asks for specific things so the he would recognize God answering his prayer. And before he finishes his prayer, God answers it. Oftentimes, we pray and then wonder what God’s answer is; or won’t accept God’s answer. But we should also pray with faith and assurance that God will answer the prayer. Whether it’s a “yes” or a “no,” God will answer it.
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26 When we don’t know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and helps us to know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit was here with the faithful servant, giving him guidance on what to pray for. The servant asked for kindness in his future mistress, which he had often witnessed in Abraham’s household.
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:20 If you don’t have any faith, there are no more options except a prayer to God, the Holy Spirit will help you to pray and God’s faithfulness will answer it. Nothing will be impossible.
Fills the Longing in Our Hearts
And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. Genesis 24:58, 67
No age is given about Rebekah, but she was young enough to look unmarried and beautiful. Something about her was so pure, that of all the maidens that the servant saw at the well, he sought her out and asked her for water. Living among pagans, Abraham’s brother still maintained some semblance of a Godly life. When the servant explained his task, they saw the hand of God directing them and they willingly submitted.
For a young girl, to leave her family and all that was familiar, to go away with a stranger, and to live among strangers for the rest of her life—it must have been truly daunting. But Rebekah was seeking something more in her heart, than the life she was living. In fact, she was a blessing to Isaac and he found comfort in marrying her, after mourning his mother’s death.
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Romans 12:3 Every person is given faith but some put their faith on the wrong person or thing. They seek after satisfaction from other beliefs, or objects or people—but don’t see their Creator. A relationship with our Creator, learning who He is, why we are born, loving Him and being loved—can satisfy the longing in our heart. Rebekah living in a heathen country knew something was missing, and when she saw the hand of God guiding her, she obeyed.
Abraham couldn’t force his brother to follow him out of Mesopotamia; but by seeking out his family, he was able to save his niece, and bless her in being an ancestor of Jesus. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:16,17 "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelations 18:4 "For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Psalms 107:9 God is calling us to be separate from the world; He will not force us, but it is up to us to listen and obey.
- Understanding Genesis 25: Wanting Our Birthright
A Bible Study of Genesis 25.