Abraham Seeks a Wife for Isaac

Genesis 24:1-27

After burying his own wife, Abraham turns his attentions to finding a wife for their son, Isaac. Knowing as he does that Isaac is meant to be his spiritual heir, not just any woman will do. Nor may Isaac leave the Holy Land for any reason. Therefore, Abraham charges his trusty servant to select a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s own kin back in Aram-naharaim. If the woman the servant finds refuses to come, Abraham assures him he has at least done his duty. The servant swears to uphold Abraham’s requests and he sets off, with ten camels and an array of gifts in tow.

 

When the servant arrives at the well on the outskirts of town, he turns to God for direction. He sets a sign for himself: the woman who not only offers him water, but his camels, too, is the right one for Isaac. Before he even completes his prayer, the servant spies young Rebecca, daughter of Bethuel and granddaughter of Abraham’s brother, Nahor. He asks her for water, and she replies by giving it to him, then watering all his camels. Watching her work, the servant becomes convinced that this woman is destined to marry his master’s son, and he brings forth the jewelry which he carried for that purpose. He asks who her family is and if they will take him in overnight. She confirms her identity and invites him to stay with her family. The servant responds by thanking God for bringing him to the right place.

 

The Israel Bible discusses the significance of the caravan which the servant brought with him. The Hebrew word for camel, gamal, also means ‘to be independent’. It is used throughout the Bible to describe weaning children or ripening fruit (see Genesis 21:8, Numbers 17:23). According to Rabbi Natan Slifkin, the camel earned this name because it is “able to survive in the absence of water for many months.” How fitting that this symbol of independence carried back Rebecca, who made an independent choice to join Isaac in the Holy Land of Israel!

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the servant asked God for a sign? Do you think it was a good one? Why or why not?

Comments ( 17 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Eileen struss

    These comments are all well and good. But my question is, if God told Abraham t o leave his kinfolk in the first place many years ago, why look for a wife in the place he was to leave pagan gods?

  • I think the servant having seen Abraham and his relation with Elohim was sure that god would answer his prayer regarding the bride for Isaac by giving him a sign which he asked Elohim

  • I think it was a good question because he had made an oath to Avraham. You cannot trust beauty on the outside, but you also need to know a little bit about the character. Quite a load of water needed to be taken out of the well. He trusted HaShem and gave her already a nose-ring. (pure gold)

    • Gillian Morland

      She was a person of humility which was a good character trait

  • Thank you all for your comments, very helpful, and I agree with most of them. I would also add that the name Eliezer (Abraham's servant) means Elohim (Yahweh) is help so he looked to Yahweh for help in this tough assignment.

  • I believe that answer to this question is found in verse 12:
    12 And he said: ‘O LORD, the God of my master Avraham, send me, I pray Thee, good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Avraham. יב וַיֹּאמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲדֹנִי אַבְרָהָם הַקְרֵה נָא לְפָנַי הַיּוֹם וַעֲשֵׂה חֶסֶד עִם אֲדֹנִי אַבְרָהָם.
    *
    When Eliezer prays for the success of his mission, he prays to the "Elohim of my master Avraham". This implies to me that he didn't enjoy a personal relationship with Elohim on the level that his master did and didn't fully have the confidence that he could succeed on his own merit.
    *
    Asking for a sign to guide him in making the correct choices would insure that Elohim's will would prevail over his thinking.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • Very good commentary, in a practical version, it would take a very good woman with a good heart to water all the camels. That is diffently a sign.

      • IKENNA GEORGE

        I agree with you. You got the main point.
        It takes great wisdom to getting the major point here. Some women will assist you in fetching the water and even walk away.

  • He asked God for a sign for a confirmation to come when he found the right woman. He was a wise man, because the only woman who would be fit to become the wife of Isaac is the one chosen by God.

  • Sheila

    Yes,it was of utmost importance that the heir of promise, Isaac, have a pure, righteous and kind wife and for that marriage to come about according to the will of God. Eliezer Gen 15:2 the servant? was bold in faith asking for success in his mission —- he knew Abraham’s God was a God of miracles and he was expecting another one —– so in boldness he asked for a sign which came to fruition when Rebecca came to the well. Her actions were the signs for which the servant had prayed and he knew for certainty that she was the young woman whom the Lord God had chosen for Isaac. —— was this a miracle that Rebecca watered 10 camels ? Ahuva have you any thoughts on this as a camel drinks many gallons of water?

    • According to the midrash, when Rebecca dipped her jug towards the well, the waters, rose to meet her. However, she still filled the jug herself repeatedly in order to satisfy the camels’ thirst. This was an important part of the servant’s test: it was not enough for her to be polite and offer to water the camels; she had to also have the patience and commitment to follow through.

  • Herman

    To be absolutely sure for the right choice, that the person intended did not react to the “truckload of 40 kub” (the 10 camels) with gold and gifts. to distinguish the character which should be like Sara’s.This asking for a sign was good because it wasn’t for the sign itself or for the satisfaction of himself but for the fulfilment of his master’s command.

  • Magda

    I think the servant really wanted to do God’s will and not just accomplish his mission (finding a wife for Izaac and be off again). He did this in close connection and relationship with God/ HaShem and thus thanked Him so profusely afterwards.
    The sign was definitely a good one – Abraham was a man reknown for his hospitality and kindness – to strangers as well. Here this girl was portraying the very same traits towards Abraham’s servant. I believe it was no easy job to give water to 10 camels – it could have taken many hours filling and refilling her pitcher from the fountain.
    The number of camels – 10 – intrigues me. Any specific meaning you could share – a minyan perhaps?

    • I am not aware of any particular significance of the ten camels, though Rabbi Chayim Ibn Attar comments on the verse that ten is meant to represent the image of wealth, as it is “many” camels, where one might suffice. You are correct, however, that ten is a typological number in the Bible, and is the number of men required for a prayer quorum. Ten in Judaism signifies a public audience, and for this reason ten men are needed at minimum to participate in a public prayer service.

      • We are taught that the number 10 signifies "confidence" in the promises of Elohim.
        *
        When we keep the 10 Commandments or 10 "Words" as you say in Judaism, we can then come confidently before Elohim to make our petitions.
        *
        Eliezer took 10 camels to show that he was putting all of his confidence in Elohim to carry out this mission and honor his master, Avraham. At least, this is what we've been taught about the number 10.
        Baruch Hashem.

      • I have also heard that the number 10 is the number of the government of God (Yahweh). The person who said it was commenting on the 10 righteous as the last number of the righteous with which Abraham pleaded with Yahweh so that Sodom and Gomorrah could be spared. But now in the context of camels, it is difficult to reconcile. Otherwise thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this.

      • Theresa Bettleyon

        Thank you . I learned from this

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