Friday, December 26, 2008

Genesis 24:61-67 Respect At First Sight

Genesis 24:61-67: Then Rebekah arose with her maids, and they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed. Now Isaac had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev. Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. She said to the servant, "Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?" And the servant said, "He is my master." Then she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

So Rebekah stands up, along with those maids that were attending to her and they get on the camels, presumably brought by Abraham’s servant for this purpose, and they followed the servant.

Meanwhile back in Abraham’s part of the world, Isaac was living in the Negev. The King James Version of the Scripture translates this Hebrew word as simply the direction south, while the New American Standard and some others translate it as the desert region of Southern Israel. The Hebrews used it to mean both. The text also says that Isaac had just come back from going to Beer-lahai-roi. This you will remember was the “well of Him that lives and sees me," or, as some refer to it as "the well of the vision of life". This is the well where the Lord had met with Hagar (Gen. 16:7-14). The young man would have been aware, we could assume, of what had transpired there and how it was related to his own family.

At some point after his return from this well, Isaac also goes out to his family’s fields as evening approached, in order to meditate. The Hebrew word is ‘suwach’. It is unclear whether this refers to simply thinking, or chanting, or praying. It may involve walking. We do know its aim tends to be religious in nature. It is also possible that Isaac went out there with his men, or friends, and not alone. On the other hand, he may have been going to meet those working in his fields as they were returning home for the night. Clearly, Isaac was a thoughtful young man who took time to think and reflect on God, life, and the world, as well as those that were part of his life, no matter what the role.

In the course of his meditation, he looks up and notices that a caravan of camels was approaching. As the camels got closer to Isaac, Rebekah also looks up and sees Isaac (although we know from the next phrase that she did not know for sure who he was, though she well may have suspected), and she immediately gets off her camel. If at all there was any possibility that this was Isaac, then she did not want to be found seated above him in any way, but rather to get to get to a common level (as he was walking) in an act of symbolic submission to his headship in their forthcoming relationship as husband and wife. Isaac must also have made a striking image in the field that caught Rebekah’s eye and interest as she asked Abraham’s servant (and now her temporary guardian on this trip) “Who is the man that is walking towards us?” The servant simply states the obvious, “He is my master.” While the servant worked for and served Abraham, Isaac as the heir was also the servant’s master.

Learning who the figure approaching them was, Rebekah immediately takes her veil, perhaps a wrap or a shawl) and covers her face and head for the specific purpose of hiding or concealing herself. According to tradition, the veil is an essential part of female dress. While out in the countryside, it can and was often thrown aside, but on the appearance of a stranger, it is drawn over the face, as to conceal all but the eyes. In a bride, such as Rebekah was about to become, it was a token of her reverence and subjection to her husband.

The servant then takes the necessary time to bring Isaac fully up-to-date on all that had transpired between him, Rebekah, and Rebekah’s family. And without further questioning, Isaac takes Rebekah, the one that God has chosen for him as a wife, into what had been his mother’s dwelling, Sarah having recently passed away. The text simply states that he then took Rebekah as a wife and he loved her.

There was no courtship to speak of. Both Rebekah and now Isaac simply accepted what God had brought together in this unique way – working through Abraham, the servant, and through Rebekah’s family. Both simply accepted God’s choice as the very best for them. They respected each other as the one that God had given to the other and they accepted their roles willfully. Love entered the picture only after they had become husband and wife. This may not the way we may do things today, but clearly it is no less wonderful or effective, and perhaps even more lasting.

This section of scripture ends with the phrase, “thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Isaac was Sarah’s very special and only son. She had loved him dearly while he was growing into a man. With her passing, an incredible void appeared in Isaac’s life and only God’s chosen one for him as a wife, could begin to fill it. God’s plan for many of his children is just that. This past Christmas I heard my three year old grandson Elijah, when he had lost track of where in the house his mother was at that given moment, say “Where’s my mommy; I always need my mommy.” I am sure there will come a day when he realizes that mommy’s love will always be there, but that he would then have another woman to be comforted by as Isaac was comforted by his wife, Rebekah.

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  1. Anonymous1/4/09 01:55

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Dear Ruth: Thanks for the encouraging note. When I finished the first part of Genesis, I stopped publishing my thoughts although I have continued my writing. You have been an encouragement and perhaps I will pick up from where I left off. You can also check out my website at or join me on Facebook; or you can follow some of my thoughts on Finally, there is a way that you can be notified on all updates that I make to this blog. Blessings.