When Abraham was about 140 years old he called one of his servants to go and seek a wife for Isaac. Abraham gave his servant specific instruction regarding where to find a wife for Isaac, even asking the servant to promise to obey the instructions. Abraham told his servant not to take a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, among whom they dwelt, but to go to his family in Ur and find a wife there. While not mentioned, this would mean that Abraham did not want a wife to come from among the hundreds of servants dwelling among Abraham’s tents.
While Abraham wanted a wife for Isaac from among his family in Ur, he definitely did not want Isaac going to Ur, and he specifically told his servant that in no uncertain terms. Abraham said, “Beware that you do not take my son back there.” Abraham assured his servant that God “will send His angel before you, & you shall take a wife for my son from there.” But even with God’s divine providence leading the way, the woman would still have free choice as to whether or not she would want to come. She must be willing, on her own accord, to come back with the servant. If she was not willing to come, the servant would be released from his promise to find Isaac a wife.
Even though Isaac was forty years old at this point he allowed his father and the servant to make all the arrangements, trusting in God’s direction, and their wisdom. Sarah, Isaac’s mother, had passed away about three years prior to this, but her tent was still kept up, and Isaac, and no doubt Abraham, were still grieving her loss.
Finding the right wife:
Abraham’s servant, whose name we are never told, took with him other servants, camels, and items of gold. When Abraham’s servant arrived outside the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor had lived he waited at the well for the women to draw water. While there he prayed to the Lord God of Abraham for a specific sign, that if he asked one of the young virgin women for some water for himself, if she then volunteered to give water to the camels also, that would be the woman for Isaac.
Rebecca, the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother, came to the well and did exactly as Abraham’s servant had prayed. This account is recorded three times in this chapter. Once in the prayer, a second time in the telling of the interaction between Abraham’s servant and Rebecca, and then again when the servant tells the whole story to Rebecca’s mother and brother.
When Rebecca’s mother and brother heard the account from Abraham’s servant and saw the gold given to Rebecca they agreed to the marriage arrangement. But then the next day they hesitated and wanted to hold her back. The servant urged them to let him return with her or without her. Rebecca’s mother and brother left the final choice with her. Rebecca chose to go with Abraham’s servant and join herself to Isaac.
Rebecca traveled with Abraham’s servant to Canaan. As they came close to Abraham’s encampment Isaac was going out into the field to meditate in the evening. When Rebecca saw him in the distance she dismounted from the camel and put on a veil. Isaac went out to meet them and brought her into his mother’s tent and married her.
It really is a beautiful love story. They had a happy and long marriage together. As opposed to Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and others, Isaac never “knew” anyone else other than Rebecca.
More To The Story:
While this is a beautiful story and a historical event, the Bible is more than a collection of stories or a history book. There are wonderful lessons in this story for us as well. In this week’s sermon Rabbi Jeff Zaremsky draws out from the Holy Scriptures beautiful meaning for us from this Biblical account.
Come along for the Adventure, you will stay for the Shalom – ShalomAdventure.com