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Genesis 24:12-52

Context
24:12 He prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, guide me today. 1  Be faithful 2  to my master Abraham. 24:13 Here I am, standing by the spring, 3  and the daughters of the people 4  who live in the town are coming out to draw water. 24:14 I will say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jar so I may drink.’ May the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac reply, ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels water too.’ 5  In this way I will know that you have been faithful to my master.” 6 

24:15 Before he had finished praying, there came Rebekah 7  with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah (Milcah was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor). 8  24:16 Now the young woman was very beautiful. She was a virgin; no man had ever had sexual relations with her. 9  She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came back up. 24:17 Abraham’s servant 10  ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a sip of water from your jug.” 24:18 “Drink, my lord,” she replied, and quickly lowering 11  her jug to her hands, she gave him a drink. 24:19 When she had done so, 12  she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have drunk as much as they want.” 24:20 She quickly emptied 13  her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw more water until she had drawn enough for all his camels. 24:21 Silently the man watched her with interest to determine 14  if the Lord had made his journey successful 15  or not.

24:22 After the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka 16  and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels 17  and gave them to her. 18  24:23 “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. 19  “Tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

24:24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom Milcah bore to Nahor. 20  24:25 We have plenty of straw and feed,” she added, 21  “and room for you 22  to spend the night.”

24:26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord, 24:27 saying “Praised be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his faithful love 23  for my master! The Lord has led me 24  to the house 25  of my master’s relatives!” 26 

24:28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household all about 27  these things. 24:29 (Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban.) 28  Laban rushed out to meet the man at the spring. 24:30 When he saw the bracelets on his sister’s wrists and the nose ring 29  and heard his sister Rebekah say, 30  “This is what the man said to me,” he went out to meet the man. There he was, standing 31  by the camels near the spring. 24:31 Laban said to him, 32  “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord! 33  Why are you standing out here when I have prepared 34  the house and a place for the camels?”

24:32 So Abraham’s servant 35  went to the house and unloaded 36  the camels. Straw and feed were given 37  to the camels, and water was provided so that he and the men who were with him could wash their feet. 38  24:33 When food was served, 39  he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I want to say.” 40  “Tell us,” Laban said. 41 

24:34 “I am the servant of Abraham,” he began. 24:35 “The Lord has richly blessed my master and he has become very wealthy. 42  The Lord 43  has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 24:36 My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to him 44  when she was old, 45  and my master 46  has given him everything he owns. 24:37 My master made me swear an oath. He said, ‘You must not acquire a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 24:38 but you must go to the family of my father and to my relatives to find 47  a wife for my son.’ 24:39 But I said to my master, ‘What if the woman does not want to go 48  with me?’ 49  24:40 He answered, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, 50  will send his angel with you. He will make your journey a success and you will find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family. 24:41 You will be free from your oath 51  if you go to my relatives and they will not give her to you. Then you will be free from your oath.’ 24:42 When I came to the spring today, I prayed, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you have decided to make my journey successful, 52  may events unfold as follows: 53  24:43 Here I am, standing by the spring. 54  When 55  the young woman goes out to draw water, I’ll say, “Give me a little water to drink from your jug.” 24:44 Then she will reply to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too.” May that woman be the one whom the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

24:45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, 56  along came Rebekah 57  with her water jug on her shoulder! She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 24:46 She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels water too.’ So I drank, and she also gave the camels water. 24:47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘The daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to Nahor.’ 58  I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. 24:48 Then I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right path to find the granddaughter 59  of my master’s brother for his son. 24:49 Now, if you will show faithful love to my master, tell me. But if not, tell me as well, so that I may go on my way.” 60 

24:50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “This is the Lord’s doing. 61  Our wishes are of no concern. 62  24:51 Rebekah stands here before you. Take her and go so that she may become 63  the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord has decided.” 64 

24:52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord.

1 tn Heb “make it happen before me today.” Although a number of English translations understand this as a request for success in the task (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV) it is more likely that the servant is requesting an omen or sign from God (v. 14).

2 tn Heb “act in loyal love with” or “show kindness to.”

3 tn Heb “the spring of water.”

4 tn Heb “the men.”

5 sn I will also give your camels water. It would be an enormous test for a young woman to water ten camels. The idea is that such a woman would not only be industrious but hospitable and generous.

6 tn Heb “And let the young woman to whom I say, ‘Lower your jar that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink and I will also give your camels water,’ – her you have appointed for your servant, for Isaac, and by it I will know that you have acted in faithfulness with my master.”

7 tn Heb “Look, Rebekah was coming out!” Using the participle introduced with הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator dramatically transports the audience back into the event and invites them to see Rebekah through the servant’s eyes.

8 tn Heb “Look, Rebekah was coming out – [she] who was born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, the brother of Abraham – and her jug [was] on her shoulder.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

9 tn Heb “And the young woman was very good of appearance, a virgin, and a man she had not known.” Some argue that the Hebrew noun translated “virgin” (בְּתוּלָה, bÿtulah) is better understood in a general sense, “young woman” (see Joel 1:8, where the word appears to refer to one who is married). In this case the circumstantial clause (“and a man she had not known”) would be restrictive, rather than descriptive. If the term actually means “virgin,” one wonders why the circumstantial clause is necessary (see Judg 21:12 as well). Perhaps the repetition emphasizes her sexual purity as a prerequisite for her role as the mother of the covenant community.

10 tn Heb “and the servant.” The word “Abraham’s” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

11 tn Heb “and she hurried and lowered.”

12 tn Heb “when she had finished giving him a drink.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

13 tn Heb “and she hurried and emptied.”

14 tn Heb “to know.”

15 tn The Hebrew term צָלָה (tsalah), meaning “to make successful” in the Hiphil verbal stem, is a key term in the story (see vv. 40, 42, 56).

16 sn A beka weighed about 5-6 grams (0.2 ounce).

17 sn A shekel weighed about 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce) although weights varied locally, so these bracelets weighed about 4 ounces (115 grams).

18 tn The words “and gave them to her” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.

19 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’” The order of the introductory clause has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

20 tn Heb “whom she bore to Nahor.” The referent (Milcah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn Heb “and she said, ‘We have plenty of both straw and feed.’” The order of the introductory clause has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

22 tn Heb The words “for you” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.

23 tn Heb “his faithfulness and his commitment.”

24 tn Heb “As for me – in the way the Lord led me.”

25 tn Here “house” is an adverbial accusative of termination.

26 tn Heb “brothers.”

27 tn Heb “according to.”

28 tn The parenthetical disjunctive clause introduces the audience to Laban, who will eventually play an important role in the unfolding story.

29 tn Heb “And it was when he saw the nose ring and the bracelets on the arms of his sister.” The word order is altered in the translation for the sake of clarity.

30 tn Heb “and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying.”

31 tn Heb “and look, he was standing.” The disjunctive clause with the participle following the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) invites the audience to view the scene through Laban’s eyes.

32 tn Heb “and he said.” The referent (Laban) has been specified and the words “to him” supplied in the translation for clarity.

33 sn Laban’s obsession with wealth is apparent; to him it represents how one is blessed by the Lord. Already the author is laying the foundation for subsequent events in the narrative, where Laban’s greed becomes his dominant characteristic.

34 tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial.

35 tn Heb “the man”; the referent (Abraham’s servant) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

36 tn Some translations (e.g., NEB, NASB, NRSV) understand Laban to be the subject of this and the following verbs or take the subject of this and the following verbs as indefinite (referring to an unnamed servant; e.g., NAB, NIV).

37 tn Heb “and [one] gave.” The verb without an expressed subject may be translated as passive.

38 tn Heb “and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.”

39 tn Heb “and food was placed before him.”

40 tn Heb “my words.”

41 tc Some ancient textual witnesses have a plural verb, “and they said.”

tn Heb “and he said, ‘Speak.’” The referent (Laban) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “great.” In this context the statement refers primarily to Abraham’s material wealth, although reputation and influence are not excluded.

43 tn Heb “and he.” The referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

44 tn Heb “to my master.” This has been replaced by the pronoun “him” in the translation for stylistic reasons.

45 tn Heb “after her old age.”

46 tn Heb “and he.” The referent (the servant’s master, Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

47 tn Heb “but to the house of my father you must go and to my family and you must take a wife for my son.”

48 tn The imperfect is used here in a modal sense to indicate desire.

49 tn Heb “after me.”

50 tn The verb is the Hitpael of הָלַךְ (halakh), meaning “live one’s life” (see Gen 17:1). The statement may simply refer to serving the Lord or it may have a more positive moral connotation (“serve faithfully”).

51 tn Heb “my oath” (twice in this verse). From the Hebrew perspective the oath belonged to the person to whom it was sworn (Abraham), although in contemporary English an oath is typically viewed as belonging to the person who swears it (the servant).

52 tn Heb “if you are making successful my way on which I am going.”

53 tn The words “may events unfold as follows” are supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

54 tn Heb “the spring of water.”

55 tn Heb “and it will be.”

56 tn Heb “As for me, before I finished speaking to my heart.” The adverb טֶרֶם (terem) indicates the verb is a preterite; the infinitive that follows is the direct object.

57 tn Heb “Look, Rebekah was coming out.” As in 24:15, the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) is used here for dramatic effect.

58 tn Heb “whom Milcah bore to him.” The referent (Nahor) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

59 tn Heb “daughter.” Rebekah was actually the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. One can either translate the Hebrew term בַּת (bat) as “daughter,” in which case the term אָח (’akh) must be translated more generally as “relative” rather than “brother” (cf. NASB, NRSV) or one can translate בַּת as “granddaughter,” in which case אָח may be translated “brother” (cf. NIV).

60 tn Heb “and I will turn to the right or to the left.” The expression apparently means that Abraham’s servant will know where he should go if there is no further business here.

61 tn Heb “From the Lord the matter has gone out.”

62 tn Heb “We are not able to speak to you bad or good.” This means that Laban and Bethuel could not say one way or the other what they wanted, for they viewed it as God’s will.

63 tn Following the imperatives, the jussive with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose or result.

64 tn Heb “as the Lord has spoken.”



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