Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 24

By Joseph Benson


Verse 1
Genesis 24:1. Abraham was old — One hundred and forty years of age, as appears by comparing Genesis 21:5, with Genesis 25:20. This was about three years after Sarah’s death, and when Isaac was forty years old. So that, although a numerous progeny was so much desired, no great haste was made to get Isaac married. The Lord had blessed Abraham in all things — And yet Abraham had many and severe trials; but even these were blessings in disguise.

Verse 2
Genesis 24:2. His eldest servant — Probably Eliezer of Damascus. Abraham spake of him, sixty years before this, as the steward of his house. He was, therefore, far advanced in years; and he appears, in this chapter, to have been a person of singular wisdom and piety. Thy hand under my thigh — A ceremony used in swearing by inferiors toward superiors, as a testimony of subjection, and a promise of faithful service; see also Genesis 47:29.

Verse 3
Genesis 24:3. I will make thee swear — This was both for Abraham’s own satisfaction, and to engage his servant to all possible care and diligence in this important business. Thus God swears his servants to their work, that, having sworn, they may perform it. By the Lord, (Hebrews Jehovah,) the God of heaven and the God of earth — Observe with what reverence Abraham speaks of God, and with what solemnity this oath is administered and taken! And see how careful Abraham is that his son should not marry one of corrupt principles and manners. He was in such high esteem among the Canaanites, that, undoubtedly, he could have married Isaac to a daughter of one of the princes of the land. But he saw that the Canaanites were degenerating into great wickedness, and knew that they were designed for ruin; and he would not marry his son among them, lest they should be a snare to his soul. To obtain for him, as a partner in life, a person of piety and virtue, is his chief, if not his sole concern, and therefore he sends even to a distant country for such a one. Alas! how different is this from the conduct of many! Wealth and dignity are the chief objects they fix their thoughts on in marrying their children. They seek not in their choice those that are sincere and devout worshippers of God, but those who have the largest possessions; not those rich in good works, but those rich in the world. And this, perhaps, is one chief and principal cause of the great corruption of manners among us.

Verse 7
Genesis 24:7. He shall send his angel before thee — God’s angels are ministering spirits, sent forth, not only for the protection, but guidance of the heirs of promise, Hebrews 1:14. And they who are thus guided are sure to speed well.

Verse 11
Genesis 24:11. He made his camels to kneel down — Probably to unload them; kneeling, however, is the posture in which they take their rest. Dr. Shaw, giving an account of his journeys between Cairo and mount Sinai, says, “Our camels were made to kneel down in a circle round about us; and in this situation, as they are very watchful, and awake with the least noise, they served us instead of a guard.”

Verse 12
Genesis 24:12. Send me good speed — What a noble example is here for all servants to imitate their masters in all goodness! Abraham’s servant, we find, had not lived in his master’s house without profiting by his example; he shows the like faith and dependance upon God as his master manifested; and this being a business of great consequence about which he is sent, he does not rest upon his own prudence and wisdom, but begs the blessing and direction of God in it. And what can be more desirable in our undertakings than to be under the guidance of infinite wisdom? And we have leave to be particular in recommending our affairs to the care of Divine Providence. Those that would have good speed must pray for it this day, in this affair. Thus we must, in all our ways, acknowledge God, and then he will direct our paths.

Verse 14
Genesis 24:14. Let it come to pass — He prays that God would be pleased to make his way plain and clear before him, by the concurrence of minute circumstances in his favour. It is the comfort, as well as the belief, of a good man, that God’s providence extends itself to the smallest occurrences, and admirably serves its own purposes by them.

Verse 15
Genesis 24:15. And before he had done speaking, behold, Rebekah came out — Who, in all respects, answered the characters he wished for in the woman that was to be his master’s wife; handsome and healthful, humble and industrious, courteous and obliging to a stranger. And Providence so ordered it, that she did that which exactly answered his sign. God, in his providence, doth sometimes wonderfully own the prayer of faith, and gratify the innocent desires of his praying people, even in little things, that he may show the extent of his care, and may encourage them at all times to seek him, and trust in him; yet we must take heed of being over bold in prescribing to God, lest the event should weaken our faith rather than strengthen it. And the concurrence of providences, and their minute circumstances, for the furtherance of our success in any business, ought to be particularly observed with wonder and thankfulness to the glory of God. We have been wanting to ourselves, both in duty and comfort, by neglecting to observe providence.

Verse 19
Genesis 24:19. She said, I will draw water for thy camels also — What amiable qualities does Rebekah show! What condescension! what good-nature! what humanity! The servant asks only to drink a little water out of her pitcher, and she not only gives this with the most obliging courtesy, but hastens to draw water for all his camels. Well might the servant wonder with pleasure, and conclude that God had made his journey prosperous. The only thing that kept him in doubt about it was his not knowing whether she was of Abraham’s kindred. One of so much condescension, good-nature, humanity, courtesy, and readiness to oblige, he concluded, would certainly make his master’s son happy in the marriage state; and therefore he had requested of God that the person whom he had appointed for Isaac’s wife should act in such a manner.

Verse 22
Genesis 24:22. Two bracelets of ten shekels weight of gold — That is, about six ounces. According to Sir J. Chardin, the women wear rings and bracelets of as great weight as this through all Asia, and even much heavier. St. Paul and St. Peter have directed Christians to a more excellent way of adorning themselves; “not with gold, or pearls, or costly array, but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works;” “whose adorning, let it not be that outward plaiting of the hair, and of wearing of gold, but in that which is not corruptible, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which, in the sight of God, is of great price.”

Verse 27
Genesis 24:27. Blessed be the Lord God of my master — Here again this servant shows a noble example in returning thanks to God, as soon as he finds that his errand is likely to succeed. He had prayed for good speed, and, having sped well so far, he blesses God, although, as yet, he is not certain what the issue may be. Thus ought we to do: when God’s favours are coming toward us, we ought to meet them with our praises; giving thanks for all our successes in business, for all our prosperous and safe journeys, for our being comfortably situated in life, our being happily married, our having obedient children, our being placed among, and in favour with good men. For all these things we ought to give God the glory, and return him continual thanks and praise from grateful hearts, truly sensible that it is he that giveth us all good things. The Lord hath led me to the house of my master’s brethren — Those that were come out of Ur of the Chaldees, though they were not come to Canaan, but stayed in Haran. They were not idolaters, but worshippers of the true God, and inclinable to the religion of Abraham’s family.

Verse 31
Genesis 24:31. Come in, thou blessed of the Lord — Such was the beautiful language of those ancient times, whereby a sense of God was constantly kept up in their minds. How little is this language used in our day! Perhaps, because they heard from Rebekah of the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, they concluded that he was a good man, and therefore blessed of the Lord.

Verse 33
Genesis 24:33. I will not eat till I have told my errand — What a fine picture of diligence and zeal for a master’s service is this! How worthy to be imitated by all servants! Though it was after a long journey, and much fatigue, yet so impatient is he to do his master’s business, that he will not eat till he has proceeded in it.

Verse 34
Genesis 24:34. I am Abraham’s servant — Abraham’s name, no doubt, was well known among them, and respected; and we may suppose them not altogether ignorant of his state; for Abraham knew theirs, Genesis 22:20.

Verse 45
Genesis 24:45. Before I had done speaking in my heart — Which perhaps he mentions, lest it should be suspected that Rebekah had overheard his prayer, and designedly complied with it; no, saith he, I spake it in my heart, so that none heard it but God, to whom thoughts are words, and from whom the answer came.

Verse 50
Genesis 24:50. The thing proceedeth from the Lord — He, in his providence, evidently favoured it, and therefore they properly concluded that it was his will; which is the only safe rule of conduct in all cases. And in those which are of peculiar importance, as the proper choice of a partner in marriage certainly is, we should use every prudent means to know God’s will, especially the means used by Abraham’s servant, fervent prayer, and observing the openings of providence. A marriage is then likely to be comfortable, when it appears to proceed from the Lord.

Verse 52
Genesis 24:52. He worshipped the Lord — As his good success went on, he went on to bless God. Those that pray without ceasing, should in every thing give thanks, and own God in every step of mercy.

Verse 55
Genesis 24:55. Let her abide a few days, at least ten — The words in the Hebrew here, ימים או עשׂור, are rather equivocal, and may be rendered, as in the margin, a full year, or ten months, the word translated days being sometimes put for a year. And if we may credit Jewish writers, it was customary for a virgin to have twelve months allowed her to furnish herself with ornaments. But it is very improbable that Rebekah’s friends should desire or expect such a thing from this man, considering how anxious he was to return immediately.

Verse 57
Genesis 24:57. Call the damsel, and inquire — As children ought not to marry without their parents’ consent, so parents ought not to marry them without their own. Before the matter is resolved on, ask at the damsel’s mouth; she is a party concerned, and therefore ought to be principally consulted.

Verse 59
Genesis 24:59. Rebekah and her nurse — Deborah, as appears from chap. Genesis 35:8; where we learn that she was held in great esteem, as indeed nurses in general were in ancient times, both in Asia and in Greece.

Verse 60
Genesis 24:60. They blessed Rebekah — The meaning of this verse is, that they prayed God to make her very fruitful, and to render her posterity victorious over their enemies. They said, Thou art our sister — Our near kinswoman; distance of place shall not alienate our affections from thee; but we will still own thee as our sister, and be ready to perform all the duties of brethren to thee.

Verse 61
Genesis 24:61. And her damsels — It seems then, when she went to the well for water, it was not because she had no servants at command, but because she took pleasure in these instances of humanity and industry.

Verse 63
Genesis 24:63. He went out to meditate (or pray) in the field at the even-tide — Some think he expected his servants about this time, and went out on purpose to meet them. But it should seem he went out to take the advantage of a silent evening, and a solitary field, for meditation and prayer. Our walks in the field are then truly pleasant, when in them we apply ourselves to meditation and prayer: we there have a free and open prospect of the heavens above us, and the earth around us, and the hosts and riches of both, by the view of which we should be led to the contemplation of the Maker and Owner of all. Merciful providences are then doubly comfortable, when they find us in the way of our duty. It is probable Isaac was now praying for good success in this affair, and meditating upon that which was proper to encourage his hope in God concerning it; and now, when he sets himself, as it were, upon his watchtower, to see what God would answer him, he sees the camels coming.

Genesis 24:64-65. She lighted off her camel, and took a veil, &c. — In token of humility, modesty, and subjection. The bride was wont to be veiled when she was introduced to her husband. Among the Arabs the women never appear in public without veils.