Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. And Abraham was old . . . take a wife--His anxiety
to see his son married was natural to his position as a pastoral chief
interested in preserving the honor of his tribe, and still more as a
patriarch who had regard to the divine promise of a numerous
2. said unto his eldest servant--Abraham being too old, and as
the heir of the promise not being at liberty to make even a temporary
visit to his native land, was obliged to intrust this delicate mission
to Eliezer, whom, although putting entire confidence in him, he on this
occasion bound by a solemn oath. A pastoral chief in the present day
would follow the same course if he could not go himself.
3. thou shalt not take a wife, &c.--Among pastoral tribes the
matrimonial arrangements are made by the parents, and a youth must
marry, not among strangers, but in his own tribe--custom giving him a
claim, which is seldom or never resisted, to the hand of his first
cousin. But Abraham had a far higher motive--a fear lest, if his son
married into a Canaanitish family, he might be gradually led away from
the true God.
10. the servant took ten camels, &c.--So great an equipage was
to give the embassy an appearance worthy of the rank and wealth of
Abraham; to carry provisions; to bear the marriage presents, which as
usual would be distributed over several beasts; besides one or two
spare camels in case of emergency.
went to Mesopotamia, &c.--A stranger in those regions, who
wishes to obtain information, stations himself at one of the wells in
the neighborhood of a town, and he is sure to learn all the news of the
place from the women who frequent them every morning and evening.
Eliezer followed this course, and letting his camels rest, he waited
till the evening time of water drawing.
12. And he said, O Lord God of my master--The servant appears
worthy of the master he served. He resolves to follow the leading of
Providence; and while he shows good sense in the tokens he fixes upon
of ascertaining the temper and character of the future bride, he never
doubts but that in such a case God will direct him.
15-21. before he had done speaking . . . behold, Rebekah
came out--As he anticipated, a young woman unveiled, as in pastoral
regions, appeared with her pitcher on her shoulder. Her comely
appearance, her affable manners, her obliging courtesy in going down
the steps to fetch water not only to him but to pour it into the trough
for his camels, afforded him the most agreeable surprise. She was the
very person his imagination had pictured, and he proceeded to reward
22. the man took a golden earring, &c.--The ring was not for the
ear, but the nose; the armlets, such as young women in Syria and Arabia
still appear daily at wells decked in. They are worn from the elbow to
the wrist, commonly made of silver, copper, brass, or horn.
23-27. And said, Whose daughter art thou?--After telling her
name and family, the kind-hearted damsel hastened home to give notice
of a stranger's arrival.
28. and told them of her mother's house these things--the female
apartments. This family was in an advanced stage of pastoral life,
dwelling in a settled place and a fixed habitation.
29-31. Rebekah had a brother . . . Laban ran out--From
what we know of his character, there is reason to believe that the
sight of the dazzling presents increased both his haste and his
32-49. the man came into the house, &c.--What a beautiful
picture of piety, fidelity, and disinterestedness in a servant! He
declined all attention to his own comforts till he had told his name
and his errand.
50. Then Laban and Bethuel answered--The brothers conduct all
the marriage negotiations, their father being probably dead, and
without consulting their sister. Their language seems to indicate they
were worshippers of the true God.
53. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and
. . . gold--These are the usual articles, with money,
that form a woman's dowry among the pastoral tribes. Rebekah was
betrothed and accompanied the servant to Canaan.
64. she lighted off the camel--If Isaac were walking, it would
have been most unmannerly for her to have continued seated; an
inferior, if riding, always alights in presence of a person of rank, no
exception being made for women.
65. she took a veil, and covered herself--The veil is an
essential part of female dress. In country places it is 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 it was a token of her
reverence and subjection to her husband.
67. And Isaac brought her into his mother's . . .
tent--thus establishing her at once in the rights and honors of a
wife before he had seen her features. Disappointments often take place,
but when Isaac saw his wife, "he loved her."