Bereshit Twenty-Four: Love Story

“And Abraham was old, advanced in days, and the Lord had blessed Abraham with everything (Genesis 24:1).”

Following the death of his wife, Abraham becomes contemplative, and realizes that, with all of his blessings, he still needs one more thing: to find a suitable wife for Isaac. We’ve had no mention of the relationship between father and son since the Akedah, so we don’t know whether or not Isaac has forgiven Abraham for nearly killing him, whether he understood the circumstances, or if he’s been traumatized by that experience, followed by the death of his mother. Either way, it’s time for him to find a wife, so Abraham sends a trusted servant back to his homeland to find a woman. I find it interesting that Abraham is so adamant about Isaac not taking a wife from among the Canaanites, those who live in the land that was promised to him Unless his homeland has become monotheistic in the last few years, it didn’t sound much better than Canaan in this regard, so I’m unclear as to why the bride must specifically come from there.

Nevertheless, the servant sets out and makes his way to the city of Nahor. He brings his camels to the well, around the time that the women of the city would normally go draw water for their households, and says, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please cause to happen to me today, and perform with loving kindness with my mater, Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the water fountain, and the daughters of the people of the city are coming out to draw water. And it will be, the maiden to whom I say, ‘Lower your pitcher and I will drink,’ and she will say, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels,’ her have You designated for Your servant, for Isaac, and through her may I know that You have performed loving kindness with my master (Genesis 24:12-14).'”

The servant’s test will show that the designated bride is a compassionate woman, not afraid of hard work, and caring of others. Immediately upon this prayer, Rebecca appears (good timing!). Rebecca immediately waters not only the man, but his camels as well. After she does so, he asks who she is, and she says, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor (Genesis 24:24).” This might just be a sidenote, but I believe that Rebecca is the first woman in Tanakh to introduce herself, and I find it interesting that she includes the names of both her mother and her father, whereas men seem to only include their father. Was this customary? Will it happen again? Or does the inclusion of Milcah’s name in this instance indicate some kind of special relationship/status?

Rebecca brings the servant home, and he tells her family his story. They agree to send Rebecca with him as a wife for Isaac, and she gives her consent. At the end of the chapter, Rebecca and Isaac finally meet. “And Isaac went forth to pray in the field towards evening, and he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, camels were approaching. And Rebecca lifted her eyes, and saw Isaac, and she alighted from the camel.” This moment is adorable in terms of biblical romance. A sunset meeting in the fieldsm both of them seeing each other from a distance, and somehow recognizing each other as bashert.

“And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for his mother (Genesis 24:67).”

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