Genesis 24:11–27

2411 He had the camels kneel down outside the town by the well of water; it was the evening hour when the town’s women go out to draw water.
     12 He said, “YHWH, God of my master Abraham, let it happen today for me and deal kindly with my master Abraham. 13 Here, I stand beside this spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please lower your pitcher that I may have a drink,’ if she says, ‘Drink, and your camels I’ll water, too’—let her be the one you have marked for your servant, for Isaac. By this, I will know that you have dealt faithfully with my master.”
     15 So it was: Before he had finished speaking, Rebekah came out—she had been born to Behuel, son of Milkah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother—with her pitcher on her shoulder. 16 The maiden was very beautiful to look at, a virgin; no man had known her. She went down to the spring, filled her pitcher, and came up again.
     17 The servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip water from your pitcher.”
     18 “Drink, my lord,” she said and hurried to lower the jar to her hand and let him drink.
     19 After she let him drink his fill, she said, “I will draw water for your camels, too, until they drink their fill.” 20 So she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran again to the well to draw water and drew water for all his camels. 21 The man stared at her, keeping silent, watching closely to know whether or not YHWH had granted success to his journey.
     22 Then, when the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets, ten gold shekels in weight.23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
     24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she said, “Yes, we have an abundance of straw and fodder and room to spend the night.”
     26 The man did homage and bowed before YHWH, 27 saying, “Blessed be YHWH, God of my master Abraham, who has not refused kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, on this journey, YHWH has led me to the house of my master’s relatives.”

A long journey has ended at a place of refreshment—a well. This ending place is also the beginning of a motif—a betrothal scene. At a well in a foreign land, single people meet, water is drawn, running to the local family head occurs, a feast is held, a dowry arranged, and a betrothal made.

This particular scene is different in that a surrogate is present for the male (Isaac) and the woman (Rebekah) is the active one drawing water. This characterization accords well with a traumatized and passive Isaac and an arranging Rebekah.

Abraham’s servant/slave as well understood the source of their master’s concern—completing his god’s promise—and begins with a calling of that god’s attention to the servant now being in place and outlining a process whereby they will interpret everyday actions into a discernment larger than routine would predict.

The criteria for success are that the servant/slave will receive a drink and that the camels would also be watered. Rebekah does raise an anxious moment as she waits sometime before offering to water the camels. Ten camels, each holding gallons of water, provide a daunting task for a “comely maiden.” Rebekah seems to have stamina as well as beauty.

Upon further inquiry, this journey for a wife for Isaac has come to the exact place it needed to be to rejoin a divided family. This reunion is in place of rejoining all the families divided at Babel. Readers might also hear overtones of a passive ’adam and action-oriented Eve* as a betrothal scene is reminiscent of a new creation with a bone-sharing parallel to a water-sharing.

In today’s world, we travel by instructions from a disembodied voice that can be disappointed when the driver goes astray, and a recalculation is needed. We might wonder how many times the servant/slave had to ask the way. Were they given a divine GPS or were non-Aramaic persons helpful along the way? Perhaps a Reader will be inspired to write the parts missing between the setting out and the coming to rest.

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