2428 The maiden ran and told her mother’s household everything that had happened. 29 Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and Laban ran out to the man by the spring. 30 When he saw the nose ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and when he had heard the words of Rebekah, his sister, say, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he came out to the man, who was still standing by the camels, by the spring. 31 Laban said, “Come in, you blessed by YHWH! Why are you standing outside? The house is readied and a place made for the camels.” 32 So the man entered the house. The camels were unbridled and provided straw and feed. Water was given for the man to wash his feet and also the feet of the men with him. 33 Food was set before him to eat.
But the man said, “I won’t eat until I’ve spoken my word.”
Laban replied, “Speak.”
34 The man said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has exceedingly blessed my master, and he has become great with flocks, cattle, silver, gold, men servants, women servants, camels, and donkeys. 36 Sarah, my master’s wife, bore a son for my master after she had grown old, and he’s given him all that is his. 37 My master made me swear: ‘You shall not choose a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I dwell. 38 No, you are to go to my father’s household, to my clan, and choose a wife for my son.’ 39 I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not come with me’ 40 He said to me, ‘YHWH, in whose presence I have walked, will send a messenger with you and grant success to your journey. You will choose a wife for my son from my clan and my father’s household. 41 You shall only be clear of my oath-curse if you come to my clan. If they provide no one for you, you will be clear of my oath.’
42 “Today I came to the spring, and I said, ‘YHWH, God of my master Abraham, if you are going to grant me success on this journey, 43 when I have stationed myself by the spring, let it be that the young woman who comes out to draw water and to whom I say, “Please give me a little drink of water from your pitcher,” 44 and she responds to me, “Drink, and for your camels I will draw water, too,” may she be the wife whom YHWH has marked for my master’s son.’ 45 Even before I finished speaking in my heart, Rebekah came out with her pitcher on her shoulder and went down to the spring to draw water. And I said to her, ‘Pray, give me to drink.’ 46 She hurried to lower her pitcher and said, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels to drink.’ So I drank, and she also gave water to the camels. 47 I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor whom Milcah bore him.’ I put the ring in her nose and bracelets on her arms. 48 In homage, I bowed before YHWH and blessed YHWH, the God of my master Abraham, who led me in the right way to choose the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you shall act with steadfast kindness toward my master, tell me. If not, tell me so I may turn elsewhere.”
50 Laban [and Bethuel] both responded, “This has come from YHWH. We have nothing more to say. 51 Here is Rebekah before you. Take her and go. She will be the wife of your master’s son, just as YHWH said.” 52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed to the ground before YHWH.
53 The servant brought out ornaments of silver and ornaments of gold and garments and gave them to Rebekah. He gave presents to her brother and to her mother.
54 They ate and drank, he and the men with him, and they spent the night.
When they rose in the morning, the servant said, “Send me off to my master.”
55 Her brother and mother said, “Let the maiden stay with us a few days, perhaps ten, then she may go.”
56 But he said to them, “Don’t delay me for YHWH has granted success to my journey. Send me off to go to my master.”
57 They said, “Let us call the maiden and ask an answer from her own mouth.” 58 They called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?”
She said, “I will go.”
59 They sent off Rebekah, their sister, and her nurse, Abraham’s servant, and his men. 60 They blessed Rebekah, and said to her,
“Our sister, become
May your seed inherit the gate of their haters.”
The plan to find a wife for Isaac has cleared its first hurdles. The maiden Rebekah has run ahead to tell her mother’s family about the emissary from Abraham—not about their purpose but the wonder of their presence—camels and gold.
Rebekah’s brother, Laban, seeing the jewelry on Rebekah, runs out to the caravan still mobilizing at the well. Laban is quick with a confirmation of Rebekah’s invitation and claims the role of welcoming that is due the head of the household.
The visitors are brought to the household and the initial settling-in proceeds. Care is given for the camels and water provided to wash off the dust of journey. Before a feast, Abraham’s servant/slave speaks of the purpose of his journey and recapitulates in great detail the initial impetus of his quest and the recent encounter at the well. In this recounting, it becomes clear that Rebekah has been identified as the maiden being invited to return with Abraham’s servant/slave to wed Isaac, sight unseen.
When the ask is finally made, it is Laban who responds by agreeing that Rebekah will go to be Isaac’s wife [Note: Bethuel’s name appears to be a later insertion, as every indication is that he died before this. Except, of course, for the Midrash that notes his greed and attempts to poison Abraham’s servant/slave to get all the goods for himself but an angelic intervention made an inconceivable switch, and Bethuel died from his own poison.]
With Laban’s agreement, there come additional gifts to Rebekah, Laban, and Rebekah’s unnamed mother.
The next morning brought a request to stay for “some days, ten or so. ” This is an enigmatic phrase. In Bible-talk, “Days” sometimes means a year. Speculation also can suggest the “ten” may be ten months. At any rate, a longer time than ten regular days seems more likely, and a delaying process will also come into play when next we encounter Laban.
Abraham’s servant/slave asks not to be held back from completing his task. The matter is then put before Rebekah, who is again shown as a decider. Rebekah agrees to go with Abraham’s servant/slave.
Rebekah is sent off with her wet nurse and a blessing reminiscent of the one Abraham received in 22:17, after sacrificing a ram instead of Isaac.