Genesis 24 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Genesis 24)

Verse 1

[1] And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

Abraham's pious care concerning his son was, that he should not marry with a daughter of Canaan, but with one of his kindred because he saw, the Canaanites were degenerating into great wickedness, and knew, that they were designed for ruin: would not marry his son among them, lest they should be either a snare to his soul, or, at least, a blot to his name. Yet he would not go himself among his kindred, lest he should be tempted to settle there: this caution is given, Genesis 24:6, and repeated, Genesis 24:8. Parents, in disposing of their children, should carefully consult their furtherance in the way to heaven.

Verse 2

[2] And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

His eldest servant — Probably Eliezer of Damascus, one whose conduct and affection he had had long experience of: he trusted him with this great affair, and not Isaac himself, because he would not have Isaac go at all into that country, but marry thither by proxy; and no proxy so fit as the steward of his house. This matter is settled between the master and the servant with a great deal of care and solemnity. The servant is bound by an oath to do his utmost to get a wife for Isaac among his relations, Genesis 24:3,4. Abraham swears him to it, both for his own satisfaction, and for the engagement of his servant to all possible care and diligence. Thus God swears his servants to their work, that, having sworn, they may perform it. Swearing being an ordinance, not peculiar to the church, but common to mankind, is to be performed by such signs as are the common usages of our country.

Verse 7

[7] The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

God's angels are ministering spirits, sent forth, not only for the protection, but guidance of the heirs of promise, Hebrews 1:14.

He shall send his angel before thee — And then thou shalt speed well.

Verse 11

[11] And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.

He made his camels kneel down — Perhaps to unload them.

Verse 12

[12] And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.

Send me good speed this day — 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.

Verse 14

[14] And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

Let it come to pass — He prays God, that be would please 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. And it is our wisdom, in all our affairs, to follow providence. Yea, it is very desirable, and that which we may lawfully pray for, while, in the general, we set God's will before us as our rule, that he will, by hints of providence, direct us in the way of our duty, and give us indications what his mind is. Thus he guides his people with his eye, and leads them in a plain path.

Verse 15

[15] And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.

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. She not only gave him drink, but, which was more than could have been expected, she offered her service to give his camels drink, which was the very sign he proposed. 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 shew 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 27

[27] And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren.

Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham — Observe here, 1. He had prayed for good speed, and now he had sped well, he gives thanks. 2. As yet, he was not certain what the issue might prove, yet he gives thanks. When God's favours are coming towards us; we must meet them with our praises.

The Lord led me to the house of my master's brethren — Those of them that were come out of Ur of the Chaldees, though they were not come to Canaan, but staid in Haran. They were not idolaters, but worshippers of the true God, and inclinable to the religion of Abraham's family.

Verse 29

[29] And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.

We have here the making up of the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah, related largely and particularly. Thus we are directed to take notice of God's providence in the little common occurrences of human life, and in them also to exercise our own prudence, and other graces: for the scripture was not intended only for the use of philosophers and statesmen, but to make us all wise and virtuous in the conduct of ourselves and families.

Verse 31

[31] And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.

Come in thou blessed of the Lord — Perhaps, because they heard from Rebekah, of the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, they concluded him a good man, and therefore blessed of the Lord.

Verse 34

[34] And he said, I am Abraham's servant.

I am Abraham' 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

[45] And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.

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 humoured it; no, saith he, I spake it in my heart, so that none heard it but God, to whom thoughts are words, and from him the answer came.

Verse 50

[50] Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.

The thing proceedeth from the Lord — Providence smiles upon it, and we have nothing to say against it. A marriage is then likely to be comfortable when it appears to proceed from the Lord.

Verse 52

[52] And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.

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

[55] And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

Let her abide a few days, at least ten — They had consented to the marriage, and yet were loth to part with her. It is an instance of the vanity of this world, that there is nothing in it so agreeable but has its allay. They were pleased that they had matched a daughter of their family so well, and yet it was with reluctancy that they sent her away.

Verse 57

[57] And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.

Call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth — 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 principally concerned; and therefore ought to be principally consulted.

Verse 61

[61] And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

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 the instances of humanity and industry.

Verse 63

[63] And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

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 mediation 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 he 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: some think 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 watch-tower, to see what God would answer him, he sees the camels coming.

Verse 64

[64] And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

She lighted off her camel, and took a vail and covered herself — In token of humility, modesty and subjection.