Summary: God sovereignly provides a Jewish wife for Isaac.
We left off in our study of Genesis last week with Abraham buying a field in the Promised Land for a place to bury his wife Sarah. Chapters 24 and 25 are the last two chapters in Genesis on Abraham’s life. This week we’ll see how he got a wife for his son Isaac, and then next week we’ll read about his death and burial and the focus will change to Isaac and his sons. Chapter 24 is the longest in Genesis with 67 verses, and I admit I was tempted to break it in half, but the story is all one story, so I’ll preach it in one sitting.
The overwhelming theme of the story so far has been God’s provision and the fulfillment of His promise. We’ve seen his hand at work in Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham. Most recently we saw how God provided a ram to die in the place of Isaac as a burnt offering which prompted Abraham to name the place Jehovahjireh—“in the mountain of the Lord it shall be seen.” Well, today’s story builds on that theme. Abraham’s son has no wife. He doesn’t want Isaac to marry one of the Canaanite women, so he sends his servant back to Mesopotamia to find a woman from their own family. Let’s read it together:
And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
Well, that’s just what God had promised, wasn’t it? Back in Genesis 12 God promised Abraham that He would bless him and make his name great. Now here he is 140 years old (21:5; 25:20), and he’s considered a mighty prince among the people of the land (23:6).
2And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had,
Back in 15:2, the eldest servant of his house was a man named Eliezer of Damascus. If he’s still alive, then this man is likely him. Anyway, Abraham calls him in and says,
Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
There’s a little debate over what this means exactly and you can research it for yourself, but the point is that it was a way for this servant to show that he would keep his word and obey. Put your hand under my thigh,
3And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
He knew that the Canaanites wouldn’t be in the land long, and they’re known for their wickedness and immorality, so he wants Isaac to marry a woman from their own clan.
5And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
“What if she won’t come back with me unless she meets Isaac? Should I take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?”
6And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7The 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. 8And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
“Do not take Isaac from here.” This is the land where they belong, and Abraham knows it. He left once to go to Egypt because of a famine, but he’s learned that God will take care of everything. There’s no reason to leave, and there’s no reason to worry—He’ll send His angel before thee! Even if she isn’t willing to come back, there’s no reason to leave the land. In the mountain of the Lord it shall be seen.
9And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter. 10And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. 11And 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.
So he makes this long journey from Canaan to Mesopotamia, and when he gets to the city he leads the camels to sit beside a well and wait for the women who’ll be out shortly to get water for their families.