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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 9: Finding a wife for Isaac

(Genesis 23-24)

Sarah dies

23 1-2 Sarah died when she was 127 years old. 19 Abraham buried her in a cave.

Abraham makes his servant swear (that he won't let Isaac marry a Canaanite)

24 1 When Abraham was old, he said to his oldest servant,

2-3 Put your hand under my thigh and swear to God that you'll not allow my son to marry a Canaanite.

4 Go to the country where my family lives and find a wife for Isaac.

5 The servant said,

What if the woman isn't willing to come back with me? Should I bring Isaac with me?

6 Abraham said,

No, don't bring Isaac with you. 7 God will send an angel to help find a wife for him. 8 If the woman still won't come back with you, I release you from your vow.

9 So the servant put his hand under Abraham's thigh and swore.

Put your hand under my thigh and swear

The servant finds a wife for Isaac - Rebekah

10 Abraham's servant took ten camels and departed for the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia.

11 When he arrived, he went to the well where the women came to get water.

12-14 And he prayed, saying,

God, I'm standing here where the women come to get water.

Help me find a wife for my master's son by using these words when a woman comes to get water.

I'll say to her, "Let me have a drink of water, please."

Then she'll say, "Here, have a drink. And here's some water for your camels."

Let that woman be the one I should bring back to my master's son.

15 While he was still talking to God, Rebekah came by.

16 She was a good-looking virgin, and she went to the well to fill her pitcher.

17 Abraham's servant ran to her and said, "Let me have a drink of water, please."

18 And Rebekah said, "Sure. Have a drink. And here's some water for your camels."

22-23 The servant gave her a gold earring, two gold bracelets, and said to her,

Who is your father? And is there room for me to stay in his house?

24 She said, "My father is Bethuel. And there's room for you to stay with us."

58 When Abraham's servant arrived at Rebekah's house, Rebekah's brother and father asked her,

Do you want to marry the son of this man's master?"

59 Rebekah said, "Yes."

60 They blessed her and said, "Have thousands of millions of babies."

67 So they returned to Canaan. When they arrived, Isaac took Rebekah into his mother's tent and she became his wife.

Isaac took Rebekah into his mother's tent

A few more words about this episode

Correction: At about 6:00 in the podcast, we say Isaac was 27 when he married Rebekah. But actually he would have been at least 37, since Sarah was 90 when he was born and she died when she was 127. The next chapter clarifies all of this, saying: "Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife." So I guess he must have married Rebekah three years after his mother died.

Sarah died when she was 127 years old (23:1-2)
Sarah lived longer than any other woman in the Bible: 127 years.

She is also the only woman in the Bible whose age is given at the time of her death.

How long is the human life span?

Put your hand under my thigh (24:2)
"Putting his hand under his thigh" is a euphemism for "holding his genitals in his hand."

I guess it's sort of like swearing on the Bible.

She was a good-looking virgin (24:16)
WooHoo! A good-looking virgin! I wonder how he knew she was a virgin? Did he perform an examination?
My father is Bethuel (24:24
Bethuel was the son of Abraham's brother Nahor (22:20-23). So Rebekah was Abraham's great-niece.
Do you want to marry the son of this man's master? (24:58)
This may be the only time a woman was asked her consent to marriage in the Bible. If there's another biblical woman who did so, I'd like to know about it.
Isaac took Rebekah into his tent and she became his wife (24:67)
No marriage ceremony was performed, no vows were exchanged
What the Bible says about marriage.