Isaac is born
v1 The *Lord had promised that he would visit Sarah. He did what he had promised to her. v2 So Sarah became *pregnant. A son was born to her for Abraham, when Abraham was old. This son was born at the time that God had promised. v3 Abraham called his son Isaac. Sarah was Isaac’s mother. v4 Abraham *circumcised Isaac when Isaac was 8 days old. God had *commanded him to do that. v5 Abraham was 100 years of age when his son Isaac was born for him. v6 Then Sarah said, ‘God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.’ v7 And she said, ‘Nobody would have said to Abraham, “Sarah will give her milk to a child.” But I am the mother of Abraham’s son in his old age.’
‘At the time that God had promised.’ (See Genesis 18:10.)
God had chosen the name ‘Isaac’. It means ‘he laughs’. (See Genesis 17:19.)
‘God had *commanded him.’ (See Genesis 17:10-12 and the comment.)
God had promised that Sarah would have a son. And Sarah did not believe what God said. She laughed because she did not believe. (See Genesis 18:12.) After Isaac’s birth, Sarah laughed again. But then she laughed because she was very happy.
Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away
v8 The baby grew. And Sarah began to give solid food to him. So Abraham called many people to come to a big meal on the day when Isaac ate solid food. v9 Sarah saw Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar the Egyptian. Ishmael was laughing at Isaac. v10 So Sarah said to Abraham, ‘Throw out this woman and her son. She is a slave. This slave-woman’s son shall not get any part of your wealth. That belongs to my son Isaac.’
v11 Sarah’s words about Abraham’s son made Abraham very unhappy. v12 But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be unhappy about the boy and about your slave-woman. Do what Sarah tells you to do. Isaac’s *descendants will be called your *descendants. v13 And I will also make a nation from your slave-woman’s son, because he is your son too.’
‘Ishmael was laughing at Isaac.’ Ishmael knew that he was Abraham’s oldest son. He thought that he, Ishmael, would have the right of the oldest son. He thought that he would get Abraham’s wealth after Abraham’s death. And so, he thought that he was more important than Isaac. He showed that by his behaviour.
God had made a promise to Abraham, when his name was still Abram. (See Genesis 15:4-5.) God promised that Abraham would have a son. By that son, Abraham would have very many *descendants. And that son would be Isaac. So God intended that Isaac should have the rights of the oldest son. Isaac was the son of his mother, Sarah, whom God had chosen as Abraham’s wife. But Ishmael was older than Isaac. His mother was Hagar. If Ishmael remained, he would have the rights of the oldest son. Therefore, God told Abraham to send away Ishmael and his mother, Hagar. But Ishmael did not become completely separate from Abraham. When Abraham died, Isaac and Ishmael together buried him. (See Genesis 25:9.)
v14 So Abraham got up early in the morning. He gave bread to Hagar. He gave to her a bag that was an animal’s skin. The bag contained water. He put these things on her shoulder and he sent her away with the child. She went away and she wandered in the desert near Beer-sheba.
v15 When they had drunk all the water, she put her son under a bush. v16 Then she went and she sat down a little distance away from him. She was about as far away as an arrow goes. She said, ‘Let me not see the child die.’ While she sat there, she cried loudly. v17 But God heard the boy’s voice. So God’s *angel called from heaven to Hagar. He said to her, ‘Do not be so sad, Hagar. Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy’s voice from the place where he is. v18 Stand up and make the boy stand up. Hold him firmly with your hand. I will make him into a great nation.’
v19 Then God showed to her what she had not seen before. She saw a well of water. So she went and filled the bag of skin with water. She gave a drink to the boy. v20 God was with the boy. He became a man and he lived in the desert. He became a skilful hunter with a bow and arrows. v21 He lived in the desert of Paran. His mother chose for him a wife, who had come from Egypt.
Abraham gave to Hagar and Ishmael all that they needed. They could have gone to another family as servants. But Hagar chose to wander in the desert. This desert was not yet called Beer-sheba. Abraham and Abimelech named it at a later time. (See verse 31.)
Ishmael was not a young child. He was about 17 years of age. The heat and the lack of water affected him more than they affected Hagar. So Hagar led him to a bush and he sat in the shade. But Abraham had taught Ishmael to know God. And Ishmael could still pray. Hagar cried loudly because of her trouble, but Ishmael prayed quietly. God heard Ishmael and he saved them both.
Abraham and Abimelech make an agreement
v22 Then Abimelech and Phicol, who was the chief of Abimelech’s army, spoke to Abraham. They said, ‘God is with you in everything that you do. v23 So make a firm promise to me here in God’s name. Promise that you will not deal unfairly with me. Promise that you will not deal unfairly with my family or with my *descendants. I have dealt loyally with you. Promise that you will deal loyally with me. Promise that you will deal loyally with this country. This is the country that you live in.’ v24 And Abraham said, ‘I make a firm promise.’
v25 But Abimelech’s servants had taken a well that belonged to Abraham. So Abraham complained to Abimelech. v26 Abimelech replied, ‘I do not know who did this. You did not tell me. Until today I had not heard about it.’ v27–30 So Abraham separated 7 young female sheep from the other sheep. Abimelech asked Abraham, ‘Why have you put these 7 young female sheep apart from the other sheep?’ So Abraham replied, ‘Take these 7 young female sheep from me. That will be a sign. And we will both know that I made this well.’ So Abraham gave to Abimelech 7 sheep. He also gave to him some cows. In this way, the two men made an agreement together.
v31 Abimelech and Abraham made firm promises to each other there. Therefore, they called the place Beer-sheba. v32 So they made an agreement at Beer-sheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol, who was the chief of Abimelech’s army, set out. They returned to the *Philistines’ country, which was their own country. v33 Abraham planted a tree in Beer-sheba. There he prayed to the *Lord. He is the God who does not change. v34 Abraham stayed in the *Philistines’ country for many days.
The number 7 was a sign of an agreement. That was a custom at that time. Abraham gave 7 sheep and Abimelech received 7 sheep. So they knew that they had made an agreement.
This agreement was very important. Abraham had many sheep and cows and other animals. The animals needed water. Until this time, Abraham did not own a well. By this agreement, Abraham owned the well that is called Beer-sheba.
‘Beer-sheba’ means ‘the well of 7’.
Abraham planted the tree to show his thanks to God. God had promised to give the whole country to Abraham and to his *descendants. (See Genesis 12:7.) And this well was the beginning of the things that God had promised.
God tests Abraham
v1 After these things, God tested Abraham. God said to him, ‘Abraham’. And Abraham replied, ‘I am here.’ v2 God said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love. Go to the region that is called Moriah. Kill Isaac there on a mountain. He will be an *offering. I shall show the mountain to you.’
v3 So Abraham got up early in the morning. He put a saddle on his *donkey. He took with him two young servants. He took also his son Isaac. He cut pieces of wood so that he could burn the *offering. Then he set out. He went to the place that God had mentioned.
This was an extremely hard test. God wanted to prove that Abraham trusted him completely.
‘Moriah’ was Jerusalem. We know that from 2 Chronicles 3:1. That verse tells us that, many years after this time, Solomon built a building for God. He built it on the hill called Moriah. And that building was at Jerusalem. People killed animals in that building as *offerings. And God told Abraham to kill Isaac at that same place.
Abraham probably expected that God would bring Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19 seems to mean this. But Abraham did not guess what God actually intended to do. If we serve God, we need to trust him completely. We expect that he will help us. But we may not guess what he actually intends to do. He may do something more wonderful than the thing that we expected.
v4 On the third day, Abraham looked and he saw the place a long way away. v5 Then he said to his young servants, ‘Stay here with the *donkey. I and the boy will go over there. We will praise God and we will return to you.’ v6 Abraham then took the wood for the fire. He put it on his son Isaac so that Isaac carried it. Abraham himself carried the fire and the knife. So they went together. v7 Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ Abraham replied, ‘I am here, my son.’ Isaac said, ‘Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb (young sheep) for the *offering?’ v8 Abraham replied, ‘God himself will provide a lamb for the *offering, my son.’ So they went on together.
Isaac was familiar with *offerings. God’s ancient people used to give animals to God as *offerings. Noah did that when the flood was over. (See Genesis 8:20.) Abraham did that at Mamre. (See Genesis 13:18.) So Isaac had seen Abraham kill a lamb (young sheep) as a gift to God. And he expected that Abraham would do the same thing again.
‘God himself will provide a lamb’. Abraham said this so that Isaac would not be afraid. He still did not know what would happen.
Abraham trusted God and Isaac trusted Abraham. And after this time, Isaac himself learned to trust God. Sometimes we are like that. An adult trusts God. A child has not yet learned to trust God. But the adult tells the child that God will provide for them. And the child believes the adult. As the child becomes older, he himself learns to trust God.
‘God himself will provide a lamb’. This had another meaning that Abraham did not know about. Many years later God provided the Lord Jesus as an *offering. (See John 1:29, 36.)
v9 They came to the place that God had mentioned. Abraham built an *altar there. He laid the wood on it. Then he bound his son Isaac. He laid Isaac on the wood that was on the *altar. v10 Abraham stretched out his hand and he took the knife. He was ready to kill his son. v11 But the *Lord’s *angel called from heaven. He said to him, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And Abraham answered, ‘I am here.’ v12 The *angel said, ‘Do not kill the boy and do not hurt him. Now I know that you respect God. You were ready to give to me your son, your only son.’
v13 Abraham looked up. He saw a male sheep that could not escape from a bush. Its *horns were in the bush’s thorns (sharp points). So Abraham went and he seized the sheep. He then burned it on the *altar. It was an *offering instead of his son. v14 So Abraham called the place ‘The *Lord will provide’. People still say today, ‘The *Lord will provide on his mountain.’
An *angel is a servant of God who brings messages from heaven. God wanted Abraham to stop immediately. So the *angel spoke Abraham’s name twice.
The sheep had horns. A horn is a hard point on an animal’s head. The bush held the sheep’s horns.
God tested Abraham. But God also did something for us. He taught us about Jesus Christ. And he did that very many years before Jesus came. This *offering helps us to know how Jesus saves us from God’s judgement.
This is how God teaches us about Jesus:
· God had said that Isaac should die.
God provided a sheep.
The sheep died instead of Isaac.
So God saved Isaac.
· God has said that we must die.
God provided his son Jesus.
Jesus died instead of us.
So God has saved us.
God has often used the deaths of sheep or cows to tell us about Jesus. Exodus 12:3-6 tells us about one example. Each family killed a young sheep. Because they did that, they did not die. The death of the young sheep was a picture of Jesus’ death. And John called Jesus ‘the young sheep that God provided’. (See John 1:29.)
v15 Then the *Lord’s *angel called again from heaven. v16 He said to Abraham, ‘The *Lord says, “By myself I have made a firm promise. You have done this thing. You were ready to give to me your son, your only son. v17 I will certainly make many good things come to you. I will make you have many *descendants. They shall be as many as the stars that are in the sky. They shall be as many as the sand that is by the sea. Your *descendants shall control their enemies’ gates. v18 By your *descendants I will make good things come. These good things shall come to all the nations that are on the earth. I will do this because you have obeyed me.” ’
v19 Then Abraham returned to his young servants. They set out and they went together to Beer-sheba. And Abraham stayed in Beer-sheba.
God used the words ‘by myself’ in this promise. These words meant that the promise was absolutely firm. God does not change and therefore the promise will not change. And these words meant that the promise was a very important one. God had not used these words before. He used them on only 3 other occasions in the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible). (For more explanation of this, see Hebrews 6:13-18.)
God said, ‘I will do this because you have obeyed me.’ Compare this with Genesis 15:6. ‘Then Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was *righteous.’ So Abraham believed God and Abraham obeyed God. Because Abraham believed God, God made him *righteous (right with God). Because Abraham obeyed God, God blessed him. It is like that for us. If we believe God, he makes us *righteous (right with God). But if we want him to bless us, we must also obey him. And if we obey him then he will also bless other people by us.
v20 After this, people said to Abraham, ‘Milcah has had children. Their father is your brother, Nahor. v21 Uz was born before the other brothers. Buz is his brother. After these was Kemuel, who became the father of Aram. v22 After him were Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.’ v23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. These were Milcah’s 8 sons. Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother, was their father. v24 His extra wife, whose name was Reumah, was the mother of Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.
Nahor and Milcah lived in the country that was called Mesopotamia. Abraham had lived there before he came to *Canaan.
This news told Abraham that he had many relatives in Mesopotamia. So Abraham waited until his son Isaac was old enough to marry. And then he sent his servant to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac. (See Genesis 24:4, 10.)
Abraham buys a field
v1 Sarah lived for 127 years. That was the number of years of her life. v2 Sarah died in Kiriath-arba in the country that is called *Canaan. Kiriath-arba is also called Hebron. Abraham went into her tent and he wept for her. He showed that he was very sad for her.
v3 Then Abraham finished weeping for his dead wife. And he said to the *Hittites, v4 ‘I am a stranger among you. I live here only for a time. Give me some of your land as a grave so that I may bury my dead wife properly.’ v5 The *Hittites answered Abraham, v6 ‘Listen to us, sir. You are a great prince among us. Bury your dead wife in the best grave that we have. None of us will refuse to give you his grave. We will let you bury your dead wife.’
v7 Abraham stood and he bent himself down in front of the *Hittites. They were the people who lived in that country. v8 Abraham said to them, ‘If you are willing, I will bury my dead properly. Then listen to me and make a request to Ephron, the son of Zohar. v9 Ask him to give to me the cave at Machpelah. He owns the cave, which is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me in front of you. Let him sell it for the right price. It will be mine and I will use it as a grave.’
v10 Now Ephron was present and he sat among the *Hittites. So Ephron the *Hittite answered Abraham and the *Hittites listened. All who entered at the city’s gate listened. Ephron said, v11 ‘No, sir, listen to me. I give the field to you. I give the cave that is in it to you. In front of all my people, I give it to you. Bury your dead wife.’ v12 Then Abraham bent himself down in front of the *Hittites. v13 He spoke to Ephron and all the people listened. Abraham said, ‘Please listen to me. I will pay the right price for the field. Take the money from me, so that I may bury my dead wife there.’ v14 Ephron answered Abraham, v15 ‘Sir, listen to me. The price of the field is 400 *shekels of silver. The price is not important to you or to me. Do bury your dead wife.’ v16 Abraham agreed with Ephron. He weighed the amount of silver that Ephron had said. The *Hittites had heard him say this. He gave the silver to Ephron, 400 *shekels of silver. He used the kind of *shekel that merchants use.
The *Hittites were the people who lived in that country. (See verse 7.) They already lived there before Abraham arrived.
People often sat at the city’s gate. They talked to each other there. Abraham was speaking to the *Hittites at the city’s gate. So anyone who came into the city could listen. Anyone could hear what they said.
Ephron said that he gave the field to Abraham. He said that Abraham should not pay for it. But Ephron and Abraham both knew that Abraham would pay.
Ephron said that the price was 400 *shekels of silver. That was a very big price. But Abraham paid it and he did not argue.
v17–18 So Abraham became the owner of the field that had belonged to Ephron. This field was in Machpelah, which was east of Mamre. Abraham became the owner of the cave that was in the field. He became the owner of all the trees that were in it. Abraham bought all this in front of the *Hittites. He bought it in front of all who entered the city’s gate. v19 After that, Abraham buried Sarah his wife. He buried her in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah. It is east of Mamre, which is also called Hebron. It is in the country that is called *Canaan. v20 The *Hittites gave the field legally to Abraham. They gave it to him legally with the cave that is in it. It became Abraham’s possession and he used it as a grave.
God had promised that Abraham and his *descendants would own the whole country. At this time, Abraham owned one field and one well. (See Genesis 21:33 and the comment.)
Abraham’s servant looks for a wife for Isaac
v1 Abraham was an old man. He had lived for many years. The *Lord had always been very kind to Abraham. v2 Abraham’s oldest servant managed everything that Abraham had. Abraham said to him, ‘Put your hand under my leg. v3 Make a firm promise to me. Make it by the *Lord who is the God of heaven and earth. Choose a wife for my son Isaac. Do not choose a daughter from the *Canaanites, among whom I live. v4 But go to my country and to my family. Choose there a wife for my son.’
The servant was probably Eliezer. (See Genesis 15:2.)
‘Put your hand under my leg.’ This was a sign of an important promise. (See Genesis 24:2.)
Abraham did not want his son Isaac to marry a foreign woman. He wanted Isaac to marry a relative. (See the comment on Genesis 38:2.)
When Abraham said ‘my country’, he meant west Mesopotamia. Abraham had lived there, in the city that was called Haran. (See Genesis 11:31.) Mesopotamia is the land that is between the river Tigris and the river Euphrates. Nowadays it is mostly in the countries Syria and Iraq.
v5 The servant replied, ‘Perhaps the woman will not agree to follow me to this country. Must I take your son back to the country that you came from?’ v6 Abraham said to him, ‘You must not take my son back there. v7 The *Lord, the God of heaven, took me from my father’s house. He took me from the country where I was born. He made a firm promise to me. He said, “I will give this country to your *descendants.” He will send his *angel in front of you. You shall choose a wife for my son there. v8 But if the woman does not agree to follow you, then you are free from this firm promise. You are free from the promise that you have made to me. But you must not take my son back there.’ v9 So the servant put his hand under the leg of his master Abraham. He made a firm promise that he would do these things.
‘This country’ was *Canaan. ‘The country that you came from’ was the west part of Mesopotamia. In verse 4, Abraham called it ‘my country’.
As in verse 5, ‘this country’ was *Canaan. God had made this promise on several occasions. (For the first occasion, see Genesis 12:7.)
‘He will send his *angel in front of you.’ Abraham did not mean that his servant would see an *angel. Abraham meant that God and his *angel would make the journey successful. And God would help the servant to choose his route so that he would arrive at the right place.
v10 So the servant took 10 camels. He took valuable gifts of many kinds. These things belonged to his master. And the servant set off and he went to Mesopotamia. He went to the city of Nahor. v11 He stopped by the well of water. The well was not in the city, but it was near it. He made the camels kneel. It was evening. At that time, the women go out of the city in order to fetch water.
He wanted to show that his master was wealthy. That is why he took so many camels. The valuable gifts were presents for the woman whom the servant chose. (See verse 53.) The camels carried the gifts and the camels were also presents.
For ‘Mesopotamia’, see the comment on verse 4. The length of the journey was about 700 kilometres (450 miles) and it would take about a month. Abraham’s servant had other men with him for the journey. (See verse 32.)
‘The city of Nahor’ probably means the city where Nahor had lived. Nahor was Abraham’s brother. (See verse 15.) It was probably the city that was called Haran. This is likely because Laban lived in this city. (See verse 29.) And later, Genesis tells us that Laban lived in Haran. (See Genesis 27:43.)
v12 The servant said, ‘*Lord, God of my master Abraham, I pray that you will give me success today. Show your love to my master Abraham. v13 I stand here by the well of water. The daughters of the men who live in this city come out. They come in order to get water. v14 I will say to one girl, “Please let down your pot into the well and give me a drink.” Perhaps she will say, “Drink. And I will give water to your camels too.” Let her be the woman whom you have chosen for your servant Isaac. In this way, I shall know that you have shown your love to my master.’
Abraham had said to his servant, ‘Choose a wife for my son Isaac.’ (See verse 3.) And he had said, ‘Go to my family.’ (See verse 4.) The servant did not know how to choose. And he did not know how to find Abraham’s relatives. He might have asked one of the city’s inhabitants, ‘Where do Nahor’s family live?’ But he knew that his task was important to God. And Abraham had said that God would guide him. (See verse 7 and comment.) So he prayed. And God answered the prayer while the servant was still speaking. (See verse 15.)
Abraham’s servant finds Rebekah
v15 While the servant was still speaking, Rebekah came out of the city. She carried her water pot on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was Milcah’s son. Milcah was the wife of Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother. v16 Rebekah was very beautiful. She had never had sex with a man. She went down to the well and she filled her pot. Then she came up.
v17 The servant ran to meet her. He said, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar so that I may drink.’ v18 She said, ‘Drink, sir.’ She quickly took down her pot into her hand and she gave him a drink. v19 After that she said, ‘I will give water to your camels too, until they have finished drinking.’ v20 So she quickly emptied her pot into the basin where the animals drank. She ran to the well and she filled the jar again. She fetched water until all his camels had enough. v21 The servant watched her silently. He wanted to know whether the *Lord had made his journey successful.
Events happened fast. Rebekah came while the servant was still praying. Both people ran. (See verses 17 and 20.) Rebekah worked quickly. (See verses 18 and 20.) God had prepared so that things happened immediately.
Rebekah gave a drink to Abraham’s servant. That was normal. But she also gave water to 10 camels. That was a big task because camels drink a lot of water. Rebekah lifted all the water from the well in her pot.
Rebekah had offered to give water to the camels. That was the answer to the servant’s prayer. (See verse 14.) So the servant believed that Rebekah was the right wife for Isaac. But he was not sure. Rebekah had not yet said that she was a relative of Abraham. Therefore the servant still waited to hear whether the *Lord had made his journey successful.
v22 The man waited until the camels had drunk enough water. Then he produced a gold ring, which weighed a half of a *shekel. He also produced 2 large gold rings, which weighed 10 *shekels. He put the large rings on her arms. v23 He said, ‘Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house where we may stay?’ v24 She replied, ‘I am Bethuel’s daughter. Bethuel is Nahor’s son and his mother is Milcah.’ v25 She added, ‘We have enough straw and enough food for the camels. We also have room where you may stay.’
v26 Abraham’s servant bent his head down and he gave honour to the *Lord. v27 He said, ‘Praise the *Lord, the God of my master Abraham. He still loves my master. He has continued to be kind to my master. And the *Lord has led me in the right way. He led me to the house of my master’s family.’
The rings were gifts to Rebekah as Isaac’s bride. But Rebekah probably did not realise that at the time.
Abraham’s servant said ‘we’. He meant himself and the men who were with him.
Rebekah might have said, ‘My father is Bethuel. You must ask him.’ But instead, she invited Abraham’s servant to stay at Bethuel’s house.
‘He gave honour to the *Lord.’ He had expected that he would have to search for Abraham’s relatives. And he did not know how to choose a wife for Isaac. But God answered his prayer immediately. So he thanked God aloud. Probably Rebekah heard what he said.
v28 Then the young woman ran to her mother’s house. She told everyone what had happened. v29–30 Rebekah had a brother, who was called Laban. Laban saw the ring. And he saw the large rings that were on his sister’s arms. He heard Rebekah his sister tell what the man had said to her. So he ran to the well. He found the man, who stood by the camels at the well.
v31 Laban said, ‘Come in. The *Lord has been kind to you. Do not stand outside. I have prepared the house and I have prepared a place for the camels.’ v32 So Abraham’s servant came into the house. Laban took the saddles off the camels. He gave straw and food to the camels. He gave water to Abraham’s servant so that he could wash his feet. He gave water also to the men who were with him. v33 Laban put food in front of Abraham’s servant so that he could eat. But Abraham’s servant said, ‘I will not eat now. I will tell you why I have come. After that, I will eat.’ And Laban said, ‘Speak.’
The house is called ‘her mother’s house’ and it is not called ‘Bethuel’s house’. Also, the following verses tell us that Laban, Rebekah’s brother, gave a welcome to the visitors. Bethuel did not do that, although Bethuel was the head of the family. Probably Bethuel was unable to do things. Perhaps he was old and perhaps he was very weak. So Laban did the things that the head of the family would usually do.
This welcome was more than the welcome that one would give to a stranger. Rebekah had heard the servant mention Abraham. (See verse 27.) Rebekah had told Laban. (See verses 29-30.) And so, Laban knew that the servant came from his relative, Abraham. Therefore, he gave a special welcome to the servant.
Abraham’s servant speaks
v34 So he said, ‘I am Abraham’s servant. v35 The *Lord has been very kind to my master so that he has become great. God has given to him many sheep and cows and silver and gold and servants and maids and camels and *donkeys. v36 And a son was born to Sarah, my master’s wife, when she was old. Abraham has given to his son everything that he has.’
v37–38 Abraham’s servant continued, ‘My master made me make a firm promise. He said, “Choose a wife for my son. Do not choose a daughter from the *Canaanites, among whom I live. But go to my father’s house and to my family. Take a wife there for my son.” v39 I said to my master, “Perhaps the woman will not agree to follow me.” v40 But Abraham said to me, “The *Lord, before whom I walk, will send his *angel with you. He will make your journey successful. You will choose a wife for my son from my own family. She will be one who lives in my father’s house. v41 When you do that, you will be free from your firm promise. When you reach my family, you will be free from your firm promise. If they do not give her to you, you will be free from your firm promise.” ’
v42 Abraham’s servant continued, ‘Today I came to the well. I said, “*Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please make my journey successful. v43–44 I stand here by the well. I will speak to a young woman who comes to fetch water. I will say: Please give me a little water from your pot to drink. Perhaps she will say: Drink and I will give water to your camels too. Let her be the woman whom the *Lord has chosen for my master’s son.” ’
v45 And Abraham’s servant continued, ‘While I was still praying in my mind, Rebekah came out. She carried her water pot on her shoulder. She went down to the well and she fetched water. I said to her, “Please give me a drink.” v46 At once she took down her pot from her shoulder. She said, “Drink. I will give water to your camels too.” So I drank and she gave water to the camels too. v47 Then I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” She said, “I am Bethuel’s daughter. Bethuel is Nahor’s son and his mother is Milcah.” So I put the ring on her nose and I put the large rings on her arms. v48 Then I bent my head down and I gave honour to the *Lord. I praised the *Lord, the God of my master Abraham. He led me in the right way. So I found the daughter of my master’s relative for his son. v49 Now tell me whether you will deal loyally and truly with my master. If you will not, tell me. In that case I will go to another place.’
Abraham’s servant told clearly all the good things that God had done. God made Abraham great and God made him rich. (See verse 35.) Abraham said that God would make the servant’s journey successful. (See verse 40.) God answered the servant’s prayer. (See verses 45-46.) And God brought the servant to his master’s relatives. (See verses 47-48.)
We should be like Abraham’s servant. We should be ready to tell people about all the good things that God has done.
v50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘The *Lord has done this. We cannot say any good thing or any bad thing to you. v51 See, Rebekah is here. Go and take her with you. Let her be the wife of your master’s son. The *Lord has said this.’
Laban and Bethuel realised that God was working. They could not decide that Rebekah should marry Abraham’s son. And they could not decide that she should not marry him. They could not make the decision, because God had already made it. God had already decided that she should marry him. The only thing that they could do was to agree.
Rebekah travels to meet Isaac
v52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words he bent himself down to the ground in front of the *Lord. v53 He produced valuable things of silver and gold. He produced clothes. He gave these things to Rebekah. He also gave valuable gifts to her brother and to her mother. v54 Then Abraham’s servant ate and drank. And those who were with him ate and drank. And they stayed there for the night.
He bent himself down to praise God. He thanked God because God had brought him to the right place. And God had made his journey successful.
When the morning came, they got up. Then Abraham’s servant said, ‘Send me back to my master.’ v55 Rebekah’s brother and her mother said, ‘Let the young woman stay here for a time. Let it be for 10 days or more. After that time she may go.’
v56 But Abraham’s servant said to them, ‘Do not make me delay. The *Lord has made my journey successful. Let me go and let me return to my master.’ v57 They said, ‘We will call the young woman and we will ask her.’ v58 So they called Rebekah. They said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, ‘I will go.’ v59 So they sent away Rebekah and her nurse. They sent away Abraham’s servant and those who were with him. v60 They asked God to be kind to Rebekah. They said to her, ‘Our sister, we pray that you will be the mother of many people. Be the mother of more people than anyone can count. We pray that your *descendants will control their enemies’ gates.’
v61 Then Rebekah and her maids set out and they rode on their camels. They followed Abraham’s servant. So the servant took Rebekah and he went on his journey.
They had already agreed that Rebekah would go. But they asked Rebekah whether she would go immediately. Rebekah’s answer meant that she wanted to go. And it meant that she did not want to delay for several days.
The nurse was called Deborah. (See Genesis 35:8.)
v62 Meanwhile, Isaac had left Beer-lahai-roi and he was in the Negeb. v63 Isaac went out into the field in the evening in order to think quietly. Then he looked. And he saw that some camels were coming. v64–65 When Rebekah saw Isaac, she got down from the camel. She said to the servant, ‘Who is the man who walks in the field over there? He is coming to meet us.’ The servant replied, ‘It is my master.’ So Rebekah covered herself with a cloth over her head. v66 The servant told Isaac everything that he had done. v67 Then Isaac took Rebekah into the tent. Isaac married her and he loved her. So Isaac had comfort after his mother’s death.
The Negeb is the southern part of the country that is called *Canaan.
Rebekah hid her face from Isaac because they were not yet married. That was the custom.
v1 Abraham married another wife, who was called Keturah. v2 She became the mother of Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. v3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim and Leummim. v4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. v5 Abraham gave everything that he had to Isaac. v6 However Abraham also gave gifts to the sons of his extra wives. And, while he was still alive, he sent them away from his son Isaac. He sent them towards the east country.
v7 The years of Abraham’s life were 175 years. v8 He died at a great age. He was an old man and he had lived for many years. So he went to be with his fathers. v9 Abraham’s sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave at Machpelah. The cave was in the field that had belonged to Ephron. Ephron was the son of Zohar, who was a *Hittite. The field was east of Mamre. v10 Abraham had bought that field from the *Hittites. They buried Abraham there. That was the place where Abraham had buried Sarah his wife. v11 After Abraham’s death, God was very kind to Isaac. Isaac was Abraham’s son. And Isaac lived at Beer-lahai-roi.
Isaac was the son that God had promised. Isaac owned everything that had belonged to Abraham. So Isaac must be Abraham’s only son who lived in *Canaan. Therefore, Abraham sent the other sons away. Before this, Abraham sent his son Ishmael away for the same reason. (See Genesis 21:14.) God had told him to do that.
‘He went to be with his fathers.’ A man’s body dies. But, if the man knows God, his spirit still lives. Abraham knew this. He knew that he would be with his fathers and with God. Jacob also knew this. (See Genesis 35:29.) And so did Joseph. (See Genesis 47:30.)
Abraham had sent Ishmael away with his mother Hagar. But Ishmael was not completely separate from Abraham. Ishmael heard that Abraham had died. And Ishmael came to bury him. (See the comment on Genesis 21:12.)
v12 These are Ishmael’s *descendants. Ishmael was Abraham’s son. Ishmael’s mother was Hagar, who had come from Egypt. Hagar was Sarah’s maid. v13–15 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons. The names are in the order of their sons’ births. Nebaioth was Ishmael’s oldest son. After him were Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. v16 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons. These are their names by villages and camps. They were 12 princes of 12 *tribes. v17 The years of Ishmael’s life were 137 years. He died and he went to be with his fathers. v18 Ishmael’s sons lived in the region between Havilah and Shur. It is opposite Egypt and it is towards Assyria. Ishmael lived near to all his family.
Isaac’s family is more important than Ishmael’s family. So Genesis tells us Ishmael’s family first. When it has done that, it tells us the more important family of Isaac.
v19 These are Isaac’s *descendants. Isaac was Abraham’s son. Abraham was Isaac’s father. v20 Isaac was 40 years of age when he married Rebekah. She was Bethuel’s daughter and she was Laban’s sister. Bethuel and Laban lived in Paddan-aram. They were Arameans (people from Aram).
v21 Isaac prayed to the *Lord about his wife because she had no child. The *Lord granted Isaac’s prayer and Rebekah became *pregnant. v22 The children fought against each other while they were in her. She said, ‘I do not understand why this is happening.’ So she went to the *Lord and inquired from him. v23 The *Lord said to her,
‘Two nations are in you.
Two groups of people are separating as they are born.
One shall be stronger than the other one.
The older one shall serve the younger one.’
Paddan-aram was the same as west Mesopotamia. (See the comment on Genesis 24:4.)
Rebekah did not know yet that she had two babies in her. But the two babies caused great trouble for her. They kicked and they moved strongly. So she prayed. She asked God what was happening.
‘Two nations are in you.’ God told Rebekah that she had two babies. Each baby was a son. Each son would grow and he would have many *descendants. The *descendants of each of her sons would become a nation.
‘Two groups of people are separating as they are born.’ The two boys were already fighting against each other. After their birth, they would be enemies. And their *descendants would fight against each other.
‘One shall be stronger than the other one.’ The older son, Esau, was the stronger one. But later, the *descendants of the younger son, Jacob, would be stronger. The next line says this.
‘The older one shall serve the younger one.’ This started to happen when Esau sold to Jacob the right of the oldest son. (See verse 33.) It became true almost 1000 years later, when the Edomites became king David’s servants. (See 2 Samuel 8:14.) ‘Edom’ was Esau’s other name. (See verse 30.) The Edomites were Esau’s *descendants.
v24 When the time for the birth came, there were two children in her. v25 The first one came out and he was red. All his body was like hairy clothes. So they called him Esau. v26 Afterwards his brother was born. His hand had gripped the back of Esau’s foot. So they called him Jacob. Isaac was 60 years of age when the boys were born.
‘He was red.’ This probably means that his hair was red. He had hair on all his body.
The name ‘Esau’ is not the same as the *Hebrew word for ‘hairy’. So we do not know why they called him Esau.
The back of the foot is called the ‘heel’. Jacob seized Esau’s heel. Jacob means ‘someone who follows another person’s heels’. That can mean ‘someone who takes the place of another person’. So it can mean ‘someone who cheats’.
Esau sells the right of the oldest son
v27 When the boys became men, Esau was a skilful hunter. He was usually outdoors. Jacob was a quiet man. He stayed in the tents. v28 Esau hunted wild animals and Isaac ate some of the meat. For this reason, Isaac loved Esau. But Rebekah loved Jacob.
v29 On a certain day, Jacob cooked meat in boiling water. Esau came in from outdoors and he was very hungry. v30 Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red meat. I am very hungry.’ Therefore, he was called Edom. v31 Jacob said, ‘Before you eat it you must give to me the right of the oldest son.’ v32 Esau said, ‘If I do not eat, I will die. I have the right of the oldest son. But that right is not useful to me if I am dead.’
‘Edom’ means ‘red’. Probably Esau was already called Edom because his hair was red. Perhaps this verse means, ‘He likes red meat. That is another reason to call him Edom.’
The right of the oldest son was very important. There were two reasons for this. The oldest son took most of his father’s possessions when his father died. That was one reason, but the other reason was more important. When the father died, the oldest son became the head of the family. But sometimes God chose another son instead of the oldest son. Here are some examples.
· When Abraham died, Isaac had the right of the oldest son. But Ishmael was older than Isaac. (See Genesis 21:12 and the comment.) However, Ishmael’s mother was Hagar, who was Abraham’s extra wife. So Ishmael was not a son of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.
· Jacob took Esau’s right of the oldest son. (See verse 33.) God made this happen.
· Manasseh was Joseph’s oldest son. But God told Jacob to bless Ephraim as if he was the oldest. (See Genesis 48:5, 13, 19.) Jacob was Joseph’s father and he was the grandfather of Ephraim and Manasseh.
· Reuben was Jacob’s oldest son. But God told Jacob to bless Judah as the oldest son instead of Reuben. (See Genesis 49:4, 8.) Judah was Jacob’s third son.
So God chooses the best person to do his work. That is not always the oldest person.
v33 Jacob said, ‘Make a firm promise to me before you eat.’ So Esau made a firm promise to Jacob. He sold to Jacob the right of the oldest son. v34 Then Jacob gave to Esau bread and meat and vegetables. Esau ate and drank. Then he stood up and he went away. So he did not think that the right of the oldest son was important.
The firm promise that Esau made was not enough. Their father Isaac had not agreed to it. And before Isaac died he must give his *blessing to his oldest son. But God was working out his plan. God had already said that the older son would serve the younger son. (See verse 23.) And before Isaac died he gave his *blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. (See Genesis 27:18-29.) He did that because Jacob cheated him. And Rebekah told Jacob what he should do. But this was part of God’s plan.
This verse, with verse 27, tells us about Esau’s character. He enjoyed hunting and he enjoyed eating. He did not think that his family was important. So it is not surprising that God did not choose him. But Jacob was not honest. He cheated his father Isaac and he cheated his uncle Laban. But God chose him and God made him an honest man.