Genesis 23; 1 Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4 “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
This week’s Torah portion is entitled Chayei Sarah, the Life of Sarah (or the lives of Sarah). Interestingly the text begins describing her death, eulogy and burial. Additionally interesting to note is that Avraham and Ishmael also are documented as dying in this portion. The book of Jasher describes this being the time period wherein Abimelech and Lot also pass on. The accounts of all the key and central people in the last century plus are gone now. When it comes to a woman so important, the Matriarch of a whole nation ( once called Sarai, “My Princess” later renamed by God Sarah, “Princess” showing that she would be a princess to ALL), there is very little text devoted to describing her life and legacy. Or is there? As my daughter and I studied this Sabbath we noticed there was a lingering sense of Sarah throughout the text. We realized that her legacy lived on in her family and their values. Thus, we find Avraham…coming to the end of his days, getting his affairs in order. His Sarah has passed and he is old, he seem’s to be the best most qualified candidate to go and seek out a wife for his son of promise, Isaac, but he instead sends Eleazar. Is it perhaps because he was physically unable to make such a journey? Perhaps it was protocol for a trusted emissary to perform such an important task. For this entry I’d like to go through what stood out to me this week in the portion. The qualities which imbued the household of Sarah and Avraham, which exuded into Eleazar and were paralleled in the future wife of Isaac as displayed in Rivka (Rebecca.)
Genesis 23; 17 So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over 18 to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.
Avraham goes to great lengths to purchase the burial grounds for Sarah, himself and later Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. He knew that it was important to perform an honorable burial and that it would be essential for the future generations to have a place to lay to rest their precious departed. We read in Genesis 23 of a detailed description of a dance so to speak, Ancient Near East protocol along with an augmented display of Avraham’s extensive humility and delicacy in diplomacy. Avraham was a prophet [ Genesis 20; 7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”] could it be possible he foresaw the importance of obtaining this parcel of the Holy Land and furthermore paying for it at an exorbitant price and ensuring he had the deed in hand to pass on to his future progeny? The sad state of affairs today is that even though we have documented proof of this purchase and rights, the Arab’s over the years have caused violence and chaos at the site where Jews formerly would go to pray and even be married. This is no longer permitted and women tourists who visit the site are often required to wear Muslim head wear as outlined in Sharia (oppressive Islamic law). At any rate, Avraham went above and beyond to ensure this site for his children and their children and we can learn a big lesson about taking extended measures to make things more comfortable for our mourners. For example savings that will allot for a proper burial and memorial, funds to cover our remaining debts and expenses for unforeseen tragedy. Part of a lasting legacy would include making sure you and your children (or any loved one you leave behind) have spoken about plans in the case of deaths, expected or unexpected and preparations after such deaths. A lasting legacy would include not just the physical preparations for such things, but the emotional and spiritual preparations as well. Avraham knows at this point Isaac has been through several MAJOR challenges. He is born into a household at angst in a way, due to the strife with Hagar and Ishmael. He is given perhaps the most lofty of choices at the Akeidah (binding of Isaac), to submit to God’s authority and trustworthiness and surrender to His will. He passes these tests of life with flying colors. Now he has lost his precious mother and Avraham knows his days are coming to a close as well, he want’s to ensure Isaac is comforted and that he has a family. He sends Eleazar off with a crucial mission.
Genesis 24;1 Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way. 2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh, 3 and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” 6 Then Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there!
Isaac is the promised son, born as a miracle of God, to a mother with a barren womb. He was pure and holy, set apart and we read very little about Isaac. He is born, he is circumcised and then later in life (near the age of 37) he is offered up as a sacrifice to the Lord. The Lord intervenes and this is the last we hear of him….until he comes to meet his bride. Yes this picture of Messiah is magnificent. His first coming as an offering and the second coming to retrieve his bride and start his kingdom. The sages explain that Isaac was the first real “Jew”, born in the Holy Land (he never left) and circumcised on the eighth day. It’s clear from the start that he is not meant to mix and mingle with the women of the land and that his father intended him to remain pure and incorruptible. He makes the elder of his household (whom is widely understood and taught to be Eleazar) swear and oath to him, the terms being that he will go seek out a wife for his son Isaac and that she be of his kin and NOT a Canaanite woman. Additionally, after a question posed by Eleazar, he states the importance that in the event of his death prior to this finding of a wife…Eleazar is not to allow Isaac to leave the Holy Land. This is interesting, would Eleazar be able to exert control over a grown man, technically his master if Avraham were to die? Whatever the case, the Torah makes it clear Isaac- Son of Promise is to remain set apart. IF the bride is not willing to accompany Eleazar, he is absolved of this oath.
Genesis 24; 7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
Avraham encourages Eleazar that the Lord will bless this mission. After all the troubled places and times Avraham and Sarah had found themselves, God was their sure source of strength and comfort with a predominant attribute of Shield and protector. Avraham had been rescued from the fiery furnace of the Chaldee’s, gone through famine, war, witnessing the obliteration of neighboring cities, dual abductions of his wife by Pagan kings, strife over land and wells and property, an estrangement from his nephew, the union with a foreign wife who bore his son Ishmael, the casting off of them both in order to maintain a Godly and working household, the test from the divine…to offer his only promised son as a sacrifice, the loss of his father and brother now wife. Through it all God had Avraham covered with truth, with hope, with encouragement, with promise, with protection and deliverance. God blessed Avraham exceedingly despite his human frailty and sins, because despite the fact that even the most devout human beings do falter at times Avraham listened, walked and believed. He trusted that God has it under control and he commanded his own household, established by the Lord, to be subservient in devotion,,,to Him and to His creation fashioned in His image. So now, we see there is no doubt in Avraham’s mind…the Lord will go with Eleazar and if He wills it, a wife for Isaac Eleazar will find…if not, then He would have another plan but come what may…the promise of sand and stars will come about. So Eleazar swears and oath and sets off on his mission.
Psalm 91; 11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.
Genesis 24; 10 Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. 11 He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.
I love the description of this huge caravan, how imposing it would have been, how impressive. The camels alone along with the servants who attended them would have been an grand sight, signaling a rich man in the background somewhere out there. These camels are laden with, as the Hebrew describes it, ALL the GOOD of his master Avraham.
H3605 kol (kole)- the whole; hence, all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
H2898 tuwb (toob) – good (as a noun), in the widest sense, especially goodness (superlative concretely, the best), beauty, gladness, welfare.
My daughter and I enjoyed discussing what that “whole goodness” really was. Yes we read of the gold, the jewelry, the camels and servants…but the real treasure is this promise. With Avraham’s name comes the divine promise of a legacy which will and continues to alter the world for all time. What is on the camels? A promise, a future, hope for all humanity. Similarly, when he returns to Avraham, Eleazar will be bearing much more wealth than he left with: the woman who would come to bring about the next generation…the continuation of the promise borne in Isaac. But I am getting ahead of myself….
Each year as we partake of the wonderful words of the Torah, sitting at the Sabbath table, learning at His feet, engrossing ourselves in the Word of the divine…we will take something new, poignant, breathtaking, interesting, intriguing, thought provoking, convicting…from the well which never runs dry. Each year as we change and grow certain things from the Scriptures will strike us in different ways. This year there were several things from Chayei Sarah which struck me. One was this scene. In my mind, I had always pictured this ‘watering hole’ as barren, deserted with only a few shepherds coming to water their flocks, howling wind and silence. The text itself describes a city which tells us there are more than a few people in the area, don’t forget about the men who were attending the ten camels and that the time at which Eleazar arrives is a point at which the women came out to draw water for their households. This is a relatively busy place. The reason I mention this is because there are several huge factors which expose God’s miraculous work in this whole account of Eleazar finding Rivkah I’d like to highlight. So, facetiously I’ll say “just so happens” to make the point: none of this is luck or chance…all of it is divine and ordained, miraculous. Amazing! It just so happens after this journey to Nahor, Eleazar arrives right at the time where the daughters of the area would be gathering at the well to draw water. He can have his pick and I believe this task is overwhelming, perhaps there were so many women at the place it prompts Eleazar to solicit the Lord for help in what is the most important thing he will do for his beloved master.
Genesis 24; 12 He said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”
If we read on in the Torah and study the commentaries we will uncover that this area, along with its residents, including Laban and his house, for the most part…were idolaters. When one looks at this factor one will realize that it would not be common, as it was with Avraham, to be hospitable and helpful to a stranger. Furthermore, Eleazar has several (the sages say ten, one for each camel) male attendants perfectly capable of drawing water for the camels themselves. We saw two things here, Eleazar prays that the identifying test for the woman he is seeking be one who is a) wiling to assist a stranger b) capable of a heart of compassion and service c) physically willing and able to exert the effort and strain it would require to fulfill such a task. Why would Eleazar make these qualifications be so very lofty? Our finite minds came to two suggestions, he was either ready to get himself absolved of the oath, or he wanted to be certain without the shadow of doubt God was pointing to the woman…no chance for speculation. Please note at this point Eleazar could be overwhelmed, unsure, really feeling the pressure…and a stops to appeal to and ask in prayer for God’s help and favor. Surely something he witnessed often bearing fruit in the house of Avraham.
Psalm 91;14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. 15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
Matthew 6;7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Genesis 24; 15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder.16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
So often we pray, we hope, we wait imagining it is we who are the one’s waiting on the Lord to answer. If He is the One who sees all, observing the entirety of time and space from the highest vantage…is it not He who waits for us. Waits patiently for us to wander and decide, to stumble through trial and error onto the path He has set out beforehand. I think it is a beautiful picture of our Creator who anxiously awaits for us to ‘ask the right thing’ that He may respond, for He always responds in His timing according to His righteous will. We see that God was so willing to answer Avraham, via Eleazar that before the supplication even leaves his mouth…God has responded as Rivkah approaches.
Genesis 24; 17 Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19 Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.
Eleazar sees her, he displays the characteristics we note in Avraham…running to get the job done, running to serve others, running to the task ahead. Why does Eleazar run to her? She hasn’t even fulfilled any of his requirements yet? Perhaps she is exceedingly beautiful, perhaps there is something about her that is engaging, perhaps the Lord is drawing him to her. We are told by the sages Rivkah is 3 at this time, the lessons behind this midrash are clear, Rivkah shows even at a very young age such admirable qualities that she certainly would only grow and flourish to extraordinary heights as she grew. The book of Yasher states that Rivkah was 10 at the time. It seems unlikely that there would be any reason to consider the union viable unless the ultimate and forefront purpose for the union was operative, i.e. that Rivkah would be capable of bearing children. Whatever the age difference, the heart of the matter is this quality that she possessed. She emerged from a pagan home with attributes of service and humility, dedication to a task and fortitude to carry it out to the end. Note the two things about Eleazar we recognize as coming from the general “way” of the household of Avraham and Sarai…prayer, and pursuit. When he needs help he calls on the One able to rescue, he runs to the task ahead come what may.
Genesis 24; 21 Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the Lord had made his journey successful or not.22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold, 23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 Again she said to him, “We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.”
Eleazar is amazed. “Gazing…”
H7583 sha’ah (shaw-aw’)- a primitive root (identical with H7582 through the idea of whirling to giddiness); to stun, i.e. (intransitively) be astonished.
H2790 charash (khaw-rash’)- to scratch, i.e. (by implication) to engrave, plough; hence (from the use of tools) to fabricate (of any material); figuratively, to devise (in a bad sense); hence (from the idea of secrecy) to be silent, to let alone; hence (by implication) to be deaf (as an accompaniment of dumbness).
The Lord has indicated that this will be the woman to fill his requirements indicating she is the wife God will have chosen for Isaac. Why does he give her the bracelets, technically he has not yet confirmed that she is not of a foreign tribe? Faith. Trust. Hope. He see’s God has already answered and furthermore he is astonished at the capabilities and disposition of this girl.
Lamentations 3; 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. 26 It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord.
Psalm 62; 5 My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Genesis 24; 26 Then the man bowed low and worshiped the Lord. 27 He said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the Lord has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.”
Once Rivkah announces that of all the women in the area, it just so happens that Eleazar has come upon a member of Avraham’s family, Kin, he stops everything to praise God. He knew he liked her quality and that God had answered in indication according to his previous prayer but now he had confirmation that she is an acceptable non-Canaanite wife. Again I think of the legacy of Sarah and Avraham. We see that ever since being called by God to Lech Lecha, to go out from his place of origin…to a destination unknown to him on a trek wrought with danger and instability… Avraham was stopping all along the way, to do what? To hearken to God, to honor God, to worship Him. [Genesis 12;7 So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him./ to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 13;4] Eleazar again activates the values instilled in him by the people and household from whence he had come. He finds success and immediately drops down and worships the Lord. How amazing it would be if we would do this very same thing in life. We all know God is gracious every day, that we say little prayers asking Him for help with the lofty and the mundane. Imagine if you’re at the grocer and in fact did have the proper change within your budget, there were great sales, got all kinds of goodness and you just drop down in the check out line and offer thanks and praise to God for arranging it thus? This is just an example, but think about it. This praise of Eleazar is so beautiful and we focused in on this element on Shabbat. Our lesson for the children this week was on finding a mate, we discussed attributes that we would like to “be” as a prospective mate and also that which we would be “looking for” in a future mate. Eleazar’s praise, “the Lord guided me in the way…” to find that mate is the beautiful affirmation that God will lead each one of us to the other half of our lives, the flesh of our flesh, our mate constructed and fashioned just for each one of us. We are always in prayer for our children to find these special mates, that they be God fearers and lovers of Yeshua. We pray for their parents to raise them in the way of the Lord and above all that God bring them together with ease and grace by His hand alone and that they never be turned away for another. We stressed the importance to our children that they too take the time to pray for this union, though it may be afar off now, and that God will answer these prayers.
Psam 32;8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Psalm 25; 4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.
Genesis 24; 28 Then the girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring.30 When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, “This is what the man said to me,” he went to the man; and behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring.
Enter Laban. Rivkah has gone with joy and wonder to tell her mother all that had happened at the well. We see Laban jumping into action, as timely as he could be and it is the glimmer of gold which is his fuel. He butts in to the situation as soon as there are riches involved. The Torah goes out of the way to note now the greed of Laban. Remember later in the Torah Laban runs outside with dollar signs in his eyes to another man at the spring…only this time it would be Yaacov (Jacob) and he will have nothing to offer. Laban doesn’t let that stop him from exploiting Jacob, degrading and taking advantage of him for over a decade.
Genesis 24;31 And he said, “Come in,blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?” 32 So the man entered the house. Then Laban unloaded the camels, and he gave straw and feed to the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.
This struck me as strange this week, why is Laban so helpful. We know he wants whatever hold he can grip on the treasure laden camels which came along with Eleazar and his proposition, but I just wondered…who is the “he” actually unloading the camels, feeding them and giving water for washing the feet. I submit that it may not have been Laban. He offers for them to come home with him sure, Rivkah had fetched the water so technically Laban didn’t do that either. Furthermore NASB put “Laban unloaded”, when no where in the Hebrew is Laban’s name found in verse 32. Why would Laban be enlisted (or permitted for that matter) to unload the camels when Eleazar had attendants? This is not some life changing revelation here, I just think that just maybe it could bolster some of the not so great attributes of Laban (that he didn’t really go too above and beyond to serve his guests) and strengthen our line of acknowledging Eleazar’s good attributes taken from the house of Sarah and Abraham. Eleazar had come a long way and surely was anxious to ‘seal this deal’ but he takes the time to make sure his attendants had water to wash with and that his masters camels are fed and comfortable before anything else.
Genesis 24; 33 But when food was set before him to eat, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my business.” And he said, “Speak on.” 34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. 36 Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him all that he has. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.’
Again, to his favor, Eleazar is strictly business. He has taken his oath to his master seriously and even if he had originally had any reason to doubt or slough off his responsibilities…there is no shadow of questioning now. His mission had been blessed, led and destined…clearly divinely ordained and he is certain he is serving a higher purpose in this matter. He thinks not upon his own needs or desires and get’s directly to the point with Rivkah’s relatives. He doesn’t stop to even take a quick bite, he refuses the food and relates to the household of Bethuel all that had happened from the promise to Avraham forward. In detail the Torah retells this miraculous story from Avraham to Sarah to Isaac once again…word for word, thus for the reader we are hearing these accounts for the second and parts third times. (When it was taking place, some parts repeated and now in the retelling by Eleazar.) When one thinks about it even deeper we can see that in fact we have heard this account from the beginning and it is a strand which connects us through to the expectation of the promised seed even today.
Genesis 24; 48 And I bowed low and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.”
So as Eleazar finishes his telling of this amazing story, he ends with something interesting. It seems to be the same language he was using when he had first enlisted God for help, lets go back :
Genesis 24;12 He said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”
H2617 checed (kheh’-sed)- from H2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety: rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subject.) beauty
H571 ‘emeth (eh’-meth) contracted from H539; stability; (figuratively) certainty, truth, trustworthiness.
In Genesis 24; 14 Eleazar asks God to show lovingkindness- Chessed to his master Avraham and allow him to KNOW, to let him know that He has appointed the woman who will pass the test. In Genesis 24; 48 he is now recounting this whole mission and the actions of Rivkah to her family members and now it seems as though the ‘ball is in their court’. Eleazar has done his job, God has pulled through and answered his prayers, Rebecca has proven herself to be a worthy mate and now all that is left is for the family to make a choice. It’s up to them now. God has readily exemplified His attribute of Chessed, their daughter has shown chessed, and now Eleazar asks Bethuel…will ‘you’ do the same thing, and he adds an element.: emet- truth. Will they be upright and honest dealing with trustworthiness in this matter? I’d like to submit a spiritual application here. God has shown us His goodness, He has set out before us all the qualities he would like to see in His bride…He has given us access to the promise and to union with Him, He’s done all that He has been asked to do…now it’s our move. Will we show lovingkindess and truth and behave as a bride readied and prepared to be compassionate and faithful?
Genesis 24; 50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.”
Two things here, one- Laban is speaking. His name is mentioned first which could denote he speaks before his father while his father, Bethuel, should be the one forefront. This could highlight the general disregard for honor in Laban. Two- what kind of an answer is this? To be quite honest they don’t sound too thrilled about this match. Why? They stand to have their daughter married into one of the wealthiest households in the area. Well known, noble. This union comes with a promise from God and was clearly ordained by Him. ALL of this entire episode is Tov, its Good! How can they respond, well…we can’t really argue, although we would if we could, since it came from the Lord. At least they acknowledge God but I think this shows a clear lack of the reverence, fear of the Lord, which…if they had this in respect to Him, they would be rejoicing and praising Him in thanksgiving, humbled at being chosen to be joined to such a future. I believe they recognize that there is a power at work here, they have the testimony of His servant and how miracle after miracle is present in this household. If they are likening the God of Creation to their understanding of pagan gods, typically having to be appeased in order not to strike…perhaps there is fear, but not the healthy fear which is a sort of awe that draws you closer to Him. Nevertheless they agree that Rivkah will go with the man.
Ecclesiastes 12;13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
Genesis 24; 52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord. 53 The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.
Again, Eleazar bows and praises the One in Whose hand this entire mission has been from before he even set out on the way. He showers the family with riches and interestingly it seems as though this makes them comfortable enough, haughty enough to begin to attempt to complicate things. Already we see a preview into the future dealings of Laban with Jacob, giving some information and withholding some…saying one thing and performing another. Laban is the master of unjust measure and unethical treatment.
Genesis 24; 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55 But her brother and her mother said, “Let the girl stay with us a days, say ten; afterward she may go.” 56 He said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.”
So we see Eleazar finally eats and drinks as they seal this agreement, and he rises early to get back to Avraham as soon as possible. Laban replies let her stay a day, or ten…[ can’t you just hear it already: “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” Genesis 29; 26-27] changing the terms of the agreement. Eleazar is not having it he is firm, yet he is very diplomatic much like his master Avraham and patient.
Genesis 24; 57 And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.”58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
This verse is so interesting to me. First off it shows the difference in the culture of Avraham’s kin in opposition to many of the other peoples in the regions in which they lived, where young girls were taken and abused…certainly not consulted about their own lives and wishes regarding marriage. We still see in Arab lands today, genital mutilation and rape, very young girls wed to much older men and then thrown away or even dying from injuries due to the trauma of intercourse. That was real then, sadly it is still real. Not so in this case, even if Rebecca was being married off to a much older man, they consult her. Will she go? Rebecca is given the same choice Avraham and Sarah had when God called them from an idolatrous home..to leave all they had known behind and follow Him and His promise out into the unknown…in faith, trust, hope in Him. This is the same call each and every believer will hear at some point in his walk. Will you go with this man? Will you leave the whole world and take His hand? Rivkah answers simply, concisely, and movingly…”I will go.” Unlike the hesitance of her family members she seems to have none. So may it be when our groom holds out his hand and beckons us… “follow me… ” let us respond “I will go!”
Matthew 16;24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Song of Solomon 4; 16 “Awake, O north wind, and come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits!”
This week we were struck with a terrible horrific slaughter. Nov. 18, 2014 in Jerusalem four Israeli Rabbi’s were killed and eight injured by two armed Palestinians from East Jerusalem. They entered the Torah Kehilat Yaakov synagogue in West Jerusalem with knives and meat cleavers, they began hacking the attending Jews who had come to study and pray before they opened fire. They were taken out before they could kill any more…by police, one of whom later died of injuries.He is pictured above with the Rabbi’s who were lost. Why do I mention this here?
Whether or not the world believes the Jews belong in the Land of Promise where their roots run deep and wide, whether or not the nations acknowledge they are the people of promise…whether or not people recognize that prophecy of the exile and regathering of Jews from the four corners of the globe to the Holy Land is happening before our eyes, whether the reality of the pure evil of this violence versus lovers of God going into a house of worship to Praise Him is clearly NOT side A versus side B…as if these peoples are on even ground, whatever man chooses to see or imagine…if man chooses to say, we can’t speak good or bad, none of it is of consequence because the treasure and the promise WILL BE REALIZED. The family of Avraham will be as sand and stars and because it is God Who gave His word that they will have the Land forever…it will be so.
May Israel be strengthened and comforted, may they and we all ensure that our affairs are in order…because we DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN TOMORROW. Like these departed devout men who could never have foreseen what came to pass, let us be found wrapped in a shelter of our willingness to walk where He asks us to go and be prepared…preparing our children for what may come. Most importantly, reminding them that they have a promise steadfast and sure…which no evil can diminish, eternal life and life from the dead.
May the Lord comfort all the family of Israel and all the strangers who love them and are devastated right alongside them.
James 4; 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Since we know not what will be let us go forth on the mission God has assigned to each one of us with enthusiasm and supplication just like Eleazar, putting out own desires and needs secondary to the summation of God’s intentions. Let us have our affairs in order like Avraham who wanted to leave behind security and happiness for his children, leaving them the true treasure…a Godly example and the tools and armor from His word, by the spirit in Yeshua’s love. Let us be willing to do the work, not being cognizant of who might be “seeing” us…only desiring the approval of our Master, putting forth the effort over and above the call of duty, faithfully following the promptings of the Lord without fear, with awe and with trust that He too wants to lead us to the promise fulfilled.
Psalm 78; 3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children,
May you be blessed!
Baruch atta ADONAI Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Blessed are You Lord our God King of the universe. You alone have planted among us Life Eternal. Blessed are You Gracious Giver of the Torah. B’Shem Yeshua HaMashiac, Amein.