New English Translation
The Wife for Isaac
24 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years,[a] and the Lord had blessed him[b] in everything. 2 Abraham said to his servant, the senior one[c] in his household who was in charge of everything he had, “Put your hand under my thigh[d] 3 so that I may make you solemnly promise[e] by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth: You must not acquire[f] a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living. 4 You must go instead to my country and to my relatives[g] to find[h] a wife for my son Isaac.”
6 “Be careful[k] never to take my son back there!” Abraham told him.[l] 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my relatives,[m] promised me with a solemn oath,[n] ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ He will send his angel[o] before you so that you may find[p] a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to come back with you,[q] you will be free[r] from this oath of mine. But you must not take my son back there!” 9 So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and gave his solemn promise he would carry out his wishes.[s]
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed with all kinds of gifts from his master at his disposal.[t] He journeyed[u] to the region of Aram Naharaim[v] and the city of Nahor. 11 He made the camels kneel down by the well[w] outside the city. It was evening,[x] the time when the women would go out to draw water. 12 He prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, guide me today.[y] Be faithful[z] to my master Abraham. 13 Here I am, standing by the spring,[aa] and the daughters of the people[ab] who live in the town are coming out to draw water. 14 I will say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jar so I may drink.’ May the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac reply, ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels water too.’[ac] In this way I will know that you have been faithful to my master.”[ad]
15 Before he had finished praying, there came Rebekah[ae] with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah (Milcah was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor).[af] 16 Now the young woman was very beautiful. She was a virgin; no man had ever been physically intimate with her.[ag] She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came back up. 17 Abraham’s servant[ah] ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a sip of water from your jug.” 18 “Drink, my lord,” she replied, and quickly lowering[ai] her jug to her hands, she gave him a drink. 19 When she had done so,[aj] she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have drunk as much as they want.” 20 She quickly emptied[ak] her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw more water until she had drawn enough for all his camels. 21 Silently the man watched her with interest to determine[al] if the Lord had made his journey successful[am] or not.
22 After the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka[an] and two gold wrist bracelets weighing ten shekels[ao] and gave them to her.[ap] 23 “Whose daughter are you?” he asked.[aq] “Tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praised be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his faithful love[au] for my master! The Lord has led me[av] to the house[aw] of my master’s relatives!”[ax]
28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household all about[ay] these things. 29 (Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban.)[az] Laban rushed out to meet the man at the spring. 30 When he saw the bracelets on his sister’s wrists and the nose ring[ba] and heard his sister Rebekah say,[bb] “This is what the man said to me,” he went out to meet the man. There he was, standing[bc] by the camels near the spring. 31 Laban said to him,[bd] “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord![be] Why are you standing out here when I have prepared[bf] the house and a place for the camels?”
32 So Abraham’s servant[bg] went to the house and unloaded[bh] the camels. Straw and feed were given[bi] to the camels, and water was provided so that he and the men who were with him could wash their feet.[bj] 33 When food was served,[bk] he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I want to say.”[bl] “Tell us,” Laban said.[bm]
34 “I am the servant of Abraham,” he began. 35 “The Lord has richly blessed my master and he has become very wealthy.[bn] The Lord[bo] has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to him[bp] when she was old,[bq] and my master[br] has given him everything he owns. 37 My master made me swear an oath. He said, ‘You must not acquire a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 38 but you must go to the family of my father and to my relatives to find[bs] a wife for my son.’ 39 But I said to my master, ‘What if the woman does not want to go[bt] with me?’[bu] 40 He answered, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked,[bv] will send his angel with you. He will make your journey a success and you will find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family. 41 You will be free from your oath[bw] if you go to my relatives and they will not give her to you. Then you will be free from your oath.’ 42 When I came to the spring today, I prayed, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you have decided to make my journey successful,[bx] may events unfold as follows:[by] 43 Here I am, standing by the spring.[bz] When[ca] the young woman goes out to draw water, I’ll say, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jug.” 44 Then she will reply to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too.” May that woman be the one whom the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’
45 “Before I finished praying in my heart,[cb] along came Rebekah[cc] with her water jug on her shoulder! She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46 She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels water too.’ So I drank, and she also gave the camels water. 47 Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘The daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to Nahor.’[cd] I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. 48 Then I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right path to find the granddaughter[ce] of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now, if you will show faithful love to my master, tell me. But if not, tell me as well, so that I may go on my way.”[cf]
50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “This is the Lord’s doing.[cg] Our wishes are of no concern.[ch] 51 Rebekah stands here before you. Take her and go so that she may become[ci] the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord has decided.”[cj]
52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then he[ck] brought out gold, silver jewelry, and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave valuable gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 After this, he and the men who were with him ate a meal and stayed there overnight.[cl]
When they got up in the morning, he said, “Let me leave now so I can return to my master.”[cm] 55 But Rebekah’s[cn] brother and her mother replied, “Let the girl stay with us a few more days, perhaps ten. Then she can go.” 56 But he said to them, “Don’t detain me—the Lord[co] has granted me success on my journey. Let me leave now so I may return[cp] to my master.” 57 Then they said, “We’ll call the girl and find out what she wants to do.”[cq] 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Do you want[cr] to go with this man?” She replied, “I want to go.”
59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, accompanied by her female attendant, with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 They blessed Rebekah with these words:[cs]
62 Now[cx] Isaac came from[cy] Beer Lahai Roi,[cz] for[da] he was living in the Negev.[db] 63 He[dc] went out to relax[dd] in the field in the early evening.[de] Then he looked up[df] and saw that[dg] there were camels approaching. 64 Rebekah looked up[dh] and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked[di] Abraham’s servant,[dj] “Who is that man walking in the field toward us?” “That is my master,” the servant replied.[dk] So she took her veil and covered herself.
66 The servant told Isaac everything that had happened. 67 Then Isaac brought Rebekah[dl] into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took her[dm] as his wife and loved her.[dn] So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.[do]
- Genesis 24:1 tn Heb “days.”
- Genesis 24:1 tn Heb “Abraham.” The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“he”) for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:2 tn The Hebrew term זָקֵן (zaqen) may refer to the servant who is oldest in age or senior in authority (or both).
- Genesis 24:2 sn Put your hand under my thigh. The taking of this oath had to do with the sanctity of the family and the continuation of the family line. See D. R. Freedman, “Put Your Hand Under My Thigh—the Patriarchal Oath,” BAR 2 (1976): 2-4, 42.
- Genesis 24:3 tn Following the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose.
- Genesis 24:3 tn Heb “because you must not take.”
- Genesis 24:4 tn Heb “for to my country and my relatives you must go.”
- Genesis 24:4 tn Heb “and take.”
- Genesis 24:5 tn Heb “to go after me.”
- Genesis 24:5 tn In the Hebrew text the construction is emphatic; the infinitive absolute precedes the imperfect. However, it is difficult to reflect this emphasis in an English translation.
- Genesis 24:6 tn Heb “guard yourself.”
- Genesis 24:6 tn The introductory clause “And Abraham said to him” has been moved to the end of the opening sentence of direct discourse in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:7 tn Or “the land of my birth.”
- Genesis 24:7 tn Heb “and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying.”
- Genesis 24:7 tn Or “his messenger.”
- Genesis 24:7 tn Heb “before you and you will take.”
- Genesis 24:8 tn Heb “ to go after you.”
- Genesis 24:8 sn You will be free. If the prospective bride was not willing to accompany the servant back to Canaan, the servant would be released from his oath to Abraham.
- Genesis 24:9 tn Heb “and he swore to him concerning this matter.”
- Genesis 24:10 tn Heb “and every good thing of his master was in his hand.” The disjunctive clause is circumstantial, explaining that he took all kinds of gifts to be used at his discretion.
- Genesis 24:10 tn Heb “and he arose and went.”
- Genesis 24:10 tn The words “the region of” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.sn Aram Naharaim means in Hebrew “Aram of the Two Rivers,” a region in northern Mesopotamia.
- Genesis 24:11 tn Heb “well of water.”
- Genesis 24:11 tn Heb “at the time of evening.”
- Genesis 24:12 tn Heb “make it happen before me today.” Although a number of English translations understand this as a request for success in the task (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV) it is more likely that the servant is requesting an omen or sign from God (v. 14).
- Genesis 24:12 tn Heb “act in loyal love with” or “show kindness to.”
- Genesis 24:13 tn Heb “the spring of water.”
- Genesis 24:13 tn Heb “the men.”
- Genesis 24:14 sn I will also give your camels water. It would be an enormous test for a young woman to water ten camels. The idea is that such a woman would not only be industrious but hospitable and generous.
- Genesis 24:14 tn Heb “And let the young woman to whom I say, ‘Lower your jar that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink and I will also give your camels water,’—her you have appointed for your servant, for Isaac, and by it I will know that you have acted in faithfulness with my master.”
- Genesis 24:15 tn Heb “Look, Rebekah was coming out!” Using the participle introduced with הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator dramatically transports the audience back into the event and invites them to see Rebekah through the servant’s eyes.
- Genesis 24:15 tn Heb “Look, Rebekah was coming out—[she] who was born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, the brother of Abraham—and her jug [was] on her shoulder.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:16 tn Heb “And the young woman was very good of appearance, a virgin, and a man had not known her.” The first two terms נַעֲרָה (naʿarah) and בְּתוּלָה (betulah) can refer to young girls, either unmarried or married; see Judges 9:3 and Joel 1:8, respectively, for examples of a married נַעֲרָה (naʿarah) and בְּתוּלָה (betulah). While the term בְּתוּלָה (betulah) does not have to mean “virgin” it can refer to a girl who is a virgin. Further, in legal literature it is used as a technical term for “virgin” (Exod 22:16-17; Deut 22:19, 23, 28). Akkadian behaves similarly in that the cognate term batultu, meaning an adolescent girl but not necessarily a “virgin,” is used to mean “virgin” in Neo-Assyrian laws and Neo-Babylonian marriage contracts (CAD B 173-174). This passage is not legal literature, so the meaning “virgin” is clarified by an additional clause. The expression “to know” is a euphemism for sexual relations, and the English euphemism “be intimate with” is close in meaning to the Hebrew. The Semitic languages may have lacked a term that specifically meant “virgin” and so promoted other terms to indicate a virgin, whether by the context of the type of literature (e.g. legal literature) or by the addition of explanatory clauses.
- Genesis 24:17 tn Heb “and the servant.” The word “Abraham’s” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:18 tn Heb “and she hurried and lowered.”
- Genesis 24:19 tn Heb “when she had finished giving him a drink.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:20 tn Heb “and she hurried and emptied.”
- Genesis 24:21 tn Heb “to know.”
- Genesis 24:21 tn The Hebrew term צָלָה (tsalah), meaning “to make successful” in the Hiphil verbal stem, is a key term in the story (see vv. 40, 42, 56).
- Genesis 24:22 sn A beka weighed about 5-6 grams (0.2 ounce).
- Genesis 24:22 sn A shekel weighed about 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce) although weights varied locally, so these bracelets weighed about 4 ounces (115 grams).
- Genesis 24:22 tn The words “and gave them to her” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied (cf. Gen 24:30).
- Genesis 24:23 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’” The order of the introductory clause has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:24 tn Heb “whom she bore to Nahor.” The referent (Milcah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:25 tn Heb “and she said, ‘We have plenty of both straw and feed.’” The order of the introductory clause has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:25 tn Heb The words “for you” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.
- Genesis 24:27 tn Heb “his faithfulness and his commitment.”
- Genesis 24:27 tn Heb “As for me—in the way the Lord led me.”
- Genesis 24:27 tn Here “house” is an adverbial accusative of termination.
- Genesis 24:27 tn Heb “brothers.”
- Genesis 24:28 tn Heb “according to.”
- Genesis 24:29 tn The parenthetical disjunctive clause introduces the audience to Laban, who will eventually play an important role in the unfolding story.
- Genesis 24:30 tn Heb “And it was when he saw the nose ring and the bracelets on the arms of his sister.” The word order is altered in the translation for the sake of clarity.
- Genesis 24:30 tn Heb “and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying.”
- Genesis 24:30 tn Heb “and look, he was standing.” The disjunctive clause with the participle following the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) invites the audience to view the scene through Laban’s eyes.
- Genesis 24:31 tn Heb “and he said.” The referent (Laban) has been specified and the words “to him” supplied in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:31 sn Laban’s obsession with wealth is apparent; to him it represents how one is blessed by the Lord. Already the author is laying the foundation for subsequent events in the narrative, where Laban’s greed becomes his dominant characteristic.
- Genesis 24:31 tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial.
- Genesis 24:32 tn Heb “the man”; the referent (Abraham’s servant) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:32 tn Some translations (e.g., NEB, NASB, NRSV) understand Laban to be the subject of this and the following verbs or take the subject of this and the following verbs as indefinite (referring to an unnamed servant; e.g., NAB, NIV).
- Genesis 24:32 tn Heb “and [one] gave.” The verb without an expressed subject may be translated as passive.
- Genesis 24:32 tn Heb “and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.”
- Genesis 24:33 tn Heb “and food was placed before him.”
- Genesis 24:33 tn Heb “my words.”
- Genesis 24:33 tc Some ancient textual witnesses have a plural verb, “and they said.”tn Heb “and he said, ‘Speak.’” The referent (Laban) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:35 tn Heb “become great.” In this context the statement refers primarily to Abraham’s material wealth, although reputation and influence are not excluded.
- Genesis 24:35 tn Heb “and he.” The referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:36 tn Heb “to my master.” This has been replaced by the pronoun “him” in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:36 tn Heb “after her old age.”
- Genesis 24:36 tn Heb “and he.” The referent (the servant’s master, Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:38 tn Heb “but to the house of my father you must go and to my family and you must take a wife for my son.”
- Genesis 24:39 tn The imperfect is used here in a modal sense to indicate desire.
- Genesis 24:39 tn Heb “after me.”
- Genesis 24:40 tn The verb is the Hitpael of הָלַךְ (halakh), meaning “live one’s life” (see Gen 17:1). The statement may simply refer to serving the Lord or it may have a more positive moral connotation (“serve faithfully”).
- Genesis 24:41 tn Heb “my oath” (twice in this verse). From the Hebrew perspective the oath belonged to the person to whom it was sworn (Abraham), although in contemporary English an oath is typically viewed as belonging to the person who swears it (the servant).
- Genesis 24:42 tn Heb “if you are making successful my way on which I am going.”
- Genesis 24:42 tn The words “may events unfold as follows” are supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:43 tn Heb “the spring of water.”
- Genesis 24:43 tn Heb “and it will be.”
- Genesis 24:45 tn Heb “As for me, before I finished speaking to my heart.” The adverb טֶרֶם (terem) indicates the verb is a preterite; the infinitive that follows is the direct object.
- Genesis 24:45 tn Heb “Look, Rebekah was coming out.” As in 24:15, the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) is used here for dramatic effect.
- Genesis 24:47 tn Heb “whom Milcah bore to him.” The referent (Nahor) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:48 tn Heb “daughter.” Rebekah was actually the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. One can either translate the Hebrew term בַּת (bat) as “daughter,” in which case the term אָח (ʾakh) must be translated more generally as “relative” rather than “brother” (cf. NASB, NRSV) or one can translate בַּת as “granddaughter,” in which case אָח may be translated “brother” (cf. NIV).
- Genesis 24:49 tn Heb “and I will turn to the right or to the left.” The expression apparently means that Abraham’s servant will know where he should go if there is no further business here.
- Genesis 24:50 tn Heb “From the Lord the matter has gone out.”
- Genesis 24:50 tn Heb “We are not able to speak to you bad or good.” This means that Laban and Bethuel could not say one way or the other what they wanted, for they viewed it as God’s will.
- Genesis 24:51 tn Following the imperatives, the jussive with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose or result.
- Genesis 24:51 tn Heb “as the Lord has spoken.”
- Genesis 24:53 tn Heb “the servant”; the noun has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:54 tn Heb “And they ate and drank, he and the men who [were] with him and they spent the night.”
- Genesis 24:54 tn Heb “Send me away to my master.”
- Genesis 24:55 tn Heb “her”; the referent (Rebekah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:56 tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial, indicating a reason for the preceding request.
- Genesis 24:56 tn After the preceding imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction indicates purpose or result.
- Genesis 24:57 tn Heb “and we will ask her mouth.”
- Genesis 24:58 tn The imperfect verbal form here has a modal nuance, expressing desire.
- Genesis 24:60 tn Heb “and said to her.”
- Genesis 24:60 tn Heb “become thousands of ten thousands.”sn May you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands. The blessing expresses their prayer that she produce children and start a family line that will greatly increase (cf. Gen 17:16).
- Genesis 24:60 tn Heb “gate,” which here stands for a walled city. In an ancient Near Eastern city the gate complex was the main area of defense (hence the translation “stronghold”). A similar phrase occurs in Gen 22:17.
- Genesis 24:61 tn Heb “And she arose, Rebekah and her female servants, and they rode upon camels and went after.”
- Genesis 24:61 tn Heb “the servant”; the word “Abraham’s” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:62 tn The disjunctive clause switches the audience’s attention to Isaac and signals a new episode in the story.
- Genesis 24:62 tn Heb “from the way of.”
- Genesis 24:62 sn The Hebrew name Beer Lahai Roi (בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי, beʾer lakhay roʾi) means “The well of the Living One who sees me.” See Gen 16:14.
- Genesis 24:62 tn This disjunctive clause is explanatory.
- Genesis 24:62 tn Or “the South [country].”sn Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.
- Genesis 24:63 tn Heb “Isaac”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:63 tn The meaning of this Hebrew term is uncertain (cf. NASB, NIV “to meditate”; NRSV “to walk”).
- Genesis 24:63 tn Heb “at the turning of the evening.”
- Genesis 24:63 tn Heb “And he lifted up his eyes.” This idiom emphasizes the careful look Isaac had at the approaching caravan.
- Genesis 24:63 tn Heb “and look.” The clause introduced by the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) invites the audience to view the scene through Isaac’s eyes.
- Genesis 24:64 tn Heb “lifted up her eyes.”
- Genesis 24:65 tn Heb “and she said to.”
- Genesis 24:65 tn Heb “the servant.” The word “Abraham’s” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:65 tn Heb “and the servant said.” The order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:67 tn Heb “her”; the referent has been specified here in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 24:67 tn Heb “Rebekah”; here the proper name was replaced by the pronoun (“her”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 24:67 tn Heb “and he took Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her.”
- Genesis 24:67 tn Heb “after his mother.” This must refer to Sarah’s death.