The Spirit of Rebekah – Genesis 23
“10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim[b] and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.
12 Then he prayed, “LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka[c] and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.[d] 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”
26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27 saying, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.” Genesis 23:10-26 NIV
Eliezer is not an often mentioned bible character, but he was the Tom Cruise of the Old Testament. He had to undergo a Mission Impossible! As Abraham is getting older and realizes that his son Isaac needs a wife, he calls on Eliezer for some help. Abraham gives Eliezer a job to travel to Abraham’s homeland with a large caravan of camels carrying a load of valuable gifts, find a young woman (not just any young woman mind you, but one of Abraham’s family), convince her to leave her home, family, and friends in order to travel a great distance (David Guzik’s commentary suggests that from Canaan to Nahor was 435 miles and an approximate 17 day camel journey – one way), to marry a man she had never seen or met!
Eliezer makes his 17 mile trek to Nahor and begins to pray to find a wife for Isaac. While I’m sure he prayed at other times it is interesting to see what Eliezer prays for when he is looking for a wife for Isaac. “LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” Eliezer is very specific in his prayer. It is also worth noticing what he does NOT pray for. He doesn’t care for nor does he pray about what the woman will look like. Instead he prays that she be a woman of character! According to the custom of that day, if a drink of water was asked for Middle Eastern hospitality would certainly give a drink to the one asking, but not to their camels! After all, a thirsty camel would drink anywhere from 20-30 gallons of water, and they didn’t have faucets! Getting water for the camels was hard work and would be going above and beyond the expectations that anyone had.
As Eliezer is finishing his prayer, Rebekah approaches the well. Eliezer asks her for a drink and she gladly gives him a drink. Not only that, she offers to give a drink for his camels as well in verse 19. “I’ll draw water for your camels too.” In verse 21, Eliezer watches her in silence. The passage says, “21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.” It seems like Eliezer knew that for some people, it is easy to talk than to serve. He watched to see if Rebekah had a relentless servant’s heart rather than only a relentless servant’s talk. Since a thirsty camel will drink between 20-30 gallons of water, her giving water to Eliezer’s camels would take about 2 hours to do.
This is a very challenging message from the life of Rebekah. I would be willing to give someone a drink of water. I may even be willing occasionally to pay for someone to get something to eat. But would I really stop for 2 hours and give my time to a complete stranger? That is what Rebekah did. She was a woman with a relentless servant heart who went above and beyond and did far more than what was asked of her.
When Rebekah married Isaac, she entered into the lineage of the Messiah. What brought Rebekah into Jesus lineage was her willingness to be faithful beyond what was required of her. She had a relentless heart to serve.
Here’s the challenge from this passage. Imagine how different things would be if Christians had the resolve of Rebekah and a relentless heart to serve and go above and beyond at our jobs, at school, or at home? I think our bosses, teachers, co workers, friends, and family would want to know the God we serve to find out what makes us behave the way we do. They would not come not to hear the preacher, or the cool music. They would come because they seen people who gave relentless care, relentless compassion, and who are dedicated and relentless in serving their God.
How different would my marriage be if I brought in the heart and spirit of Rebekah to make the extra effort to serve? How different would things be at my job and at my church if I had a relentless heart to serve like Rebekah?
Lord Jesus I pray that You increase the heart of Rebekah in me and grant me the energy to be a person with a relentless heart to serve as she did. Amen.