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Genesis 22-24 Listen
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
The KJV says in verse 1, "...God did tempt Abraham." The Hebrew word there (naw-saw´) means "to test or prove." Here's the test; God talks to Abraham in verse 2, "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." What a horrifying thought! We're told in verse 1 that this is a test. It may seem strange that Abraham seems to take it all in stride. Actually, at closer analysis, it's not strange at all; Abraham had already had several conversations with God.
Let's review the other conversations God had with Abraham:
Number 7 in this list is the crucial one. At the time of the incident, Isaac wasn't married and was, likewise, childless. So, here's the point, Abraham had several conversations with God, and it was said of Abraham in Genesis 15:6 (see notes), "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Abraham knew that everything he had was as a result of God's blessings. But here's the deal clincher: God had indeed promised that Abraham's seed would prosper and result in many nations through Isaac. Therefore, Abraham's history with God was such that he was positive that whatever happened on Mount Moriah, his yet-childless son Isaac would somehow survive to bear children. God had promised so. What did he expect would happen on that mountain? Here's what Hebrews 11:17-19 (see notes) says regarding Abraham's expectations:
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
Here's what he did know: God is not a liar; Isaac would somehow come down off that mountain to bear the offspring that God had definitely promised in Genesis 21:12 (see notes). You will notice from verse 4 that they rode into the wilderness a considerable distance - three days' journey. That's a lot of time to think about what you have been commanded to do by God. Indeed, just as Abraham is about to slay his son, God stops him and supplies a ram in the thicket for the sacrifice. A relieved Abraham gives this spot on Mount Moriah a nickname, "Jehovahjireh." That means "the LORD will see to it" or "the LORD will provide."
You must really admire Isaac's faith. God had talked to Abraham, not Isaac. I can imagine Isaac asking Abraham, "Now...go over this whole thing again, Dad." Nevertheless, he was obedient as we see in verse 9 in allowing himself to be bound for sacrifice by his father. In verses 15-19 we see the reiteration of the "seed" promises once again from God to Abraham. Incidentally, the Muslim Koran incorrectly states that this incident happened with Ishmael, not Isaac. Click here for details.
At the conclusion of this test of Abraham's commitment to God, this promise is reinforced to Abraham by God:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:17-18)
There are two different aspects to God's promise to Abraham, physical and spiritual. Physically, Abraham is the father of the Jewish nation. However, Paul makes the point that God's promise to Abraham also prophesied the spiritual seed of Abraham through salvation in Jesus Christ in Galatians 3:15-29 (see notes). Actually, there were a number of provisions promised to Abraham up to this point; for a complete overview regarding the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant, click here.
Here's our first mention of Rebekah. (Genesis 22:20-24)
20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;
21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,
22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.
23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.
Abraham gets some slow-breaking news from back home (Haran in Mesopotamia) about some births. (See map on Abraham's journeys) The significance of this list? Isaac's future wife, Rebekah, Abraham's brother's granddaughter - she's in that list. We can't have the father of many nations marrying one of the locals...now can we?
1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,
4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.
10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,
11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.
13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,
15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure
18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.
While living in Hebron, Sarah dies at the ripe old age of 127. Abraham goes to the Hittites to buy a piece of land in which to bury Sarah. The generous Hittite (aka "the children of Heth") owner wants to give the piece of land, but Abraham insists that he must purchase it for the full price. The field, and particularly the cave at the end of it, became an important burial site for the patriarchs and their wives. According to Genesis 49:30-32 (see notes), this is not only where Sarah and Abraham were buried but also Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob (Genesis 50:13, see notes).
You may find it interesting that the Hittites are specifically named as people that must leave after the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 33:2, see notes; Exodus 34:11, see notes; Deuteronomy 7:1, see notes; Deuteronomy 20:17, see notes; Joshua 1:4, see notes; Joshua 3:10, see notes). No, I don't have a point - just thought it was interesting. These Hittites were descendants of Canaan (Genesis 10:18, see notes), Noah's grandson through his son Ham. Incidentally, Hebron is approximately 18 miles southwest of Jerusalem. It is today one of the most ancient cities of the world.
One more interesting tidbit about Hebron is worth mentioning. David began his tenure as king there in II Samuel 2:1-3 (see notes), where he remained for the first 7 1/2 years of his reign.
1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.
8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.
11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.
12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.
13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:
14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.
15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.
16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.
17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.
22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;
23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?
24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.
25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.
26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.
27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.
29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.
30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.
31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.
32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men’s feet that were with him.
33 And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.
34 And he said, I am Abraham’s servant.
35 And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.
36 And Sarah my master’s wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath.
37 And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell:
38 But thou shalt go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.
39 And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.
40 And he said unto me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house:
41 Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath.
42 And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go:
43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;
44 And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out for my master’s son.
45 And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.
46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.
47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.
48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son.
49 And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.
50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.
51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the LORD hath spoken.
52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.
53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.
54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master.
55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.
56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.
57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.
58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.
59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.
60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.
61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.
63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.
66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Isaac is nearing 40, and his mother has already passed away. Abraham perceives that Isaac needs some comfort (verse 67). How about a wife? But not one of these local Canaanite women - he needs a wife from back home...from among kinfolk. Abraham is very adamant about that issue in verse 3 when he instructs his servant, "...thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell." That's likely due to Abraham's recall of the Canaan curse of Genesis 9:25-27 (see notes), "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem [Abraham's ancestors]; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." Later on, under Moses' leadership, God commanded the Israelites not to marry or even enter into covenants with these Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7:1-4 (see notes). So, when God made a "seed" covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 (see notes), with a further expansion of that covenant in Genesis 15:1-6 (see notes) and Genesis 17 (see notes), it is apparent that Abraham understood the stipulations to be that he not mingle his "seed" with that of the local Canaanites. Therefore, only a wife for Isaac from Haran will do.
Abraham gets the servant to take an oath regarding the choosing of a wife for his son. This mysterious hand-under-the-thigh oath is only seen here (verse 9) and Genesis 47:29 (see notes). Okay, but why can't Isaac go and pick out his own wife? I mean, what if Abraham's servant comes back with a...well...homely woman. I'm guessing Isaac gave him some pretty detailed instructions before the servant left. The servant even suggests that maybe Isaac should go along, but Abraham is very adamant that Isaac must stay where God has promised the land (Canaan) to his offspring. It would appear that Abraham's fear was that his relatives would prevail upon Isaac to stay up there with them and not return to the land. So, the servant takes off on the 450 mile trip back up to Abraham's relatives in Haran, Mesopotamia (see map) to find Isaac a wife from among Abraham's relatives. While calling upon God for assistance, the servant devises a find-a-pretty-woman strategy (verses 12-14) and immediately things fall into place. Miraculously, Rebekah shows up at the well and seems to be immediately impressed with the camelcade she sees (like a motorcade, but stinkier). What a find! The first female to show up at the well just happens to be Isaac's second cousin (Abrahams grandniece). But there's that test the servant had devised in verse 12-14; she must not only offer the servant water, but also offer to water the servant's ten camels. Hey! That's a lot of work to do for a stranger! What are the chances Rebekah will offer to do that? But...just as the servant had asked God for this sign, she does exactly that; BINGO! We have a winner!
The servant awards Rebekah with some fine jewelry; then he and his entourage go to meet the family. Everyone is impressed with everyone. The servant is very careful to point out how rich Isaac is. He wants to head on back down to Canaan, but Rebekah's folks think she needs some time, say...10 days or so, to adjust to the idea of leaving home. When asked, Rebekah says, "Let's go now!" It is apparent that the servant must have explained the whole big-picture plan to them because of what we see in verse 60, "And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them." They obviously understood the foundational principles of the promises that God had made to Abraham.
Keep in mind how long this transaction took to unfold. With an entourage on camels, it must have taken at least 20 days each way to make the trip. That's a long time to anticipate for Isaac. And for Rebekah, the servant didn't even bring any family pictures. I can imagine Rebekah talking with her servants on the way to Canaan saying, "I know he's rich; I just hope he's not ugly." When they arrive, Isaac is out in the field meditating when Rebekah spots him. After an identity confirmation, she enthusiastically goes to meet her new groom. I'm relatively certain the servant was very relieved. We see in Genesis 25:20 (see notes) that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah.
Incidentally, you will notice that the negotiations seem to take place between Laban (Rebekah's brother) and Abraham's servant. Rebekah's mother has some input also. Apparently Laban's father, Bethuel, was into his years and left it up to Laban. Later on, when Rebekah's son Jacob shows up to take his wife in Genesis 29 (see notes), Rachel just happens to be one of Laban's daughters. Laban displays a very materialistic side...even a dishonest side. One might even call him greedy...or even a shyster. Come to think of it, you will notice in verse 30 that Laban seems particularly impressed with the gifts Abraham's servant had already showered upon Rebekah.