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Genesis 22-24    Listen Podcast's your test. (Genesis 22:1-19)

1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.
7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.”
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The–LORD–Will–Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,
16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—
17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose 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." The New King James Version here says "God tested Abraham." Here's the test; God talks to Abraham in verse 2, "Then He said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'" 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:

  1. A call from God to leave his homeland in Genesis 12:1-3 (see notes)
  2. A promise that his "descendants" will prosper in Genesis 13:14-18 (see notes)
  3. A visit from God incarnate in the form of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:17-24 (see notes)
  4. Another promise to prosper his "descendants" in Genesis 15:1-6 (see notes)
  5. Abraham is promised that he will be the father of many nations in Genesis 17:1-27 (see notes).
  6. Abraham talks with the LORD in Genesis 18 (see notes) about Isaac's birth and the issue of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  7. God promises that Abraham's "seed" will prosper through Isaac in Genesis 21:12 (see notes).

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 accounted 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 tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (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:

Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have 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 Now it came to pass after these things that it was told Abraham, saying, “Indeed Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor:
21 Huz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram,
22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.”
23 And Bethuel begot Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah, Gaham, 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 can we?

Abraham buys a big ol' cemetery plot for Sarah. (Genesis 23)

1 Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.
2 So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
3 Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,
4 “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
5 And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,
6 “Hear us, my lord: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”
7 Then Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, the sons of Heth.
8 And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish that I bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and meet with Ephron the son of Zohar for me,
9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he has, which is at the end of his field. Let him give it to me at the full price, as property for a burial place among you.”
10 Now Ephron dwelt among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the presence of the sons of Heth, all who entered at the gate of his city, saying,
11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of the sons of my people. I give it to you. Bury your dead!”
12 Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land;
13 and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there.”
14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him,
15 “My lord, listen to me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver. What is that between you and me? So bury your dead.”
16 And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants.
17 So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded
18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who 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 (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.
20 So the field and the cave that is in it were deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as property for a burial place.

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 sons 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.

Who wants to marry a millionaire? (Genesis 24)

1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh,
3 and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell;”
4 but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
5 And the servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?”
6 But Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there.
7 The LORD God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, “To your descendants I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
8 And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.”
9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all his master’s goods were in his hand. And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
11 And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.
12 Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
13 Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.
14 Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, “Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”
15 And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder.
16 Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up.
17 And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.”
18 So she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink.
19 And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”
20 Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
21 And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.
22 So it was, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold,
23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please, is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?”
24 So she said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to Nahor.”
25 Moreover she said to him, “We have both straw and feed enough, and room to lodge.”
26 Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the LORD.
27 And he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
28 So the young woman ran and told her mother’s household these things.
29 Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban, and Laban ran out to the man by the well.
30 So it came to pass, when he saw the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, saying, “Thus the man spoke to me,” that he went to the man. And there he stood by the camels at the well.
31 And he said, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD! Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels.”
32 Then the man came to the house. And he unloaded the camels, and provided straw and feed for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.
33 Food was set before him to eat, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told about my errand.” And he said, “Speak on.”
34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant.
35 The LORD has blessed my master greatly, and he has become great; and He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.
36 And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and to him he has given all that he has.
37 Now 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 dwell;
38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my family, and take a wife for my son.’
39 And I said to my master, “Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’
40 But he said to me, “The LORD, before whom I walk, will send His angel with you and prosper your way; and you shall take a wife for my son from my family and from my father’s house.’
41 You will be clear from this oath when you arrive among my family; for if they will not give her to you, then you will be released from my oath.’
42 “And this day I came to the well and said, ‘O LORD God of my master Abraham, if You will now prosper the way in which I go,
43 behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin comes out to draw water, and I say to her, “Please give me a little water from your pitcher to drink,”
44 and she says to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,”—let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’
45 “But before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah, coming out with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down to the well and drew water. And I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’
46 And she made haste and let her pitcher down from her shoulder, and said, “Drink, and I will give your camels a drink also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels a drink also.
47 Then I asked her, and said, “Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists.
48 And I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.”
49 Now if you 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 comes from the LORD; we cannot speak to you either bad or good.
51 Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken.”
52 And it came to pass, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, that he worshiped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.
53 Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.
54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank and stayed all night. Then they arose in the morning, and he said, “Send me away to my master.”
55 But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.”
56 And he said to them, “Do not hinder me, since the LORD has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.”
57 So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.”
58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.
60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her:
“Our sister, may you become
The mother of thousands of ten thousands;
And may your descendants possess
The gates of those who hate them.”
61 Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.
62 Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South.
63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming.
64 Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel;
65 for she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself.
66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So 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, " will not take a wife for my son from 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), "Then he said: 'Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brethren.' And he said: 'Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem [Abraham's ancestors], And may Canaan 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 (Abraham’s 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 to her: 'Our sister, may you become The mother of thousands of ten thousands; And may your descendants possess The gates of those who 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.