The death of Sarah
Genesis 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 23:2 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.
Abraham buys Machpelah.
23:3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, 23:4 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. 23:5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, 23:6 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.
Abraham humbles himself before the people of the land and asks only to buy a burying place in Hebron.
23:7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. 23:8 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, 23:9 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.
Because Abraham was known to be a just and honorable man, and his example was righteous in the Word of God before all his neighbours; God had caused even the unconverted to respect him.
23:10 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, 23:11 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.
Abraham insists on paying for the land.
23:12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. 23:13 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. 23:14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, 23:15 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. 23:16 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.
So Abraham bought the field in Hebron as a burying place for his family, and to this day the cave of Machpelah is venerated as the tomb of the family of Abraham.
23:17 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 23:18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth [the Hittites who were later driven out of Palestine by Nebuchadnezzar] before all that went in at the gate of his city.
23:19 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. 23:20 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 [the Hittites].
A Bride for Isaac
This chapter is about the faithfulness and power of God to keep his promises to his faithful; and about the faithfulness of God’s true people to keep God’s Word and trust in him. Abraham trusts God and acts on that trust, as does his servant, and as does Isaac, who waits on God and does not take a wife from the Canaanites [typical of the called out, marrying unconverted spouses and becoming one with the leaven of unrighteousness. As we have seen this sin was a prime cause of the flood of Noah.].
There is also great faith on the part of Rebecca who was willing to leave her home and travel a great distance to take a husband she has not seen and did not know, based on the miracle of God given to Abraham’s servant.
Genesis 24:1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
Abraham bound his servant with an oath against his descendants if he failed to provide a wife for Isaac out of his brother Nahor’s family. This was especially appropriate for Abraham to require of his servant, as the mission was to find a wife to produce descendants for Abraham.
24:2 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:
Abraham and his descendants are types of the spiritually called out, while the Canaanites were to be type of sin. For a faithful person to knowingly marry an unconverted person, is to bind good and evil together as ONE flesh; and is a physical type of spiritually becoming one with sin.
We are not to tolerate any sin among our assemblies, or within ourselves personally!
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
Let us live our lives free from the leaven of sin; and let us reject the willfully sinful person from our assemblies.
5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Genesis 24:3 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: 24:4 But thou shalt go unto my country [Haran in Syria], and to my kindred [the family of Abraham’s brother Nahor], and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
The servant then asks a relevant question, to which Abraham replies that Isaac must NOT return to dwell in Syria for God has commanded them to dwell in Canaan.
24:5 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? 24:6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
Abraham encourages his servant that God will provide a wife for Isaac. Again Abraham trusts and relies on the promises of God that Isaac would be the father of millions!
24:7 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. 24:8 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.
The servant then swore by all his descendants to Abraham; that he would obey all the words of Abraham.
24:9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
This servant was given whatever he required for his journey, and left for Haran of Syria the city of Nahor. The word “Mesopotamia” might confuse some people into thinking that this servant was going to Ur; but “Mesopotamia” means the land between the rivers and goes right up through Syria and into modern Turkey. And we know that Nahor now lived in Haran.
24:10 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.
At the approach to Haran the city of Nahor, Abraham’s servant rested his camels and sought water. He asked God to give him directions that he might quickly find the house of Nahor.
24:11 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.
Abraham’s servant did not dare to make his own choice but asks for a sign directly from God identifying God’s choice for Isaac. We see in this that Abraham had taught his servants to trust in God like he did. This woman was not courted by Isaac, but came from a far country and was chosen for him directly by God.
24:12 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. 24:13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 24:14 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.
And immediately Rebecca appeared and fulfilled the requested sign, being the daughter of Bethuel and granddaughter of Nahor the brother of Abraham.
24:15 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. 24:16 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.
24:17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 24:18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 24:19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 24:20 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.
24:21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit [to see if she was the one] whetherthe LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.
Abraham’s servant then asked the maid about her family, and when he had found that she was of Abraham’s brother Nahor’s family and that she was hospitable, he thanked God for he knew that she was God’s choice for Isaac.
24:22 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;
Abraham’s servant now nearly convinced, but taking great care, gives her gold bracelets for drawing the water [a very large gift] and asks her about a lodging place to test her further. Rebecca offers him the hospitality of her father’s house without Abraham’s servant even identifying himself or his mission.
24:23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in? 24:24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 24:25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.
Abraham’s servant being a man of faith, then thanked God for his mercies in aiding his mission.
24:26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 24:27 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.
24:28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.
24:29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban [the same Laban who Jacob ran to.] : and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. 24:30 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.
Laban prepared a place for Abraham’s servant straight away upon hearing from Rebecca; not yet knowing the servants mission.
24:31 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.
24:32 And the man came into the house: and he [Laban] 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. 24:33 And there was set meat before him to eat: but he [Abraham’s servant] said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.
Abraham relates the story of his mission.
24:34 And he said, I am Abraham’s servant. 24:35 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. 24:36 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. 24:37 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: 24:38 But thou shalt go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.
24:39 And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 24:40 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: 24:41 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.
24:42 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: 24:43 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; 24:44 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.
24:45 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. 24:46 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.
24:47 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. 24:48 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.
Abraham’s servant is so excited he asks for an immediate answer even before eating!
24:49 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.
Bethuel the father of Laban and Rebecca, and Laban himself; accept the Word of God.
24:50 Then Laban and Laban’s father] Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. 24:51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the LORD hath spoken.
The servant of Abraham then thanked God and gave gifts to Rebecca and her family as the custom was.
24:52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth. 24:53 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.
They feasted through the night rejoicing together and then Abraham’s servant was urgent to leave and return with Isaac’s wife. Then Laban wanted them to delay for ten days, but the servant refused because he was on a mission for Abraham and for God to bring to Isaac the mother of many nations.
24:54 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. 24:55 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. 24:56 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.
They then asked the maid, and she was willing to go quickly.
24:57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. 24:58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 24:59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.
The blessing of Rebekah was according to the blessings of God upon Abraham and Isaac.
24:60 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.
24:61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels [maids and servants, her family being well off also], and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
24:62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. 24:63 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. 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
Immediately upon seeing Isaac, she was no longer a single woman, and she covered her head [hair] with a veil as was the custom of a married wife in public. See our article on women covering the hair during worship (1 Cor 11).
24:65 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.
24:66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
24:67 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.