Beginning of the End


Isaac’s Marriage: The Happiest in the Bible

This chapter is based on Genesis 24.

Abraham had become an old man, yet one thing remained for him to do. God had appointed Isaac as the next keeper of the divine law and the father of the chosen people, but he was still unmarried. BOE 76.1

The Canaanites were idol worshipers, and God had forbidden marriages between them and His people, knowing that such marriages would lead to abandoning their faith. Isaac was gentle and yielding. If he united with someone who did not fear God, he would be in danger of sacrificing principle for the sake of harmony. To Abraham, the choice of a wife for his son was extremely important, and he was anxious to have Isaac marry someone who would not lead him away from God. BOE 76.2

In ancient times, marriage engagements were generally made by the parents, and this was the custom among those who worshiped God. None were required to marry those whom they could not love, but the youth were guided by the judgment of their God-fearing parents. It was a dishonor to parents, even a crime, to act contrary to this. BOE 76.3

Trusting his father, Isaac was satisfied to commit the matter to him, believing also that God Himself would direct in the choice made. Abraham’s thoughts turned to his father’s relatives in Mesopotamia. They were not free from idolatry, but they had a knowledge of the true God. Isaac must not go to them, but it might be that one could be found among them who would leave her home and unite with him in maintaining the pure worship of the living God. BOE 76.4

Abraham committed the important matter to Eliezer, his “oldest servant,” a man of experience and sound judgment who had served him long and faithfully. He insisted that this servant make a solemn oath that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites but would choose a maiden from the family of Nahor in Mesopotamia. If a young woman could not be found who would leave her home and family, then the messenger would be released from his oath. Abraham encouraged him with the assurance that God would crown his mission with success. “The Lord God of heaven,” he said, “who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my family ... He will send His angel before you.” BOE 76.5

The messenger set out without delay. Taking ten camels for his own attendants and the bridal party that might return with him as well as gifts for the intended wife and friends, he made the long journey beyond Damascus to the plains that border on the Euphrates, the great river of the East. BOE 77.1

When he arrived at Haran, “the city of Nahor,” he stopped outside the walls near the well where the women came at evening for water. His thoughts troubled him. Far-reaching results, not only to his master’s household but to future generations, might follow from the choice he made. Remembering that God would send His angel with him, he prayed for clear guidance. In his master’s family he was accustomed to constant kindness and hospitality, and now he asked that an act of courtesy might indicate the maiden whom God had chosen. BOE 77.2

Hardly had he uttered the prayer before the answer was given. Among the women at the well, the courteous manners of one attracted his attention. As she came from the well, the stranger went to meet her, asking for some water from the pitcher on her shoulder. The request received a kind answer, and she offered to draw water for the camels also. BOE 77.3

Thus the sign that he had asked for was given. The young woman “was very beautiful to behold,” and her prompt courtesy gave evidence of a kind heart and an active, energetic nature. So far the divine hand had been with him. The messenger asked whose daughter she was, and when he learned that her father was Bethuel, Abraham’s nephew, he “bowed down his head, and worshiped the Lord.” BOE 77.4

The man told the young woman about his connection with Abraham. Returning home, she told what had happened, and Laban, her brother, at once hurried to bring the stranger to share their hospitality. BOE 77.5

Eliezer would not eat any food until he had told them about his errand, his prayer at the well, and all the circumstances that went with it. Then he said, “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.” The answer was, “The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you either bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the Lord has spoken.” BOE 77.6