From Eternity Past


Chapter 15—Isaac's Marriage: The Happiest in the Bible

This chapter is based on Genesis 24.

Abraham had become an old man; yet one act remained for him to do. Isaac was divinely appointed to succeed him as the keeper of the law of God and the father of the chosen people; but he was yet unmarried. EP 107.1

The inhabitants of Canaan were given to idolatry, and God had forbidden intermarriage between His people and them, knowing that such marriages would lead to apostasy. Isaac was gentle and yielding in disposition. If united with one who did not fear God, he would be in danger of sacrificing principle for the sake of harmony. In the mind of Abraham, the choice of a wife for his son was of grave importance; he was anxious to have him marry one who would not lead him from God. EP 107.2

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 pursue a course contrary to this. EP 107.3

Isaac, trusting his father, was satisfied to commit the matter to him, believing also that God Himself would direct in the choice made. The patriarch's thoughts turned to his father's kindred in Mesopotamia. Though not free from idolatry, they cherished the knowledge of the true God. Isaac must not go to them, but it might be that among them could be found one who would leave her home and unite with him in maintaining the pure worship of the living God. EP 107.4

Abraham committed the important matter to “his eldest servant,” a man of experience and sound judgment who had rendered him long and faithful service. He required this servant to make a solemn oath that he would not take a wife for Isaac of the Canaanites, but would choose a maiden from the family of Nahor in Mesopotamia. If a damsel could not be found who would leave her kindred, then the messenger would be released from his oath. The patriarch encouraged him with the assurance that God would crown his mission with success. “The Lord God of heaven,” he said, “which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, ... He shall send his angel before thee.” EP 108.1

The messenger set out without delay. Taking ten camels for his own company and the bridal party that might return with him and also gifts for the intended wife and friends, he made the long journey beyond Damascus to the plains that border on the great river of the East. EP 108.2

Arrived at Haran, “the city of Nahor,” he halted outside the walls near the well to which the women came at evening for water. It was a time of anxious thought with him. Important 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 positive guidance. In the family of his master he was accustomed to constant kindness and hospitality, and he now asked that an act of courtesy might indicate the maiden whom God had chosen. EP 108.3

Hardly was the prayer uttered 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 upon her shoulder. The request received a kind answer with an offer to draw water for the camels also. EP 108.4

Thus the desired sign was given. The maiden “was very fair to look upon,” and her ready courtesy gave evidence of a kind heart and an active, energetic nature. Thus far the divine hand had been with him. The messenger asked her parentage, and on learning that she was the daughter of Bethuel, Abraham's nephew, “he bowed down his head, and worshiped the Lord.” EP 108.5

The man revealed his connection with Abraham. Returning home, the maiden told what had happened, and Laban, her brother, at once hastened to bring the stranger to share their hospitality. EP 109.1

Eliezer would not partake of food until he had told his errand, his prayer at the well, with all the circumstances attending it. Then he said, “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.” The answer was, “The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken.” EP 109.2