Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Hello;

Back around 2000 or 2001; I got the daring idea to begin composing a daily, bite-size commentary on the book of Genesis. It was a clumsy effort at first but I stuck with it and as time went by, it got pretty good. On some forums where I've survived opposition long enough to complete the whole fifty chapters, Genesis has attracted several thousand views.

As of today's date, I'm 76 years old; and an on-going student of the Bible since 1968 via sermons, seminars, lectures, Sunday school classes, radio Bible programs, and various authors of a number of Bible-related books. Fifty-two years of Bible under my belt hasn't made me an authority; but they've at least made me competent enough to tackle Genesis.

Barring emergencies, accidents, vacations, unforeseen circumstances, and/or insurmountable distractions, database errors, pandemic shut-downs, computer crashes, black outs, brown outs, deaths in the family, Wall Street Armageddon, thread hijackers, excessive quarrelling and debating, the dog ate my homework, visiting relatives, ISIS, car repairs, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, student walk-outs, Carrington events, gasoline prices, medical issues, and/or hard luck and the forces of nature; I'm making an effort to post something every day including Sundays and holidays.

Some really good stuff is in Genesis: the origin of the cosmos, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the Flood, tower of Babel, and the origin of the Jews.

Big-name celebrities like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph are here.

Not here are Moses vs. Pharaoh and the parting of the Red Sea. That story is in Exodus; Samson and Delilah are in Judges, David and Goliath are in 1Samuel; and Ruth and Esther are in books of the Bible named after them.

The author of Genesis is currently unknown; but commonly attributed to Moses. Seeing as he penned Exodus (Mark 12:26) it's conceivable that Moses also penned Genesis; but in reality, nobody really knows for sure.

Scholars have estimated the date of its writing at around 1450-1410 BC; a mere 3,400± years ago, which is pretty recent in the grand scheme of Earth's geological history.

Genesis may in fact be the result of several contributors beginning as far back as Adam himself; who would certainly know more about the creation than anybody, and who entertained no doubts whatsoever about the existence of an intelligent designer since he knew the creator Himself like a next door neighbor.

As time went by, others like Seth and Noah would add their own experiences to the record, and then Abraham his, Isaac his, Jacob his, and finally Judah or one of his descendants completing the record with Joseph's burial.

Genesis is quoted more than sixty times in the New Testament; and Christ authenticated its Divine inspiration by referring to it in his own teachings. (e.g. Matt 19:4-6, Matt 24:37-39, Mk 10:4-9, Luke 11:49-51, Luke 17:26 29 & 32, John 7:21-23, John 8:44 and John 8:56)

Buen Camino

(Pleasant Journey)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 23:1-2a . . Sarah's lifetime-- the span of Sarah's life --came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba-- now Hebron --in the land of Canaan;

This is the only woman in the entire Old Testament for whom an age is given at the time of her death. Isaac was 37 at this point, having been born when Sarah was 90 (Gen 17:17) and Abraham was 137 since he and Sarah were ten years difference in age (Gen 17:17). She lived in Canaan with her husband for 62 years and they never once owned their own home. They moved there when he was 75 and she was 65 --and Abraham at this point has 38 years on the clock yet to go.

NOTE: If we can safely assume Sarah's death immediately followed the Akedah, then Isaac would have been 37 when he and Abraham went to the mountain seeing as how his mom was ninety when he was born.

Gen 23:2b . . and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her.

Some people think it's weak and unspiritual to mourn for the dead. However; it is the very best way to let them go. People shouldn't stifle their heartbreak, nor steel themselves against it. I would rather see people get angry and withdrawn at the loss of their loved ones than to blow it off as just another passing phase of life.

Sarah had quite a life you know. She was a strong pioneer woman-- taken into the palaces of a Pharaoh and a King. And she was selected by Almighty God to be the mother of the people of Israel, and of Messiah: Israel's ultimate monarch. Sarah was also a genetic path to the seed promised Eve back in Gen 3:15. We can't just put her in the ground as if she was a commoner no different than anybody else.


Gen 23:3a . .Then Abraham rose from beside his dead, and spoke to the Hittites,

Who is the most famous Hittite in the Old Testament? Give up? It's Uriah, Bathsheba's first husband; whose unwarranted death David instigated. (2Sam 11:1-27)

Gen 23:3b-4 . . saying: I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.

Abraham had no ancestral claim upon the land. So he had to appeal to the Hittites' sensibilities; and beg for some property. They, on the other hand, were in a straight because the land was their heritage and selling off some of their holdings would diminish the inheritances to be received by their heirs, and plus, the land would be lost forever; and to an alien yet.

Gen 23:5b . . And the Hittites replied to Abraham, saying to him: Hear us, my lord: you are the elect of God among us.

The word for "God"-- 'elohiym --is not really in that verse; an editor took the liberty to insert it. And the word for "elect" is from nasiy' (naw-see') which doesn't mean elect at all but means an exalted one; viz: a king or sheik. The Hittites had great respect for Abraham; and in their estimation he earned the right to a potentate's reception.

Gen 23:5b . . Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold his burial place from you for burying your dead.

By donating a sepulcher, instead of selling the land, the Hittites would retain ownership of the real estate and thus none would be lost to their posterity. In the future, they could pave over it for a mall, or dig up the whole thing with earth-moving machinery for a residential sub division.

Gen 23:7 . .Thereupon Abraham bowed low to the people of the land, the Hittites,

How many Jews today would bow to a Hittite, or to any other Gentile for that matter? Abraham was indeed a very humble man who never let his connection to God go to his head nor give him a superiority complex. Pride and Prejudice are two of the Jews' most widely known attributes in modern times; but they didn't get it from their ancestor; that's for sure.

Gen 23:8 . . and he said to them: If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar.

The sons of Heth (who were Hittites themselves) would act as the mediator between Ephron (a fellow Hittite) and Abraham (an Eberite: thus an outsider). It was only a formality, but nonetheless, an important cultural protocol in those days.

Gen 23:9 . . Let him sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, which is at the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst.

The location is favorable for Ephron because it's at the edge of his property line, so Abraham won't need an easement to access the site, nor will it be an eyesore stuck out in the middle.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #172

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Gen 23:10a . . Ephron was present among the Hittites; so Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his town,

Ephron didn't have to answer personally; but chose to of his own volition.

People who actually lived in a town's proper, were the upper crust-- the merchants, bankers, judges, city managers, the mayor, and like that. It was important that those "who entered the gate of his town" be involved in a decision regarding property sales because of the potential impact upon their own interests.

In those days, land owned by a clan like the Hittites defined the boundaries of their territory; and each family within a clan owned parcels of it. So when one of the families, like Ephron's for example, sold some of their parcel to a foreigner, the whole community suffered a permanent loss of territory.


Gen 23:10b-11 . . saying: No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and I give you the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.

Ephron's generosity was no doubt sincere, but merely one more formality towards closing a deal on the property. Not wanting to appear a greedy beast profiteering on the loss of a man's wife, he first offered it to Abraham for free.

That was actually a very kind show of respect for Abraham's grief. Abraham will pay for the property, and I have no doubt both men fully expected a monetary settlement; but not before Ephron first has an opportunity to make certain everyone in town sees him pay his respects for the dead of one of the most, if not the most, highly respected men in all of Canaan.


Gen 23:12-15 . .Then Abraham bowed low before the people of the land, and spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying; If only you would hear me out. Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there. And Ephron replied to Abraham, saying to him; My lord, do hear me. A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver-- what is that between you and me? Go and bury your dead.

The shekel of Abraham's day wasn't coinage; but rather, a unit of weight equal to 20 gerahs (Ezk 45:12) which is equivalent to 10 English pennyweights or 1/2 ounce troy. So it would take two of Abraham's shekels to equal one troy ounce of silver.

The average value of a troy ounce of silver as of Jan 08, 2021 was around 25.78 US dollars. So 400 full shekels would be worth about 5,156 of today's US dollars (4,209 Euro)

No doubt Ephron had mixed feelings about the property. On the one hand, he, as well as his countrymen, would prefer it not be sold to a non Hittite. Yet they all admired Abraham and didn't want to disappoint him, especially during a time of bereavement.

Ephron didn't actually ask for four hundred shekels. He merely told Abraham what the property was worth, but that its value meant nothing between friends; as if Abraham could have it for free. But it was really a subtle way of naming a price without actually coming right out and naming it; know what I mean?


Gen 23:16 . . Abraham accepted Ephron's terms. Abraham paid out to Ephron the money that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites-- four hundred shekels of silver at the going merchants' rate.

In those days they used a balance scale to weigh out precious metals for trading purposes. Merchant rates are typically less than consumer rates. So Abraham's 400 shekels would have been weighed out with a lighter set of counterweights than normal in order for him to buy the land at wholesale.

Gen 23:17-18 . . So Ephron's land in Machpelah, near Mamre-- the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the confines of that field --passed to Abraham as his possession, in the presence of the Hittites, of all who entered the gate of his town.

Abraham's purchase of Hittite territory was done in the presence of a goodly number of blue-blooded Hittite witnesses so there would be no basis for anyone to contest his rightful ownership. Abraham didn't purchase just the cave, but also the wooded grounds around it so that Sarah's gravesite was originally a very nice cemetery.

But if you want to visit her burial site today, be forewarned. The region in and around Hebron is a political strife zone these days. The monumental shrine erected over the cave in which Abraham was buried makes this one of the great sights for visitors with an interest in scriptural history; but since there are frequently violent clashes between Arabs and Israelis in Hebron it is essential before visiting the town to check up on the current situation with the tourist information office in Jerusalem.

Sarah's gravesite today (if indeed anybody knows where it really is) is covered by an Islamic structure called Al-lbrahimi Mosque; in honor of Abraham, Ishmael's dad. It should be pointed out that the Mosque isn't intended to promote Judaism's Yhvh, but rather, Islam's Allah.


Gen 23:19-20 . . And then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre-- now Hebron --in the land of Canaan. Thus the field with its cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham, as a burial site.

Not only a burial site, but also as a permanent real estate holding-- the people of Israel's very first piece of their very own country; which gives them legitimate roots there even prior to the Exodus; and way ahead of the Palestinians.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #173

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Gen 24:1a . . Abraham was now old, advanced in years,

Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen 21:25). The lad was 40 when he married Rebecca (Gen 25:20). So that makes Abraham 140 at this point in the record. But although Abraham was worn; he wasn't worn out. Abraham still had plenty of vigor left in him and would go on to live another 35 years and even father more children. As far as the Scriptural record goes, Abraham enjoyed excellent health at this point in his life and still had his wits about him too.

Gen 24:1b . . and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.

The "all things" at this point in the narrative would pertain to Abraham's economic prosperity because that's how his steward will represent him at verse 35.

Gen 24:2a . . And Abraham said to the steward of his household, who had charge of all that he owned,

It is impossible to identify the steward because his name isn't disclosed anywhere throughout chapter 24. It could be the Eliezer of Gen 15; however, many years have gone by since then. Abraham was eighty-six when Ishmael was born in chapter 16, and he is 140 in this chapter; so it has been more than 54 years since the last mention of Eliezer. The steward at this point in Abraham's home may even be Eliezer's son by now, but nobody really knows for sure.

Abraham's steward is going to act as an ambassador-- not for Abraham, but for Isaac. Abraham, for reasons undisclosed, can't leave Canaan to do this himself. So the steward is dispatched as a proxy for Abraham to act in his son Isaac's best interests.


Gen 24:2b-3a . . Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear

Some Bible students construe Jesus' words at Matt 5:33-37 to mean that taking an oath is intrinsically a sin. But that's not the tenor of his words at all. What he really said in that passage is that taking an oath sets you up for a fall because for one thing; people are too quick to swear, and for another human beings cannot guarantee that unforeseen circumstances won't prevent them from making good on their oath.

In other words: the nature of promises is that they are immune to changing circumstances. So unless you can see the future, then if at all possible, make your promises without sealing them with an oath because if you drag God into your promise; He's going to expect you to make good on it come hell or high water or risk getting called on the carpet to explain why you think so little of His name.

"If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." (Num 30:2)

Anyway: if taking an oath were intrinsically a sin, then God himself would be a sinner (e.g. Gen 22:15-18, Ps 89:3-4, Ps 89:35-37, Ps 110:4, Isa 14:24, Isa 45:23, Isa 54:9, Heb 4:3, et al). Jesus too would be in contradiction of his own teachings because he testified under oath that he was the Messiah; God's son. (Matt 23:63-65)


Gen 24:3b . . by Yhvh, the God of heaven and the God of the earth

Exodus 6:3 makes it appear that Abraham wasn't supposed to be aware of the name Yhvh. But here in Gen 24, Abraham made his steward swear by that very appellation; so there can be no doubt he was fully aware of it.

The word for "thigh" is from yarek (yaw-rake') and has a couple of meanings. It can be the actual thigh (e.g. Gen 32:26, Song 7:1) and it can mean a man's privates. (e.g. Gen 46:26, Num 5:21)

In those days, men didn't always raise their right hands to take an oath with each other-- sometimes they held sacred objects in their hand like we do today when a swearer puts their hand upon a Bible or a Torah Scroll. In this particular case in Genesis, the object held in the hand was a holy patriarch. Only twice in the entire Old Testament is an oath recorded taken in this manner. The first is here, and the other is Gen 47:29.


NOTE: The similarities between the procurement of Isaac's bride, and that of the bride of Christ are remarkable. Neither of the fathers of the grooms go themselves to woo the brides; but rely upon a nameless servant who can be trusted to faithfully look out for the grooms' best interests. Guided by providence, the servants locate candidates, give them some gifts, explain their missions, tell of the wealth of the fathers, tell of the inheritances of the grooms, tell the candidates something of the grooms' genealogies; and are especially careful to explain the circumstances of the grooms' miraculous births.

The candidates never see any photos or pictures of their potential husbands, are given no information disclosing the grooms' personalities, and are permitted to know only certain general details about the grooms and nothing more-- at first. At this point, the servants then press for a response, and proceed no further until the candidates make their decision. However, no one can force the bridal candidates to accept the grooms. The candidates must consent to join him of their own volition.

After the candidates consent to go and be with the grooms, the servants then cull the candidates from their native people, and from their native lands, and safely escort them to the lands and peoples of the grooms. The grooms, upon receipt of the candidates, accept them just as they are, give them a nice home, and love and care for them to the very end.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #174

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Gen 24:3c-4 . . that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell, but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.

The words "land of my birth" can also mean "to my country and to my relatives." That is exactly how the steward understood them because that is how he will narrate Abraham's instructions in Gen 24:38.

I just bet Abraham was fully aware of the fate of the men of God who married the daughters of men back in the early parts of Genesis. Those men of God all died in the Flood right along with their impious wives.

The influence of a non God-fearing spouse could prove fatal to Isaac's future. If he's going to serve and worship his dad's god, then he is going to have to marry a girl who fully appreciates and supports the prophecies regarding Abraham's progeny.

Spouse hunting demands a level head and cold steel discernment or there is real risk in ending up like Solomon, one of the greatest of God's men, who was ruined by his marriages to women who didn't share his religious beliefs. (1Kgs 11:1-10)


Gen 24:5-6 . . And the servant said to him: What if the woman does not consent to follow me to this land, shall I then take your son back to the land from which you came? Abraham answered him: You must not, for any reason, take my son back there!

I think Abraham knew only too well just how much like sheep men are. When they fall in love, they'll literally sacrifice their lives to keep a woman; which is exactly what Jacob did. Rachel was a good girl; but she cost Jacob fourteen years of his life away from home in a foreign land with a bad influence: uncle Laban.

Suppose Isaac went up north and feasted his glims on Rebecca? Well, up ahead we're going to find out that she was young, cute, and filled out in all the right places. I've seen what that does to men. I worked with a married man once who kept a young love on the side. He often used his wages to buy that girl jewelry while his wife and two little kids were housed in a ramshackle rental unit.

It was too risky to let Isaac go up there. He might be tempted to remain with Rebecca if she refused to live so far off from her family. Isaac's future was in the land deeded to Abraham on oath; not up there in Mesopotamia; and his bride's place was with him and Yhvh; not with her family and Laban's idols.


Gen 24:7 . .The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from my native land, who promised me on oath, saying "I will assign this land to your offspring" He will send His angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son from there.

The identity of "His angel" is interesting. It's not referred to as one of His angels; just His angel. Jacob knew His angel as Yhvh; the divine benefactor he encountered on the way north during his flight from Esau. (Gen 28:12-15, Gen 48:17)

NOTE: I sincerely believe that God Himself has never even once been to the Earth in person. He stays put, secluded in a sort of forbidden city somewhere apart from the cosmos and His business down here is conducted by a supreme celestial being who has the authority to speak for God, to speak as God, and to be respected as God. This supreme celestial being is curious in that it is capable of appearing in a fully functioning human body, viz: a living avatar. (eg. Gen 18:1-33, Ex 24:9-11, John 1:18)

Gen 24:8-10a . . And if the woman does not consent to follow you, you shall then be clear of this oath to me; but do not take my son back there. So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him as bidden. Then the servant took ten of his master's camels

Nobody is quite sure exactly when camels were domesticated. The earliest depiction of them in relief and cuneiform text as beasts of burden and transportation is sometime around 1100 BC.

Gen 24:10b . . and set out, taking with him all the bounty of his master;

The servant will need to demonstrate to the bride, and to the bride's family, that she'll be well taken care of. The servant of course didn't take along everything Abraham owned in total, but merely an adequate representation of his abundant wealth; which by inheritance, would all be Isaac's some day; and, by association, his future wife's too.

Additional men accompanied the servant (Gen 24:32) who were very likely all armed (Gen 14:14); not only for the caravan's protection, but for the bride's as well. No doubt included among the camel's burdens were tents, victuals, provender, water, and appropriate accommodations for the bride's comfort on the journey back to Canaan. It was at least five hundred miles from Hebron up to Abraham's people in Mesopotamia, so the return trip couldn't possibly be made in a single day on camels and would necessitate overnight bivouacs in rugged country.


Gen 24:10c . . and he made his way to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor.

The Greek translation renders naharaim in dual form meaning, "two rivers", and from that arose the name Mesopotamia-- the land between the two rivers. Some feel that the name naharaim really means "the land along the river" or "the land within the river".

It's a territory bounded approximately on the east by an imaginary north/south line drawn from Ar Raqqah Syria to Urfa Turkey. The southern and western borders are delineated by the Euphrates as it runs from Ar Raqqah Syria towards Gaziantep Turkey: an area within which at one time lay the kingdom of Mitanni. This is called Naharain in the Egyptian texts, and Naharima in the El-Armana letters.

The details of the journey are passed over. It would have been fun to hear about the caravan's adventures. How they had to dodge a flock of ostriches that ran out in the road, and maybe how a lion came around at night and spooked everybody, or how one of the men fell asleep at the wheel and his camel ran off the road and hit a tree; stuff like that. But Genesis has priorities; and the journey's details were not one of them. In a blink, the caravan arrives; a trip that took maybe two weeks or so; and Rebecca rapidly becomes the prime focus. This chapter, after all, about the bride; rather than the groom.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #175

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Gen 24:11 . . He made the camels kneel down by the well outside the city, at evening time, the time when women come out to draw water.

"evening time" is from an ambiguous word that indicates any time between high noon and sunset as opposed to morning which can indicate any time between sunrise and high noon.

Gen 24:12 . . And he said: O Lord, God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with my master Abraham:

This steward was truly a God-fearing man, and truly faithful to the one who sent him on this errand. His prayer is not self centered, but centered upon the best interests of his master's son. Incidentally, this is the very first prayer recorded in the Bible of any individual clearly requesting Divine providence.

Gen 24:13-14 . . Here I stand by the spring as the daughters of the townsmen come out to draw water; let the maiden to whom I say "Please, lower your jar that I may drink" and who replies "Drink, and I will also water your camels"-- let her be the one whom You have decreed for Your servant Isaac. Thereby shall I know that You have dealt graciously with my master.

This man didn't beat around the bush, nor begin reading from a siddur, nor a missal, nor did he chant by rote, nor blather in tongues. He gets right down to business and spells out his concerns in plain language. Let me say something very clearly: If you are the kind of person who has to pray in tongues because you don't have enough command of your own native language to express yourself in any other way, then maybe you should go back to school for a while.

Of great interest is the steward's apparent lack of concern regarding the prospective bride's looks. Only God truly knew who would be right for Isaac, and Abraham's steward is not going to select a bride for his master's son like as if she's flesh on the line the way the sons of God did back in Gen 6:2. No; she must be hand-picked by God alone because He alone knows what's in a heart. If the girl that God chooses for Isaac is attractive; well that will be a bonus, but absolutely not the deciding factor.


Gen 24:15 . . He had scarcely finished speaking, when Rebecca-- born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor --came out with her jar on her shoulder.

As fortune would have it, the very first girl to arrive is Becky. Although she's related to Abraham, at this point Abraham's steward doesn't know who she is yet. In fact he's probably expecting to conduct many tiresome interviews; testing one girl after another until the right one shows up.

Gen 24:16a . .The maiden was very beautiful,

Some chafe at that passage and refuse to believe Genesis is talking about Becky's physical assets. However, later on, in Gen 26:6-7, Isaac will attempt his dad's old trick and say Becky is his sister; in order to save his skin. The reason Isaac gives for the lie is he believed the men of Gerar would be tempted to kill him because Becky was attractive. It is highly unlikely pagan men would take Becky away from Isaac just because she had a beautiful personality. As a rule, ancient men didn't fight over the nice girls; they battled for the alluring ones.

Gen 24:16b . . a virgin

Becky is two girls in one: a virgin, and a virgin. What the heck you say? How is she two virgins?

The word for "virgin" in 24:16 is bethuwlah (beth-oo-law') which can indicate a maiden, a bride; and also a city or state. Technically, bethuwlaw doesn't necessarily indicate a girl who's never slept with a man. The primary denotation is chronological, and the word simply indicates a mature young woman of marriageable age whether she is married or not; e.g. Joel 1:8, where a bethuwlah laments the husband of her youth.


Gen 24:16c . . whom no man had known.

Well; that settles it. Becky was a flower in full bloom, and as fresh as any daisy could ever be.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #176

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Gen 24:16d . . She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up.

The "spring" in this case was a small pool of water fed by an aquifer, which is different than an artesian well; they gush, while aquifers seep.

Some of the shafts of ancient man-made wells in that part of the world resemble mini open-pit mines; with steps hewn into the sides to facilitate access to the water for dipping jars and buckets. Becky's spring was likely constructed like that.


Gen 24:17a . .The servant ran toward her

The Hebrew word for "ran" is the same word used in Gen 18:2 and 18:7 to describe Abraham's movement when the three men appeared in his camp. Abraham was about 99 years old at the time and it's very doubtful he was able to move his legs all that fast. It's far more likely he just hastened.

In any case, it was nevertheless essential that Abraham's steward not waste any time because Becky had strong legs and would surely be gone away home in a blink.


Gen 24:17b . . and said: Please, let me sip a little water from your jar.

It's amazing that a gorgeous young girl like Becky would allow a total stranger to approach her without protest or without screaming for help. Was she naïve? Was she foolish?

Well . . maybe in that day, and around her town, you could trust people. But it would not be wise to do that in some parts of New York or Los Angeles. A seemingly honest appeal for assistance could very well be a distraction while an accomplice sneaks up behind you.

Although Becky arrived first, ahead of the other girls, by now there may have been several others milling around the spring because that was the time of day for them to be there. In groups, they could all watch out for each other. Genesis doesn't tell about any of the others though because the spotlight is totally on Isaac's future bride.


Gen 24:18a . . Drink, my lord: she said,

The Hebrew word for "lord" is 'adown (aw-done') and is suitable for courteously addressing a male superior; whether actual or assumed; viz: fathers, aged men, kings, husbands, and/or God.

Gen 24:18b . . and she quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and let him drink.

The word for "quickly" is from mahar (maw-har') which means: to be liquid or flow easily; viz: nimble (the opposite of that would be the sluggishness of molasses in January) and implies to act promptly. I really like the way Becky responded. When people do things grudgingly, they often stonewall, perform slowly, and drag their feet just to show you they're annoyed. But Becky didn't hesitate. She gave water to the man whole-heartedly, sharply, and immediately.

Whether she actually let him drink out of her hand is doubtful. Lowering the jar upon her hand merely indicates it was previously up on her shoulder or maybe on top of her head. Becky probably just supported it from underneath with one hand while tilting the top with the other so the contents would pour out and Abraham's steward could slack his thirst.


Gen 24:19-20 . .When she had let him drink his fill, she said: I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking. Quickly emptying her jar into the trough, she ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.

Flo-Jo Becky-- scurrying all over the place like a US Navy SEAL trainee in hell week. No time to waste if she was going to water all those camels before dark.

The Arabian camel can drink more than twenty gallons of water in one sitting when it's very thirsty. I hope that man gave them some water earlier because he had ten camels and Becky could be hauling as much as 200 gallons. If her pitcher held five gallons, the weight would be about 41 pounds of water for each one of the forty trips she would have to make down and back up out of that spring. Wow that girl was fit! Well, she did it-- and all without any grousing about it.


Gen 24:21 . .The man, meanwhile, stood gazing at her, silently wondering whether The Lord had made his errand successful or not.

That man must have been totally blown away. The very thing about which he prayed barely five minutes ago was occurring right before his eyes and all so brisk and sudden too. This was just too easy and just too unbelievable. Could this really be of The Lord? He dared not let himself enjoy any success yet until he knew for sure.

Gen 24:22 . .When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half-shekel, and two gold bands for her arms, ten shekels in weight.

The word for "nose-ring" is nexem (neh'-zem) which just means ring, or jewel. Without a modifier, there is no way of knowing for sure if the ring is for the nose or the ear. However, in verse 47 up ahead, Abraham's steward will say he installed the ring in Becky's nose.

The half shekel was a unit of weight and a media of exchange in those days. It weighed about 6.019 grams which is equal to about 92.87 grains. Typical .22 caliber lead bullets weigh approximately 40 grains apiece, so it would take at least two and a third of them to equal the weight of the ring. That's really not much, but if it's stuck in your nose or hanging on your ear I guess it would become noticeable after a while.

The combined weight of the two bands was ten shekels, which is twenty times the weight of the ring; or about 1,857 grains; which is equivalent to forty-six .22 cal lead bullets.

1,857 grains + 93 grains = 1,950 grains; which is equivalent to 4.06 troy ounces of gold. ( a troy ounce is equal to 480 grains) As of Jan 13, 2021 the commodity value of gold was roughly 1,856 US dollars per troy ounce. So to date, Becky's gold, in commodity value, was worth roughly 7,535 dollars. (6,198 Euro)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 24:23-25 . . Pray tell me; he said: whose daughter are you? Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night? She replied: I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. And she went on: There is plenty of straw and feed at home, and also room to spend the night.

That did it. The identity of Becky's family was the final chop that felled the tree. Abraham's steward had no more doubts about the Lord's providence. At this point, he put the ring in Becky's nose and the bands on her arms.

Gen 24:26-27 . .The man bowed low in homage to The Lord and said: Blessed be The Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His steadfast faithfulness from my master. For I have been guided on my errand by The Lord, to the house of my master's kinsmen.

How utterly astounded Becky must have been that this stranger would give her all that gold for doing nothing more than watering him and his camels; and then his prayer to boot.

I'm guessing that at this point, Becky began to suspect that something was up. There were men with Abraham's steward who were no doubt all intently observing this scene and gauging Becky's reactions throughout the whole incident. Looking at them, looking at the man, looking at his camels loaded down with all manner of stuff, and that there were more saddled camels than men to ride them; I think Becky began to get nervous because right then she took off out of there for home like a United passenger with scarcely seconds to spare to catch their connection from Chicago to Seattle.


Gen 24:28 . .The maiden ran and told all this to her mother's household.

Becky told the story to her mom's side of the family, which suggests that her dad Bethuel may have kept a concubine as well as a wife.

Here's a possible scenario of what happened next.

Becky's mom (whose name isn't given) has become anxious-- it's getting late, and her baby hasn't returned yet with the evening water supply.

Then, WHAM! as sudden and unexpected as a California earthquake: an excited, out of breath Becky-girl comes crashing through the door with a shriek and a squeal; dropping her jug on the floor with a thud, sloshing water over the floor, accompanied by the incomprehensible jabbering of a flock of magpies-- gasping for air, lungs burning; she spits her tale as arms flash with gold, and the ring in her nose sparkles like a glimmering salmon lure every time she turns her head; which is quite often.

At first, in dazed silence, everyone is paralyzed and nobody moves.

Then, BOOM! the whole place erupts like an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo and people start scrambling. Chairs get knocked over, tables bumped out of their places, lamps teeter, and doors slam with the whump and concussion of incoming mortar rounds. People out in the courtyard are barking orders to the servants at the tops of their voices; as everyone bolts off from ground-zero in ten different directions like panicked North Koreans making emergency preparations to put Kim Jong-Un up for the night.

Meanwhile, Becky's brother Laban (who just happens to be infected with a severe case of unbridled avarice) ignites the afterburners and sails out the door at Mach 2 on his way to fetch Abraham's steward.


Gen 24:29-30a . . Now Rebecca had a brother whose name was Laban. He ran out to the man at the spring when he saw the nose-ring and the bands on his sister's arms, and when he heard his sister Rebecca say: Thus the man spoke to me.

There's no record that Laban ever actually met Abraham in person, but Bethuel surely must have talked about him around the dinner table-- how the god of Noah had called uncle Abram to leave Mesopotamia and head south to the frontier. And caravans arriving from Egypt surely passed through Abraham's region, picking up news and information about the great sheik's exploits and the fact that Abraham's camp was very large; a community of at least a thousand people.

Then; Shazaam! Abraham's steward seemingly materializes out of nowhere-- totally unexpected like Forrest Gump's friend Jenny after a long absence --with samples of Abraham's prosperity. That must have been really exciting: akin to news from early-day Texas oilfields.


Gen 24:30b-31a . . He went up to the man, who was still standing beside the camels at the spring. He said: Come in, O blessed of The Lord;

The word for "Lord" is actuallyYHVH and is the very name of deity the steward used in his prayer.

Laban didn't actually worship Yhvh nor serve Him either. The steward's god was Yhvh; so for now, Yhvh would be Laban's god too. Becky's brother was a clever, Machiavellian manipulator. By feigning respect for the steward's god; Laban no doubt hoped it would work to advantage. Later we're going to discover that Laban's own personal religion was actually idolatry. He kept a supply of divine figurines in his home-- little statuettes called teraphim.


Gen 24:31b . . why do you remain outside, when I have made ready the house and a place for the camels?

Unlike Abraham's home, where Abraham ruled supreme, the daddy in Becky's home doesn't seem to have much voice or power in it. Bethuel's son, is the principle spokesman. He and his mom together seemed to run the place. Some husbands are happy with that kind of an arrangement so what the hey, if it works for them? It could be too that the daddy's health was not all that good and so he preferred letting his family manage the home.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 24:32 . . So the man entered the house, and the camels were unloaded. The camels were given straw and feed, and water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men with him.

In those days, when somebody "entered the house" they actually entered a gateway into a courtyard bordered by living quarters and stables.

Who took care of the animals? Probably servants. Which would indicate that Bethuel had done pretty well for himself in life. His home was spacious enough to shelter the servant and his detachment; plus he had enough provender and bedding for at least ten camels.

Hmmmm. Makes one curious why Becky was out there fetching water. Why did she have to do it if they had servants? Well, I don't think she really had to; but Isaac's future bride was no narcissistic prima donna: she was one of those people who don't mind pitching in and getting their hands dirty. Privileged or no privileged; that girl was something.


Gen 24:33a . . But when food was set before him, he said: I will not eat until I have told my tale.

Always one for business, the man got straight to the point.

Gen 24:33b . . He said: Speak, then.

Who was it said: speak? Well, the nearest antecedent is Laban. You know, that boy reminds me of Sonny Corleone; the eldest brother in Mario Puzo's book "The Godfather". Sonny was headstrong, outspoken, and a slave to his passions; just like ol' Laban.

Gen 24:34 . . I am Abraham's servant: he began.

I think it's commendable that this man, so far from home, didn't introduce himself by his own name but rather by the name of the one whom he represented.

Gen 24:35 . .The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become rich: He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and burros.

I love the way this man gives credit to Yhvh for Abraham's good fortune rather than to idols, heathen deities, dumb luck, brute force, fortuitous circumstance, and/or Abraham's business skills.

It was important that the man tell Becky's family about Abraham's religion, and about his wealth, because in a moment he's going to drop a 2,000 pound bunker buster that will change their lives forever.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 24:36a . . And Sarah, my master's wife, bore my master a son in her old age

Curiously, he doesn't mention Sarah's passing. But then, the Scriptures don't record every word that people ever spoke-- just excerpts really. Back in verse 30, Becky's entire experience at the spring is recounted in a very simple phrase: "Thus the man spoke to me."

If Becky wasn't listening before, you can just bet your equity line that her little ears perked up like a
NORAD radar station at the mention of Abraham's son. And not just a son, but a son born in Sarah's old age; which would mean that Abraham's boy was relatively young, or at least age-appropriate for her liking-- and maybe available too.

Americans don't take marriage serious enough. It was life or death in those days. Ancient women didn't have the advantages of education, special rights, open promiscuity, and independence like the women in twenty-first century America. Family life was all that really mattered to the women of old. It was their career goal and it was their old age security. Single women were failures and most likely headed for poverty. And some even felt it was an evidence of Divine disfavor to become an old maid-- which only served to aggravate their despair even more. So when those women got married and/or had a baby; it was a very big cause for celebration.


Gen 24:36b . . and he has assigned to him everything he owns.

It's no doubt obvious by now to everyone in the house where the servant is going with his narrative. Why else would he tell of the son's inheritance if not to impress Becky's family in order to secure her for the son's bride?

Gen 24:37-41 . . Now my master made me swear, saying: You shall not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I dwell; but you shall go to my father's house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son. And I said to my master: What if the woman does not follow me?

. . . He replied to me: The Lord, whose ways I have followed, will send His angel with you and make your errand successful; and you will get a wife for my son from my kindred, from my father's house. Thus only shall you be freed from my adjuration: if, when you come to my kindred, they refuse you--only then shall you be freed from my adjuration.


The "kindred" who might refuse the servant, includes the potential bride herself because Abraham said so at Gen 24:8.

In the ancient East, daughters were often given in arranged marriages without their consent. And normally, if Becky's kin were to say she was going to marry Isaac, well then she was going to marry Isaac and that was the end of discussion. Up ahead, we'll see that very fate befall Becky's nieces: Rachel and Leah.

But Abraham didn't want Isaac's bride to be purchased. No. In this case, Abraham broke with tradition and mandated the prospective bride herself cast the deciding vote. So if Becky refuses, the servant can't be blamed for dereliction of duty; and nobody is going to handcuff Becky and ship her off to Palestine via
UPS ground. Abraham wants her to come down there of her own volition; and if not, then he'll look elsewhere . . . and no hard feelings about it.

Gen 24:42-48 . . This portion is pretty much what went on before except that in this version, the family is told how Becky came to have the nose ring and the arm bands.

Becky hadn't known till just now that the servant prayed for special providence prior to her arrival at the spring-- the part concerning drinking the maiden's water, and her serving the camels. Becky must have been totally astonished to think that the actual True God led that man, not just to her doorstep, but right smack dab to her footsteps. Wow!

But she had no say in the negotiations at this point. Proposals were made to the senior members of the family in those days, not to the girl.


Gen 24:49-51 . . And now, if you mean to treat my master with true kindness, tell me; and if not, tell me also, that I may turn right or left. Then Laban and Bethuel answered: The matter was decreed by Yhvh; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebecca before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master's son, as the Lord has spoken.

Actually Bethuel himself didn't say anything. Laban spoke in proxy for him in the same way that the steward was now speaking as Abraham in Isaac's best interests. Bethuel and Laban may have had a quiet pow-wow off to the side and then Laban came forward and announced their decision.

At this point, Becky would have normally become legally engaged to marry Isaac. But Abraham would not permit the marriage to be set in stone until the girl actually consented for herself. So it's not over yet.


Gen 24:52 . .When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed low to the ground before the Lord.

Abraham's steward is one of the most pious men in the Bible, and people like him can be very influential for God. If you've ever been in the presence of someone like him you know what I'm saying. All the prayers I learned as a child were rote; just a memorized litany of chant-like mantras. The first time I overheard someone pray candidly, from the heart, it was very moving.

Gen 24:53 . .The servant brought out items of silver and gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebecca; and he gave presents to her brother and her mother.

The gifts were a good-faith token that the servant meant what he said; and I've no doubt that had Becky ultimately refused, he would not have demanded them back.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 24:54-55 . .Then he and the men with him ate and drank, and they spent the night. When they arose next morning, he said: Give me leave to go to my master. But her brother and her mother said: Let the maiden remain with us some ten days; then you may go.

Their request was reasonable. After all, this was all so sudden. They didn't even have a chance to announce the engagement nor organize a bridal shower. Becky's friends would all want to come over to the house and ooo and ahhh the jewelry and go nuts over the exotic fashions from Canaan. And they would all want to give her one last hug and wish blessings on her new life. What's so wrong with that? There's nothing wrong with that; but Abraham's wishes have to take priority in this matter. (cf. Luke 9:61-62)

Gen 24:56-57a . . He said to them: Do not delay me, now that The Lord has made my errand successful. Give me leave that I may go to my master.

Abraham probably had a pretty good idea how long his servant should be gone; and if the return was delayed, Abraham might begin to become anxious and wonder what was going on up there in Haran what with no internet email, telephones, HAM radio, telegraph, nor even any way to send a post card back home.

Becky has now agreed to be Isaac's bride. She made that decision the moment she accepted clothing and jewelry that were offered to her in Isaac's name. The big question now is: how much longer does she wish to remain a maiden before becoming a married woman with a home of her own, and fulfilling a woman's purpose in life per Gen 2:18.


Gen 24:57b-58 . . And they said: Let us call the girl and ask for her reply. They called Rebecca and said to her: Will you go with this man? And she said: I will.

Exactly what so strongly motivated Becky to agree to leave home on such short notice is open to speculation. Some feel it was because, unknown to the writer of Genesis, she had been praying for The Lord's providence in this very matter of finding the right man. The events of the previous evening were enough to convince Becky that this was truly divine providence; and she wasn't about to procrastinate now and louse up her chances for God-given happiness and security. That man was leaving, and the soon-to-be Mrs. Isaac ben Abraham was not going to miss her ride; uh-uh, no way!

Gen 24:59a . . So they sent off their sister Rebecca

The word for "sister" is from 'achowth (aw-khoth') and isn't limited to siblings. It applies to all manner of female kin-- sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces; even to a lover, as in Song 4:9-12.

You can imagine the flurry that went on in that house getting Becky's bags packed on such short notice. You can bet there was no joy around there that morning. An air of sadness marked her departure. Everyone was no doubt well aware they would likely never see Becky ever again. In those days, when somebody moved 500 miles away, they might just as well have gone to Pluto.


Gen 24:59b . . and her nurse along with Abraham's servant and his men.

The word for "nurse" is from yanaq (yaw-nak') and implies wet nursing. This may be an indication that, for reasons unspecified, Rebecca's mom was unable to breast feed her children. In Mesopotamia, wet nurses frequently had the additional duties of bringing up the child and acting as their guardian; viz: a nanny.

The nurse (whose name is Deborah; Gen 35:8) was probably either Becky's first choice as personal assistant, or Deborah herself just couldn't part with her little Becky and volunteered to go along as a chaperon. It's not unusual for mentors, like Helen Keller's tutor Anne Sullivan, to become permanently bonded and dedicated to their charges.


Gen 24:60 . . And they blessed Rebecca and said to her: O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads; may your offspring seize the gates of their foes.

That prophetic bon voyage was undoubtedly an acknowledgement of the promises God made to Abraham following the Akedah (Gen 22:15-18). Abraham's steward spent the night in Becky's home; and while eating dinner and chatting, no doubt shared many wonderful events from Abraham's and Isaac's lives to which Becky's family must have listened just as spellbound as all of us who study Genesis in our own day and age.

The Akedah surely must have been to them almost beyond belief that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice the very son in whom all the promises would be fulfilled. No wonder Becky was so ready to go. She just had to get on down there and see this man in whom God had taken such a particular interest.


Gen 24:61a . .Then Rebecca and her maids arose, mounted the camels, and followed the man.

The word for "maids" is from na'arah (nah-ar-aw') and means a young, underage girl. A Bible maid is just a lass, not really a grown up adult woman. She could be a pre teen or a late teen and any age in between. It wasn't unusual for a woman from a family of means to have a retinue of young girls in attendance. Becky's maids possibly were the children of her home's adult servants.

Then too, young girls were often indentured into maid service. Sometimes it was because of parental greed, but often it was because the family was in poverty and desperate. In the last decade alone, many families in Afghanistan were forced to sell their children just to survive the Taliban ruin of their country. Sometimes young girls were fortunes of war in Becky's day and could be bought and sold at market; for example the Jewish damsel in 2Kgs 5:1-3 who helped Naaman get his leprosy cured.
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