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Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah the daughter of Bethuel' the Syrian, of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Nahor very probably either removed with his father Terah (as Abraham did) from Ur, in Chaldea, and settled at Haran, in Mesopotamia, or not long after followed them thither. We find that the promises of God, as far as they related to Abraham's personal prosperity and happiness, were abundantly fulfilled; for he was blessed in all things, and had as full enjoyment of the land of Canaan, as his circumstances would admit of: the entire possession of the country would have been an incumbrance to him, and disadvantageous to his posterity, for he could not have peopled it all, and the parts unoccupied would have been over-run with wild beasts, and covered with briars and brambles, before his descendants could increase into a nation.
It was very natural that Abraham should wish to see Isaac settled before he died; and as the people who surrounded him were idolators, he certainly would have been very unhappy had Isaac made an intimate alliance with them, especially as it had been revealed to Abraham, that their presumptuous wickedness would provoke the Lord to cut them off at last.
It would have been an imprudent step, if Abraham had suffered his son to leave the land of Canaan, and go. to the very place from whence he himself had been called by the Lord. Besides the .good Patriarch knew that in Mesopotamia, even those who adhered to the true God, had greatly corrupted His holy worship, and that the generality of the people were very much addicted to idolatry; in this case, Isaac would have been exposed to
the tire danger of being drawn away from I1I3 duty, had he gone thither in search of a wife. Besides, he might have fancied some other woman in the country, in,tead of one of his own kindred, and by this means have made an improper match.
Abraham considered that his own life was very uncertain; and knowing tire fidelity and discretion of Eliezer, he appointed him the guardian of his son in this momentous affair.
The oath which Abraham required his steward to take, was the most solemn one then in use.
It does not appear that, Eliezer was visibly conducted by an attgel, but it is likely that Abraham, in sending him, acted agreeably to Divine direction, and that, he had received assurances from the Lord God of heaven and earth, that an -extraordinary providence should attend this expedition. The readiness of - Eliezer to undertake it, shews, that he was a pious good man, worthy of (his important trust; and his subsequent behaviour^ was such as might justly be expected from a person trained in Abraham's house. The prayer Eliezer offered, was exactly suited to "the occasion, which was so difficult a one, that without some sign from the Lord, he would have been utterly at a loss how to proceed, for he was not acquainted with a single person in the country ; and had he opened bis business to strangers, he would have been in great danger of imposition.
In those days, they had not contrivances for conveying water from place to place by pipes as we now have; nor indeed would it have been worth their while to be at the trouble and expence of making them, because they 'requently changed their situation ; which obliged theni to have public wtlls, and to water their flocks at stated times, when all the young women used to attend,
it it being part of their business to look after tlie sheep. This was the occasion that brought Rcbekah to the place where Ehezer had his first interview with her.
It is evident from his thanksgiving at the well, and the relation he gave of the sentiments which successively arose in his mind, that Eliezer perceived the providence of God disposing all events for the accomplishment of the business he was employed' in. $nd we may also judge, from the ready concurrence of Rebekah and her friends, that they were of the same opinion.
There is one particular in Rebekah's conduct, which shews her character in a very pleasing light; that is her humanity to the camels *. When she went to the well and beheld the poor weary beasts, though she knew not to whom they belonged, she was moved with compassion towards them, and offered, without the least solicitation, to draw water for them all. This was a very laborious employment for a young woman to undertake, considering that camels are very large creatures, and that they drink water in great abundance to serve them for long travel in dry deserts, and Rebekah had no less than ten of them to satisfy; yet she performed her promise, and drew for them all. Her brother Laban likewise was so attentive to the necessities of the beasts, that before he gave the men any refreshment, he ungirded the camels, and gave them provender to eat, and straw to lie down and rest on. Compassion urged him to take the first care of those creatures that could not take care of themselves.
How admirable was the fidelity of Eliezer. He would neither eat nor drink, till he bad executed his commission.
The readiness of Rebekah to leave her friends, and of
* Dr. Prirnatt's Dissertation.
them then to part with her, shewed a firm trust in the Lord. The blessing pronounced on her at parting, seems to allude to the Everlasting Covenant. This afterwards became a solemn form of benediction in the marriage ceremony among the Jews.
The marriage of Isaac appears to have taken place soon after the death of his mother.
In former sections we read, that the Lord on manyoccasions visibly interposed in Abraham's temporal concerns. We find in this portion of Scripture a wonderful concurrence of circumstances, that could scarcely have happened by chance. Abraham's servant was not favoured with a visible manifestation of the Deity, yet he clearly discerned a particular Providence in the occurrences which befel him, and acknowledged with thankfulness the goodness of the Lord.
By his example, we are instructed to ascribe our success and prosperity in the affairs of this life, to the merciful guidance and direction of an over-ruling Providence: for what the Lord did for Eliezer, He still continues to do for all who put their trust in. Him. A man's heart (says Solomon*) deviseth his way, but the Lokd directeth his steps.
It is to be observed, that Eliezer did not throw himself entirely upon Providence; in the first place he solemnly resolved to do what his duty required; he then employed those means for the accomplishment of his purpose, which human reason would in that case naturally suggest (providing himself with such a retinue and presents, as were likely to procure him credit and attention); and having done this, he prayed to the Lord God to dispose those contingencies which were not in his own power. Let us in every important affair
pursue the like method ; and if our wishes are crowned with success, let us not pride ourselves in the wisdom of our own contrivances, but, with humility and thankfulness, acknowledge the goodness of the Suprrm'i Dikkctok of all events, as Eliezerdid.
THE BIRTH OF ESAU AND JACOB.
From Genesis, Cha/u xxv.
And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she had no children, and the Lord granted his prayer.
And Rebekah went to enquire of the Lohd, and the "lord revealed to her that two nations should proceed from her, and that they should be two manner of people; that the one people or nation should be stronger than the other; and that the elder should serve the younger.
And Rebekah bare twin sons, and she called the firstborn Esau, and the younger she called Jacob. And Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
And the boys grew : and Esau waj a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison :but Rebekah loved Jacob.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
As Isaac was heir to the promises, it was very natural for him to be desirous of having a son, that he might transmit the inheritance to the next generation; however, it seems that he waited with patient resignation for 20 years, and then his hope beginning to fail, he solemnly and earnestly entreated the Lord to grant him an increase of family.