A Wife for Isaac
||Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and God had blessed Abraham with everything.
||He said to the senior servant of his household, who was in charge of all that he owned, 'Place your hand under my thigh.
||I will bind you by an oath to God, Lord of heaven and earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live.
||Instead, you must go to my native land, to my birthplace, and obtain a wife for my son Isaac.'
||'But what if the girl does not want to come back with me to this land?' asked the servant. 'Shall I bring your son back to the land that you left?'
||'Be most careful in this respect,' replied Abraham. 'Do not bring my son back there!
||God, the Lord of heaven, took me away from my father's house and the land of my birth. He spoke to me and made an oath. 'To your offspring I will give this land.' He will send His angel before you, and you will indeed find a wife there for my son.
||If the girl does not want to come back with you, then you shall be absolved of my oath. But [no matter what,] do not bring my son back there!'
||The servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and he took an oath regarding this.
||The servant then took ten of his master's camels, bringing along the best things his master owned. He set off and went to Aram Naharayim, to the city of Nachor.
||[When he arrived,] he let the camels rest on their knees outside the city, beside the well. It was in the evening when women go out to draw water.
||He prayed, 'O God, Lord of my master Abraham: Be with me today, and grant a favor to my master Abraham.
||I am standing here by the well, and the daughters of the townsmen are coming out to draw water.
||If I say to a girl, 'Tip over your jug and let me have a drink,' and she replies, 'Drink, and I will also water your camels,' she will be the one whom You have designated for Your servant Isaac. [If there is such a girl,] I will know that You have granted a favor for my master.'
||He had not yet finished speaking, when Rebecca appeared. She had been born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham's brother Nachor. Her jug was on her shoulder.
||The girl was extremely good-looking, [and] she was a virgin untouched by any man. The girl went down, filled her jug, and then came up again.
||The servant ran toward her. 'If you would, let me sip a little water from your jug,' he said.
||'Drink, Sir,' she replied. She quickly lowered her jug to her hand and gave him a drink.
||When he had finished drinking, she said, 'Let me draw water for your camels, so they can [also] drink their fill.'
||She quickly emptied her jug into the trough and ran to the well again to draw water. She drew water for all his camels.
||The man stood there gaping at her. But he remained silent, waiting to determine for certain whether or not God had made his journey successful.
||When the camels had finished drinking, he took a gold ring weighing half a shekel, and two gold bracelets, weighing ten gold shekels, for her arms.
||'Whose daughter are you?' he asked. 'If you would, tell me if there is a place in your father's house for us to spend the night.'
||She replied, 'I am the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nachor.'
||She then said, 'We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as a place for people to spend the night.'
||The man bowed low and prostrated himself to God.
||He said, 'Blessed be God, Lord of my master Abraham, who has not withdrawn the kindness and truth that He grants to my master. Here I am, still on the road, and God has led me to the house of my master's close relatives!'
||The girl ran to her mother's quarters and told her what had happened.
||Rebecca had a brother named Laban. He ran outside to the stranger, to the well.
||He had seen the ring, and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and had heard his sister Rebecca relating what the man had said to her. He came to the stranger, who was still standing beside the camels near the well,
||and said, 'Come! [You're a man] blessed by God! Why are you still standing there outside? I have cleaned the house and prepared a place for the camels.'
||The stranger came into the house and unmuzzled the camels. [Laban] gave the camels straw and fodder, and provided water [for the stranger] and the men with him to wash their feet.
||Food was served, but [the stranger] said, 'I will not eat until I have spoken my piece.'
'Speak,' replied [the host].
||[The stranger] said, 'I am Abraham's servant.
||God granted my master a very great blessing, and he prospered. [God] granted him sheep, cattle, silver, gold, slaves, slavegirls, camels and donkeys.
||Finally, my master's wife Sarah gave birth to a son for my master after she had grown very old, and [my master] gave him all that he owned.
||'My master bound me by an oath: 'Do not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live.
||Instead, you must go to my father's house, to my family, and there you shall get a wife for my son.'
||'I said to my master, 'But what if the girl will not come back with me?'
||He said to me, 'God, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you and make your mission successful. But you must find a wife for my son from my family and from my father's house.
||There is only one way that you can be free of my dread oath. If you go to my family and they do not give you a girl, you will be released from my dread oath.'
||'Now today I came to the well, and I prayed, 'O God, Lord of my master Abraham, if You will, grant success to this mission that I am undertaking.
||I am now standing by the town well. When a girl comes out to draw water, I will say to her, 'Let me drink some water from your jug.'
||If she answers, 'Not only may you drink, but I will also draw water for your camels,' then she is the wife designated by God for my master's son.'
||'I had not yet finished speaking to myself, when Rebecca suddenly came out, carrying her jug on her shoulder. When she went down to the well and drew water, I said to her, 'Please give me a drink.'
||She immediately lowered her jug and said, 'Drink! I will also water your camels.' I took a drink, and she also gave the camels water.
||'I questioned her and asked, 'Whose daughter are you?' She replied, 'I am a daughter of Bethuel, son of Nachor, whom Milcah bore to him.' I then placed a ring on her nose, and bracelets on her arms.
||I bowed low and prostrated myself to God. I blessed God, Lord of my master Abraham, who led me on a true path to get a niece of my master for his son.
||'Now if you want to do what is kind and right to my master, tell me. If not, say so, and I will go to the right or to the left.'
||Laban and Bethuel [both] spoke up. 'It is something from God!' they said. 'We cannot say anything to you, bad or good.
||Rebecca is right here in front of you. Take her and go. Let her be a wife for your master's son, as God has spoken.'
||When Abraham's servant heard these words, he prostrated himself on the ground to God.
||The servant brought out gold and silver jewelry, as well as articles of clothing, and gave them to Rebecca. He also gave precious gifts to her brother and mother.
||He and his men then ate and drank, and they spent the night.
When they got up in the morning, [the servant] said, 'Let me go back to my master.'
||[The girl's] brother and mother replied, '[At least] let the girl remain with us for another year or ten [months]. Then she can go.'
||'Do not delay me,' said [the servant]. 'God has already shown my mission to be successful. Let me leave, so that I can go to my master.'
||'Let's call the girl and ask her personally,' they replied.
||They summoned Rebecca and said to her, 'Do you want to go with this man?'
'I will go,' she replied.
||They let their relative Rebecca go, along with her attendant, Abraham's servant, and his men.
||They blessed Rebecca and said to her, 'Our sister, grow into thousands of myriads. May your descendants inherit the gate of their foes.'
||Rebecca set off with her girls, and they rode on the camels, following the stranger. The servant thus took Rebecca and left.
||Isaac was on his way, coming from Beer LaChai Roi. He was then living in the Negev area.
||Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. He raised his eyes, and saw camels approaching.
||When Rebecca looked up and saw Isaac, she fell from the camel.
||She asked the servant, 'Who is this man coming toward us in the field?'
'That is my master,' replied the servant. [Rebecca] took her veil and covered herself.
||The servant told Isaac all that had happened.
||Isaac brought [the girl] into his mother Sarah's tent, and he married Rebecca. She became his wife, and he loved her. Isaac was then consoled for the loss of his mother.
According to Talmudic tradition, this anonymous servant was Eliezer (Genesis 15:2; Targum Yonathan; Yoma28b; Rashi).
|under my thigh|
This was a form often used for an oath; see Genesis 47:29. According to Biblical idiom, children issue from the 'thigh' of the father (Genesis 46:26, Exodus 1:5, Judges 8:30), and hence, it is a euphemism for the procreative organ. According to Talmudic tradition, the servant was to place his hand near (Saadia; cf. Abarbanel) the holy sign of the covenant, just as in later times an oath would be made on a Torah scroll (Shevuoth 38b; Targum Yonathan; Rashi). According to some, it was a sign of obedience (Ibn Ezra).
|To your offspring...|
See Genesis 12:7, 15:18 (Rashi).
Literally, 'Aram of the Rivers.' It was called this because it was between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers (Rashi). The area is thought to be in the great bend of the Euphrates. See note on Genesis 24:10, 'city of Nachor'.
|city of Nachor|
Some say that this is Charan, where Abraham's brother Nachor (Genesis 11:27,31) now lived (Ramban on 11:28; see note on Genesis 22:20). We thus find that Rebecca's brother Laban lived in Charan (Genesis 27:43, 28:10, 29:4). This is approximately 450 miles north of Hebron. However, there is a city Nahur mentioned in ancient Mari documents, and this may have been a suburb of Charan.
Or 'indicated,' 'determined,' or 'selected.' There is a question as to whether Torah law allows a person to ask for a sign of this type (see Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 11:4; Raavad ad loc.; Yoreh Deah 179:4 in Hagah).
|She had been born...|
See Genesis 22:20.
Nezem in Hebrew. Here it is a nose ring (Genesis 24:47). The word nezem itself, however, can denote either an ear ring (Genesis 35:4, Exodus 32:2) or a nose ring (Isaiah 3:21, Ezekiel 16:12; cf. Ibn Ezra). Some say that a nezemis an open ring.
|half a shekel|
Beka in Hebrew, equivalent to half a shekel (Exodus 38:26, Rashi ad loc.). The ring weighed a little less than half an ounce.
|ten gold shekels|
Around 8 ounces. See note on Genesis 23:15.
(cf. Bereshith Rabbah 60; Kethuvoth 102b; Rashi). Literally, '[she] told it to her mother's house.'
Literally, an anonymous 'man.' See Genesis 18:2.
Alah in Hebrew, also meaning a curse. It is thus an oath accompanied by a curse for not fulfilling it, as distinguished from a shevuah (see note on Genesis 21:28).
(Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach). Or 'delicious fruits' (Rashi; cf. Radak, Sherashim s.v. Meged).
|a year or ten months|
(Targum Yonathan; Kethuvoth 57b; Rashi; Radak). Or, 'a week or ten days' (cf. Bereshith Rabbah 60).
(cf. Exodus 5:1). It can also mean 'sent off,' 'bid farewell,' or 'escorted.'
Literally, 'nurse.' This may have been Deborah (Genesis 35:8). It may also denote 'childhood companions,' see Genesis 24:61.
Or 'conquer.' See note on Genesis 22:17. This is a blessing given to brides to this very day.
|on his way, coming...|
Literally, 'came from coming.' Others translate it, 'Isaac was coming from his usual journeys to...' (Targum; Ramban; Rashbam; Radak).
|Beer LaChai Roi|
See Genesis 16:14. Isaac later lived there (Genesis 25:11). Some say that he prayed there because this was where an angel had been seen (Ramban). Others maintain that he had gone to visit Hagar (Bereshith Rabbah 60; Rashi).
Or, 'almost fell' (Saadia).