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Genesis 24:62-67 meaning

Isaac is in the southern desert of Canaan. He sees the ten camels returning. Rebekah sees him from a distance and asks who he is. The servant tells her. Isaac goes to greet them, hearing the full story from the servant. He and Rebekah are married, and he is comforted after his mother Sarah's death.

The author returns us to Isaac, who had come from going to Beer-lahai-roi; for he was living in the Negev.

Beer-lahai-roiwas a water well in the south of Canaan in the Negev, a desert region (Genesis 16:14). The well's name means "the well of the living one who sees me," so called by Hagar when God spoke to her there (Genesis 16:13). Isaac later settled there after Abraham died (Genesis 25:11).

Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. The word translated meditate (Hebrew "śwh") is only used once in the Bible, in this passage, and its meaning isn't fully known. It may mean "walk" or "wander." For modern audiences, to meditate may mean the idea of clearing all thoughts from one's mind. But this is an Eastern understanding of meditation. Throughout scripture, to meditate means to ponder something, to think very deeply on it, to put importance on it. King David writes in one of his psalms, addressing the LORD,

"I will meditate on Your precepts,

And regard Your ways."

(Psalm 119:15)

Isaac was in a field toward evening, either taking an evening stroll or thinking about some matter, perhaps wondering what woman the servant would bring back for him to marry, perhaps remembering his mother Sarah who had recently passed away (Genesis 23).

While in the field, Isaac lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming.

The author switches points of view, taking us back to Rebekah, just as she and her party arrived. She lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. Rebekah had apparently made the voyage from Haran riding on a camel. It was roughly a 400 mile journey. The Hebrew word translated dismounted is most often translated "fall."  So it might be that Rebekah was so smitten or surprised by the man in the field that she fell or stumbled off the camel.

The sight of Isaac, who was walking in the field to meet them, affected Rebekah significantly.

There is a sort of romantic rhythm in these verses, that Isaac lifted up his eyes and saw the camels returning, possibly bearing his wife-to-be, and at the same moment Rebekah lifted up her eyes and saw Isaac. These two had never met, but were chosen by God to be together. And in the same instance they see one another from afar. It appears there is at least a hint of "love at first sight."

Rebekah asked the servant, Abraham's servant who had brought her to Canaan, Who is that man? Rebekah apparently had recovered herself, and now asked the identity of the man who affected her. We might think she is hoping the answer will be "Your new husband." If so, she was likely thrilled to hear the answer to her question.

And the servant said, He is my master. Throughout this chapter, the servant has referred to Abraham as his master, but Isaac, as heir to Abraham, certainly was in authority over the servant as well. Just as a prince has authority over servants, even if his father is still king. Although Abraham is the patriarch and is currently alive, he is "old, advanced in years" (v. 1), and Isaac seems to have already received his inheritance, which would mean he was managing the servants and livestock at this point (Genesis 24:36).

Then Rebekah took her veil and covered herself. Isaac was the man she was betrothed to, and out of modesty she covered herself until they were married, according to custom.

The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Presumably this means the servant recounts the story we learned in this chapter—his arrival at the well in Haran, his prayer to God for guidance, that the woman God chose for Isaac would give him a drink if he asked, and offer to water his camels; his meeting with Rebekah and her willingness to serve water to him and to his camels, his discovery that she was kin to Abraham and Isaac, the dinner at Laban's house, the marriage proposal and acceptance, and the safe return. It seems all of this was welcome news to everyone involved.

Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. The purpose of this chapter and the journey to Haran is fulfilled. Isaac marries Rebekah; she became his wife, and he loved her.

The chapter concludes with insight into Isaac's emotional state. His mother Sarah died in Chapter 23, and apparently this loss continued to grieve Isaac in an ongoing manner. But now, he was married to his wife, a wife whom he lovedthus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. Though he had lost his mother, he had now gained a wife, with the promise of children ahead of him. Isaac was building his own family and continuing the line of Abraham, all in accordance with the promises of God (Genesis 15:5).

The phrase Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent is intriguing. It could mean that Isaac kept Sarah's tent pitched and unoccupied as a part of his mourning for her. If so, then bringing Rebekah into that tent would provide a picture that God had provided someone to fill the void that had been left by his mother. As an only child, the attachment was apparently quite close. The connection between the mention that Isaac loved her and the fact that he was comforted after his mother's death by Rebekah might indicate that Rebekah had the same sort of character as Sarah. 1 Peter 3 indicates that Sarah's character was something that women should seek to copy (1 Peter 3:6).

We learn in the next chapter that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah (Genesis 25:20). Abraham lived another 35 years after they married. Isaac will live another 140 years (Genesis 35:28).


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