Genesis 24 — looking for SWF, no Canaanites, please!
This is a long-winded, but interesting story. I think it reveals a lot about the mindset of the author and/or the people of the day.
First, you would think a marriage would be important enough for someone to take care of personally, but not so in the Bible. Not only does Isaac not try to find a wife, his father doesn’t either: he sends a slave to take care of it. It was the "chief servant" though (24:2, NIV), thank goodness! Some translations have "oldest" or "eldest", but I think the idea is the same.
We see that racial purity is important. God doesn’t want Isaac to be breeding with those Canaanites apparently. No reason is given, but what other reason would there be than to maintain a "pure" bloodline? No mixed breeds allowed I guess. I wonder what God thinks of Obama….If Abraham’s story is any sign, God would rather you marry your half sister than someone from outside your clan. He didn’t seem to mind Lot’s daughters having children by their dad, either…
The way the servant, who is a complete stranger sent by the father of a complete stranger, convinces the family to give up Rebekah to him, is funny in my opinion. It’d be sad if it actually happened, but I suspect and hope not. Rebekah offers the stranger and his camel water. Later, this random guy comes in to her parents’ place and says, after the fact, that he knew if a beautiful girl offered water to him and his camels, then she would be the girl for his master’s son to marry. That proves that God wants her to marry his son!
And the best part is, they completely buy the story. "This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other." (NIV 24:50) Just mention Yahweh, and people believe the strangest things I guess.
What is interesting, though, is that the family wants a 10-day waiting period first. Why, we don’t know. But when Abraham’s servant refuses, the family actually asks Rebekah if she will go with the servant, and she agrees. Now, they’re probably only asking her how soon she will go (they had already agreed, without consulting Rebekah, that she would go with the servant), but it’s still a good thing that she has at least SOME say in the matter. This surprised me.
Another thing that is good is that it says Isaac loved Rebekah. Unless my memory deceives me, the Bible really hasn’t talked about love up until this point. It’s mostly been about having children to carry on the line. If Isaac truly loved her, then that is a good model for people. We’ll see in future chapters if something comes up that goes against this.
Two other quick observations:
• When Rebekah approaches Isaac for the first time, she suddenly puts a veil on. Why would she do this? It isn’t explained. If it’s some sort of decorum, I don’t see why you would NOT wear a veil in front of a strange man but would wear one in front of your future husband. I don’t see why you’d wear a veil at all, but that’s another story. If it’s similar to Islam tradition, then it’s degrading to women to say they have to cover themselves up. Instead, God should have created men with a little more self-control and respect for women…
No one dies in this chapter, making it tame compared to many others I’ve read so far. Isaac and Rebekah appear to actually love each other. But the way they meet and marry is not a model, and the fact that Abraham excludes an entire clan of people from possible wives for his son shows his and/or God’s bigotry.
PS Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.
Genesis 20 — She ain’t married, she’s my sister
So here we have Abraham passing off Sarah as his sister again (how tantalizing a woman she must have been, even approaching 100 years old, that the local leaders just couldn’t keep themselves from marrying her!). But this time, we find out Abraham wasn’t totally lying about Sarah being his sister.
" Yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father , but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife." (Gen 20:12, KJV)
So apparently, Sarah is only Abraham’s half-sister. Which apparently makes it okay? Sounds pretty sick to me, but God doesn’t say anything against this in these verses. Nor does he appear to get mad at Abraham and Sarah for lying again.
Instead, God threatens the local leader (Abimelech) with destruction because he married Sarah, who’s already married to Abraham. After the local leader points out that they haven’t consummated the relationship, and that he had been lied to about Sarah’s identity, then God lets him off the hook. The local chieftain even tells Abraham to make himself at home, and to make up for everything gives Abraham a thousand shekles.
And the moral is?? Who knows. My guess is the leader saw how completely screwy the whole situation and figured he’d better make nice with Abraham and his god to avoid punishment. A wise move, I’d say.