Genesis (Part 102)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis: 24:62-67

62 Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65 and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

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So it seems that Isaac and Rebekkah did not waste any time consummating their marriage.

In verse 62 we see that Isaac is returning from Beer-lahai-roi.

Beer-lahai-roi = בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי Bᵉʼêr la-Chay Rôʼîy, be-ayr’ lakh-ah’ee ro-ee’; from H875 and H2416 (with prefix) and H7203; well of a living (One) my Seer; Beer-Lachai-Roi, a place in the Desert:—Beer-lahai-roi.

From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(62) The well Lahai-roi.—Hagar’s well (Genesis 16:14), situated in the “south country,” that is, the Negeb (see Genesis 12:9). The oasis round it became Isaac’s favourite residence (Genesis 25:11), and was in the neighbourhood of Beer-sheba, where Abraham was dwelling when Sarah died at Hebron (Genesis 23:2). The journey of the servant would take some months, and during this time Abraham’s herds would be shifted from station to station, but it would be known where he was from the period of the year. As Isaac was at the station most remote from Charran, Rebekah would have visited all his homes before arriving at Beer-lahai-roi.

The Pulpit Commentaries agrees with the interpretation that this well is Hagar’s well.

And (when the bridal train was nearing home) Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi;—Hagar’s well (Genesis 16:7Genesis 16:14)—for he dwelt in the south country—on the Negeb (vide Genesis 12:9). Abraham may by this time have removed from Hebron; or, if Hebron be included in the south country, Isaac may have been only on a visit to Hagar’s well (Lange).

The bridal train arrives as Isaac is meditating. (That is such a cool wait to meet your wife that I almost wonder if he received word that they were set to arrive and arranged to be met while meditating.)

meditate = שׂוּחַ sûwach, soo’-akh; a primitive root; to muse pensively:—meditate.

Interestingly, Strong’s says that this is the only instance in the Bible wherein this usage occurs.

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary mentions the verse and gives more information on this word:

(63) To meditate.—Many Jewish commentators translate to pray, and derive one of the three Jewish forms of prayer from this act of Isaac. But though the verb is rare, the substantive is used in Psalms 104:34 of religious meditation; and this sense well agrees with the whole character of the calm, peaceful Isaac, already marked out as the type of the Lamb dumb before His slayers (Genesis 22:7).

The form of the world used in Psalm 104 is:

שִׂיחַ sîyach, see’-akh; from H7878; a contemplation; by implication, an utterance:—babbling, communication, complaint, meditation, prayer, talk.

The Psalm form of the word is also used rarely, but not so rarely as the form in our verse above.

The Commentary above mentions three types of prayer in Judaism. HERE is a synopsis of the three types and their respective origins:

Many Jewish sects require members to pray three times a day, once in in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. These daily prayers are called the shacharit, the minchah and the arvith, respectively. According to tradition, each of Judaism’s three patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — introduced one of these prayers. Jews perform these at synagogue to increase the bond between the members of the congregation. Often, the afternoon and evening prayers are combined into one service, which takes place around sunset. Different sects will conduct these prayers in different ways. For example, Orthodox services are austere and structured, while some Reform congregations allow for more freedom and personal expression during prayer.

Returning to the verses with The Pulpit Commentary:

And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw (literally, and she saw, though as yet she did not know that it was) Isaac, she lighted—literally, fell; the word signifying a hasty descent (cf. 1 Samuel 25:232 Kings 5:21); κατεπήδησεν (LXX.); descended (Vulgate)—off the camel. “The behavior of Rebekah was such as modern etiquette requires”.

lifted up = נָשָׂא nâsâʼ, naw-saw’; or נָסָה nâçâh; (Psalm 4:6 [7]), a primitive root; to lift, in a great variety of applications, literal and figurative, absolute and relative:—accept, advance, arise, (able to, (armor), suffer to) bear(-er, up), bring (forth), burn, carry (away), cast, contain, desire, ease, exact, exalt (self), extol, fetch, forgive, furnish, further, give, go on, help, high, hold up, honorable ( man), lade, lay, lift (self) up, lofty, marry, magnify, × needs, obtain, pardon, raise (up), receive, regard, respect, set (up), spare, stir up, swear, take (away, up), × utterly, wear, yield.

eyes = עַיִן ʻayin, ah’-yin; probably a primitive word; an eye (literally or figuratively); by analogy, a fountain (as the eye of the landscape):—affliction, outward appearance, before, think best, colour, conceit, be content, countenance, displease, eye((-brow), (-d), -sight), face, favour, fountain, furrow (from the margin), × him, humble, knowledge, look, (+ well), × me, open(-ly), + (not) please, presence, regard, resemblance, sight, × thee, × them, + think, × us, well, × you(-rselves).

The language used – “lifted up his/her eyes” – for both Isaac and Rebekah is the same.

lighted off / dismounted from = נָפַל nâphal, naw-fal’; a primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications (intransitive or causative, literal or figurative):—be accepted, cast (down, self, (lots), out), cease, die, divide (by lot), (let) fail, (cause to, let, make, ready to) fall (away, down, -en, -ing), fell(-ing), fugitive, have (inheritance), inferior, be judged (by mistake for 6419), lay (along), (cause to) lie down, light (down), be (× hast) lost, lying, overthrow, overwhelm, perish, present(-ed, -ing), (make to) rot, slay, smite out, × surely, throw down.

The implication from the underlying language is that the dismount was done hastily.

Continuing with The Pulpit Commentaries:

For she had said (literally, and she said; not before, but after alighting) unto the servant (of Abraham), What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?—Isaac having obviously hastened forward to give a welcome to his bride. On learning who it was she took a veil—“the cloak-like veil of Arabia” (Keil), which covers not merely the face, but, “like a kind of large wrapper, nearly the whole form, rendering it impossible to recognize the person” (Kalisch)—and covered herself. That married ladies did not always use the yell when traveling appears from the case of Sarah (Genesis 20:16); but that brides did not discover their faces to their intended husbands until after marriage may be inferred from the case of Leah (Genesis 29:23Genesis 29:25). Thus modestly attired, she meekly yields herself to one whom she had never before seen, in the confident persuasion that so Jehovah willed.

Rebekah hurries off her camel and then veils herself. That is the first instance of veiling we have seen in Genesis thus far.

veil = צָעִיף tsâʻîyph, tsaw-eef’; from an unused root meaning to wrap over; a veil:—vail.

The servant speaks with Isaac while this veiling is likely occurring and he tells Isaac of everything that happened. Then with all of the formalities out of the way, Isaac takes Rebekah to his mother’s tent and they do marital things.

From The Pulpit Commentaries:

And Isaac—receiving an account (Genesis 24:66) from his father’s faithful ambassador of all things that he had done—brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent (which must have been removed from Hebron as a precious relic of the family, if by this time they had changed their abode), and took Rebekah, and she became his wife—the primitive marriage ceremony consisting solely of a taking before witnesses (vide Ruth 4:13). And he loved her. And he had every reason; for, besides being beautiful and kindly and pious, she had for his sake performed a heroic act of self-sacrifice, and, better still, had been both selected for and bestowed upon him by his own and his father’s God. And Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Literally, after his mother; the word death not being in the original, “as if the Holy Spirit would not conclude this beautiful and joyful narrative with a note of sorrow” (Wordsworth).

There’s a lot that happens in this verse.

Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother

Sarah’s tent is preserved and perhaps given by Isaac to his new wife.

and took Rebekah, and she became his wife and he loved her.

Something that might not be obvious initially, from the text, but there are observers in the tent. The commentary above tell us that the marriage is consummated “before witnesses” and that this is customary. The commentary cites Ruth 4:13.

Ruth 4:13 13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.

You’ll note from the verse that witnesses are not mentioned. However, we should not find the likelihood of witnesses to be too strange as “consummation in front of witnesses” was practiced into the Middle Ages.

In general, the act of bedding on the wedding night was not considered a private affair, but rather a public investment in a couple. It was common for families and friends to bring the couple to their bed as a way of endorsing the couple’s marriage (even when they didn’t stay to witness the consummation).

The practice of having witnesses applied primarily to royalty or important people who used marriages to form alliances and strategic advantages in wealth and power. In such cases it was important that the marital act signal an unbreakable union. Without consummation, the marriage could later be declared null and the couple could be granted an annulment. Thus witnesses could testify to the validity of the marriage, especially if anyone later questioned it. If the bride became pregnant on the wedding night, the witnesses also helped to defend the legitimacy of the heir.

One interesting note from the article is that none other than Martin Luther himself had his wedding night… witnessed.

loved = אָהַב ʼâhab, aw-hab’; or אָהֵב ʼâhêb ; a primitive root; to have affection for (sexually or otherwise):—(be-) love(-d, -ly, -r), like, friend.

The word is used in the original language as it is today. Then completing the verse:

So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

As the commentary notes above, “death” is not a word used in the original language. The text merely says “after his mother.”

Chapter 24 begins in the immediate aftermath of Sarah’s death. It concludes with a new Matriarch figure in Sarah’s tent.

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary includes Homiletics following the end of the chapter:

IV. THE HAPPY HOME.

1. Isaac loved Rebekah. “So ought husbands to love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). It is their duty; it ought to be their happiness; it certainly will prove their interest.

2. Rebekah comforted Isaac. So ought wives not merely “to reverence their husbands” (Ephesians 5:33), but to soothe their sorrows, cure their cares, and dispel their despondencies.

Learn—

1. That the son who sorrows for a mother will likely prove a husband that can love a wife.

2. That maidens’ charms are most attractive when seen through a veil of modesty.

3. That those marriages are most auspicious which are made by God.

4. That those homes are happiest where husband and wife love and comfort one another.

I wonder how well all of these bits of teaching would be received today?

And now we have concluded Genesis 24. Isaac is married. A new generation venerates YHWH. The circumstances are in place for God’s people to add yet another generation after them.

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