The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person, many would agree. Sometimes it takes a long search to find the right person. No wonder, Genesis 24, which describes the search for a spouse, is the longest chapter in the whole Book of Genesis.
Abraham was 140. He began to feel that his days on the earth were numbered. God had fulfilled his promises by giving him a son, and a piece of land in Canaan. Now, the promise of a great progeny was to be fulfilled through his son Isaac. So, Abraham wished his son to marry. The task of finding a proper wife for Isaac was entrusted to the most faithful servant in the household of Abraham. Probably it must have been Eliezer whom Abraham once considered to be his heir (Genesis 15:2). Abraham had given only two instructions to Eliezer – find a girl from his country (Haran) and his kindred, and not from Canaan; Do not take Isaac to Haran if the girl does not like to come to Canaan.
Abraham did not want his son to marry a girl from the idol worshipping Canaanites among whom Abraham and his family lived. Finding a wife for Isaac from Canaanites would have been extremely easy. Though there were many pretty and wealthy Canaanite girls at hand, Abraham knew where to look for a suitable girl for his son – in a family that worshipped Yahweh. He knew that there were devotees of Yahweh in his ancestral house, but it was far away. Besides, Abraham was not sure whether the girl would be willing to come to the distant land of Canaan. Abraham did not want Isaac to go to Haran and settle there with his family. Abraham thought that it would be unfaithful from the part of Isaac to forfeit the promised land of Canaan for a woman. Abraham would rather have his son live alone than enjoying a family life in unfaithfulness to Yahweh.
It is interesting to note how the servant of Abraham chose the wife for Isaac. As soon as he reached Haran, he prayed God to show his loving kindness to Abraham. In fact, getting a suitable partner is a great blessing of the Lord and a sign of his loving kindness. In his prayer, Eliezer confides to Yahweh his strategy to find the best girl for Isaac: “Let the girl…who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ – let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac” (Genesis 24:14). Eliezer was not looking for the Miss Mesopotamia for Isaac. Rather, he was looking for a woman with a character. He thought that a woman who was hospitable to the strangers would be a fitting member for the family of Abraham, a paragon of hospitality. Rebekah proved herself to be the right person for Isaac by offering water to Eliezer. By offering water even for the camels, Rebekah showed herself a righteous woman, for the Bible says, “The righteous know the need of their animals” (Proverbs 12:10a). Watering ten thirsty camels must have been a tedious job for this teenager. At least for one hour she would have climbed up and down the steps of the spring to fetch water for the beasts. It showed that it was not just her tongue that was generous but her heart too.
At the end Rebekah shows her generosity again by agreeing to go to Canaan with Eliezer. Through this bold response she proved herself to be the right daughter-in-law of the great Patriarch Abraham who also left his father’s home for Canaan.
A pious reader would find in the story of Isaac, Rebekah and Eleazar, interesting parallels with the Holy Trinity. Just as after the “resurrection” of Isaac, Abraham sought a bride for Isaac, so too God the Father desired a wife for his son Jesus. But the duty preparing the wife and bringing her to Isaac was the duty of Eliezer (Eliezer means “helper”). So also preparing the church, the bride of Christ, is the function of the Holy Spirit, the helper. Till Rebekah reached Isaac she was accompanied by Eliezer. In the same way, the church accompanied by the Holy Spirit marches forward to meet her groom.
In a period of instant marriages and immediate divorces, the story gives some important tips for a long and happy married life.