They Did Jehovah’s Will
Finding a Wife for Isaac
THE elderly man sitting by the well was exhausted. He and his attendants along with their ten camels had trekked all the way from the vicinity of Beer-sheba to northern Mesopotamia—a distance of more than 500 miles [800 km].* Now that they had reached their destination, this weary traveler paused to reflect on his difficult mission. Who was this man, and why had he undertaken this arduous journey?
The man was Abraham’s servant, “the oldest one of his household.” (Genesis 24:2) Though not named in the account, apparently this was Eliezer, whom Abraham at one time referred to as ‘a son of his household’ and whom he spoke of as being in line to ‘succeed him as heir.’ (Genesis 15:2, 3) Of course, that was when Abraham and Sarah were childless. Now their son, Isaac, was 40 years old, and although Eliezer was no longer Abraham’s principal heir, he was still his servant. So he complied when Abraham made a challenging request. What was it?
A Challenging Mission
In Abraham’s day a marriage affected not only the family but also the entire tribe, or patriarchal community. Therefore it was customary for the parents to select a mate for their children. In searching for a wife for his son Isaac, however, Abraham was faced with a dilemma. The ungodly ways of the local Canaanites made marriage to one of them out of the question. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12) And while it was customary for a man to marry within his own tribe, Abraham’s relatives lived hundreds of miles away in northern Mesopotamia. He could not simply have Isaac relocate there, for Jehovah had promised Abraham: “To your seed I am going to give this land,” the land of Canaan. (Genesis 24:7) Hence, Abraham said to Eliezer: “Go to my country and to my relatives, and you will certainly take a wife for my son, for Isaac.”—Genesis 24:4.
Upon completing the long journey, Eliezer rested by the well as he contemplated his mission. He realized that soon the women would be coming to the well to fetch the night’s supply of water. So he implored Jehovah: “The young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Let your water jar down, please, that I may take a drink,’ and who will indeed say, ‘Take a drink, and I shall also water your camels,’ this is the one you must assign to your servant, to Isaac; and by this let me know that you have performed loyal love with my master.”—Genesis 24:14.
While he was still praying, an attractive young woman named Rebekah approached. “Give me, please, a little sip of water from your jar,” Eliezer said to her. Rebekah did so, and then she said: “For your camels too I shall draw water until they are done drinking.” This was quite an offer, since a thirsty camel can drink up to 25 gallons [95 L] of water in just ten minutes! Whether Eliezer’s camels were that thirsty or not, Rebekah must have known that the service she offered to perform would be strenuous. Indeed, she “quickly emptied her jar into the drinking trough and ran yet again and again to the well to draw water, and kept drawing for all his camels.”—Genesis 24:15-20.
Sensing Jehovah’s direction, Eliezer gave Rebekah a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets, worth about $1,400 in today’s values. When Rebekah told him that she was the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, Eliezer offered a prayer of thanks to God. “Jehovah has led me to the house of the brothers of my master,” he said. (Genesis 24:22-27) Eliezer was brought to Rebekah’s family. In time, Rebekah became Isaac’s wife, and she had the privilege of becoming an ancestress of the Messiah, Jesus.
Lessons for Us
Jehovah blessed Eliezer’s prayerful effort to find a God-fearing mate for Isaac. Remember, though, that Isaac’s marriage was directly tied in with God’s purpose to produce a seed through Abraham. So this account should not lead us to conclude that everyone who prays for a mate will miraculously be given one. Still, if we adhere to Jehovah’s principles, he will give us the strength to endure the challenges that come with either circumstance in life—marriage or singleness.—1 Corinthians 7:8, 9, 28; compare Philippians 4:11-13.
Eliezer had to put forth much effort to do things Jehovah’s way. We too may find that conforming to Jehovah’s standards is not always easy. For example, it may be hard to find employment that does not stifle theocratic activity, a mate that is God-fearing, associates that are upbuilding, entertainment that is not debasing. (Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 15:33; Ephesians 4:17-19) Yet, Jehovah can sustain those who refuse to compromise Bible principles. The Bible promises: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
Considering the average speed of camels, it may have taken more than 25 days to complete the journey.