One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the one in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. Swear to God that you will not allow my son to marry a Canaanite woman. Instead, go to my homeland, my relatives, and find Isaac a wife there.”
The servant asked, “But what if I can’t find a young woman willing to travel back here. Should I take Isaac there?”
“No! Never take my son there. This here land was promised to my descendants by God. He will send an angel ahead of you to find a wife for my son. If she won’t come back, you’re free from this oath. But never take my son there.”
The servant loaded 10 camels with expensive gifts and traveled to Aram-naharaim. Abraham’s brother Nahor lived here. The camels knelt beside a well just outside town where women were collecting water.
The servant prayed, “God, please give me success and show unfailing love to my master Abraham. I will ask one of the women to give me a drink from her jug. If she says ‘Yes, and I’ll water your camels, too,’ let her become Isaac’s wife.”
Before he finished praying, Rebekah came to fill her jug. Rebekah was Abraham’s niece. She was beautiful, old enough to be married, and still a virgin. Check, check, check.
The servant asked her for a drink from her jug.
“Yes, my lord,” she answered. When he finished, she said “I’ll get water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” She emptied her jug into the trough and went back to get more water.
When the camels were finished drinking, he took out a gold nose ring and two large gold bracelets. He asked who she was and if her father would have room for them to stay the night.
She said “Yes, we have room for guests and plenty of straw and feed for the camel.”
He thanked God for bringing him directly to Abraham’s relatives, because that’s the number one thing you look for in a romantic relationship.
Rebekah rushed home and told her family about the man outside. Her brother, Laban, came outside and said to the servant, “Come stay with us, you who are blessed by God! We have a room ready for you and a place prepared for the camels.”
The servant went inside but declined to eat until telling them why he’d come. “I am Abraham’s servant,” he said. “God has blessed him and made him wealthy.” Then he told them all about the oath he’d taken for Abraham. “Will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Yes or no.”
Laban said “God has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say.” (What did Rebekah want?) “Take Rebekah and go. Let her be the wife of your master’s son, as God has directed.”
The servant bowed and worshiped God, then he gave Rebekah jewelry and clothing. He also gave expensive presents to her brother and mother. Then they ate and went to bed. (I feel like a certain someone’s opinion is missing?)
Rebekah’s brother and mother wanted her to stay at least ten days before leaving.
(I’m tired of typing ‘the servant.’ His name is Bob Jeffery. BJ for short.) BJ said “Don’t make me wait. I’ve accomplished my mission, now send me back.”
In a shocking twist, they decided to ask Rebekah what she thought.
“Yes, I’ll go with this man,” she said.
Rebekah’s childhood nurse left with them. Her family gave her this blessing as they parted: “May you a bunch of descendants and may the conquer their enemies!”
Isaac was in the fields meditating when they arrived. Rebekah covered her face with a veil.
Isaac and Rebekah were married in his mother’s tent and she comforted him after the death of his mother.
Sarah died when she was 127, in Hebron. Abraham said to the Hittite elders, “I am a stranger among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife/sister a proper burial.”
The elders replied, “My lord, you are an honored prince among us. Bury her in the finest of our tombs.”
Abraham bowed and said, “Since you are willing to help, be so kind and ask Ephron to let me buy his cave at Machpelah, at the end of his field. I will pay the full price in the presence of witnesses (in lieu of a notary), so I will have a permanent burial place for my family.”
Ephron was there, so he spoke for himself, “No, my lord, please listen. I will give you my field and my cave. Go bury your dead.”
Abraham bowed again and said, “No, you listen to me. I will buy it from you.”
Ephron finally said, “The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.”
Abraham paid the price anyway.
Then Abraham buried Sarah.
God tested Abraham’s faith. He said “Take Isaac and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on the mountain I show you.”
The next morning Abraham saddled his donkey and took two servants and Isaac with him. Then he chopped wood for the burnt offering and set out. On the third day, Abraham saw the place in the distance. He told the servants to stay with the donkey. “The boy and I will travel farther. We will worship and then come right back.”
Isaac carried the burnt offering and Abraham carried the fire and the knife. (How was he carrying fire?) AS they walked, Isaac asked “Father, where is the sheep for the burnt offering.”
“God will provide the sheep,” Abraham lied.
When they arrived at the place, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied Isaac and laid him on the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment, an angel called from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! Don’t lay a hand on the boy! Now I know you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son.” (Let’s play a game! Name another leader who ruled through fear. I’ll go first.)
Then Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket. So he took it and sacrificed it instead of Isaac. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh, which means “the Lord will provide.” Apparently people still use the saying, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Then the angel called again to Abraham. “God promises to bless you since you were going to obey me. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.”
Then they returned to Beersheba.
Soon after, Abraham heard that his sister-in-law had birthed a lot of kids.
God kept his promise and gave Abraham and Sarah a son, named Isaac. Before you ask, yes, he was circumcised.
Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh. Who would have said two extremely old farts would have a baby?”
When Isaac was about to be weaned from breastfeeding, Abraham prepared a celebration feast. But Sarah saw Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, and her servant Hagar making fun of Isaac. She demanded Abraham get rid of them. “He will not share the inheritance with my son. I won’t have it!”
Abraham was upset, but God told him, “Don’t be upset. Do what she says because Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. But I will also make a nation of Hagar’s son, too.”
So Abraham got up early the next morning and strapped food and water on Hagar’s back. Then he sent her and Ishmael away.
When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. She walked away and sat by herself because she didn’t want to watch him die. She started crying.
God heard the boy crying and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “What’s wrong? Do not be afraid! Go comfort the boy, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”
Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well full of water. She gave the boy a drink from her container.
And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skilled archer and settled in Paran. His mom arranged for him to marry an Egyptian woman.
About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. “God is obviously your best friend,” Abimelech said. “Swear to God that you will never lie to my family. I have been loyal to you.”
Abraham swore to never lie to him. Then he complained about a well that Abimelech’s servants had taken by force from his servants.
Abimelech said he had no idea what he was talking about.
Then Abraham gave him some sheep, goats and cattle and they made a treaty. But Abraham also took seven female lambs and set them by themselves. Abimelech asked, “What are they for?”
Abraham replied, “Please accept these seven lambs to acknowledge I dug this well.” Then he named the place Beersheba, or “well of the oath.”
Abimelech and Phicol returned home. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba and worshiped God there.
While living in Gerar, Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, as his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to his palace.
But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!”
But Abimelech had not slept with her yet, so he said, “God, will you destroy an innocent nation? Abraham told me she was his sister and she agreed. I’m innocent.”
God responded, “I know. That’s why I kept you from sinning and sleeping with her. Now return her to her husband and he will pray for you, for he is a prophet. Then you will live. But if you don’t return her to him, you and all your people will die.” (What did he do to deserve this? Why aren’t Abraham and Sarah punished for lying?)
Abimelech told his people what had happened and they were terrified. Then asked Abraham, “What have you done to us? What crime have I committed that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? No one should ever do what you have done! Why?”
Abraham replied, “I thought this was a godless place. I thought you’d want my wife and would kill me. And she really is my sister, for we have the same father. And I married her. I asked her to tell you she was my sister.”
Then Abimelech presented Abraham with some sheep, goats, cattle and servants, along with Sarah. Then Abimelech said, “Look over my land and choose any place you want to live.” And he told Sarah, “I’m giving your brother (air quotes) 1,000 pieces of silver as compensation for any wrong I’ve done to you. Your reputation is cleared.” (Sounds a little like Stockholm Syndrome.)
Then Abraham prayed to God and he healed Abimelech, his wife and female servants so they could have children. Because when Abimelech took Sarah, God had made them all infertile.