Design By Humans

Genesis 24. It's very long, well... comparatively.

Genesis 24.

1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

     Really? Blessed? Abraham has only two sons, one of which God had sent away and the other God forced Abraham to traumatise by nearly having him kill him. Abraham's wife Sarah seems to have carried some awful communicable diseases and God is only allowing him to live just over one hundred years. Compared to most of the other characters so far, I'd hardly call Abraham's life a blessed one.

2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

     Now I don't know a great deal about twenty-second-century-After-Eden customs but what's going on here with the hand under the thigh thing? Is this executed while sitting or standing?

3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

     Hmm, It seems that one puts one's grubby mitt up under a dude's thigh when one wants to promise something. I don't think I'll take up this practise. Anyway, Abraham has asked his eldest servant to maintain racial purity in his family by not allowing Isaac to take a foreigner as a wife. Is Abraham a racist?

4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

     Not just a racist, but a supremacist? He only wants Isaac to breed with his own kind.

5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?


     Fair question.

6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.


     Ahh, Isaac must not go home, Why I wonder?

7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

     Right. This says a little more about Abraham's character and his attitude toward the land he is sojourning in. He is not sojourning at all, he is in fact an advanced invasion party. He believes that despite this land already having kings and all levels of society, he and his seed are actually the rulers of this land. He intends that rather than taking a wife from the local stock or going home to take a wife, Isaac must have a wife of his own stock to maintain racial purity but also must stay in this land and multiply exceedingly to out populate the locals hence taking over the land.

8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.

     It seems that racial purity is less important than taking occupation of the Canaanite lands.

9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.


     I don't think I'll ever get used to this thigh thing, seems a bit intimately personal to me.

10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.


     So the Servant dutifully goes back to Nahor. I wonder why Abraham never went back to visit his family and why he forbids Isaac from going. The promise of land from the LORD is all good and well but is the directive to travel covering up some other thing? Was Abram/Abraham exiled? Is this perhaps why he changed his name? Perhaps because he took his sister for a wife?

11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.

     OK. The servant stands by a well and women come out, what are we setting up for here?

12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.

     OK.

13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:

     Right.

14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.


     Ahh, he's using it as a test, He'll take, and I mean take, the kindest woman to be Isaac's wife. Need she not be young too or is this not a consideration?

15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.

     Did the Servant recognise her? I'm not sure how he could, photography wasn't big back then as far as I know.

16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.


     How did he know she was a virgin? Was there a test? Or was the servant judging her based on her demure appearance, or perhaps she was just incredibly young?

17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

     The test begins...

18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.

     Part one complete, but will she also water the camels?

19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.

     Well done Rebekeh, you have shown yourself a worthy bride for Isaac by adequately dispensing water.

20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

     ...

21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.

     OK.

22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;

     The servant rewards Rebekeh with gold, I mean, who could resist gold?

23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?


     Well I suppose he has come a long way.

24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.

     Well that's a bit specific.

25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.


     Good good.

26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.

     Why? I really am finding it difficult to understand why these people are compelled to worship a lying, scamming and genocidal entity when confronted with entirely mundane turns of good fortune. The LORD had nothing to do with this.

27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren.


     Lets just look at this, he claims "the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren." when in fact Abraham told him which city to go to, a city where in all likelihood all of the girls of a particular age will be related to him. Not only is no supernatural guidance required to fulfil this, it's not even faintly surprising.

28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.


     OK.

29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.


     Seems reasonable.

30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.


     Right you are then.

31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.

     I wonder what has indicated to Laban that this man is 'blessed of the LORD', could it perhaps be all of the gold the man just gave to his sister? Does 'blessed of the LORD' just mean 'you have a lot of money it would be prudent for me to welcome you into my home in order that you might give me some.'?

32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him.


     In the hope that he might be financially rewarded perhaps?

33 And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.

    He won't eat until he's told his story. It's a good method of building up the expectancy of its importance.

34 And he said, I am Abraham's servant.


    OK. Does this add gravitas?

35 And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.

    Translation: And my master has used the LORD as a threat to swindle flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses from chiefs and kings at home and abroad.

36 And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath.


    Translation: It is important that you know that my master has given all of these ill-gotten riches to his young son.

37 And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell:

    Translation: My master is an evil bigot and could not stand to think of his offspring breeding with foreign women...

38 But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.


    Translation: ...and has sent me here to procure wife for Isaac of his own kind.

39 And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.

    Is he now going to retell everything we just read at the begining of the chapter? No wonder it's such a long one.

40 And he said unto me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house:


    I don't remember there being an angel with him... Perhaps it's one of the camels?

41 Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath.

    Oh that's nice, Abraham will let the servant off if he can't get a girl to come back with him.

42 And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go:

    ...

43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;

    ...

44 And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out for my master's son.

    Yeah, we just read this bit above, it's pretty fresh in our memories.

45 And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.

    We know! A good author would have abridged the retelling of events from the recent narrative.

46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.


    Yes... please continue, hurriedly

47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.


    Oh come on! we just read this account!

48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son.

    I already made comment on this, do we really need such a detailed retelling so soon after the initial account?

49 And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.


    Finally! Some new content... So the Servant asks if the proposal is acceptable.

50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.


    Rebekah's father and brother answer. I suppose because she is property of some kind? This seems to be the lot of women among these people.

51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken.

    So Rebekah is handed over without consultation. She has no choice, she is to be Isaac's wife wether she likes it or not. Oddly this is attributed to the LORD (as the LORD hath spoken) but the LORD had nothing to do with any aspect of this transaction, Abraham sent the servant with specific instructions, the servant executed them and was given a girl to take back by her father and brother who probably now expect a financial reward. When did the LORD speak?

52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.

    Again! Why worship the LORD? He's done nothing. A plan was concocted by a man and exeuted by a man by interacting with men. Where is the LORD?

53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.

    And there's the incentive.

54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master.

    They ate and talked all night and in the morning, having fulfilled his mission of procuring a female the servant makes to leave.

55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

    Rebekah's mother and brother requiest that he leave Rebekah for ten days.

56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.

    In a flowery, round about way he says no.

57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.

    They send for Rebekah.

58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.

    She agrees to go.

59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men.


    It's amazing what gold can do, They know nothing of this stranger yet they have sent Rebekah away with him for a few trinkets.

60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.


    Let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them? Is this an endorsement of forceful occupancy foreign lands?

61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.


    Right, so they are on their way back to Canaan to marry Rebekah to Isaac.

62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.


    OK.

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.


    Ahh, Isaac sees the camels coming home with their feminine cargo.

64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

    and Rebekah sees Isaac in the field and gets of the camel.

65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.


    On finding out that the man in the field is her husband to be, she covers herself.

66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

    I'm glad we aren't forced to read the whole account again, although I wouldn't be surprised if we were. this is the kind of brevity that I would have enjoyed from verse thirty-eight and onwards.

67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

    Now there's respect! How to get over the death of your mother: Take a girl you've never met into your dead mother's tent and slip her a length. Also, is playing hide the wobbly sausage really all that is required for marriage? I notice that it says Isaac loved Rebekah and not the other way round. I guess her feelings on the matter are largely irrelevent.


Well there we have it. sixty-seven verses, the longest chapter so far. What have we learned?

  • There's some kind of ancient thigh holding practice when one individual wishes to make a promise to another, I wonder if the practice has survived into modern times with any of the Abrahamic faiths.
  • Abraham is a horrible bigot who will not entertain the thought of his son marrying a Canaanite woman, Why is he so keen on racial purity?
  • Abraham won't allow his son to go back to his homeland, I can only see there being one of two reasons for this. 1, Abraham is convinced that if Isaac goes back to his homeland he won't come back and invade Canaan, or 2, There is some shame that forced Abraham and Sarah to leave home, perhaps because they were brother and sister, is this why they had to change their names?
  • Abraham's servant can somehow tell if a woman is a virgin at ten paces. I would suggest that the only way to be even close to be certain of the virginity of a girl would be if she was particularly young, you at least have a fair chance of her being a virgin if she's prepubescent. I don't want to make too much of a suggestion here but does it say anything about Isaac that upon meeting the girl the first thing he does is plough a furrow... and I'm not talking agriculture.
  • Gold buys a lot of credibilty and hospitality.
  • The author doesn't seem to understand that repitition isn't a good narrative tool.
  • Young women have no say over who gets to penetrate them. Parents and older brothers seem to have a say though.
  • All that it takes to make someone your wife is dancing the horizontal tango (I'm not certain if doing it in your dead mother's tent is a requirement).
  • The author doesn't seem to understand that repitition isn't a good narrative tool.

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Book Index

GENESIS

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|11|12|13|14|15|16|17|18|19|20|
|21|22|23|24|25|26|27|28|29|30|
|31|32|33|34|35|36|37|38|39|40|
|41|42|43|44|45|46|47|

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