12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”
15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” 26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27 and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” 28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. – Genesis 24:12-28 ESV
Having completed his long journey to Mesopotamia, Abraham’s servant stopped at a well in order to slack the thirst of his camels. His arrival could not have been more timely because it was in the evening, when the local women came to the well to draw water. Sensing the sovereign nature of his timing, the servant offered up a quick prayer to Yahweh, asking for His divine assistance.
“O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.” – Genesis 24:12 ESV
Moses provides little insight into the background of this unnamed servant of Abraham. Other than his prayer, there is nothing in the passage that would indicate that he was a worshiper of Yahweh. In fact, in his prayer, he addresses “Jehovah Elohim” as the his master’s God. This seems to indicate that the servant worshiped his own god but, since this trip was involved Abraham’s son, he was going to rely upon Abraham’s God. And the servant offers a rather specific proposal to assure himself of God’s involvement in the matter.
“Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” – Genesis 24:13-14 ESV
One can almost sense that this man was unaccustomed to interacting with Abraham’s God. He has no experience in these kinds of matters and seems unsure as to how he will know which of the women gathered at the well might be the right one for Isaac. Rather than taking the time to interview each and every woman, his plan provide a fool-proof method of determining the exact woman Abraham’s God had preordained.
This man was convinced that God had already predetermined the identity of Isaac’s future wife and she would be found at this well. And Moses points out that before the servant had finished his prayer, a young woman appeared carrying a water jar on her shoulder. But she was not just any woman. “She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah” (Genesis 24:15 NLT). This was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor.
This servant had traveled hundreds of miles and managed to find the very well used by Abraham’s extended family. And one of the first women to show up just happened to be Abraham’s grandniece. Then Moses adds a few other pertinent details that provide further proof that this was a God-ordained moment.
Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. – Genesis 24:16 NLT
This woman was the perfect candidate. She was the right age, still unmarried, and easy on the eyes. It appears that this young girl was the first to arrive at the well and fill her water jug. So, the servant made a beeline to her and set his plan in motion.
Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” – Genesis 24:17 NLT
The test had begun. You can almost hear the servant’s heart beating in his chest as he anxiously waited for her to respond. This was way too easy. Could she really be the one?
Moses deliberately draws out the details of the story, creating in his readers a sense of anxious anticipation. Upon hearing the stranger’s request, Rebekah lowered her jar and offered the man a drink. This fulfilled the first part of the servant’s test. But what would happen next? Would she offer to water the camels as well? Much to his reader’s delight and the servant’s relief, Rebekah responded, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking” (Genesis 24:19 NLT).
Regrettably, Moses tells us nothing about the servant’s reaction. He simply states that “she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels” (Genesis 24:20 NLT). But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture the wide-eyed wonder on the face of the servant as he watched this miracle take place right in front of him. This girl wasn’t just agreeable, she was enthusiastic, and her actions revealed a great deal about her character. Abraham’s servant must have been beside himself with excitement was he took it all in. His task had been fulfilled at the very first well he came to and with the first woman he met.
You can almost sense the smile on the face of Moses as he wrote the words: “The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the Lord had given him success in his mission” (Genesis 24:21 NLT). It was too overwhelming to believe. But eventually, the servant came to his senses, and recognized that Rebekah was very one he had been sent to find. And he immediately reached into his bag and pulled out the gifts he had been given to present to Isaac’s future bride. But little did Rebekah know that these gifts were anything more than a token of appreciation for her generosity and hospitality.
Recognizing his need to know more about this young girl, the servant inquired as to the identity of her father. And, once again, the servant must have been blown away by her answer. She was the daughter of Abraham’s nephew. In other words, she was family. But unaware of who the servant was, she graciously offered him a place to stay for the evening.
The servant was blown away by the miraculous nature of the entire encounter. And he couldn’t help but drop to his knees in reverence and awe for the power of his master’s God.
The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord. “Praise the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.” – Genesis 24:26-27 NLT
As the servant worshiped Yahweh, Rebekah ran home to inform her family about their guest and all that had happened at the well. There is no way to know if she was aware of the servant’s intentions or his relationship to Abraham. It could be that Rebekah was simply excited to tell her family about the generous stranger who rewarded her with expensive gifts. But, whatever the case, Moses has set the scene for what will take place next.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.