Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Genesis 24:29-61 comments: billions of offspring

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

Laban’s excitement is obvious as this stranger has dispensed some valuable items to his sister. This must be someone important. When Laban invites Eliezer into his house we see the practice of former times when the shelter for the animals was part of the house. People in the ancient world up through the Middle Ages generally shared part of their home with animals which were provided shelter and in return provided heat at night and in the winter. (43) This is acknowledged in several authorities who study the history of shelter. At one time and for several thousand years herding peoples shared their dwellings with at least some animals. Modern people prefer a more sanitary existence apart from nature so even any sight of a bug sends some into a fit and while a cat, dog, or bird are welcome companions they are often cast aside if their care becomes too much of a chore for inside dwellers. I think it is important to understand that these people were much different than we are in their manner of living.

(43)Tim Lambert, “A Brief History of Houses,” (revised 2016).

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. 34  And he said, I am Abraham’s servant. 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. 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. 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: 38  But thou shalt go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. 39  And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 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: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 50  Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. 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. 52  And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth. 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.

    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. 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. 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. 57  And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. 58  And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59  And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men. 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. 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.

Eliezer insisted upon relating his mission before he would eat and there is an attempt to delay him. Perhaps they were hoping for even more bounty to be given to the family than was given. In the end everyone acknowledges that it is Rebekah’s decisions to make and she chooses to leave with Abraham’s servant. Here is the blessing also from her mother and brother wishing her to be the mother of billions of people. On a literal level this would mean that the Jews, the name that we now call the Hebrews, will grow in numbers on this earth much, much greater than the 15 million or so that now exist. Rather than go on speculation about Gentiles who may be descended from Jews or follow a metaphor of how the Christian faith sprang from the faith of the people of Moses therefore accounting for billions of descendants I am taking this passage literally as it stands for Rebekah to be the literal mother of billions who self-identify today and in the future as Jews, descendants of Abraham through Isaac. This also predicts their eventual victory over the peoples of the earth who hated, despised, and persecuted them. There are many prophecies concerning God’s restoration of them to a special place. From a literal perspective, not denying metaphor but focusing just on the literal words, Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 25 is one example of how nations who have despised the Jews will suffer in the end.

Rebekah’s offspring, as a group, will now play an important role in God’s ministry of reconciliation for mankind and will not be forgotten by God no matter what their failings.