Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Genesis 26:6-11 comments: in Gerar

6 ¶  And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7  And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. 8  And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9  And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10  And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11  And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.

Here again we have a picture of a righteous heathen king and a picture of one of God’s men acting in a most unbecoming and cowardly manner. Isaac repeats the lack of faith in God’s protection as did his father, Abraham. Clearly, the possibility of being killed and having your wife taken for another man’s pleasure must have been a cultural practice and a grave danger in the ancient world for Isaac, like Abraham, to be too afraid he might be killed for his wife.

Abimelech, though, after a long time, looks out a window and sees Isaac sporting with his wife. This, we assume, is some kind of sexual play that would not be expected between a brother and a sister. Sporting can mean play or a jest or even mocking but common sense tells us that this play would have to be in such a manner as to reveal Isaac and Rebekah’s relationship. See here how sport and sporting are used elsewhere.

It can be to take delight in;

2Peter 2:13  And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

Proverbs 10:23  It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

Perhaps to mock and make fun of if the following has no more sinister meaning considering the nature of the ancient world’s culture and religion;

Judges 16:25  And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars…27  Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

Or clearly just to mock and make fun of;

Proverbs 26:19  So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

Isaiah 57:4  Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,

In any event, this righteous Abimelech has caught the deception played on him and announces that anyone who touches Rebekah or Isaac will die. Here is a heathen man who understands righteousness and God’s standard regardless of his culture and we will see that again. This brings to mind Peter’s statement;

Acts 10:34 ¶  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

It was not so many hundreds of years ago that all men would have known God’s standards of righteousness through Noah and clearly, as that knowledge became degraded over time, the strains of judgment and righteousness were still present in some form. Some heathen knew in their heart, or at least acknowledged they knew, what God regarded as right and wrong, unlike even many Christians today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Genesis 26:1-5 comments: a famine

1 ¶  And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2  And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3  Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4  And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Now we are returned to the narrative, the story of Isaac and Rebekah, after the flash forward about Esau and Jacob. Sometimes the Bible not only flashes back to explain why something happened but in this case flashes forward to prepare us for what is going to happen.

Here, Isaac follows in his father’s footsteps and seeks relief in a famine in the land of the Philistine king, Abimelech. Remember, I said Abimelech may be a title like Pharaoh and might not be the name of the king. It is most likely that this is a different king than the one which encountered Abraham earlier. But, whether it is or isn’t God had specifically told Isaac not to go into Egypt but to stay in Canaan, the land which his seed would eventually inherit. God repeated His promise to Isaac that He made to Abraham about the grant of land He will provide which will be completely fulfilled upon Christ’s return to rule from Jerusalem. God says this is because Abraham obeyed Him and kept His, and make sure you understand how the Holy Spirit speaking through Moses has provided for our understanding here; charge, commandments, statutes, and laws. These words are synonyms and you should keep this in mind as you read these words throughout the Bible.

In addition, you can see that the word LORD has every letter capitalized. This is the translation of the word Jehovah, 6510 times as LORD, four as God, and four as Jehovah. God’s name is provided and translated as LORD.

Amos 5:8  Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Genesis 25:29-34 comments: selling a birthright

29 ¶  And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30  And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31  And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32  And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33  And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34  Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

The narrative of Jacob and Esau is provided as an introduction before Moses returns to the story of Isaac. These passages are a foundation that will explain why Jacob and Rebekah felt justified to deceive Isaac and rob Esau of his legal due. The point here is that Esau did not regard his birthright and sold it to Jacob. In the ancient, heathen world and even up to today in some countries the oldest son was to inherit his father’s property and religious duties within the family. Esau was willing to sell his sacred right and privilege to his brother.

The question will become, now that Esau swore to give up his birthright and sold it for a bowl of stew, how to get Isaac to bless Jacob first and grant him the birthright.

Sod, we can figure out from the context is made or cooked. Notice how sod is used again in 2Chronicles 35:13. Sodden used to be the past participle of to seethe or boil. Sod is short for that.

Exodus 16:23  And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

Exodus 23:19  The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Pottage is soup or stew.

2Kings 4:38  And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.

Esau will sell his birthright for a bowl of red stew and Edom comes from that. Edom, according to Strong’s dictionary, means red.

This is why the Red Sea is called the Red Sea.

1Kings 9:26  And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.

What is the birthright that Esau surrendered to Jacob for a meal? As the oldest Esau was, by custom, to inherit his father’s wealth and be head of the family, and his father’s standing before God. It was also of religious significance among the heathen, as the eldest son would inherit the family, the wealth, and the religious responsibilities to maintain the family gods and the family fire as De Coulanges tells us in his book The Ancient City. Later, Jacob’s son, Rueben, will forfeit his birthright by a grievous sin against his father. Esau surrendered his birthright to be the head of the family for a meal. Of course, we know that God chose Jacob but in retrospect Esau gave up the privilege of having the Messiah come through his lineage, of having God come to earth to live as a man, the Son of God and the Son of man in one person, through his descendants, for a bowl of soup.

Notice it says that Esau despised his birthright. Despise is a synonym of hate in the Bible. It simply means to hold in contempt or to disregard or to view someone lower in your eyes than they should be naturally.

Proverbs 5:12  And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

Amos 5:21  I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

Matthew 6:24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Despise is the opposite of honoring someone or something, meaning to hold them in low esteem.

 1Samuel 2:30  Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

Understanding this will help you understand difficult verses such as this where in comparison to Christ it is said;

Luke 14:26  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

We can find examples in this in Americans who despise their right to vote and don’t do it, not out of protest, but just because they don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s not worth the trouble to them. We find examples of this in Christians who despise uniting with other Christians in worship as the Church, not because they have moved to a new place and don’t know any Christians or believe that that institutional churches are not Biblical, but, because it’s too much trouble and they’d rather sleep in.

Esau is an example of a great many people in the world throughout history. And so, it is said that God held him in contempt, as well;

Malachi 1:2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,3  And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Romans 9:13  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Genesis 25:11-28 comments: An introduction to Jacob and Esau

11 ¶  And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi. 12  Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham: 13  And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 14  And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15  Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16  These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. 17  And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. 18  And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

    19 ¶  And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac: 20  And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21  And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22  And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23  And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24  And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25  And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26  And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27  And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28  And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

This passage of Scripture starts off with an account of Ishmael’s death and of his progeny who grew to great numbers and occupied what has come to be known as Arabia. Then, an account is given of the birth of Esau and Jacob. Esau was his father’s favorite while Jacob was his mother’s favorite. Esau was an outdoors kind of guy who liked to hunt and Jacob hung around the house or tent. He was probably a big help to his mother and a “momma’s boy.” As we will see though, he was not a wimp or a “simpering milquetoast.” The elder shall serve the younger is a prophecy of Esau playing second fiddle to Jacob. He will be willing to give up his birthright for a bowl of stew and Isaac will be tricked into giving his blessing to Jacob.

Esau will lend his name to Edom which eventually will be known as Idumea.

Ge 36:1  Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom…8  Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.

Ezekiel 35:15  As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.

The kingdom of Edom no longer exists but its geography lies within the southern reaches of the country known as Jordan. Some commentators believe that it is the location of the wilderness where the survivors of the Beast of Revelation’s final fight against the Jews will flee in Revelation 12. There lies the famous rock city of Petra. Esau’s legacy then runs throughout history and Jacob and Esau will be united in a manner of speaking in the end, if this is correct.

Why is Jacob favored over Esau? Esau was a carnal man who was willing to give up his birthright to appease his appetite and lost his blessing. Jacob was clever and crafty, which we think of as not being very good character traits especially since he used them to obtain a blessing from his father by deceit and treachery. Why did God choose Jacob over Esau? The history of the carnal man of uncontrolled appetites is a history of war and rebellion. It is a history of corruption and injustice. Esau represents what is wrong with charismatic leaders who cause young women to think things they should not and cause young men to deliver up their common sense to follow blindly. He is a man of the earth, a natural man.

1Corinthians 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The natural man is lusty and everything he sees exists to serve him; either his appetites, his sexual lust, or his need to dominate others for fear of being dominated himself. He is praised in our literature and media and millions will follow him. The trouble is that he would trade God’s inheritance for another meal, approval and validation from others, and a chance to have what he wants at the moment. He despises what he calls, “pie-in-the-sky religion,” and concerns himself only with satisfying his immediate needs in the here and now. He could not envision eternity for all he was worth. He cannot even perceive of the idea of God usually. He is too busy putting food in his belly, perhaps a beer, glass of wine, or liquor to his lips, or pursuing the latest tech gadget or get rich scheme to even consider the fate of his soul. The question you should ask yourself, young man, is, are you an Esau?

Hebrews 12:14  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16  Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17  For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

On the other hand, Jacob, though clever and resourceful, deceitful even, who will wrestle with God Himself, can be molded into God’s man. Full of flaws himself, character flaws, fearful and uncertain at times but obedient as often as he can be, in the end, God’s choice of him to further God’s work of reconciliation, of bringing mankind to God, bears fruit in Joseph and his brethren, the forebears of the Hebrew “race” from whence the Redeemer of mankind comes and from whom God’s ministry of reconciliation flows.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Genesis 25:1-10 comments: Abraham dies

1 ¶  Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2  And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3  And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4  And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5  And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6  But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. 7  And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8  Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. 9  And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; 10  The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Abraham’s second wife, or third, if you count Hagar, (concubines are a type of lesser wife, a cultural phenomenon not ordered by God) is named Keturah and she gives him Midian, the father of a tribe who will later be a problem for the Israelites trying to get into Canaan and once they are in the Promised Land. But, a priest of this tribe will provide a wife for Moses and be his sanctuary in the wilderness after he flees from Egypt.

But, keep in mind that, like we do, people give names to their children that are often known and already existing, in use by others. For instance, Cush had grandsons named Sheba and Dedan in Genesis 10:7. There is a man named Sheba who rebelled against King David in 2Samuel 20. In modern times we have examples where a former Rock and Roll performer and wannabe politician named himself Jello Biafra after a secessionist Nigerian state, Biafra. On a soberer note there are many children named after famous places like London, Brooklyn, Paris, and even India. So, while naming customs were more based on religious reasons in the ancient world and for reasons of already having an ancestor with that name we must be careful about making genealogical links as a matter of fact between two people or a person and a tribe bearing the same name in the Bible.

Still, Keturah most likely was a Canaanite who had Sheba and Dedan as part of her own heritage and passed these respected names down through her son, with Abraham’s supposed blessing and involvement, of course.

It must be remembered, as stated in verse 5, that all of Abraham’s inheritance goes to Isaac so that it is the Jews, not the Arabs, who were given the land of Canaan. As stated before all of these promises are in Christ so that the fulfillment of that promise of land will not be complete until Christ physically returns. The political Israel of today is a puny representative of this enormous grant of land from the Nile to the Euphrates. See previous comments on this subject.

Abraham’s wives other than Sarah are called concubines. Abraham lived 175 years and gave up the ghost which is his spirit (see Luke 23:46) and was gathered to his people. Gave up the ghost is a reference to dying that is used later for Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, Ananias, and Herod.  Gathered to his people is referenced again for Ishmael and Jacob at their deaths.

Abraham is said to be eminent in Paradise, the garden of God, when it was in the heart of the earth, separated from Hell, and called Abraham’s bosom (see Luke 16.) Paradise comes from a Persian word meaning a walled garden or a hunting preserve. The garden of God, called Eden, was once on the earth but, after Adam’s fall, was hidden by cherubim (see Genesis chapters 2&3, Exodus 28:13; 31:8,9). Jesus went to the heart of the earth, to Paradise, Abraham’s bosom, the garden of God, to preach after the Cross. (see Luke 23:43; Matthew 12:40; 1Peter 3:19; 4:6). Paradise was separated from Hell and is now taken up into Heaven because of Christ (Revelation 2:7) which we can see because Paul went “up” there as stated in 2Corinthians 12:4.

Why is Paradise called Abraham’s bosom? Because Abraham represents all of those who believe God. Salvation is predicated upon believing what God said. It is as clear as a bell.

The Greeks, flowering as an intellectual culture much later around the 5th century BC, had great contact with the Ancient Near East as mercenaries, traders, and settlers before that and derived their concept of Hades from the Hebrews. Greek philosophers stated that they did not know the origin of their mythology but the first mention of Hades is in Homer, writing perhaps in the 9th century BC, nearly a thousand years after Abraham’s life and three hundred to four hundred after Moses’ put the account in writing. The 9th century BC is also the time when most scholars believe that the Greeks derived their alphabet from the Phoenicians who we will see derived it from the Hebrews who got it from God at Mount Sinai. Before then, picture writing was used by the cultures of the world, from the Sumerians on the plain of Shinar, called Cuneiform, to the Egyptians, called Hieroglyphics, to China, and even down to the civilizations of South and Central America over two thousand years later.

As an example of Greek involvement in the Near East, when Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh Necho’s armies fought at Carchemish (Jeremiah 46) both sides used Greek mercenaries extensively.  In addition, a prophet lamented how Hebrew children had been taken as slaves to Greece. (Joel 3:6). There were Greek cultural influences in the Near East and Greek language influences as well. However, the Greeks who wrote about Hades wrote after this period of time and were influenced by what they learned from the Hebrews as they were by what they learned about other cultures’ practices and beliefs. The Greeks themselves even admitted they learned a great deal in Egypt and the Near East. In the later Greek myth, Hades was a place for not only the wicked but the good person’s souls to abide after death while Tartarus was where their supreme god, Zeus, cast the Titans, giants, and there were different places for enjoyment and punishment based on a person’s behavior in life as well as their relationship to the gods. In the Ancient world, then, it was understood that the abode of the dead was in one location.

Isaac and Ishmael bury Abraham with Sarah. It is probably the last time the Jew and the Arab will cooperate in much of anything.

God’s ministry of reconciliation, of reconciling mankind to Himself, was carried on in a dramatic way through Abraham. Abraham remains an important figure in human history. Abraham believed what God said. Do we?

James 2:23  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Genesis 24:62-67 comments: Rebekah meets Isaac

24:62 ¶  And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. 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. 64  And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off 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. 66  And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 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.

According to Strong’s dictionary Lahairoi is the well of the “Living One seeing me.” Isaac spent time in the evening in meditation. Now, meditation is not that of emptying one’s mind in this sense but filling it. He is meditating on something. It is good for us to meditate on the Bible.

Joshua 1:8  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Covering one’s face with a veil is mentioned outside of the Bible later than this incident, in around 1300BC, as scholars guess. It is found in an Assyrian legal text that restricts its use to noble women and forbids prostitutes and common women from using it, although noble women were not punished for not wearing a veil while prostitutes and common women were punished for wearing one. (44) This reference, of course, in the Bible, comes from a few hundred years before that, in the time of the patriarchs, before the Hebrews entry into Egypt.

There is no mention here made of the wedding feast that we see later with Jacob. One possible sermon that could be made out of the literal events is how the servant, representing the Holy Ghost, brings the bride to Christ, and I am sure there are many more possibilities from this.

Finally, becoming a wife or a husband is a matter of intent and commitment before God, not of ritual. The ritual wedding celebration of any country is meaningless if there is no intention to unite as one for life. It becomes simply another party to celebrate in one’s life and there may be several such celebrations without God having anything to do with them.

(44)David Graeber, Debt: The First 5000 Years (New York: Melville House Publishing, 2011), 184.

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.