Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh 3 and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.’ 5 The servant said to him, ‘Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?’ 6 Abraham said to him, ‘See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, “To your offspring I will give this land”, he will send his angel before you; you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.’ 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. 11 He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was towards evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 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 I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the girl to whom I shall say, “Please offer 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, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, coming out with her water-jar on her shoulder. 16 The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, ‘Please let me sip a little water from your jar.’ 18 ‘Drink, my lord,’ she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw 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, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.
When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half-shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, ‘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 son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.’ 25 She added, ‘We have plenty of straw and fodder and a place to spend the night.’ 26 The man bowed his head and worshipped 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 towards my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the way to the house of my master’s kin.’
The whole story of the wooing of Rebekah is intended to display the quality of faithfulness: Abraham’s to the God who has been his companion; the servant’s to Abraham and to his God; Abraham’s family to him; God’s to his plan to bless humanity through Abraham’s descendants; and above all Rebekah’s to the voice that calls her to journey into a strange land, as Abraham himself had done.
The author also wants the audience to know that a faithful imagination discerns the true direction of a story and follows it. That’s why this passage is saturated with storytelling- the servant even tells a story to himself!
This is how things work – God begins a story and others carry it on by becoming part of it and adding their own adventures which in turn are told and inspire others. In fact the storyteller begins the story but as she tells it, she becomes aware that there is always a story before this one and that over the dark waste that is before all stories there moved the spirit of the One who said, “let there be!”
Who began the story of your life, reader? And is it somehow part of this story in which human beings go for broke on the basis of a promise which comes from the stories before their own, wondering if they will be the ones to bring a blessing to humanity.?