Genesis 23:1-24:67 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Lord Establishes Isaac's Home
Comments for Study 17

Genesis 23:1-24:67
Memory Verse 24:67


I. The Death of Sarah (23:1-20)

>1. What did Abraham do when Sarah died? (1-2) What does this tell us about his relationship to her?

Genesis 23:1-2 "Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her."

* "Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old" -She was ten years younger that Abraham. She was ninety when Isaac was born. (Gen. 17:17) When Abraham offered Isaac, Isaac was an adolescent of perhaps twelve or thirteen years old. So this is over twenty years after Abraham offered Isaac.

* "Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan" -Kiriath Arba means "the town of Arba" or "the town of four" in the Hebron area. Hebron is about fifteen miles north-east of Beersheba and about half way to Jerusalem. The previous chapter stated after the test Abraham lived in Beersheba.

* "and Abraham went to" -implying that either he and Sarah were not together at the time, not living together at the time, or that he went into the tent her body was in.

* "morn... weep for her" -Morning and weeping is moderation is expected and accepted. Abraham believed in the resurrection and knew he would see her again. Still, the parting was sorrowful to him.

>2. Even though God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham what problem arose when Sarah died? (3-4, 15:7) What then is the nature of this promise? Why did Abraham insist on paying for the land? Describe the business transaction. What does this reveal about his faith in God's promise? About his relationship with others?

Genesis 23:3-4 "Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, "I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.""

* "the Hittites" -They were apparently in control of the Hebron area at the time. They were a powerful people, centered in Asia Minor, who dominated much of Canaan from 1800 to 1200 B.C.

* "I am an alien and a stranger" -Hebrews 11:9-16 states, "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age--and Sarah herself was barren--was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

* "Sell me some property" -Although God promised Abraham the whole land of Canaan, he did not own any land at this time; not even enough land to bury Sarah. Yet he didn't doubt or go astray when she died.

* "to bury my dead" -Abraham did not return to the land where he came from to bury his dead.

Genesis 23:5-6 "The Hittites replied to Abraham, "Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.""

* "You are a mighty prince among us." -This was true, especially in sight of him winning over the kings in chapter 19.

Genesis 23:7-9 "Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, "If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you."

* "Sell me the cave of Machpelah" -Abraham did not ask to buy more than the cave even though he had the money to buy the land. Perhaps this was because Abraham believed in the spiritual meaning behind the promise of God to give him the land.

Genesis 23:10-11 "Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. "No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."

* "gate of the city" -in ancient times all the prominent leaders would sit at the gate of the city to do business.

Genesis 23:12-13 "Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, "Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there."

* "Abraham bowed down before the people of the land" -He was humble.

* Abraham insisted on paying for only a part of the land for three reasons:
    1) So they wouldn't take it back later.
    2) So later they wouldn't say that they made Abraham rich.
    3) If he bought an entire tract of land he would be responsible for the taxes. If he bought just a part then the original owner would have to pay taxes. Abraham and his son and grandsons lived and tents, often moving.

Genesis 23:14-15 "Ephron answered Abraham, "Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between me and you? Bury your dead."

* Ephron really wanted the money, but he acted this way to look good in front of his fellow Hittite and their leaders.

Genesis 23:16 "Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants."

* Four hundred shekels of silver is a weight of trade of about four tenths of an ounce. So he was asking for around one hundred ounces (2.8 kg). Considering $US40 ($EUR27) an ounce he asked a very high price. Also, this was the price for the entire land, not just a part.

Genesis 23:17-20 "So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre--both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field--was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site."

* Later Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Joseph would be buried there too.

* In ancient times people had a strong desire to follow the custom of the day to be buried with their ancestors. Abraham, by buying this land for burial purposes, was showing that Canaan was his families new home. He fully identified with God's promise for his descendants to possess the land.

II. Abraham's Servant's Mission (24:1-31)

>3. What mission did Abraham give his chief servant? What shows the importance of this mission? What were the stipulations Abraham made concerning the woman who could be Isaac's wife? Why do you think he didn't want Isaac to marry a Canaanite? Why was it important to him that God's angel would go with him?

Genesis 24:1 "Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way."

* "blessed him in every way" -God may bless us in this life too. However, remembering the life of the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles often believers live humble lives and at time experience persecution.

Genesis 24:2-4 "He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."

* "chief servant" -this was no small matter.

* "put your hand under my thigh" -A sign of an important promise.

* "the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth" -LORD is YHWH or Jehovah (Hebrew does not include vowels for this word) meaning the Lord of the covenant (promise). God is Elohim in Hebrew, a singular/plural word since it ends in "im" meaning a plural word.

* Abraham didn't sent Isaac because he probably felt that Isaac was not to leave the land, because of what happened when he went to Egypt.

* "that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites" -Why?
    1) They were ungodly as stated many times in Genesis.
    2) They would corrupt him. Later some of Jacob's sons married Canaanite women and were corrupted by them.
    3) Bad sex habits (Lev. 18)
    4) Difference in beliefs causes conflicts in marriages, but in the case of God's children it is more than that. In Gen. 3 God said that he would put emnity between Satan's seed and the seed of the woman. Thus marrying an unbeliever is marrying into the spiritual battle. In 2 Cor. 6:14 Paul wrote, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"

Genesis 24:5 "The servant asked him, "What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?"

* The servant knew the unusual nature of the mission he was to go under. Although such marraige arrangements were more common in their culture and time, it was still possible for her to say no.

* Chapter 22 ended by saying that his brother, Nahor, was blessed with many sons, perhaps as in invitation to have their children marry each other. Today cousins marrying is not wise because the human gene is so weak. In those days the human gene was stronger. Cousins marrying each other was very common.

Genesis 24:6-7 ""Make sure that you do not take my son back there," Abraham said. "The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land'--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there."

* Abraham could make the conditions so hard by faith in his God who is with him and will keep his promise. Also, he knew the conditions had to be high, for she would be an important person in God's history.

* "my country" -Mesopotamia was were Abraham was born. Later his father and brother left and settled in Haran. From Haran Abraham traveled to Canaan by faith in the LORD who called him there.

* Abraham quoted the promise of 12:7.

Genesis 24:8-9 "If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there." So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter."

* This was an act of faith for the women.

>4. How did Abraham's servant prepare for his mission? When he arrived in the town of Nahor, how did he begin to carry out his mission? Why did he give such a specific condition in his prayer? (14-15) What can we learn from his prayer about the kind of woman he was seeking for Isaac? (11-14)

Genesis 24:10-11 "Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water."

* Camels were just starting to be domesticated and used to transport goods over long distances in Abraham's lifetime. Livestock was an important measure of wealth in ancient times.

* "Aram Naharaim" -meaning Aram of the two rivers, Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers. The Greeks later called this land "Mesopotamia"

* "the town of Nahor" -thus showing his great wealth. In the 1930s Frenchman discovered clay tablets mentioning it. It was not far from Haran. It is near the modern day Turkey/Syria borders in between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers.

* "the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water" -a common task for young women for many centuries in most ancient cultures of the world. Even in Jesus' day the Samaritan women was going to the well to collect water. They traveled in groups to chat with their friends and for safety. The evening was cool.

Genesis 24:12-14 "Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'--let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."

* "then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham" -a man who learned from Abraham's faith and yet it seems to indicate that the LORD was not yet his own God. I'm sure after this exercise of faith and obedience he put his faith in the LORD.

* "Please let down you jar to give me a little water" -This was a test to see if she was generous, brave, and kind and it was a test so he would know the right girl from all those who came.

>5. How did Abraham's servant make sure that Rebekah was the girl God had chosen for Isaac? (15-27) Why?

Genesis 24:15-16 "Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor. The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again."

* "before he had finished praying" -God had already been working. James 5:16 states, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

* "She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah" -thus she was Isaac's second cousin.

* Rebekah is a good example of a woman of God. She was:
    1) a worker
    2) kind
    3) generous
    4) a woman of faith
    5) respected amongst her peers for she was with them

Genesis 24:17-18 "The servant hurried to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water from your jar." "Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink."

* "Please give me a little water from your jar" -This was a test to see if she was generous, brave, and kind.

Genesis 24:19-21 "After she had given him a drink, she said, "I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking." So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful."

* "I'll draw water for your camels too" -she went beyond what he asked, a very kind soul.

* "the man watched her closely to learn" -We are beinging watched to see if we obey in small things. If we do we will be blessed. Jesus often taught that if we live by faith, love and hope in this life we will be rewarded with more in the next.

Genesis 24:22-23 "When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. Then he asked, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?""

* "nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels" -more than what would be considered a generous gift for such a small service.

Genesis 24:24-25 "She answered him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor." And she added, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.""

* Abraham's servant made sure that Rebekah was the girl God had chosen by the following:
    1) She was a relative of Abraham
    2) She was beautiful
    3) She was a virgin
    4) She quickly watered the camels
    5) He didn't say a word to her about his intent or mission
    6) He watched her closely
    7) He took out a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets
    8) He asked if he could spend the night at her father's house
    9) She agreed
    10) He thanked God.

Genesis 24:26-27 "Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master's relatives."

* "as for me the LORD has lead me" -now this servant of Abraham experienced the work of the LORD and called to him as his LORD.

>6. How did he persuade Rebekah's family to send her on the long journey back to Canaan to be the wife of a man they had never seen?

Genesis 24:28-31

* This is how he persuaded Rebekah's family:
    1) He gave good gifts to them
    2) He did not eat before his words of mission was explained
    3) He said Abraham was wealthy
    4) He explained his dilemma
    5) He explained his prayer
    6) Then he gave them the chose
    7) They let her go
    8) He have gifts to Rebekah
    9) He ate, drank, and spent the night
    10) He asked to leave the next morning
    11) Then the mother and brother wanted her to stay 10 days
    12) He did not want to be detained

* From the servant a man with God's mission can learn the proper attitude;
    1) one of persistence
    2) prayer
    3) don't finish until it's complete
    4) rely and trust in God

>7. What can a man with a mission learn from Abraham's servant's attitude? His way of carrying out his mission?

III. Rebekah's Faith (24:32-67)

>8. What kind of girl was Rebekah? (15-20, 24-25) What was her decision? On what basis could she make such a decision? (56-61) What can you learn from her about practical faith?

Genesis 24:32-55

Genesis 24:56-61

>9. Describe the completion of the servant's mission and the meeting of Isaac and Rebekah. What does verse 67 tell us?

* Genesis 24:62 says, "Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev." This is close to where his mother had been when Abraham went to her when she died. Isaac may have been missing his mother.

* Genesis 24:67 "Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah... and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death" -Rebekah was now mother of the household, raking Sarah's place.