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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Gen. 24]

NOW Abraham was advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in all things. He, however, wished, before his death, to see his son wedded to a virtuous wife. But as the daughters of the land were wicked, he said to his old servant Eliezer: “Go to my own country and kindred, and take a wife thence for my son Isaac, but beware lest thou take one of the daughters of the Chanaanites, among whom I dwell.” The servant promised faithfully all that Abraham had commanded him. He then took ten camels of his master’s herd, loaded them with rich presents, and set out for Haran, where Nachor, the brother of Abraham, dwelt. Arriving there, he let his camels rest near a well outside the city. It was in the evening, the time when the young women were wont to come out to draw water from the well. Then he prayed fervently within himself that heaven might prosper his undertaking: “O Lord, I beseech Thee, show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, I stand nigh the spring, and the daughters of the inhabitants of the city will come out to draw water. Now, therefore, the maid to whom I shall say: ‘Let down thy pitcher that I may drink’, and she shall answer: ‘Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also’, let it be the same whom Thou hast provided for thy servant Isaac; and by this I shall understand that Thou hast shown kindness to my master.”

He had not yet ended his prayer when Rebecca, a beautiful and modest maiden, came out, carrying a pitcher. She went down to the well, filled the pitcher, and was returning, when Eliezer ran to meet her and said: “Give me a little water to drink out of thy pitcher.” She answered him kindly: “Drink, my lord.” And quickly she let down the pitcher upon her arm, and gave him to drink. And when he had drunk, she said: “I will draw water for thy camels also till they all drink.” Then, pouring water into the troughs, she let the camels drink. After they had drunk, the servant presented her with golden ear-rings and bracelets, saying to her: “Whose daughter art thou? Tell me, is there any place in thy father’s house to lodge?” She answered: “I am the daughter of Bathuel, the son of Nachor. We have a good store of both straw and hay, and a large place to lodge in.” Then Eliezer bowed down and adored the Lord, saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Abraham, who hath not taken away His mercy and truth from him, and hath brought me the straight way into the house of my master’s brother!”

He was then invited to the house, and bread was set before him, but he refused to eat, until he had delivered his message. When he had stated the object of his coming, Laban, the brother of Rebecca, and Bathuel, her father, answered: “The word hath proceeded from the Lord: we cannot speak any other thing but His pleasure. Behold! Rebecca is before thee: take her and go thy way, and let her be the wife of thy master’s son, as the Lord hath spoken.” Then the servant bowed down to the ground, adored the Lord and, bringing forth vessels of gold and silver, with garments of the finest texture, presented them to Rebecca. He also presented rich gifts to her brother and mother. Then, full of joy, he partook of the refreshments offered to him. Next morning, after Rebecca had received the blessing of her parents and brother, she set out with her maidens for her destined home, and on arriving there became the wife of Isaac. Abraham lived many years after Isaac’s marriage. He died, aged one hundred and seventy-five years, and was buried by his son at Hebron, where Sara, his wife, had been buried before.

 

Unity of faith the chief thing in married life. Almighty God chose Abraham in order that through him and his descendants the true faith might be preserved and spread. Therefore Abraham was very particular to choose for his son Isaac a wife who believed in and served the true God. He was resolved that Isaac should not marry any of the daughters of the heathen Chanaanites, however beautiful or rich they might be, for fear that either he or his children should become weak and wavering in their faith. His first care was that his son’s wife should hold the true faith. It should likewise be the first thought of all Catholics, for unity of faith is, above all things, necessary to a happy marriage. Married people who look on religion as a secondary consideration are on the high road to indifference about their faith, and even to the loss of it altogether.

Eliezer the model of a faithful servant. Eliezer fulfilled his master’s commission not only with prudence, but also with zeal, for he would not even eat until he had delivered his message, and wished to return to his master as soon as possible after having done so. He, like Abraham, was remarkable for his piety and confidence in God. He prayed fervently for guidance in making a good choice, and thanked God for the gracious guidance vouchsafed to him.

The virtues displayed by Rebecca. She was kind and hospitable to Eliezer, and compassionate towards the thirsty camels. She voluntarily offered to draw water for the beasts, without waiting for Eliezer to ask her to do so. He knew by this action that she had a kind heart, as well as that she was the bride destined by God for Isaac. God looks to the heart and not to the outward appearance, and chose Rebecca, on account of her virtues, to be the wife of the patriarch Isaac, from whom the Divine Redeemer was to descend.

A summary of Abraham’s virtues. Faith and hope, love of God and his neighbour, hospitality, obedience, love of peace, disinterestedness and final perseverance.

Limbo. Where did Abraham’s soul go after death? “He was gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:8), i. e. he joined the souls of the just (such as Adam, Abel, Seth, Henoch, Noe &c.), in Limbo. There they rested in the blessed hope and expectation of the coming Redeemer who would deliver them from that prison and take them with Him into the eternal joy of the beatific vision of God.

APPLICATION. Begin and end each day, or any important undertaking, with a prayer for God’s blessing. Begin with God and end with God; that is the best rule of life.

Are you obliging to your friends, and to strangers, as Rebecca was? Think in what way you can help others, whether brothers, companions, friends, or strangers, and resolve to make use of your opportunities. God will reward each little service you perform.








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