Searching for a Wife for Isaac
Sarah had grown very old, in fact she was a hundred and twenty-seven years old, and the end of her life had come. When she died Abraham wept and mourned for her, for she had been his wife for many years and now he wanted a place to bury her in. He spoke to the owners of the land saying: "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a place that I may bury my dead out of my sight."
The people had learned to love and respect the old Abraham, and they said to him, "You are a mighty prince among us; choose any sepulchre you wish and we will give it to you."
Abraham said he would like the cave of Machpelah, which was owned by Ephron and which was at the end of his field.
When Ephron heard that Abraham wanted a cave in his field to bury Sarah in, he quickly told Abraham: "The field I give you, and the cave that is therein also. Bury your dead there."
But Abraham did not want Ephron to give him the field and the cave for nothing, for he was able to buy it, and, therefore, he insisted upon paying Ephron for the cave. They agreed upon four hundred shekels of silver as the price. Abraham had the silver weighed out and paid over to Ephron before the sepulchre was made ready for the body of Sarah.
Then the cave was opened, and the body of Sarah was put inside. The mouth of the cave was sealed with a great stone and marked with the name of Sarah and of Abraham who owned it. Abraham mourned for Sarah many days and many nights, for he loved her and now he was bereft in his old age.
Abraham was well stricken in years, and Isaac had grown to be a man. The time had come for him to choose a wife, that he might have children to possess the land of Canaan. Abraham did not want him to marry any of the women of the land where they were living, for they worshiped idols, but he wanted a wife for Isaac out of the land where Abraham came from, and where the people still worshiped God and feared him.
Abraham called his oldest servant and said to him: "Go into my country and to my kindred and find a wife for my son Isaac."
The servant was afraid that none of the women would be willing to follow him out of their country, and told Abraham that it was useless to take so far a journey for nothing. Abraham then told his servant not to have any fear, for an angel of the Lord would show him what to do when he came unto the land of his kindred.
The servant took ten camels and plenty of goods for a present and some men to help him and departed from the land of Canaan on his long journey to find a wife for Isaac. At last he came to the land of Mesopotamia near to the city of Nahor, and there the old servant and his camels and his men rested by a well at the time of the evening that the women went out to draw water.
The servant saw the women coming out of the city, and approaching the well to fill their pitchers with water, and wondered if one of them was not appointed to be the wife of Isaac. Therefore, the old servant began to pray to the Lord:
"Let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down your pitcher, I pray you, that I may drink, and she shall say, Drink and I shall give your camels drink also, let her be the one that shall be the wife of Isaac."
Hardly had the old servant ceased speaking when Rebekah came toward the well with her pitcher upon her shoulder. She was a young woman, fair to look upon, who had never yet loved any man. She was the daughter of Bethuel, the nephew of Abraham and thus was already related to Isaac and belonged to the very race that the old Abraham had declared must furnish a wife for his son.
The servant ran forward when he saw the beautiful Rebekah and said to her: "Let me, I pray you, drink a little water of your pitcher?" Rebekah hastened to let down the pitcher from her shoulder and gave the old servant water to drink.
Rebekah seeing the thirsty camels kneeling near by, and knowing they also needed water to drink, said to the old servant: "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have done drinking." And she emptied her pitcher into the trough and ran again unto the well to draw water, until the camels had satisfied their thirst. None of the other women who came out to draw water had paid any attention to the old servant and his tired and thirsty camels.
Then the servant began to wonder if this beautiful damsel was not the one whom God had appointed for Isaac's wife. After the camels had drunk of the water, the servant took a golden earring, and two bracelets and gave them to Rebekah, and said to her: "Whose daughter are you, and is there room in your father's house for us to lodge in?"
Rebekah replied to the servant by telling him who she was and said: "We have both straw and provender enough for your camels, and room to lodge in." Then the old servant knew the angel of the Lord had brought him on his way and that he had found the woman who was to be the wife of his master's son.