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Wednesday, August 17 2011

The Syrian Marriage Wells

Abraham was born in what is today Iraq. That is to say, the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ; see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM' and The LORD And The Two Angels) called an Iraqi to go and found what would become the nation of Israel, beginning with Abraham's grandson Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel" (see the Fact Finder question below). Abraham's journey from Iraq was in two stages. It included a stopover in what is today Syria. When Abraham moved on from there, other members of his family remained in Syria, establishing themselves in the area around the city of Haran. It was for that reason, when it came time for Abraham's son Isaac to marry, that Abraham sent a servant back to Syria with the purpose of finding a daughter-in-law for Abraham from his own people. The result of the journey was that Rebekah left Syria to marry Isaac in the new land (see Who Chose Rebekah?).

Rebekah

"24:12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham. 24:13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 24:14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.

24:15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 24:16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up."

"24:17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

24:18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.

24:19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 24:20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 24:21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.

24:22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 24:23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?

24:24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 24:25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.

24:26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren." (Genesis 24:12-26 KJV)

"Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well's mouth"

There is a historic (the term "old saying" is actually inaccurate because "there is nothing new under the sun" Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV) saying that "history repeats itself" (e.g. see also The First Christian Church). That is certainly true for Isaac and Rebekah's son Jacob who was also given to meet his wife Rachel at a well, in the same town (perhaps even the same well) as happened with his mother Rebekah, as quoted in the Scriptures above.

Jacob and Rachel at the Well

"29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 29:2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 29:3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. 29:4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.

29:5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor?

And they said, We know him.

29:6 And he said unto them, Is he well?

And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

29:7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.

29:8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep." (Genesis 29:1-8 KJV)

As happened with his mother, the timing of the "right" person to come along at just the "right" time wasn't merely left up to chance.

"29:9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them. 29:10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. 29:11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 29:12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.

29:13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. 29:14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month." (Genesis 29:9-14 KJV)

The situation became more complicated for Jacob than it had been for his father Isaac however. One obvious reason is that Isaac's family was to be relatively small, while Jacob's family was to be created large, relatively quickly - by two wives, Rachel and Leah, and two concubines, Zilpah and Bilhah (see Mothers Of Israel).

"29:15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?

29:16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 29:17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

29:19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 29:20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

29:21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.

29:22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 29:23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 29:24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

29:25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

29:26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 29:27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

29:28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. 29:29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. 29:30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years." (Genesis 29:15-30 KJV)

Fact Finder: After the birth of 11 of his 12 sons (Benjamin was the only Israelite patriarch actually born in the land that became known as "Israel") who would become the fathers of the individual Israelite tribes, was Jacob renamed as "Israel" during his return journey from his 20 years in Syria?
See The First Meeting Of Israel And Esau

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This Day In History, August 17

1424: The English fought the Scots and French at the Battle of Verneuil during the Hundred Years War.

1585: Spanish forces, led by Duke of Parma, took Antwerp after a 14-month siege in the Dutch War of Liberation.

1590: John White, the leader of 117 colonists sent in 1587 to Roanoke Island (North Carolina) to establish a colony, returned from a trip to England to find the settlement deserted. No trace of the settlers is ever found.

1743: The Peace of Abo was signed, ending the Russo-Swedish War of 1741-43.

1812: Napoleon Bonaparte's army defeated the Russians at the Battle of Smolensk during the Russian retreat to Moscow.

1833: The first steam ship to cross the Atlantic entirely on its own power, the Canadian ship Royal William, began its journey from Nova Scotia to The Isle of Wight.

1945: Indonesia claimed independence from the Netherlands with the setting up the Provisional Indonesian Republican Government.

1962: Peter Fechter, 18, was shot by East German guards as he attempted to flee across the Berlin Wall. Left to bleed to death, his case was the most notorious in the history of the Wall. In July 1996, two former guards were charged with manslaughter.

1969: Dr. Philip Blaiberg died in South Africa, 19 months and 15 days after receiving a heart transplant, a survival record at the time.

1987: Nazi war criminal Rudolph Hess committed suicide by hanging with a lamp cord, at age 93, after 46 years in Spandau Prison. He had been the only inmate of the prison for the last 20 years of his life.

1998: U.S. President Bill Clinton testified before Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's grand jury regarding Clinton's sexual adventures with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. Clinton thereby became the first U.S. President to testify under oath (he had previously denied any adultery and fornication with the young assistant) before a grand jury.

1999: A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Izmit, Turkey; over 17,000 people were killed and 44,000 were injured.


Copyright © Wayne Blank