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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 24

 

 

Verses 1-67

Genesis 24:1. The Lord had blessed Abraham with all the four patriarchal blessings: viz. length of days, a promising issue, vast riches, and victory over his oppressors.

Genesis 24:2. Under my thigh. The Jews affirm that Abraham here swore his servant by the covenant of circumcision, and by the promise of the Messiah who was to descend from his loins. Jacob required Joseph to take an oath in this manner. Genesis 47:29. So the princes and the mighty men, according to the margin, put their hands under Solomon. 1 Chronicles 29:24. But under the christian dispensation, when the angel of the Lord swore, he lifted up his hand to heaven. Revelation 10:5-6.

Genesis 24:4. To my kindred. Abraham here asks not for beauty, nor for riches. He solicits virtue, which is the foundation of all personal and family happiness. A woman of piety, and of good understanding, is in herself a treasure which cannot be estimated.

Genesis 24:6. Bring not my son thither again. He knew the sure promise of God to give the land of Canaan to his posterity; a return therefore of the family to Mesopotamia would have been to abandon the promise through unbelief. It would have been as the revolt in the desert to make a captain general, and return into Egypt. What a caveat to christians against a heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. The caution of the steward is equally to be noted. Of a false oath he had no idea; but he feared a failure in the object of the oath, the refusal of the virgin, for daughters of Rebekah’s age were not to be forced away, even by parents. It were devoutly to be wished that all christians had the like ideas of an oath to the Lord. Perjury is the sure road to meet with a curse, instead of a blessing: nor do we see how a perjured man can obtain a pardon without confession.

Genesis 24:10. Ten camels, on which Rebekah and her maidens might return, with their effects, with himself and servants.

Genesis 24:31. Come in, thou blessed of the Lord. Laban, though he worshipped other gods; yet had not forsaken the worship of JEHOVAH, nor had he ceased to salute in his name. Bethuel being old, Laban seems to act for his father.

Genesis 24:33. Not eat until, &c. He only is a good servant who prefers his duty to his master before his own interest or honour. Abraham had appreciated his talents and his worth, and therefore put all his affairs in his hand.

Genesis 24:42. O Lord God, &c. Proceedings of such vast importance are not to be undertaken without prayer to the God of providence and grace. They are alike eventful for life, and eventful to posterity. Yea all our proceedings are to be accompanied with prayers, for the smallest occurrences are often productive of great results.

Genesis 24:43. The virgin: not only chaste in body, but pure in mind. The heathen had these ideas of a virgin; and therefore a vestal virgin was dismissed from the temple for wantonly reciting this verse,

Fælis nuptæ! moriar, nisi nubere dulce est.

Oh happy marriage! I shall die, except I taste of its felicity.

Genesis 24:49. And now, if you will deal kindly and truly with my master. Just so, ministers who seek to bring sinners to Jesus Christ should urge their pleas, and imitate the spirit of this faithful servant. They may, indeed they ought, to improve circumstances in the sacred writings after the manner of the prophets, of our Lord himself, and his apostles; and they may do so, without running into the insipidity and weakness of mystical allegory; an error common to the Greek and Latin fathers.

Genesis 24:67. He loved her as his wife, specially pointed out for him by providence, and a boon sent of God. Her personal worth and beauty commanded a full return of affection. She had left, like Abraham, her country, her parents, and her kindred, to be his consort for life. She had embarked her all in Isaac’s hope, and Isaac’s lot. Just so should the church leave all for Christ, as a chaste virgin spotless in purity.

REFLECTIONS.

To see children established, and especially an only son, must be a wish extremely natural to a pious and worn out parent; and his prayers and solicitude on so important a subject shall not be unattended with the direction and blessing of the Almighty.

Did the wise and venerable patriarch exact the most solemn oath of his steward, that he would not take Isaac a wife of the daughters of the land, because they were idolaters, and accursed for their wickedness? And shall christians be less cautious in forming connections with worldly characters, with persons devoted to vanity and dress; and accustomed to attend balls and theatres, whose minds have early been corrupted by habits of effeminacy and novel reading. Can this be less injurious to the soul of a regenerate youth, than a daughter of Canaan would have proved to Isaac. St. Paul has ascertained and fixed the liberty of christians, to marry only in the Lord: and a man who begins the world by breaking God’s word, generally eats the fruit of his own doings. When he overlooks pious and converted women in the church, and seeks beauty and fortune in the world, his prayers for a blessing are to God, as when the Israelites loathed the manna and asked for flesh.

In Abraham, parents so circumstanced, have a high model of piety and disinterestedness. He sought nothing for his son but a woman educated in the purest principles of hospitality, and virtuous modesty. They have only to follow his piety and prudence.

Providence attended the effort of Abraham with the most happy and singular success. So if young men are content to wait till they are of a proper age, and have the means of providing for a wife and family; if they refuse blindly to follow passion, seeking divine direction in every step, the Lord will fulfil to them and their families every promise of the new covenant; and it is better for them to go to the most distant parts for a help meet in the faith, than to marry the fairest alien at home.

In the uprightness with which the steward served Abraham, all servants entrusted with their masters’ affairs have a model approaching perfection. How judicious, diligent, and pious was this man in all his measures! He loitered not a day in his mission, but expedited it, as though he had been acting solely for himself. What honour and credit does it reflect on religion, when persons in a menial or subordinate station serve their earthly masters, looking with a single eye to their great Master who is in heaven. On the other hand when a man blessed with affluence, finds a confidential servant, wise and discreet in the management of his affairs, he should be regarded as no small gift of providence: nor should such a man, in his old age, go without an adequate reward.

Lastly, Isaac, after the toils of the day, retired from the noise of his camp, for meditation in rural solitude; and in this he has left to all young men a pattern how their evenings should be spent. Youth is the happy period for getting acquainted with God, and with his truth, and for acquiring deep and solid piety: and for this purpose they should shun the vain amusements of the age, and so improve their minds as to lay up a good foundation for the time to come. Almost every character distinguished in the church, began early to acquaint himself with God, and with his word.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 24:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/genesis-24.html. 1835.

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