Today’s Chocolate: Equal Exchange Panama Extra Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: Genesis 24
Has God ever granted one of your requests in mid-prayer? One Saturday afternoon during my teenage years, after spending entirely too much time searching for a chapstick and getting increasingly frustrated, I began to ask God to help me find the chapstick, only to look down and see it lying on the sofa. I could tell you ten bojillion stories in which God answered my “help me find X” prayers, but all of them except the chapstick one involved some length of time between the request and the finding, ranging from a few minutes to half a year. But we are here to discuss not the Complete History of Jackson’s Answered Prayers, but rather today’s chapter of Genesis. And like my chapstick situation, today’s chapter of Genesis features a “help me find X” prayer that was answered before it was even completed.
Genesis 24 concerns the search for a bride for Isaac. Abraham doesn’t want his son to marry a Canaanite, so he sends his servant back to his homeland to look for a wife. The servant goes to the city of Nahor and literally visits the local watering hole, the well where the women go to draw water in the evening. He prays, “May it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac” (14), and the words aren’t even out of his mouth before a woman walks up and draws water.
As far as I can tell, he was praying out loud. So when Rebekah approached the well, she may well have seen a stranger apparently talking to himself. Did she hear any of what he was saying? Depending on how much she heard, it might have been possible for her to rig the scenario by doing exactly what she heard him ask God for. Want to get your foot in the door with this guy Isaac? Just offer to give the man’s camels some water.
But I don’t know how much she heard, if anything. I don’t know a lot of things about the scenario, like whether it was weird in ancient Mesopotamia to hang out at wells and pray out loud for your god to provide a wife for your master’s son. The situation may not have been awkward in their culture, but I’d certainly feel awkward in the servant’s sandals. And I think that in any culture, what he did took a measure of guts.
You may have noticed that Rebekah is the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor. That makes her Isaac’s first cousin, once removed (I had to look that up). I have absolutely no idea whether or not Abraham has good reasons for not wanting his son to marry a Canaanite (the text doesn’t call them idolaters or “exceedingly wicked” like the people of Sodom), but it strikes me as amusing that the servant goes all the way to a far-off land only to pick Isaac’s uncle’s granddaughter as his bride. Also, I don’t think this marriage would even technically be prohibited by the laws of Leviticus that have not been set down yet.
Anyway, by the end of the chapter, Isaac and Rebekah are married. God has answered the servant’s prayer, the servant has fulfilled his role in the narrative, and we will never see him again. Good work, servant.