It was the custom in Abraham’s day for parents to choose wives or husbands for their children. Abraham wanted to find a good wife for his son Isaac. This would be difficult. Abraham lived in Canaan and did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman because the Canaanites worshipped false gods. Abraham wanted Isaac to marry a righteous woman who would help him remain faithful to the living God and who would teach their children the truth. Only in this way could the priesthood remain with Abraham’s descendants. Without the Priesthood they could not receive the special blessings the Lord had promised them.
Abraham called his oldest servant to him and asked him to search for a wife for Isaac. He said, “I want thee to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that thou shalt not choose a wife for Isaac from the Canaanite women. But thou shalt go to my home country of Mesopotamia, and there among my own people thou shalt choose a wife for him.”
The trusted servant knew this was a very serious and important assignment and asked, “What if the woman chosen will not follow me back to this land? Should I not take Isaac with me, so the woman and her family can approve of him?”
Abraham answered, “Beware, do not take Isaac with thee.” Abraham did not want Isaac to go into another land, where he might be tempted to remain. The Lord had given the land of Canaan to Abraham and his family as an inheritance, and Abraham wanted them to stay there.
Abraham told his servant, “The Lord shall send his angel before thee, and he will help thee find a wife for Isaac.”
With that understanding, the servant gave his hand to Abraham and promised to do as he had been instructed.
The servant began his journey with a caravan of ten camels and a number of men to assist him. He traveled to Mesopotamia, to the city where Nahor lived. There he made his camels kneel outside the city beside a well of water. It was evening, and many women were getting water at the well. The servant did not know anyone. Nor did he know how to find the woman the Lord had chosen to be Isaac’s wife. He needed help, so he prayed, saying; “O Lord, behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water. Let it come to pass that the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Let down thy pitcher that I may drink’, and she shall say, ‘Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also’—let this be the woman that is to be Isaac’s wife.”
Before he had finished praying, a beautiful young woman approached. Her name was Rebekah, and she was not only beautiful, but also virtuous and lovely. She loved the Lord and tried to keep his commandments. Because of this, Rebekah was blessed by the Lord.
As Rebekah turned from the well with her water pitcher filled, the servant ran to meet her. “Let me drink a little water from thy pitcher,” he said.
“Drink my lord,” she replied. Then when she had given him a drink, she offered, “I will draw water for thy camels also.” This was the very sign the servant had prayed for, so he knew Rebekah was the woman the Lord had chosen to be Isaac’s wife.
After the camels had been given water to drink, the servant asked Rebekah, “Whose daughter art thou? Tell me, I pray thee, is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?”
Her answer brought great joy to the servant. She told him she was the daughter of Bethuel and a granddaughter of Nahor. The servant knew that Nahor was Abraham’s brother and realized he had been led to the house of Abraham’s relatives. He bowed his head and thanked the Lord.
When Rebekah heard him praying, she learned that he was the servant of her great-uncle Abraham. Excitedly she ran home to tell her family. They, too, were excited. Rebekah’s brother, Laban, ran out to the servant, who was standing by the well. “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord,” Laban invited. “I have prepared the house and room for the camels.”
Later Laban asked the servant to eat, but the servant answered, “I will not eat until I tell thee why I am here.” Then the servant told the family why Abraham had sent him to Mesopotamia. He told them that he had been led by the Lord and that at the well he had prayed for a sign to help him know which woman should be Isaac’s wife. He then told them that their Rebekah was the one the Lord had chosen. The servant asked Rebekah’s father and brother for permission to take her far away to Canaan to be Isaac’s wife.
Rebekah’s family were good people. Their answer showed their great faith and trust in the Lord. They said, “This is of the Lord. Take her and go, and let her be Isaac’s wife, as the Lord has said.”
When Abraham’s servant heard this, he again bowed himself to the earth and thanked God. Then he brought out jewels of silver and gold and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. To Rebekah’s mother and brother he gave other precious gifts.
After these important arrangements were made, the servant relaxed. He ate his meal and spent the night with Rebekah’s family.
When morning came he said, “Send me back to my master.” Rebekah’s mother and brother dreaded seeing her leave so soon.
They pleaded, “Let her stay with us a few more days; after that she shall go.”
But the servant replied, “Do not hinder me. The Lord has helped me succeed. Send me away, that I may return to my master.”
“First ask Rebekah,” they said, and calling her they asked, “Wilt thou go with this man?”
Because of Rebekah’s great faith she knew the Lord would bless her. She answered, “I will go.” Rebekah was leaving the family she loved. She was going to a foreign land to marry a man she had never met, yet she knew it was the right thing to do.
Rebekah’s family knew of the great promises made to Abraham and his descendants. They knew that in marrying Isaac, Rebekah had a special mission to perform. She was to be the mother of many nations. When they bid Rebekah good-bye, they blessed her and said, “Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions.”
Then mounting the camels, Rebekah and her handmaidens followed the servant of Abraham.
Back in the land of Canaan, Isaac awaited the news. He knew the Lord would direct the servant to find the right woman to be his wife. One evening he went out into the field to pray. When he lifted up his eyes, he saw the caravan returning from Mesopotamia and ran to meet them.
As he approached, Rebekah saw him and asked the servant, “What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?”
The servant answered, “It is Isaac.” Rebekah quickly covered her face with a veil * jumped from the camel to greet Isaac. She was excited, for she was about to meet the man God had chosen to be her husband.
Isaac and Rebekah had trusted in the Lord, and he had brought them together to be husband and wife.
In Rebekah’s day a “veil” was worn by a woman to cover her face, especially in the presence of a man she had not met before.