When reading the Bible, it is fascinating to see how Godly and prophetic truths were expressed through the mindsets and cultures of the ancient Middle Eastern peoples.
The Hebrew culture in the Bible comes from Mesopotamia and this is where Abraham was born and raised.
I believe it so, so important to as much as possible try to get into the heads of these ancient peoples when walking through the Scriptures because they differ so greatly from our own modern western ways.
So let’s take a look at a couple of points of cultural interest in Genesis 24,
We are told that things went extraordinarily well for Elizier as God answers his prayers by sending him Rebecca.
Right off the bat here, I want to address a major pet peeve of mine.
When Eliezer is praying to God, in the original Hebrew, he calls God “YAHWEH” and NOT “Lord” or “Adonai” as it is written in most of our English Bibles.
He is calling out to God by His personal name!
So after Rebecca demonstrates proper character and modesty by giving water to all of Eliezer’s 10 camels, Elizier showers her with expensive jewelry.
Rebecca rushes home excited to bring news of this wealthy stranger.
The jewelry Rebecca is wearing catches the attention of her brother Laban who rushes out to greet to this apparently very rich visitor.
As a result, Eliezer is accepted as an honored guest and invited to stay with Rebecca’s family.
A meal is prepared but before Eliezer partakes of any food, he insists that he must relate the tale of how his master Abraham has sent him on a mission to find his son Isaac a wife.
After the story is told, Rebecca’s father Betuel and her brother Laban respond with typical oriental hospitality.
“The matter was decreed by the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebecca before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.”
Again, I need to point out that where you see the word “Lord“, it is actually God’s personal name “YAHWEH” being invoked.
But we shouldn’t be too impressed with this.
They didn’t hold any deep reverence for Abraham’s God.
Rebecca’s family worshipped many different God’s and they were just using the name Yahweh to show respect to Abraham’s servant.
In addition, behind all of this bowing and scraping, the truth is Rebecca’s family was impressed by all of the expensive jewelry Rebecca had just been given.
Money talks then as it does now and Rebecca’s family was well aware that the amount of wealth they would receive in exchange for Rebecca’s hand would amount to a small fortune equivalent to a king’s ransom.
What’s also interesting is that it is the brother Laban who appears to be the leader calling all the shots and not the father Betuel.
This is strange.
The father Betuel must have been in a deteriorated mental and/or physical condition due to old age or sickness.
So after a bit of negotiation, Eliezer is granted permission to leave with Rebecca.
Prior to their departure, the following blessing is pronounced over Rebecca.
“O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads.
May your offspring seize the gates of their foes!”
Contrast this with what God said to Sarah:
“And I will bless her,
and indeed I will give you a son by her.
Then I will bless her,
and she shall be a mother of nations;
kings of peoples shall come from her”
This is a prophetic blessing!
It fits in perfectly with the promises that God made to Abraham and that would now be inherited by Isaac.
One final point concerning the veil Rebecca was wearing.
The common interpretation is that women in that era covered their faces with veils.
For the most part, this is true with one small problem.
It didn’t apply to Hebrew women and it was NOT a Mesopotamian custom.
The only time a veil was usually worn was during a wedding ceremony but not during other normal times.
When a Hebrew woman ventured out of the house, for example, she didn’t have to wear a veil.
The reason Rebecca was wearing a veil when she rode out to meet Isaac was as a symbolic indication that she had already been chosen to be his wife.