Abraham had a problem. His son Isaac was the most eligible bachelor in the country. Normally this would be good, but where Abraham and Isaac were living the only prospective brides were Canaanite women who worshipped false gods. Something had to be done, and in that time of arranged marriages Abraham was the one to get things done.
Abraham called his most trusted servant, Eliezer of Damascus. For years Eliezer had skillfully handled the important business and family matters, but he was totally unprepared for this new assignment. “I want you to go back to the old country where my clan still lives and pick a bride for my son, Isaac,” Abraham instructed his major domo.
Eliezer was aghast at what he considered to be an impossible assignment. How would he know which girl to pick? Even if he found the right one, how could he persuade her to leave her family and friends and travel to a strange land to marry someone she had never met?
But Abraham didn’t see a problem. He believed wholeheartedly that God had brought him to the Land of Canaan, and that finding the right bride for Isaac was no big deal. “God will send his angel with you and make your journey a success so that you can get a wife for my son, a wife from my own clan and from my father’s family,” he explained to his servant, as if the process was that simple.
Eliezer had learned there was no use arguing with Abraham when he was certain God was telling him to do something. So the trusted servant took 10 camels, a few of his best helpers, and all kinds of good things from the wealth of Abraham and journeyed to the place where the Tigris and Euphrates met. Getting there was the easy part. Finding the right bride was the dilemma. Abraham’s solution was that an angel would take care of everything. Where is the angel now that I need him? Eliezer thought to himself.
For a moment his mind went blank. Then instantly there came a plan. It was not the kind of scheme the methodical Eliezer would have thought of himself. Where had the idea come from? An angel? Eliezer was convinced, and he was convinced that what he was about to do was right.
It was evening and he was by the village well. This was the time the women came to draw water. Boldly Eliezer prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.”
Hoping against hope, Eliezer asked the 64,000-shekel question.
Her name was Rebecca. She was not only in the clan, but a grandniece of Abraham which made her a perfect choice to be a bride for Isaac.
Everything seemed to be falling into place, but Eliezer knew there were still two big problems: Would she agree to marry Isaac? Would her family allow her to leave and go to Canaan?
There was no guarantee, but by now Eliezer was almost ready to bet the family farm. He gave the astonished Rebecca three pieces of gold jewelry. Rebecca invited him home to meet the family.
The extravagant gift of gold jewelry to Rebecca was a clue that something unusual was happening, but her family tactfully did not ask questions. That could wait until after dinner. But Eliezer was so excited he could not wait. “I will not eat until you have heard what I have to say,” he insisted. Then the whole amazing story came tumbling out.
The family of Rebecca listened with amazement. Eliezer shared how Abraham was persuaded beyond a doubt that the Lord would send his angel and make Eliezer's journey a success. He also retold the improbable chain of events that had led him to the right geographical spot, how Rebecca appeared while he was still praying, and how she passed Eliezer's test. Could there be any doubt, with these strange twists of circumstances, that God had chosen Rebecca to be a bride for Isaac?
The family answered, “This is of the Lord! Here is Rebecca. Take her and let her become Isaac’s wife, as the Lord has directed.”
Rebecca said, “I will go.”
So Rebecca became Isaac’s wife, and he loved her.
For thousands of years as this story has been told and retold, the faithful have never doubted that God’s angel, a holy matchmaker, played a most important part in the history of Israel and in one of the most beautiful love stories of all time.