The Chief End of Man (19)
241Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, 3and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, 4but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
As Abraham’s life moves towards its end, he begins to focus on ensuring the proper continuance of the next generation. After what Abraham’s household has experienced can an oath by this LORD God have been but of the most solemn imaginable?
5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” 9So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
Were Isaac to go back he might be tempted to stay. Though God is implacable in achieving His ends, He still rewards our cooperation. This is a lesson that Abraham had well learned. May we too follow his example.
The remainder of this chapter recounts the servant’s journey and ensuing meeting with Rebekah, the negotiations for her betrothal to Isaac, the journey back and her marriage to Isaac.
251Abraham took another wife, whose name was Ketu’rah. 2She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Mid’ian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshu’rim, Letu’shim, and Le-um’mim. 4The sons of Mid’ian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abi’da, and Elda’ah. All these were the children of Ketu’rah.
Abraham was blessed with the companionship of a new wife and many additional children.
5Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. 6But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.
Abraham cared for both the needs of his progeny and ensured that Isaac would receive the blessing reserved for him alone.
We shudder at the mention of concubines. We must remember that God has chosen to deal with humankind at the stage of moral development at which He finds them. He advances our moral state by inches, against the tide of our stubbornness, pride and selfishness, gaining ground in one generation, losing it in another, always pressing on towards our greatest good.