Rebekah and the Old Man
Rebekah walked past Abraham’s servant, then went over to the well, and filled her water jar. When she started back, Abraham’s servant ran to her and said, “Please let me have a drink of water.” “I’ll be glad to,” she answered. Then she quickly took the jar from her shoulder and held it while he drank. Genesis 24:16b-18, CEV
He was about ten years old, and his coal-black hair lay close to his head like a cap. Just ahead of us as we were leaving church, he held open the two double doors for members of his family. Then with a perky smile he waited to hold them again for us. We appreciated this courtesy more than he realized, for there were two visually impaired people we needed to steer toward the sidewalk.
Perhaps no other youngster in all of human history has ever been so richly rewarded for courtesy shown to an elder as Rebekah was. Do you remember the story?
Isaac, the son of promise, had reached marriageable age. His mother Sarah was already dead. His father Abraham wanted Isaac to marry someone of his own kindred, not a girl from the idol-worshiping Canaanite tribes all around. Therefore he sent his oldest servant on a dangerous and difficult mission: all the way across the desert from Palestine to Mesopotamia, to find a wife for Isaac and bring her back again.
Genesis chapter 24 gives us the story in remarkable detail, but it doesn’t give us the old servant’s name; Genesis 15:2 suggests that he might have been known as Eliezer of Damascus. Whoever he was, this trusted old man made the long, hard trip and reached the area from which Abraham and his family had come. Resting beside a desert well, he prayed that God would send a girl to give him a drink, and that she would also be willing to water all of his camels. Furthermore, he prayed that this girl would be Isaac’s intended bride.
Read the rest of the story in the following Bible-based poetic meditation, written from the viewpoint of young Rebekah. And . . . don’t forget to teach children to show courtesy toward their elders!
The old man looked harmless.
He asked for a drink.
I did what he asked without stopping to think.
His camels looked thirsty.
I lowered my jar
and watered that caravan traveling far.
The old man looked happy.
He gave me a ring.
I ran home to show off this beautiful thing.
My brother then asked me,
“Where is the man now?
Not standing outside like a sheep or a cow!”
My brother moved quickly.
He called the man in
and welcomed him, treated him like long-lost kin.
The old man said “Thank you.”
He lodged in our tent.
Before we could eat, he declared his intent.
“My master has sent me,”
the old man began.
“His one son will someday be chief of the clan.
“A wife for young Isaac –
that’s who I must pick.
God says, ‘Choose the maiden who gave you a drink.’“
Do I want to marry?
I’m still very young.
There are games to be played; there are songs to be sung.
But soon he’ll be master!
I’ll sit by his side.
To be the clan mother should give cause for pride.
The old man said “Hurry.”
We left the next day.
We crossed the wide desert, a long weary way.
The years have passed quickly, . . .
and now, I have twins!
Be sure to be kind; that way, everyone wins.
God of the old and God of the young, help us all to love and respect one another. Amen.
Copyright © 2014 by Perry Thomas