Discussing Torah matters because the Torah matters

The Tabernacle as Footwear

If we don’t know how to translate a word from the Bible, perhaps it’s best to keep the original language in place so folks are encouraged to dig a little deeper. Exodus 26:14 has to be the best example. The puzzling word in this verse is tachash—as in, “tachash skins.”



God wants tachash skins to make up the outer covering of the Tabernacle. This seems simple enough except for one problem. We don’t quite know what that is. It’s funny, then, to watch translators struggle to nail it down for their audience. 

 

Quoting Exodus 26:14 in various translations,

 

NIV: “other durable leather”

NLT: “fine goatskin leather”

KJV: “badgers’ skin”

NASB: “porpoise skins”

ASV: “sealskins”

ISV: “dolphin skins”

Aramaic Bible in Plain English: “skins of rams of sky blue”

Douay-Rheims Bible: “violet-colored skins”

New Heart English Bible: “sea cow hides skins”

 

The struggle is evident. I think the New American Bible comes in for the win here. They render it, simply, “…a covering of tachash skins.” In other words, we don’t know and we’re not even going to try.

 

Though we may never know for sure what tachash skins are, we have been given some insight as to why it was chosen. God’s selection isn’t without reasoning, and that reasoning is preserved in His Word. He selects this particular material to act as the outer layer of the Tabernacle because He wants us to see the Tabernacle from another angle. The insight is provided in Ezekiel 16:10 where God says, “I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautiful embroidered, and sandals made of [tachash].” 

 

Ah-ha! Sandals made of tachash skins! Meaning, tachash is footwear material. The Tabernacle’s exterior is footwear material. If you think about it, this makes sense because the Tabernacle is like God’s sandal. The Tabernacle makes its way across the wilderness one step (or encampment) at a time. The Israelites reach their next stop at God’s direction; they drive stakes into the ground and set up camp. Then, when He is ready to move on, they pull up the stakes and move through the next stretch of their journey. The Tabernacle pulls up and lands, pulls up and lands, pulls up and lands. The picture here is appreciated: God is walking alongside His people, and His footprint is left in the dirt at every encampment they make along the way. 

 

The physical nature of tachash skins becomes less important once we make the connection and see why God chooses it in the first place. 

Judah in Three Acts

Judah’s story is told in three acts. These acts might be called, in order, the sin, the din, and the win. Let’s look at all three, but let’s go out of order. Act 1 first; Act 3 next; Act 2 to end. Let’s jump in and move quick! 

 

Act I: The Sin

Genesis 37: The Judean wilderness. 

 

Joseph is struggling for breath at the bottom of a dusty pit. His older brothers are sitting down for lunch. A caravan appears on the hillside. They are merchants traveling to Egypt, and when Judah sees them, he spies an opportunity. “Brothers,” Judah says. “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?” His idea is simple. Let the slavers in Egypt do the killing and let us make a quick buck with clean hands. 

 

We have to imagine the brothers returning to the pit, peering down from the top. They hoist Joseph out. For a moment Joseph might think that they’ve returned with a spirit of remorse. Sadly, it is quite the opposite. They have merely returned to make his disappearance irrevocable. 

 

Since it was Judah’s proposal to sell Joseph, it makes sense if Judah is the one who leads the way to organize a trade with the merchants. We don’t know for sure since the text isn’t explicit, but still, regardless of who negotiated the deal, the merchants ultimately purchase Joseph and go on their way. 

 

Judah and his brothers now find themselves involved in a cover-up. They immerse Joseph’s robe in the blood of a goat. Sometime later they present it to their father Jacob and, in a performance worthy of an Oscar, they say, “This coat we have found. Please identify (or, ha’ker na in Hebrew) whether it is your son’s robe or not.” Jacob identifies the robe and says, “It is my son’s robe! A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is no doubt torn to pieces.” He then rips his garment and puts on sackcloth. He mourns his son for many days, weeping. 

 

Genesis reports what happens next. The brothers (including Judah) go in to comfort their father but he is inconsolable. Jacob just keeps repeating, “No, I shall go down to the grave to my son, mourning.” Jacob is a man who has physically wrestled with God. He will spend the next two decades wrestling spiritually with God. “Lord, how could You let a wild animal devour my beloved son?”

 

Laying witness to their father’s depression day after day after day, Judah––the ringleader responsible for selling Joseph into slavery––becomes a target of their resentment. This isn’t explicit in the text, but using common sense guided by human experience, it is a reasonable conclusion. You see, the heat of the moment has passed. Their rage has dissipated, and now that the smoke has cleared, they begin to have second thoughts. The brothers ask themselves, what profit is this? There is no long-term benefit here, only long-term shame. They come to disparage Judah. After all, it is easier to blame him than blame themselves. They reason that if they’d left Joseph in the pit as originally planned, then Rueben would’ve returned and pulled him out, and today everything would be back to normal. But, instead, nothing is the same. A dark cloud hangs over the camp as their father’s downcast and crestfallen spirit pervades the entire family. 

 

Be that as it may, the brothers keep the secret a secret. From this we derive an insight into Judah’s stature among the brothers. We know that all the sons of Jacob tried to comfort their father, yet not one––not even Rueben––pointed a finger at Judah to rat him out. Judah, as we know, is the predecessor of future kings and leaders, and for his part, Judah seems to be a natural leader himself, a guy you want to side with. He possesses the gift of influence. Whether he wields it for good or evil is his choice to make. But we see its affect on those around him: the brothers stand by Judah even while their self-respect disintegrates watching their father agonize over a false narrative. 

 

Judah will demonstrate his stature once more in Genesis 44. In Genesis 44, he will wield it for the good. 

 

 

Act III: The Win

Genesis 44: Egypt’s Towering Palace, 20 years later.

Joseph has become viceroy of the most dominant superpower on earth. He doesn’t go by the name Joseph anymore. He is now Zaphenath-Paneah (Gen. 41:45). And seated in the heights of a royal palace, he looks right at home. Zaphenath-Paneah looks, acts, and speaks like an Egyptian overlord who was born and bred a power player on the world’s biggest stage. 

 

Having been reacquainted with his brothers, the unrecognizable Joseph makes a genius move. He is going to re-set the table. Remember when his brothers sold him into slavery? Well, he’ll now create a scenario in which his brothers can put Rachel’s other son––Benjamin––in the ejection seat. Will they rid themselves of Benjamin like they rid themselves of Joseph 20 years earlier? 

 

Joseph frames Benjamin for a theft he did not commit. Joseph then summons the boy to accept due punishment for the crime. But Judah (Judah?!) speaks up. Taking Joseph at his word, Judah says, “What can we say, my lord? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now your slaves.” 

 

Joseph pushes back. “No, you go back to your father in peace. Just leave me the boy, the one guilty of theft.”

 

But Judah, the man who likely negotiated the sale of Joseph 20 years earlier, is a different person than before. Not only has Judah seen what the loss of a son can do to a father, he has himself become a father who lost a son––two of them, in fact. He isn’t the same man anymore. He replies to Zaphenath-Paneah, “Pardon your servant, my lord, but let me speak a word to you.” Judah approaches the bench. This is a courtroom drama of the highest magnitude. 

 

In a quieter voice, Judah speaks personally to Joseph. (I’ll paraphrase). “Do not be angry with me. I recognize you are equal to Pharoah himself. But listen, our father loves this boy. He is special. Our dad didn’t even want him to come but we insisted. Now look––if we return without him, my dad will go to his grave in grief. And I, personally, guaranteed the boy’s safety. I said, ‘Father, if I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame all of my life!’” 

 

Judah gazes into eyes outlined by dark Egyptian make-up. He says, “Please, let me stay behind as your slave in place of the boy, and let the boy go back. I mean how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father.”

 

This is Judah’s moment of redemption. Joseph is so touched by Judah’s transformation that he commands his servants to leave the room at once. Then, choked up and teary eyed, the Egyptian overlord reveals his true identity to the brothers, and here we encounter the real climax of the book of Genesis. 

 

A question emerges, though: how does Judah go from the wicked, self-serving opportunism of chapter 37 to the selfless, family-first heroism of chapter 44? These are totally incongruent. Well, here is where Act II (chapter 38) comes into play! Chapter 38 is Judah’s turning point, or, if you prefer, his breaking point. We have to go back in time to see it. 

 

 

Act II: The Din

Genesis 38: Canaan, the years between Chapter 37 & 44. 

 

This is the middle act, and I call it “the Din” because din is a Hebrew word meaning to judge, to vindicate, or to strive with, and in Genesis 38 we encounter Judah’s “come to Jesus” moment. Here’s a broad summary along with a few important notes. 

 

Judah leaves his brothers (Gen. 38:1). 

-No surprise here! Given the tension among them due to the sale of Joseph and their father’s ensuing depression, Judah leaves home because he wants to get away from the mess he has made. He’s running away from his past to silence a guilty conscience. 

Judah marries a Canaanite woman (38:2). 

-Indicative of a man who’s breaking ties with his Hebrew family. 

Judah and his Canaanite wife have three boys, all of whom reach the age of marriage (38:3-14). 

-In terms of the time it covers, Genesis 38 is a very long chapter. It spans close to two decades. 


Things really pick up now: Judah’s two oldest sons are put to death by God due to their evil deeds. Judah’s youngest son is supposed to wed the widow of Son #1. The widow, Tamar, goes to live with her parents while she waits on further word from Judah. It never comes, though. After a long time, Judah’s wife dies. Judah, now a widower, travels to a town where he encounters a veiled prostitute. For temporary payment, he gives her his staff, his seal and its cord. They sleep together and he leaves. Eventually he discovers that he’s been tricked. He’ll never see his staff, his seal and its cord again (or so he thinks). He decides to bury the matter because he doesn’t want to be a laughingstock among the townspeople. Three months later He learns that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, has become pregnant. But she is a widow! How can this be? Furious, he publicly calls for her execution. “Bring her out and burn her to death!” he declares. They bring her out to face the torture of her death sentence, both her and her unborn twins. 


But Tamar does the most unexpected thing. She sends word to Judah, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these.” Lo and behold, the items are Judah’s personal belongings: his staff, his seal and its cord. Her message adds (and this is key), “Please identify (ha’ker na) whose seal and cord and staff these are.” 

 

Without realizing it, Tamar uses the same language that Judah used when he and his brothers presented the torn and bloodied robe to their father. A flashback jolts Judah to his senses. His heart hears the message in a way that only he can. It lands with all the force of the Holy Spirit. He melts. Judah reverses course and stops the execution. She is more righteous than I, he says, since I did not give her my [youngest] son. 


His remark is interesting. In some ways, Judah and Tamar are alike. Judah deceived his father Jacob, and Tamar deceived her father-in-law Judah. Both Tamar and Judah, a widow and widower, slept with someone out of wedlock. And yet, according to Judah, Tamar is more righteous. How so?

 

Judah’s haker na was a manipulation to cover up Judah’s evil deed of selling Joseph. Tamar’s ha’ker na was a plea to live, a plea done with such discretion that it covered up Judah’s evil deed of sleeping with a prostitute. By sending word to him rather than blurting it out or making a big show of it, she kept Judah from becoming a laughingstock. She also put her life in his hands. Judah, having repossessed his belongings, could have denied her message and followed through with her execution––another cover-up of epic proportions. But this time Judah chose a different path. 


The next time we see Judah, he is once again living alongside his brothers and their father. He is a changed man, a man who will go on to do what he does in Act III. 

Understanding Gentile Inclusion

I look at two pictures to understand Gentile inclusion into the house of Israel. First: Jacob's adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh. Second: the mixed multitude's presence at Sinai.

Ephraim and Manasseh were Gentiles, born of an Egyptian mother in Egypt. They knew the Gentile version of Joseph. They knew little of Joseph's Jewish family. Perhaps they knew that his Jewish brothers had rejected him, but that's about it. Fast forward: Jacob Israel adopts Ephraim and Manasseh as his own. Israel tells Joseph that his sons "are mine, as Rueben and Simeon are." In other words, they are elevated to the level of natural firstborn sons! Genesis 48 is a beautiful chapter if we catch a glimpse that Israel the father pictures God the Father, Joseph the son pictures Jesus the Son, and Ephraim and Manasseh picture the Gentiles being grafted into the house of Israel through their relationship with Joseph (Jesus). 

Later, in Exodus, the sons of Ephraim and Manasseh leave Egypt alongside the sons of Jacob. They belong to Israel now, not to Egypt––even though their fathers Ephraim and Manasseh had never been to the land of Israel! These two tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh) represent us Gentiles as we find our place among the sons of Jacob. We are not the sons of Jacob, though, because we are not physically Jewish. But note, Jacob didn't adopt Ephraim and Manasseh. Israel adopted them. His name had been changed. Spiritually there'd been a shift. We are not the sons of Jacob, but we are the sons of Israel. 

Second picture: at Sinai, God gave His Torah to "the Israelites." When we say it this way, we tend to think "the Jews." What about the great mixed multitude that went out of Egypt with the Jews? These Gentiles saw the judgement of Egypt and at some point their hearts were changed. They recognized that the God of the Hebrews was indeed the one true God, and they gave Him their allegiance. Maybe they put the blood on their doorposts; maybe they lost a firstborn son. Whatever the case may be, they left Egypt and risked their lives on that decision. Not only was this multitude a big crowd of Gentiles, it was a crowd of Gentiles that (I believe) represented every nation on earth. How can I say this? Genesis 41:56 says that a great famine was over "all the face of the land." (Read the various translations and you get the sense that the whole civilized world was affected. The world's population at the time was largely concentrated in and around that area of the globe.) This famine brought people from all over the known world to Egypt. Some came and went, others came and stayed. I believe God used the famine to bring a mixed multiple of people into Egypt so that, in time, He could draw them out and bring them to Sinai. This speculation aside, a great mixed multitude of Gentiles was nevertheless present at the foot of Sinai and they, too, had a Pentecost experience when God gave them the Torah. These Gentiles came to see themselves as partakers in the covenants of promise, members of the commonwealth of Israel. God didn't just give His Torah to Jews; He gave it to Gentiles too. He gave it to His people, the kahal, the sons of Israel. 

These two pictures inform my thinking on a number of items. That said, I look at the elders in Acts and I appreciate the wisdom of their light-handed approach to things regarding the Gentiles. They leave it so open-ended. In Acts 15, they give four basic laws which get Gentiles through the door of synagogue (see Acts 15:21). In synagogue, they would hear the Torah read, learn about their God, learn background about their Messiah, learn about the commandments. Where they went from there would a personal journey, but the elders had to assume that Scripture (ie. the Old Testament) would speak for itself. (Remember: there was no "New Testament" at the time.)

Rachel's Story: Last Call for Confession

There’s a treasure of a story buried in Genesis 31-35. The characters in focus are Jacob, Rachel, and Laban. We join them as Jacob flees Laban’s household with all that he has. In the process of leaving, his wife Rachel steals her father’s idols. She doesn’t tell Jacob. 

Now surely a question crosses Rachel’s mind as she discreetly removes the idols from Laban’s dwelling. “How am I going to get away with this?” is, after all, a question that most thieves ask themselves. Rachel realizes that Laban will soon discover their disappearance and link it to Jacob somehow. But Rachel reasons that Laban won’t go so far as to pursue Jacob into the hills. Instead, Laban will replace the idols and leave the matter alone. 

Why does Rachel take Laban’s idols? 

Here are five possibilities. [Spoiler alert: jump ahead to see the sixth possibility, the most reasonable one in my opinion.]

1.    A noble action: She takes them from Laban as a kind of rescue, to wean her father away from idol worship. “If the idols can’t save themselves, then they can’t save you, Laban. You need to wake up to the truth.” 

2.  A prudent action: Laban’s idols are “oracles” according to Rabbi Hirsch’s translation. In this reading, Rachel recognizes that behind these idols are real, supernatural dark forces. She doesn’t want these forces to tell Laban which direction Jacob departed. So, by taking the oracles, she is buying time. “I'll take the idols so that Laban can’t consult them and figure out our location.”

3.    A sentimental action: She grew up with these idols and now she simply can’t let them go. Almost like a girl packing her time-raggled stuffed animal as she travels off to college. Or maybe like a Christmas nativity set from your childhood that you can’t seem to part with. “I’m taking these because I want something that reminds me of home.”

4.   A business move: As revealed in Genesis 31:14, Rachel and Leah knew that their father had no intention of sharing his estate with them. It’s been pointed out that there was a tradition in ancient Mesopotamia that he who possessed the family gods possessed certain rights over the household. Rachel sees Laban’s large estate and thinks, “I’ll steal these idols so that we can return after my father’s death and claim our due inheritance.” (Proponents of this explanation reference the fact that Laban accepts the theft of his idols once he guarantees that Jacob and his family will not cross a particular boundary line between them. He knows then that his sons’ inheritance is protected; Jacob will not return to Laban’s estate.)

5.    A simple act of spite: Rachel is so fed up with Laban that she wants to hit him where it hurts the most. “I could care less about these idols, but I’m going to steal them because I know how much they mean to my father, and he deserves to hurt after the way he’s treated me, after the way he ruined my wedding night.” 

The narrative provides two clues which, in my eyes, eliminate some of these possibilities.

Clue #1: she doesn’t tell Jacob about her actions. 
Clue #2: she still has the idols after 10 days! 

Clue #1 leads me to believe that a guilty conscience is involved, thereby ruleing out “the noble act” idea. Had it been a noble act, she would’ve consulted Jacob. 

Clue #2 leads me to believe that “the prudent move” isn’t the answer either. Had she just been trying to prevent Laban from consulting his oracles, she could’ve buried the idols in the sand a day or two later, her goal having been accomplished. This clue also leads one to believe that “the simple act of spite” isn’t the primary motivation either. Had it been a simple act of spite, she would’ve discarded them or destroyed them soon after their departure. There’s no need to keep incriminating evidence any longer than necessary. 

“The business move” isn’t compelling because she already knows that Jacob is a wealthy man. Moreover, Jacob’s family possesses even more wealth in their homeland. Rachel doesn’t need to claim additional riches from Laban. Besides that, this motivation doesn’t seem very true to her character.  

Is her motivation sentimental in nature? Possibly. It is easy to cling to the past. The tokens of our childhood can be difficult to release, especially if we derive a level of emotional security from them. Still, I don’t find this reason compelling on its own. 

There is another explanation, a sixth possibility. As Dennis Prager writes, “Rachel surely believed in the God of Jacob, but she might well have still believed in the power of idols with which she grew up. When people believe in many visible gods, it takes a very long time to get them to believe in one invisible God. Rachel’s behavior may have been similar to that of Neils Bohr, the Nobel-prize winning physicist who was said to keep a rabbit’s foot in his laboratory. When an astonished visitor asked, ‘But surely, professor, you don’t believe in a rabbit’s foot?’ Bohr responded, ‘Of course not. But they say a rabbit’s foot brings you luck whether you believe in it or not.’”

Prager points out that Rachel, who was desperately anxious to have a child (Gen. 30:1) and then desperately anxious to have a second child, might well have been open to utilizing all means toward procuring her goal, including mandrakes and, of course, Jacob’s God, and perhaps also the gods from her father’s household. This, I believe, is her primary motivation to steal her father’s idols. She’s an anxious person and she’s hedging her bets.

Ten days along in their journey toward Jacob’s homeland, the unexpected happens. Laban catches up to them and confronts Jacob about his stealth departure. With Rachel in ear’s reach, he brings up the theft of his household idols.  

Instead of simply assuring Laban that he did not take them, Jacob makes an audacious pronouncement—one that must have terrified Rachel. Jacob declares, “Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not remain alive!” Dennis Prager comments, “We are all occasionally tempted to make these types of grandiose avowals, but they are risky and rarely necessary. Jacob’s statement turns out to be highly risky—and unnecessary, as it does not deter Laban from searching the tents in Jacob’s camp.” Even more than risky and unnecessary, it is harmful because, in this moment, Rachel cements the secrecy of her sin. Suddenly the theft threatens her future, her very life. Her husband’s condemnation is so strong that the possibility of her ever admitting the truth to him is here and now smothered. 

Laban goes searching the tents. Why doesn’t he believe Jacob’s categorical denial that neither he nor anyone with him had stolen the idols? “Because Laban regularly deceived people. People who lie assume everyone else does, too. This is the built-in punishment of the dishonest: they go through life convinced they are constantly being deceived” (Prager).   

He starts with his top suspects. He searches Jacob’s tent, then Leah’s tent, then the tents of the two maidservants. Rachel, his youngest daughter, is the least suspected of all, so Laban visits her tent last. As he closes in on the last tent, I am reminded of Achan in Joshua 7. Just as Achan took from Jericho “some of the devoted things,” Rachel had taken from Laban some of his devoted things. Just as Achan endured an agonizing moment before being singled out before her family, so too Rachel endures an agonizing moment as Laban closes in on her before her family. And, just as Achan hid the gold and silver in the ground beneath his tent, now Rachel hides the idols in a camel’s saddle beneath her body. Death was Achan’s sentence. If discovered, what will be Rachel’s?

As Laban enters her tent, she tells him, “Let not my lord take it amiss that I cannot rise before you, for the period of women is upon me.” Laban takes her at her word. He does not look under the cushion because it would have been inconceivable to him that Rachel would run the risk of menstruating on his gods. After searching through her other belongings, he exits the tent empty-handed. Rachel breathes a long sigh of relief. She’s off the hook! Or is she? 

We read that after Jacob’s departure from Laban, he arrives safely at the city of Shechem and buys some land outside the city (Gen. 33:18-19). Estimates vary as to how long he stays at Shechem, but a year or so would make sense. Something crazy happens (Genesis 34) and, as a result, many women and children from Shechem are brought into captivity in Jacob’s camp (34:27-29). Jacob seeks to leave the area quickly, afraid that the Canaanites might soon attack him and his household (34:30). God gives him directions to go to Bethel. He obeys, but before leaving, he commands all who are with him (namely the Shechemite women who have come under his authority) to bury their foreign idols under the old oak at Shechem. He does not want any idols to join them on their journey to Bethel. 

This is getting interesting! The question is, is Rachel still harboring Laban’s idols? And if she is, does she bring them forward at this point in time? Because her opportunity is now! In fact, it may very well be her last call for confession. The Bible doesn’t tell us one way or the other. But maybe what the Bible doesn’t tell us is, itself, a clue. We are never told that Rachel surrenders the idols. We, as readers, are not given any closure. The idols are last “seen” with Rachel sitting on them as she works to guard her sin from literally everyone around her. What happens to the idols afterward this moment remains a mystery. 

Nevertheless, here is a way to demystify the story, a way that is plausible: Pregnant Rachel stands alongside Jacob and watches the Shechemites––widow after widow after widow––step forward to deposit her household idol into a pit beneath the old oak at Shechem. Rachel envies their ability to do it so out in the open. She thinks of the Laban’s idols, the idols of her childhood; they are still hidden among her belongings. She resents them now even though she is very protective of the saddle they stay inside.

They leave Shechem and travel southward. Jacob’s caravan makes its stop in Bethel and then travels on toward Bethlehem. Rachel goes into labor along the way and sadly dies during childbirth. She names the baby Benoni, meaning “son of my sorrow.” 

Is Rachel’s premature passing a result of the curse that Jacob had spoken over her life without realizing it? After all, Jacob––like his fathers Abraham and Isaac––had been vested with a tremendous power to bless and to curse. Wielding this power somewhat carelessly, Jacob had wished death upon the thief of Laban’s idols without knowing who the death would fall upon! He had failed to realize that his curse would land upon his beloved wife, Rachel. And then, given her failure to confess and seek correction in the time afterward, had she sealed up its consequence?

Her departing words––the name her son, Benoni––express her sadness as she realizes she will not live to see her youngest son grow up. But what if there is more to it than that? What if her sorrow is buttressed by unresolved guilt? She knows that Labans idols still hide in a pouch in her tent. She knows that Jacob will discover them soon. But she takes this knowledge with her to the grave. 

Jacob struggles in the wake of Rachel’s death, withdrawing from his family. Rabbi Hirsch translates Genesis 35:21-22 as follows: “Jacob journeyed on and pitched his tent at some distance from the herd tower. When Jacob was residing in that land, Rueben went and placed his couch beside Bilhah, his father’s concubine, so that Jacob heard of it...” Hirsch then comments, “It is possible that the tent pitched by Jacob is the tent that Jacob formerly shared with Rachel. Thus, the meaning would be: He pitched his tent at some distance from the herd tower around which the rest of his family had encamped.” 

His withdrawal is a sign of grief. Jacob resided among everyone when Rachel was alive, but in the days after her death, he isolates himself. It is then, in his absence, that Rueben lays with Bilhah.

We can imagine a moment during this time. It might go like this: a servant breaks off from the camp and travels over to Jacob’s tent, alone and distant. The servant goes to tell Jacob about the outrageous disintegration of his family ranks. But Jacob is too detached. The servant cannot understand why. Jacob gestures toward a pouch that is folded up in the corner of the tent. Out of the bag, the servant pulls carved objects into the firelight. The objects are unmistakable: they are Laban’s idols. 

Following the death of Rachel, wide-eyed and white-faced Jacob had stumbled upon his wife’s long-held secret, and Jacob couldn’t help but remember the curse he had pronounced over the thief’s life

Genesis 26: A Flashback

Alright. I’m convinced. 

Genesis 26 is backstory. It’s a flashback. It’s an excerpt from a previous time. Now I know it’s a stretch to say this because the narrative doesn’t typically break from the forward progress of time, but we do have some examples. Exodus 10:27-29 & 11:4-8 seem to be out of order, for instance. The earlier passage seems to occur after the later passage takes place. Another example of the text breaking from linear time is Genesis 2. Chapter 2:1-3 tells about Day 7 of creation, but then 2:4-25 goes back in time to revisit Day 6 with more detail. All of this is just to say, revisiting something from the past isn’t unheard of in the Torah. It is rare but it happens. We’d have to ask, though: why a flashback in Genesis 26?

Well first things first. What is flashback?

Flashback is a literary device used to create a background to the present situation. An author uses this device as an opportunity to provide insight and meaning within the story at hand. Flashback is one of the most common and recognizable writing techniques, and, when executed well, one of the most effective.

There is generally a trigger, something that causes the narrator to recall a particular event or detail from the past. The trigger is explored/explained in the flashback itself which serves to provide new information to the reader. 

With this in mind, let me make the case that Genesis 26 is actually a flashback. Start by noting that Genesis 26 tells the story of Isaac and Rebekah living among the Philistines in a city called Gerar. The account says they lived there for a long time (26:8). And yet, no mention of their twin boys, Jacob and Esau, is made in association with their time in Gerar. In fact, the boys are not a factor at all! While Isaac acts like Rebekah is not his wife, not one Philistine asks, “Then who do these boys belong to? Indeed, the whole charade between “unmarried” Isaac and “unmarried” Rebekah appears to be uncomplicated by the presence of kids. Of course, we can make perfect sense of this if we read it as a flashback, an excerpt from a previous time. When they lived in Gerar, they hadn’t had kids yet!

This would make sense of the Narrators storytelling, too. The flashback is triggered by Esau selling his birthright to Jacob in Genesis 25. “Esau despised his birthright” is the final statement of chapter 25. We turn the page to chapter 26 and suddenly the reader is transported back in time. Where do we land? We land at the moment that God goes to Esau’s father, Isaac, and endows him with all that was given to Abraham. In other words, when Esau trades away his birthright for a pot of beans, it’s as if the Narrator calls a time-out. He’s like let’s go back and understand the magnitude of this birthright. Because––clearly––Esau has forgotten it, or he underestimates it, or something. I don’t want you to do the same. 

The flashback commences. We find ourselves witnessing a time from years past when Isaac and Rebekah are living among the Philistines in Gerar. They live here “for a long time” (Genesis 26:8). Their marriage is a total secret. The locals don’t realize the two of them are married because Isaac is lying to everyone, acting like his wife Rebekah is actually his sister. Why lie? Because he is afraid! He is acting out of fear. And this tells us something about him. It tells us that Isaac can sometimes lose sight of the big picture because what’s in front of him is the most pressing thing. He’s a godly man, for sure, but the danger in Gerar is clear and present, and God’s larger-than-life promises are, well, larger than life. So he loses sight of the big picture and decides to lie about his situation. And no one knows that better than his own wife, Rebekah, who has to pretend to be Isaac’s sister “for a long time.” She knows it’s deceitful on their part, yes, but the ends justify the means. 

The flashback ends when we reach the final two verses in Genesis 26. We’re now back where we left off at the end of Genesis 25. Esau abruptly re-enters the frame. Esau thought little of his birthright the last time we saw him, and now we see him thinking little of his family name as he intermarries with the Hittites. Still, he is rubbing his hands together in anticipation for his father’s blessing. 


Time out! Important context ahead:
Here’s the birthright and the blessing in a nutshell.

Birthright: the responsibility to take care of the family and the estate. 
Blessing: the means with which to carry out that responsibility.
Whoever has the birthright (typically the firstborn son) needs to get the blessing,
because the blessing is the means with which to carry out the birthright. 

In this case, the firstborn son should not receive the blessing because, legally, he is not the firstborn son anymore! Esau sold his his firstborn status to Jacob. Jacob took on the responsibility of the firstborn son through that transaction. So Jacob, now technically the firstborn, is the one to whom the blessing should go. And his mother Rebekah knows this with such certainty. (After all, God told her long ago that the older would serve the younger.) But Rebekah also knows her husband well. She knows that her husband can, at times, lose sight of the big picture. He did it in Gerar and he is about to do it again. If he gives the blessing to Esau, it will be a mistake he cannot undo. And so, with the courage she learned as an unmarried” women living among the Philistines, it is decided: she will make a bold move. She will be deceitful, yes, but the ends justify the means.  

In time, her husband would learn the truth. Isaac would learn that Rebekah was behind the scheme to switch Jacob for Esau. And Isaac would have been furious with her had it not been for one important discovery. He discovers that the birthright belongs to Jacob, not Esau! He discovers that Jacob has legally come to possess the firstborn status! So Isaac can’t be too angry with Rebekah, because Rebekah protected him from a terrible mishap. That is, to give the blessing to someone who does not possess the birthright in God’s eyes. 

Still, a very daring maneuver on Rebekah’s part, to instigate this whole son swap, to risk her good name on a move so audacious. But she is no stranger to risk. She learned to accept risk during her long stay in Gerar, going out as a “single” woman among the Philistines. While Isaac was afraid, Rebekah learned how not to be afraid. She certainly wasn’t too afraid when she told her son Jacob, “My son, [if this ploy doesn’t work], let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get the ingredients [of the stew] for me.”

Can you see why I like to read Genesis 26 as flashback? Let me speak broadly. 

- God is the ultimate author. The Torah is His book. If a human author can use flashback as a literary device to tell a story more powerfully, why can’t God do it in His book? 

- If Genesis 26 is a flashback, it makes sense of why Jacob and Esau aren’t a factor in Gerar. It explains why Isaac and Rebekah can pretend to be unmarried. 

- Genesis 26 (the flashback) is wedged between Jacob’s receiving the birthright and Jacob’s receiving the blessing. In my eyes, it makes sense to go back in time at this moment because rewinding the timeline to visit Isaac and Rebekah in Gerar pertains to both the birthright and the blessing! 
- We see the magnitude of the birthright that Esau so casually gave away. 
- Through the flashback, we see where Isaacs blessing gets its teeth spiritually and physically.  
- We see how Rebekah garnered the courage to make the decision she made, and perhaps why she was okay with a measure of deceit so long as the ends justified the means. 
- We see why Isaac would have loved his wife even after she deceived him. After all, she had put up with his deception in Gerar for such a long time, and she’d done so at her own risk.  
- Finally, reading Genesis 26 as flashback yields a window into a beautiful moment. Remember when the king of Gerar spies Isaac and Rebekah being intimate with each other in Genesis 26:8? I like to think this detail captures when their twins, Jacob and Esau, were conceived. 

SCANDAL!

Genesis 20 is scandalous! I’m telling you, this is juicy stuff. First we have to understand that Abraham is no small character among the people of his day. People know him. He’s a very wealthy man (Genesis 13:2). He has dealings with kings and pharaoh (12:16; 14:17-18). His possessions are great (13:6). He has numerous servants and herdsmen––more than 300 men work for him (14:14)! And those 300 men presumably have wives and children of their own. Suffice to say, Abraham’s name carries quite a bit of recognition in the region.

In Genesis 17, we read that Abraham circumcises “all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner” (17:27). From this we see that Abraham is also well known for his covenant relationship with God. Everyone in his household is aware of it. They are part of it. They know of God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation. And God has made it very clear that He will do so through Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

So now get this: Abraham gives his wife Sarah to King Abimelech! Sarah stays in Abimelech’s house for at least one night. We turn the page to Genesis 21 and guess who’s pregnant?! Sarah!

Said at a whisper: Is Sarah pregnant with Abimelech’s baby?

You and I know better––of course she’s not. The Torah is clear: Abimelech does not touch Sarah (see 20:4, 20:6). Upon returning her to Abraham, Abimelech gives Abraham a thousand pieces of silver as a sign of her innocence in the eyes of all who are with them. He tells her, “...before everyone you are vindicated” (20:16).  

But then she’s pregnant. And you know how it is. During those long days out in the field, the shepherds get to talking. The wives of the shepherds get to talking. “Did you hear Sarah’s pregnant?” “Oh? Didn’t she spend the night at Abimelech’s house somewhat recently?” “Well Abimelech said he didn’t do anything with her.” “Oh yeah, right...” 

Modern American pop-culture tends to be critical, cynical, and celebrity-obsessed. If this story were to occur in America today, the front page of the tabloids would read like this: “SCANDAL! SARAH PREGNANT WITH PHILISTINE BABY.” It would have a paparazzi picture of Abraham, head down, set beneath a snapshot of Sarah and Abimelech disappearing behind closed doors. The edition would probably sell well, despite it being very, very untrue. 

I’d sooner believe the Torah than a tabloid. There’s a verse in Genesis 25 that I love because it relates to this so-called “scandal.” It’s verse 19 and it starts this way: “These are the generations of Isaac: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah . . .”

Actually, that’s not how it reads. Did you notice anything missing? I removed a portion that God included on purpose. I like to think He included it to quell the rumors that arise from Genesis 20. Here’s what it actually says (and note the redundancy): “These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah. . .”

It would have been enough to say simply Abraham fathered Isaac, but it also says “...Isaac, Abraham’s son” as if to stress the fact that Isaac is indeed the son of Abraham. God is leaving nothing to question. Isaac is, without a doubt, Abraham’s son. Despite what you may hear in the fields, the son is Abraham’s!

Can you think of anyone else in the Bible whose birth was under “scandalous” circumstances?

Genesis 23: Part of a Larger Portrait



Genesis 23 begins with the death of Sarah in Hebron. Abraham gets word of her death and goes to weep over her. The language implies that they are separated when she passes away. 

When Abraham breaks from his mourning, he rises to find a place worthy of Sarah’s burial. “His wife is to rest in a place that will be her permanent, everlasting burial site, and for this purpose Abraham seeks to acquire a piece of land in perpetuity. For many years he has dwelt in Canaan as a stranger; despite all his wealth, he has never sought to acquire even a square foot of land. After all, his calling is to be a wanderer. But now the necessity to bury his wife forces him, for the first time, to make a permanent acquisition of land. His wife’s grave is to be the first bond that will tie him to the land; it is to be the place that will draw him and hold him” (The Hirsch Chumash, Bereshis, pg. 503).

He goes to the Hittites in Hebron and there, at the city gates, he negotiates a real estate deal. Abraham has a certain cave in mind so he speaks directly to the property owner. The owner prices the property at 400 shekels. A high price according to all commentators, but without complaint Abraham pays the 400 shekels in full. Having acquired the property, he buries his wife in the cave at the end of the field. In time, this cave will become the burial site of Abraham himself, as well as that of Isaac and Rebekah and even Jacob and Leah. Today the cave––a very holy site––can be visited in Hebron. 

Examining the whole of Genesis 23, we’ll find that the chapter is characterized by ongoing repetitions. Every point is repeated and reiterated. Verse 17 enumerates literally every article of the property: “So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, east of Mamre––the field with the cave in it and all the trees in the field, throughout its whole area––was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city.” The narrative adds further: “…the cave of Machpelah, before Mamre, that is Hebron in the land of Canaan . . . the field and the cave deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as a property for a burial place” (23:19-20). The Torah leaves no room for ambiguity as it itemizes the conditions, the details, and the witnesses involved. In this way Genesis 23 constitutes a kind of legal document, a contract or a deed with all of its stipulations. After all, this chapter marks one of the most historic transactions ever made: the first piece of Holy Land ever procured by a Hebrew. If for nothing else, Genesis 23 is significant for this reason alone.

It is significant for other reasons, though. Let’s stand back and behold the wider panorama into which Genesis 23 fits. In Genesis 23 Abraham procures a field. In Genesis 24 Abraham procures a bride for his son Isaac. I love that a field and a bride are procured in back-to-back chapters. Permit me to elaborate. 

A theme we find in Scripture is that the field and the bride are connected. The two go together. The story of Ruth is our classic example. In the last chapter (Ruth 4), a man named Boaz tries to sell a parcel of land (4:3-4). The potential buyer offers to buy it. Boaz says, “The day you buy the field you also acquire Ruth the Moabite” (4:5). It’s like: You want the field? Then you have to take the bride as well. But now the buyer declines. He wants the field but he doesn’t want to marry Ruth the Moabite. So he tells Boaz, “You buy it for yourself” (4:8). So Boaz does. Boaz himself redeems the field and the bride. 

In the New Testament Jesus says that “the field” represents the world (Matthew 13:38). Jesus then tells two short parables that run like this: 

(#1) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” 

(#2) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

In both parables, a man gives up all that he has in order to acquire that which he truly desires. But in the first illustration, the man buys the field to get the treasure. In the second illustration, the man buys only the treasure itself. And what is the treasure? One pearl of great value. Now interestingly, Proverbs 31:10 (CJB) associates the pearl with the great value of an excellent wife. Making the connection, we see this theme of the field and the bride sneaking up through the cracks. Jesus will give up all that He has to purchase the field and the treasure, the pearl of great value––the excellent wife. 

In Romans 8:19, 22-23, Paul writes that the world is longing for redemption just as we––the Bride of Messiah––are longing for redemption. The world and the Bride are in this together: both fallen, both groaning, both eagerly awaiting the return of our Redeemer. Our need for redemption traces back to when man sinned and the earth was cursed “because of you” (Genesis 3:17). Everything comes full circle when the earth is made new and the Bride is presented at the end of the story. All of this to say simply, the field and the bride are connected. It is quite lovely that they are procured in back-to-back chapters in Genesis. 

We return to the panorama into which Genesis 23 fits. In sight now are chapters 22, 23 & 24.


Looks a lot like the New Testament, doesn’t it? The Father gives up His only begotten Son, Jesus. What follows is the death of His beloved Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s tent goes vacant as her people go into hiding, or “underground” so to speak. The Father sends His Holy Spirit into the world to seek a Bride for His Son from among the nations. The Holy Spirit returns the Bride to His Son. The Son brings his Bride into the New Jerusalem where He is with her. The whole earth is theirs because the field has been purchased at no small price. 

This deserves a little unpacking. First, a look at Jerusalem. We see Jerusalem through Sarah: Sarah passes away and her tent is vacated, though Isaac and his bride will, in time, inhabit his mother’s tent (Genesis 24:67). Sarah is a mother, and note how Jesus personifies Jerusalem as a mother:

“And when Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you...’” (Luke 19:41-44).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matthew 23:37-39).

Following the tragic events in 70 AD, God’s beloved Jerusalem passes away, the Father mourns, and her tent becomes desolate. But the story is not over. God sends His Spirit to return a Bride to the land. And here, in this special place, His Son and the Bride take up residence. From that day on, they never depart from the land just like Isaac and his bride never left the land.  

What an amazing thing to consider: that the whole of the New Testament is hinted at here in Genesis 22, 23 & 24!

Lets part with one last note about Genesis 23. It is a detail revealed only in the Hebrew. The high price that Abraham paid to secure the field in perpetuity was 400 shekels. 400 is the value of the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the letter tav (ת). The letter tav represents a cross. And that is perfect, because it is with the cross that God paid in full to acquire the title deed of the earth (see Revelation 5:9), thus securing a place in which His family can spend their future together at rest––not dead but forever alive.

Genesis 24: Eliezer and the Holy Spirit

Weighing in at 67 verses, Genesis 24 is the most heavyweight chapter in all of Genesis. 

In a book of stories so epic that each story could, by itself, fill up shelves and shelves of books, it’s extraordinary that this particular story about a servant’s mission to find a bride and bring her back to the masters son occupies more space than any other story. Why is this? Does it really deserve so much real estate?

Genesis 24 reminds me of a scene where two guys are flying over the Pacific Ocean in a commercial airliner. Hours and hours go by, and one guy keeps looking out the window. Finally he turns to the other guy and says, “Man, the ocean is big.” The other guy says, “Yeah and that’s just the top of it.” This chapter, the biggest in Genesis, is just like that: broad but very deep. Half-jokingly, I like to say that Genesis 24 is where God sits down and says, “I’d like to tell you a little bit about the Holy Spirit.”

Who is Eliezer?

Eliezer is Abraham’s #1 servant. We learn of him back when Abraham says that if he should remain childless, the heir of his house would fall to Eliezer of Damascus (Genesis 15:2). From this comment we gather that Eliezer of Damascus is Abraham’s chief steward, a servant so esteemed that he could have inherited Abraham’s estate. Well, rolling the clock forward, it is the same guy who scores the leading role in Genesis 24. Abraham commissions his lead servant to find a bride for his beloved son Isaac. But interestingly, Eliezer is named not even once in Genesis 24. Instead, the chapter refers to him as “Abraham’s servant” or as “the servant,” the man who “had charge of all that Abraham had” (24:2). It is by design that Eliezer is not named as an individual separate from Abraham. He is to be seen as an extension of Abraham in this chapter. And we will see why that is important. 

To summarize the longest chapter in Genesis, grant me two paragraphs. (And note: I am going to call Eliezer by name, but remember he is never called by name in the text.) To begin, Abraham tells his head servant (Eliezer) to go and find a bride for his son Isaac. Eliezer swears to do so and departs on a long journey. He eventually comes upon a well where he sits down and prays. An attractive woman named Rebekah approaches the well. Eliezer runs over to her and requests a small drink. She gives him a drink and then she says, “I will draw water for your camels also.” Eliezer watches in amazement as she draws water for his ten camels. When she finishes watering the camels, Eliezer gives her a golden nose ring weighing one half-shekel and two bracelets weighing ten shekels (that is, one shekel’s weight for each camel she watered). He says to her, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” When she invites him to her house, Eliezer bows and worships God.

Arriving at Rebekah’s house, we meet her brother: Laban. Laban invites Eliezer inside and Eliezer tells the family who he is, what mission he is on, and what took place earlier at the well. Laban listens to the story and realizes that this pairing is a match made in Heaven. Laban says, “Take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.” Again Eliezer bows. He brings out garments and jewelry of gold and silver, and gives those to Rebekah. He then gives precious things to Rebekah’s brother and mother. They all eat and drink together, and Eliezer spends the night. In the morning, Rebekah and Eliezer set out together. A journey ensues, a journey in which Eliezer is returning to his home alongside Abraham and Isaac, while Rebekah is venturing toward her new home, a home she has never seen, as she follows Eliezer wherever he takes her. [Spoiler alert: you are on this journey! This is the journey you take as a Christian being led by the Holy Spirit! Even though you have not laid eyes on the Son yet, already you are His Bride.] Soon enough, Eliezer and Isaac’s bride-to-be reach their destination. Rebekah sees Isaac in the distance. She asks Eliezer, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” Eliezer says, “That is my master [Isaac].” She dismounts the camel and veils herself. Eliezer greets Isaac first, telling him everything that he has done. Isaac then takes Rebekah into the tent of Sarah and there Rebekah becomes his wife. “He loved her,” we are told by the very last verse.

Zooming out, we look at the characters more broadly to hear a story more profound: Abraham is the Father. Isaac is the Son. The father’s servant, Eliezer, is the Holy Spirit. Rebekah is, well, you––the Son’s Bride.

Since Eliezer scores the starring role in this chapter, we will keep the focus on him. Here are 16 ways to answer this question: What does Eliezer teach us about the Holy Spirit?
  1. The Holy Spirit goes into the world to seek and retrieve a Bride for the Son.
  2. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father on the Son’s behalf. 
  3. Eliezer works to fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham. So, too, the Holy Spirit works to fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham. 
  4. Eliezer is not mentioned by name in Genesis 24 because he is an extension of Abraham himself. Eliezer’s identity is connected to the master. The two characters are intertwined. So, too, the Holy Spirit’s character is intertwined with the Father.  
  5. Three times in one chapter we see Eliezer bowing and worshipping the Lord. The Holy Spirit finds expression in humility, worship, and prayer. 
  6. Eliezer is a war hero, one who goes into battle to rescue the lost. Although this detail comes from a separate story in Genesis 14, still it serves as a picture of the Holy Spirit.
  7. In Genesis 24, Eliezer does not act according to human logic. If Eliezer had acted logically, he would have entered the city and asked for the whereabouts of Abraham’s extended family. Then he would have knocked on their door, introduced himself, and asked to meet their daughters. Of course, this is not what Eliezer does at all! Instead, he visits a well from which the entire community draws water. He then prays that the first girl to give him water would be the one for Isaac. Is this what you would have done? No! Because it’s a strange strategy, isn’t it? It doesn’t make a lot of sense on paper. And yet, it works. And it teaches us something about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t too concerned with making sense on paper. The Holy Spirit defies formulas, defies description, defies the boundaries of common human logic. His ways are higher than our ways. 
  8. In the story, Eliezer runs to Rebekah (24:17). With eagerness he initiates their interaction. Likewise, the Holy Spirit eagerly runs to you. But you must respond. 
  9. If you are unwillingly to respond, God does not hold the Holy Spirit responsible. (See 24:8.)
  10. Eliezer gives Rebekah a ring for her nose (not for her ear or her finger). The nose is where life is breathed in. God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. All to say, the Holy Spirit adorns those areas where God has entered your being and given you life. 
  11. Eliezer doesn’t pass out applications and select the most qualified applicant. He doesn’t look for the richest girl. He doesn’t stage a beauty contest. Instead he looks for a girl with kindness and compassion in her heart. Notice, his test involves two aspects: Part 1 is a spoken request: “I am thirsty.” Part 2 is an unspoken request, a need that is not verbalized: my camels are thirsty too! Rebekah not only meets the spoken need, she also satsifies the unspoken need. She sees beyond the obvious; she discerns something more. This is the kind of person that the Holy Spirit gets excited about. 
  12. Eliezer may manage Abraham’s estate, but Isaac is the owner of Abraham’s estate. There is a similar dynamic between the Holy Spirit and Jesus. The Holy Spirit may manage certain affairs, but everything ultimately belongs to the Son. Reference John 16:13-15 where the Son says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority . . . He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The authority belongs to the Son and the Spirit serves His purposes. 
  13. In Genesis 24, Eliezer and Rebekah meet at a well and then go to her house. At her house, their special encounter at the well is relayed to her family. This is an important moment for Rebekah. As she listens to Eliezer retell the story, she comes to understand more about herself. Think about it: back when she was drawing water for the camels, she was focused only on the task at hand. She had no idea what would come of her actions. She doesn’t put it all together until she hears it through Eliezer’s voice as he recounts the events later on. Then something special takes place. It works the same way with our own testimony. Any time we reflect on our past and consider how God brought us to Him, we recount certain moments that, at the time, may have seemed mundane or commonplace. But later we perceive them differently. Those moments become special to us once we hear them through the voice of the Spirit. 
  14. Eliezer gives gifts, garments, and precious things. Some translations say costly ornaments but mine says precious things. Note, though, “This term rendered precious things, as found in Songs 4:13, is used to express exquisite fruits or delicacies” (Source). Rashi concurs: he translates Genesis 24:53 to say delicious fruits. In other words, Eliezer gives gifts, garments, and delicious fruits (Source). I like this translation best because it yields an insight. Eliezer gives gifts to the bride, but the delicious fruits he gives to Rebekah’s family. The fruits are not for Rebekah, after all. The fruits are because of Rebekah, yes, but they are for the others. In like manner, the Holy Spirit gives us gifts (1 Corinthians 12). Meanwhile, the fruit of the Spirit are for everyone around us. 
  15. Eliezer doesn’t like delay. When Laban wants Rebekah to stay another ten days before leaving, Eliezer tells him, “Do not delay me” (24:56). Eliezer doesn’t want to wait around. He wants to act. This is indicative of the Holy Spirit. 
  16. On her journey to meet Isaac, Rebekah is carried by the camel that she watered the night before. It’s like her good deeds service the thing that bring her to the son, while Eliezer leads the way. During her journey with Eliezer, Rebekah does not see Isaac. She merely anticipates meeting him in person. Finally, at the end, she lays eyes on him. She asks Eliezer, “Who is that man walking toward us?” And Eliezer says, “That is my master.” I love this so much because we journey toward a Messiah whom we have never met in person. But we come to know Him in advance through what the Spirit reveals to us as we walk together. In time, the Spirit will introduce us to one another in person.