Think of a modern day princess and how she is would be trained and taught. A lavish lifestyle, special privileges, tutors, etc. But, remember that God’s ways are different from man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). So how does God determine who will be one of “the mothers” of the Jewish people? Genesis 24, part of this week’s Torah portion, records the story of Abraham sending his servant Eliezer back to Mesopotamia, (Abraham’s ancient home), to search for a wife for Isaac. Eliezer’s test for the right girl seems unusual at first, but later we realize it is perfect and very appropriate.
Abraham was a very gracious man. The Hebrew word often used is chesed ( חסד) and means ‘lovingkindness’. (Strong’s #2617; it occurs 26 times in the T’nakh.) Think of how gracious Abraham was to Lot by letting him choose the land he wanted. Abraham’s intercessory prayer for the rescue of Lot in Sodom is the blueprint for Biblical intercessory prayer. He went to great personal expense to help others, even others who had sometimes wronged him. Surely Abraham had taught Isaac to live this same way. God wanted the future Jewish people to exhibit this character to the world. So, which girl would be right for Isaac? Well, one that also shared this trait. The ‘camel test’ would show which girl had this trait and is recorded in Genesis 24:14: “And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac.“
Rebekah (Hebrew Rivka – רבקה ), went to the well that afternoon to bring in water for the family no doubt. When Eliezar asked for a drink of water Rebekah not only obliged, but freely volunteered to single handedly draw up enough water for all the camels in the caravan (a total of 10 – see Gen. 24:10). And remember – Rebekah was not a “slave”, but rather the daughter of a prominent family. She did not have to do this job. She volunteered! Also, Rebekah was not one quit. She did not stop after watering only half of the camels and say, “Sorry, Mr. Eliezer, you can finish the job yourself.” She kept at it until she finished. She had been taught to work very hard and finish the job! She never complained that it was too hard.
Rebekah was sensitive to the needs of others – even camels! Often people overlook animals. It takes a person with a patient, kind, compassionate heart to care for animals and to take time to understand their needs. She seems to be very free hearted and also offered the men both a place to stay and provisions – both for themselves and the camels. She was very gracious! Hmm … volunteer spirit, hard working, finish the job attitude, patient, kind, understanding, gracious towards others – even strangers … Rebekah passed the camel test with flying colors. She was definitely the one for Isaac – and the one to be the progenitor of the Jewish people!
Of course, Rebekah had NO IDEA that volunteering to do this simple job would qualify her to be Isaac’s wife AND one of the “mothers” of the Jewish people. Usually God gives us small tasks to do and how we do them determines the other tasks that He lets us do. If we could all do our tasks with the great heart and graciousness that Rebekah did, what a testimony it would be! So remember the next time God sends a “small task” your way, to be sure to do it well! It may be a camel test in disguise! Jesus knew all about the camel test and He summarized it perfectly in Matthew 25:21: “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”