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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
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REBEKAH

[22] IN those days, when men lived so much longer than they do now, they did not marry at so early an age. It was not, therefore, until Isaac was nearly forty years old that Abraham thought of obtaining a wife for him. Now the women who lived in the land of Canaan were worshippers of false gods, and Abraham did not wish his son to marry among them. He wanted him instead to have a wife from the land in which he had formerly lived, and where he had relations who feared God.

So he chose the oldest of his servants, and intrusted to him a number of valuable presents which he was to give to the chief men in that country, and he told him that he was to bring home with him a maiden called Rebekah, the granddaughter of his own brother Nahor, and that this maiden was to be a wife for Isaac. The servant promised to perform his mission faithfully, and he set out on his journey. After travelling many days, he came in sight of the town of Haran. Here he saw a number of maidens coming out of the town to fill their pitchers with water at the well. He dismounted from his camel and waited for the maidens to come up to him. And while they were approaching he prayed that God would give him a sign so that he might know which was Rebekah, in case it were the will of God that Rebekah should marry Isaac. The sign he asked for was this, that while all the others should deny him water to drink, she might give it to him.

Then, when the maidens were at the well, he went up to [23] them and asked for some water to drink. But, while the others refused, pretending that they needed it all at home and could spare none for him, one of the company rebuked them for heir rude behavior to a stranger, and, turning to him, offered her pitcher in a kind and obliging manner. So the servant guessed that this must be Rebekah; but, in order to be certain, h e praised her for her generosity and good nature in giving to a stranger the water which it cost her so much pains to draw, and asked who were her parents, that he might give them joy in the possession of such a daughter. And she did not disdain to answer his inquiries, but told him her family.

"My name," she said, "is Rebekah, and my father's name was Behuel, the son of Nahor. But my father is dead, and I live with my mother and my brother Laban."

When the servant heard this, he was very glad at what had happened and what was told him, for he now plainly saw that God had directed his journey and had answered his prayer. He took out some bracelets and other ornaments and gave them to her as a reward for her kindness. And when she had thanked him, she asked him to come and lodge with her family, as night was approaching and he would not be able to proceed any farther on his journey until morning. The servant accepted her invitation, saying that from such as she had shown herself to be he might guess how good and kind were the mother and the brother who had brought her up, and he knew that they would welcome him to their house. Moreover, he said, he would not be burdensome, but would pay for his entertainment. To which she replied that he was right in what he said about her relations, for they were good and hospitable people, but complained that he should think they would accept money for their hospitality. He must come to the house as a guest. But first, she said, she would inform her brother Laban, and when he had given her leave, she would conduct him in.

[24] Having obtained this permission, she invited the stranger into the house, and his camels were taken care of by Laban's servants, and Laban himself brought him in to supper. And after he had eaten and drunk, the servant of Abraham told Laban and Rebekah's mother who he was, and why he had come there. He explained to them that Abraham was a wealthy and a good man, and that Isaac was his heir. Abraham, he said, might, indeed, have chosen any of the women that dwelt in his neighborhood as a wife for his son, but he preferred a maiden of his own tribe. And this seemed to be the will of God, who had directed the servant's journey and answered his prayer when he asked that Rebekah should be pointed out to him. Therefore the servant begged that they would give their consent to the marriage.

When Laban and his mother had heard all these things, they saw indeed that the finger of God had directed the whole matter, and they freely gave their consent. And Abraham's servant brought Rebekah back with him, and she was married to Isaac.

A little while after this, Abraham died, at the age of one hundred and seventy-five, and he was buried in Hebron, by the side of his wife Sarah. And Isaac succeeded to all his possessions.


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