BIBLE STORIES (23): GETTING A WIFE FOR ISAAC

Once Sarah was dead and buried, it became pertinent that Abraham paid attention to his son and his well-being. Isaac wasn’t married, so Abraham set himself the task of getting his son a wife, as must be the way things were done at the time, as with some cultures today or in the recent past where “arranged marriages” are/were a thing. Even where marriage isn’t arranged, many families carry out some form of investigation into the families their ward intend to marry to before finally giving their nod, or not, and leave same to their fate in the case where their ward remains obstinate. In Genesis chapter 24 verse 2, we are told that Abraham set about this by calling unto his eldest servant, asked him to put his “… hand under my thigh: and I will make thee swear by YAHWEH, the Elohim of heaven, and the Elohim of the earth, that thou shall not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell” (v. 3).

"PUT, I PRAY THEE, THY HAND UNDER MY THIGH" (GENESIS 24:2)
“PUT, I PRAY THEE, THY HAND UNDER MY THIGH” (GENESIS 24:2)

Now, let’s pause and digest the above. In recording what happened between Abraham and his servant in that verse as the latter putting his hand under the formers’ thigh, the scriptures was again trying to make it’s reading conform with “(G)” as you’d find with movies marked for “GENERAL” i.e. suitable for all categories of viewers, in our day. Those conversant with the culture of the time, have opined that it was in fact Abraham’s “manhood” or “penis” that his eldest servant was asked to put his hand under. This is because in swearing an oath, the object that’s “held” must be something for which some value, mostly intangible, can be extracted (it is said of YAHWEH, that seeing nothing by which to swear, he swore by his name, to show you just how dear HE holds HIS name). Or something whose value is related to shame when lost or not functioning. Amongst the Igbo of Nigeria, and some other tribes in Africa, if someone becomes so offended with another, enough to bare his/her nakedness (penis or vagina, as the case may be) before the outside world, the one who caused the offense is compelled to try as much as possible to resolve whatever lingering issue exists between the duo. The offended is said to have held an “Ofó”against. This also extends to swearing with those organs, or even to pronouncing curses, as in fact in some places, jilted women place their hands on their vaginas while cursing their estranged lover.

Another observation from the above verse is the reference to Canaanites, and the instruction to the servant not to get for Isaac a Canaanite for a wife. The chief reason for this may not be unconnected with the fact that Abraham may have been aware that Canaan, the father of Canaanites, was the son of Ham, one of the three sons of Noah, who was cursed because he “… saw the nakedness of his father” (Genesis 9:22) who was inebriated at the time, and rather than cover him, went outside to tell his brothers, who “… took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father” (v. 23). Noah, on coming to, realizing what Ham had done cursed, interestingly, not Ham directly, but his son Canaan (Genesis 9:25-26), maybe because he wanted the curse to transcend Ham. It must be that it was that curse that Abraham intended to avoid for his son, by making his servant swear that on no circumstances must Isaac be found a wife, of the Canaanites. In typical African societies families of both intended to marry, scout information related to curses, madness, lack of progress, deformities, fertility and the likes before the lovebirds are allowed to tie the knot, though many are able to marry without paying any attention to such which they may consider trivial to love.

Note that when it was time for Abraham to seek a wife for his son, he didn’t allow sentiments such as the fact that he lived amongst Canaanites determine his choice for a daughter-in-law. He remained close and good neighbours with his neighbour Canaanites, but stopped short of relating with them by marriage, probably for the reason I’ve aforementioned. Having gotten that out of the way, he steered his servant in the direction of his people, from where he’d come, in Ur of the Chaldees, Mesopotamia (present day area covering much of Iraq, Kuwait, Syria and part of Turkey). It was at this point that the servant raised a germane issue, concerning what he was to do should the woman he approaches, “… will not be willing to follow me unto this land, must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?” (Genesis 24:5) To this, Abraham was resolute, and said to his servants “… beware that thou bring not my son thither again. YAHWEH Elohim of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence” (v. 6&7), because he believed every of YAHWEH’s intention towards him and generations after him, and would not even for the sake of marriage, expose his son to anything that may thwart his agenda, which is that there’d be no returning to his native land, rather they (Abraham and his generations) will abide amongst the Canaanites, until such a time as YAHWEH would fulfill HIS heart desires towards Abraham and his descendants.

There’s a likelihood that Isaac may just get to Mesopotamia (in Ur of the Chaldees) and totally fall in love with it, so much so as to desire a return to a land where he could even be king or chief, than remain in Canaan as a sojourner living in tents. He may find comfort, but then the will of YAHWEH concerning him may be jettisoned. Abraham understood this and was determined to do everything to make Isaac not have course to visit his ancestral land, hence he further reiterated it to his servant that, “… if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this oath: only bring not my son thither again” (v. 8). In essence, should the woman refuse to follow him, Isaac shouldn’t be made to go see the woman in Abraham’s ancestral home, though Abraham was convinced that the latter won’t be the case as he’d stated before that YAHWEH will send HIS angel to go before the servant, to make the second outcome a non-event.

Such was the faith of Abraham towards his maker. It was one backed by implicit trust, and he had this way of linking them together such that he’d say for instance, that if YAHWEH had asked him to come to a land he’d show him, away from his ancestral land, then if a wife must be sought for his son in his ancestral land, YAHWEH would make a way for which a wife for his son would willingly come to him and not the other way around, thereby standing the risk his son falling off the path of promise that YAHWEH had laid through him. That’s the kind of faith I wish to have, especially when I can’t make any sense of my present situation, but must believe that YAHWEH who has promised will be faithful to fulfill his promises to me, and by extension I also mean you. Once Abraham had obtained the promises from his servant, he made him swear to abide by them to the latter, of course by placing his hand on/under his “manhood”. Thereafter, “… the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed, for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.” (v. 10) Let’s stop here for now.

‘kovich

REFERENCE:
– Genesis Chapter 24 Verses 1-10, THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000

PICTURE CREDIT:
http://www.blueheronblast.com/2015/11/words-and-greetings.html?m=1

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