Commentary on Genesis, volume 2 (chapter 24-32) 
John Calvin 
Translated and edited by John King M.D. 
The Banner of Truth Trust 
3 Murrayfield Road, Edinburgh EH12 6EL 
P.O. Box 652, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, U.S.A. 
First published in Latin 1554 
First English Translation 1578 
This edition reprinted from the Calvin Translation Society edition of 
Reprinted 1975 
ISBN 0 85151 093 0 
Printed in Great Britain by offset lithography by Billing & Sons 
Limited, Guildford and London 
Commentary on the Book of Genesis 
Chapter XXIV. 
1 And Abraham was old, [and] well stricken in age: and the LORD had 
blessed Abraham in all things. 
2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over 
all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 
3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God 
of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the 
daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 
4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife 
unto my son Isaac. 
5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be 
willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again 
unto the land from whence thou camest? 
6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son 
thither again. 
7 The LORD God 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. 
8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt 
be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 
9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, 
and sware to him concerning that matter. 
10 And 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. 
11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of 
water at the time of the evening, [even] the time that women go out to 
draw [water]. 
12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me 
good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. 
13 Behold, I stand [here] by the well of water; and the daughters of the 
men of the city come out to draw water: 
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; and thereby shall I 
know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. 
15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, 
Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of 
Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 
16 And the damsel [was] very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had 
any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her 
pitcher, and came up. 
17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink 
a little water of thy pitcher. 
18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her 
pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 
19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw [water] 
for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 
20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran 
again unto the well to draw [water], and drew for all his camels. 
21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD 
had made his journey prosperous or not. 
22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man 
took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her 
hands of ten [shekels] weight of gold; 
23 And said, Whose daughter [art] thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there 
room [in] thy father's house for us to lodge in? 
24 And she said unto him, I [am] the daughter of Bethuel the son of 
Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 
25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, 
and room to lodge in. 
26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 
27 And he said, Blessed [be] the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath 
not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I [being] in 
the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren. 
28 And the damsel ran, and told [them of] her mother's house these 
29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name [was] Laban: and Laban ran 
out unto the man, unto the well. 
30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his 
sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, 
saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, 
behold, he stood by the camels at the well. 
31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest 
thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. 
32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave 
straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the 
men's feet that [were] with him. 
33 And there was set [meat] before him to eat: but he said, I will not 
eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. 
34 And he said, I [am] Abraham's servant. 
35 And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: 
and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and 
menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. 
36 And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: 
and unto him hath he given all that he hath. 
37 And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my 
son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: 
38 But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take 
a wife unto my son. 
39 And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 
40 And he said unto me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his 
angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my 
son of my kindred, and of my father's house: 
41 Then shalt thou be clear from [this] my oath, when thou comest to my 
kindred; and if they give not thee [one], thou shalt be clear from my 
42 And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master 
Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: 
43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that 
when the virgin cometh forth to draw [water], and I say to her, Give me, 
I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; 
44 And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy 
camels: [let] the same [be] the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out 
for my master's son. 
45 And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came 
forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, 
and drew [water]: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee. 
46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her [shoulder], and 
said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she 
made the camels drink also. 
47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter [art] thou? And she said, 
The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I 
put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands. 
48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the 
LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take 
my master's brother's daughter unto his son. 
49 And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and 
if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. 
50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from 
the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. 
51 Behold, Rebekah [is] before thee, take [her], and go, and let her be 
thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken. 
52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, 
he worshipped the LORD, [bowing himself] to the earth. 
53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, 
and raiment, and gave [them] to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and 
to her mother precious things. 
54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that [were] with him, and 
tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me 
away unto my master. 
55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us [a 
few] days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. 
56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered 
my way; send me away that I may go to my master. 
57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. 
58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this 
man? And she said, I will go. 
59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's 
servant, and his men. 
60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou [art] our sister, 
be thou [the mother] of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess 
the gate of those which hate them. 
61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, 
and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 
62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the 
south country. 
63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he 
lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels [were] coming. 
64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted 
off the camel. 
65 For she [had] said unto the servant, What man [is] this that walketh 
in the field to meet us? And the servant [had] said, It [is] my master: 
therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. 
66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 
67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, 
and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after 
his mother's [death]. 
  1. "And Abraham was old." Moses passes onwards to the relation of 
Isaac's marriage, because indeed Abraham, perceiving himself to be worn 
down by old age, would take care that his son should not marry a wife in 
the land of Canaan. In this place Moses expressly describes Abraham as 
an old man, in order that we may learn that he had been admonished, by 
his very age, to seek a wife for his son: for old age itself, which, at 
the most, is not far distant from death, ought to induce us so to order 
the affairs of our family, that when we die, peace may be preserved 
among our posterity, the fear of the Lord may flourish, and 
rightly-constituted order may prevail. The old age of Abraham was indeed 
yet green, as we shall see hereafter; but when he reckoned up his own 
years he deemed it time to consult for the welfare of his son. 
Irreligious men, partly because they do not hold marriage sufficiently 
in honour, partly because they do not consider the importance attached 
especially to the marriage of Isaac, wonder that Moses, or rather the 
Spirit of God, should be employed in affairs so minute; but if we have 
that reverence which is due in reading the Sacred Scriptures, we shall 
easily understand that here is nothing superfluous: for inasmuch as men 
can scarcely persuade themselves that the Providence of God extends to 
marriages, so much the more does Moses insist on this point. He chiefly, 
however, wishes to teach that God honoured the family of Abraham with 
especial regard, because the Church was to spring from it. But it will 
be better to treat of everything in its proper order. 
  2. "And Abraham said unto his eldest servant." Abraham here fulfils 
the common duty of parents, in labouring for and being solicitous about 
the choice of a wife for his son: but he looks somewhat further; for 
since God had separated him from the Canaanites by a sacred covenant, he 
justly fears lest Isaac, by joining himself in affinity with them, 
should shake off the yoke of God. Some suppose that the depraved morals 
of those nations were so displeasing to him, that he conceived the 
marriage of his son must prove unhappy if he should take a wife from 
among them. But the special reason was, as I have stated, that he would 
not allow his own race to be mingled with that of the Canaanites, whom 
he knew to be already divinely appointed to destruction; yea, since upon 
their overthrow he was to be put into possession of the land, he was 
commanded to treat them with distrust as perpetual enemies. And although 
he had dwelt in tranquility among them for a time, yet he could not have 
a community of offspring with them without confounding things which, by 
the command of God, were to be kept distinct. Hence he wished both 
himself and his family to maintain this separation entire. 
  "Put, I pray thee, thy hand." It is sufficiently obvious that this was 
a solemn form of swearing; but whether Abraham had first introduced it, 
or whether he had received it from his fathers, is unknown. The greater 
part of Jewish writers declare that Abraham was the author of it; 
because, in their opinion, this ceremony is of the same force as if his 
servant had sworn by the sanctity of the divine covenant, since 
circumcision was in that part of his person. But Christian writers 
conceive that the hand was placed under the thigh in honour of the 
blessed seed. Yet it may be that these earliest fathers had something 
different in view; and there are those among the Jews who assert that it 
was a token of subjection, when the servant was sworn on the thigh of 
his master. The more plausible opinion is, that the ancients in this 
manner swore by Christ; but because I do not willingly follow uncertain 
conjectures, I leave the question undecided. Nevertheless the latter 
supposition appears to me the more simple; namely, that servants, when 
they swore fidelity to their lords, were accustomed to testify their 
subjection by this ceremony, especially since they say that this 
practice is still observed in certain parts of the East. That it was no 
profane rite, which would detract anything from the glory of God, we 
infer from the fact that the name of God is interposed. It is true that 
the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham, but he is 
adjured by God, the Creator of heaven and earth; and this is the sacred 
method of adjuration, whereby God is invoked as the witness and the 
judge; for this honour cannot be transferred to another without casting 
a reproach upon God. Moreover, we are taught, by the example of Abraham, 
that they do not sin who demand an oath for a lawful cause; for this is 
not recited among the faults of Abraham, but is recorded to his peculiar 
praise. It has already been shown that the affair was of the utmost 
importance, since it was undertaken in order that the covenant of God 
might be ratified among his posterity. He was therefore impelled, by 
just reasons, most anxiously to provide for the accomplishment of his 
object, by taking an oath of his servant: and beyond doubt, the 
disposition, and even the virtue of Isaac, were so conspicuous, that in 
addition to his riches, he had such endowments of mind and person, that 
many would earnestly desire affinity with him. His father, therefore, 
fears lest, after his own death, the inhabitants of the land should 
captivate Isaac by their allurements. Now, though Isaac has hitherto 
steadfastly resisted those allurements, the snares of which few young 
men escape, Abraham still fears lest, by shame and the dread of giving 
offense, he may be overcome. The holy man wished to anticipate these and 
similar dangers, when he bound his servant to fidelity, by interposing 
an oath; and it may be that some secret necessity also impelled him to 
take this course. 
  3. "That thou shalt not take a wife." The kind of discipline which 
prevailed in Abraham's house is here apparent. Although this man was but 
a servant, yet, because he was put in authority by the master of the 
family, his servile condition did not prevent him from being next in 
authority to his lord; so that Isaac himself, the heir and successor of 
Abraham, submitted to his direction. To such an extent did the authority 
of Abraham and reverence for him prevail, that when he substituted a 
servant in his place, he caused this servant, by his mere will or word, 
to exercise a power which other masters of families find it difficult to 
retain for themselves. The modesty also of Isaac, who suffered himself 
to be governed by a servant, is obvious; for it would have been in vain 
for Abraham to enter into engagements with his servant, had he not been 
persuaded that his son would prove submissive and tractable. It here 
appears what great veneration he cherished towards his father; because 
Abraham, relying on Isaac's obedience, confidently calls his servant to 
him. Now this example should be taken by us as a common rule, to show 
that it is not lawful for the children of a family to contract marriage, 
except with the consent of parents; and certainly natural equity 
dictates that, in a matter of such importance, children should depend 
upon the will of their parents. How detestable, therefore, is the 
barbarity of the Pope, who has dared to burst this sacred bond asunder! 
Wherefore the wantonness of youths is to be restrained, that they may 
not rashly contract nuptials without consulting their fathers. 
  4. "But thou shalt go unto my country and to my kindred." It seems 
that, in the choice of the place, Abraham was influenced by the thought, 
that a wife would more willingly come from thence to be married to his 
son, when she knew that she was to marry one of her own race and 
country. But because it afterwards follows that the servant came to 
Padan Aram, some hence infer that Mesopotamia was Abraham's country. The 
solution, however, of this difficulty is easy. We know that Mesopotamia 
was not only the region contained between the Tigris and the Euphrates, 
but that a part also of Chaldea was comprehended in it; for Babylon is 
often placed there by profane writers. The Hebrew name simply means, 
"Syria of the rivers." They give the name "Aram" to that part of Syria 
which, beginning near Judea, embraces Armenia and other extensive 
regions, and reaches almost to the Euxine Sea. But when they especially 
designate those lands which are washed or traversed by the Tigris and 
Euphrates, they add the name "Padan:" for we know that Moses did not 
speak scientifically, but in a popular style. Since, however, he 
afterwards relates that Laban, the son of Nahor, dwelt at Charran, 
(chap. 29: 4,) it seems to me probable that Nahor, who had remained in 
Chaldea, because it would be troublesome to leave his native soil, in 
process of time changed his mind; either because filial piety 
constrained him to attend to his decrepit and declining father, or 
because he had learned that he might have there a home as commodious as 
in his own country. It certainly appears from the eleventh chapter that 
he had not migrated at the same time with his father. 
  5. "And the servant said unto him." Since he raises no objection 
respecting Isaac, we may conjecture that he was so fully persuaded of 
his integrity as to have no doubt of his acquiescence in his father's 
will. We must also admire the religious scrupulosity of the man, seeing 
he does not rashly take an oath. What pertained to the faithful and 
diligent discharge of his own duty he might lawfully promise, under the 
sanction of an oath; but since the completion of the affair depended on 
the will of others, he properly and wisely adduces this exception, "Per 
adventure the woman will not be willing to follow me." 
  6. "Beware that thou bring not my son thither again." If the woman 
should not be found willing, Abraham, commending the event to God, 
firmly adheres to the principal point, that his son Isaac should not 
return to his country, because in this manner he would have deprived 
himself of the promised inheritance. He therefore chooses rather to live 
by hope, as a stranger, in the land of Canaan, than to rest among his 
relatives in his native soil: and thus we see that, in perplexed and 
confused affairs, the mind of the holy man was not drawn aside from the 
command of God by any agitating cares; and we are taught, by his 
example, to follow God through every obstacle. However, he afterwards 
declares that he looks for better things. By such words he confirms the 
confidence of his servant, so that he, anticipating with greater 
alacrity a prosperous issue, might prepare for the journey. 
  7. "The Lord God of heaven." By a twofold argument Abraham infers, 
that what he is deliberating respecting the marriage of his son will, by 
the grace of God, have a prosperous issue. First, because God had not 
led him forth in vain from his own country into a foreign land; and 
secondly, because God had not falsely promised to give the land, in 
which he was dwelling as a stranger, to his seed. He might also with 
propriety be confident that his design should succeed, because he had 
undertaken it only by the authority, and, as it were, under the auspices 
of God; for it was his exclusive regard for God which turned away his 
mind from the daughters of Canaan. He may, however, be thought to have 
inferred without reason that God would give his son a wife from that 
country and kindred to which he himself had bidden farewell. But whereas 
he had left his relatives only at the divine command, he hopes that God 
will incline their minds to be propitious and favourable to him. 
Meanwhile he concludes, from the past kindnesses of God, that his hand 
would not fail him in the present business; as if he would say, "I, who 
at the command of God left my country, and have experienced his 
continued help in my pilgrimage, do not doubt that he will also be the 
guide of thy journey, because it is in reliance on his promise that I 
lay upon thee this injunction." He then describes the mode in which 
assistance would be granted; namely, that God would send his angel, for 
he knew that God helps his servants by the ministration of angels, of 
which he had already received many proofs. By calling God "the God of 
heaven," he celebrates that divine power which was the ground of his 
  10. "And the servant took ten camels." He takes the camels with him, 
to prove that Abraham is a man of great wealth, in order that he may the 
more easily obtain what he desires. For even an open-hearted girl would 
not easily suffer herself to be drawn away to a distant region, unless 
on the proposed condition of being supplied with the conveniences of 
life. Exile itself is sad enough, without poverty as its attendant. 
Therefore, that the maid might not be deterred by the apprehension of 
want, but rather invited by the prospect of affluence, he ladens ten 
camels with presents, to give sufficient proof to the inhabitants of 
Chaldea of the domestic opulence of Abraham. What follows, namely, "that 
all the substance of Abraham was in the hand of his servant," some of 
the Hebrews improperly explain as meaning that the servant took with him 
an account of all Abraham's wealth, described and attested in written 
documents. It is rather the assigning of the reason of the fact, which 
might appear improbable, that the servant assumed so much power to 
himself. Therefore Moses, having said that a man who was but a servant 
set out on a journey with such a sumptuous and splendid equipage, 
immediately adds, that he did this of his own accord, because he had all 
the substance of Abraham in his hand. In saying that he came to the city 
of Nahor, he neither mentions the name of the city nor the part of 
Chaldea, or of any other region, where he dwelt, but only says, in 
general terms, that he came to "Syria of the rivers," concerning which 
term I have said something above. 
  12. "O lord God of my master Abraham." The servant, being destitute of 
counsel, retakes himself to prayers. Yet he does not simply ask counsel 
of the Lord; but he also prays that the maid appointed to be the wife of 
Isaac should be brought to him with a certain sign, from which he might 
gather that she was divinely presented to him. It is an evidence of his 
piety and faith, that in a matter of such perplexity he is not 
bewildered, as one astonished; but breaks forth into prayer with a 
collected mind. But the method which he uses seems scarcely consistent 
with the true rule of prayer. For, first, we know that no one prays 
aright unless he subjects his own wishes to God. Wherefore there is 
nothing more unsuitable than to prescribe anything, at our own will, to 
God. Where, then, it may be asked, is the religion of the servant, who, 
according to his own pleasure, imposes a law upon God? Secondly, there 
ought to be nothing ambiguous in our prayers; and absolute certainty is 
to be sought for only in the Word of God. Now, since the servant 
prescribes to God what answer shall be given, he appears culpably to 
depart from the suitable modesty of prayer; for although no promise had 
been given him, he nevertheless desires to be made fully certain 
respecting the whole affair. God, however, in hearkening to his wish, 
proves, by the event, that it was acceptable to himself. Therefore we 
must know, that although a special promise had not been made at the 
moment, yet the servant was not praying rashly, nor according to the 
lust of the flesh, but by the secret impulse of the Spirit. Moreover, 
the general law, by which all the pious are bound, does not prevent the 
Lord, when he determines to give something extraordinary, from directing 
the minds of his servants towards it; not that he would lead them away 
from his word, but only that he makes some peculiar concession to them 
in their mode of praying. The sum of the prayer before us is this: "O 
Lord, if a damsel shall present herself who, being asked to give me 
drink, shall also kindly and courteously offer it to my camels, I will 
seek after her as a wife for my master Isaac, just as if she were 
delivered into my hand by thee." He seems, indeed, to be laying hold on 
some dubious conjecture; but since he reposes on the Providence of God, 
he is certainly persuaded that this token shall be to him equivalent to 
an oracle; because God, who is the guardian of his enterprise, will not 
suffer him to err. Meanwhile this is worthy of remark, that he does not 
fetch the sign of recognition from afar, but takes it from something 
present; for she who shall be thus humane to an unknown guest, will, by 
that very act, give proof of an excellent disposition. This observation 
may be of use to prevent inquisitive men from adducing this example as a 
precedent for vain prognostications. In the words themselves the 
following particulars are to be noticed: first, that he addresses 
himself to the God of his master Abraham; not as being himself a 
stranger to the worship of God, but because the affair in question 
depends upon the promise given to Abraham. And truly he had no 
confidence in prayer, from any other source than from the covenant into 
which God had entered with the house of Abraham. The expression "cause 
to meet me this day," Jerome renders, "meet me, I pray, this day." But 
the verb is transitive, and the servant of Abraham intimates by the use 
of it, that the affairs of men were so ordered by the counsel and the 
hand of God, that the issue of them was not fortuitous; as if he would 
say, "O Lord, in vain shall I look on this side and on that; in vain 
shall I catch at success by my own labour, industry and various 
contrivances, unless thou direct the work." And when he immediately 
afterwards subjoins, "show kindness to my master," he implies that in 
this undertaking he rests upon nothing but the grace which God had 
promised to Abraham. 
  15. "Before he had done speaking." The sequel sufficiently 
demonstrates that his wish had not been foolish]y conceived. For the 
quickness of the answer manifests the extraordinary indulgence of God, 
who does not suffer the man to be long harassed with anxiety. Rebekah 
had, indeed, left her house before he began to pray; but it must be 
maintained that the Lord, at whose disposal are both the moments of time 
and the ways of man, had so ordered it on both sides as to give clear 
manifestation of his Providence. For sometimes he keeps us the longer in 
suspense, till, wearied with praying, we may seem to have lost our 
labour; but in this affair, in order that his blessing might not seem 
doubtful, he suddenly interposed. The same thing also happened to 
Daniel, unto whom the angel appeared, before the conclusion of his 
prayer. (Dan. 9: 21.) Now, although it frequently happens that, on 
account of our sloth, the Lord delays to grant our requests, it is, at 
such times, expedient for us, that what we ask should be delayed. In the 
meantime, he has openly and conspicuously proved, by unquestionable 
examples, that although the event may not immediately respond to our 
wishes, the prayers of his people are never in vain: yea, his own 
declaration, that before they cry he is mindful of their wants, is 
invariably fulfilled. (Isa. 65: 24.) 
  21. "And the man, wondering at her, held his peace." This wondering of 
Abraham's servant, shows that he had some doubt in his mind. He is 
silently inquiring within himself, whether God would render his journey 
prosperous. Has he, then, no confidence concerning that divine 
direction, of which he had received the sign or pledge? I answer, that 
faith is never so absolutely perfect in the saints as to prevent the 
occurrence of many doubts. There is, therefore, no absurdity in 
supposing that the servant of Abraham, though committing himself 
generally to the providence of God, yet wavers, and is agitated, amidst 
a multiplicity of conflicting thoughts. Again, faith, although it 
pacifies and calms the minds of the pious, so that they patiently wait 
for God, still does not exonerate them from all care; because it is 
necessary that patience itself should be exercised, by anxious 
expectation, until the Lord fulfill what he has promised. But though 
this hesitation of Abraham's servant was not free from fault, inasmuch 
as it flowed from infirmity of faith; it is vet, on this account, 
excusable, because he did not turn his eyes in another direction, but 
only sought from the event a confirmation of his faith, that he might 
perceive God to be present with him. 
  22. "The man took a golden earring." His adorning the damsel with 
precious ornaments is a token of his confidence. For since it is evident 
by many proofs that he was an honest and careful servant, he would not 
throw away without discretion the treasures of his master. He knows, 
therefore, that these gifts will not be ill-bestowed; or, at least, 
relying on the goodness of God, he gives them, in faith, as an earnest 

of future marriage. But it may be asked, Whether God approves ornaments 
of this kind, which pertain not so much to neatness as to pomp? I 
answer, that the things related in Scripture are not always proper to be 
imitated. Whatever the Lord commands in general terms is to be accounted 
as an inflexible rule of conduct; but to rely on particular examples is 
not only dangerous, but even foolish and absurd. Now we know how highly 
displeasing to God is not only pomp and ambition in adorning the body, 
but all kind of luxury. In order to free the heart from inward cupidity, 
he condemns that immoderate and superfluous splendour, which contains 
within itself many allurements to vice. Where, indeed, is pure sincerity 
of heart found under splendid ornaments? Certainly all acknowledge this 
virtue to be rare. It is not, however, for us expressly to forbid every 
kind of ornament; yet because whatever exceeds the frugal use of such 
things is tarnished with some degree of vanity; and more especially, 
because the cupidity of women is, on this point, insatiable; not only 
must moderation, but even abstinence, be cultivated as far as possible. 
Further, ambition silently creeps in, so that the somewhat excessive 
adorning of the person soon breaks out into disorder. With respect to 
the earrings and bracelets of Rebekah, as I do not doubt that they were 
those in use among the rich, so the uprightness of the age allowed them 
to be sparingly and frugally used; and yet I do not excuse the fault. 
This example, however, neither helps us, nor alleviates our guilt, if, 
by such means, we excite and continually inflame those depraved lusts 
which, even when all incentives are removed, it is excessively difficult 
to restrain. The women who desire to shine in gold, seek in Rebekah a 
pretext for their corruption. Why, therefore, do they not, in like 
manner, conform to the same austere kind of life and rustic labour to 
which she applied herself? But, as I have just said, they are deceived 
who imagine that the examples of the saints can sanction them in 
opposition to the common law of God. Should any one object that it is 
abhorrent to the modesty of a virtuous and chaste maiden to receive 
earrings and bracelets from a man who was a stranger, and whom she had 
never before seen. In the first place, it may be, that Moses passes over 
much conversation held on both sides, by which it is probable she was 
induced to venture on the reception of them. It may also be, that he 
relates first what was last in order. For it follows soon afterwards in 
the context, that the servant of Abraham inquired whose daughter she 
was. We must also take into account the simplicity of that age. Whence 
does it arise that it was not disreputable for a maid to go alone out of 
the city, unless that then the morals of mankind did not require so 
severe a guard for the preservation of modesty? Indeed, it appears from 
the context, that the ornaments were not given her for a dishonourable 
purpose; but a portions is offered to the parents to facilitate the 
contract for marriage. Interpreters are not agreed respecting the value 
of the presents. Moses estimates the earrings at half a shekel, and the 
bracelets at ten shekels. Jerome, instead of half a shekel, reads two 
shekels. I conceive the genuine sense to be, that the bracelets were 
worth ten shekels, and the frontal ornament or earrings worth half that 

(continued in part 2...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: cvgn2-01.txt