by Christopher Harbin

This content is part of a series.

Wedding Sale (31 of 52)
Series: Discipleship Part Two
Christopher B. Harbin
Genesis 24:50-61

Often as not, the Bible includes stories that call for interpretation. They do not all give us examples of how we are to live. Instead, they call us to be reflective and interactive with the text. They call us to ask questions and make sense of the stories before us. A standard joke among the Jewish people is that if you get four rabbis together, you have five opinions. There is a point to that joke. The Bible is not all cut and dried. There is room for discussion, dialogue, interpretation, and seeking to make meaning out of the text, especially as we apply it to new circumstances.

The story of Isaac's wedding would and should indeed strike us as very strange. It is the story of a wedding from millennia gone by in a culture and context very far removed from our own. There is very little in the story which identifies it for us as a wedding. There is no bridal gown, no processional, no bridesmaids, no rings exchanged, no bouquet to throw, and no groom present at all. Even so, a wedding is exactly what we read of here in Genesis 24.

Abraham was getting much older and it was high time to seek a wife for his son, Isaac, who was reaching adulthood. Sarah had died, and Abraham wanted his son's wife to come from his own kinfolk, specifically the family of his wife and half-sister, Sarah. As Abraham could no longer travel to the extent required, he sent his servant off to make the purchase. Yes, that is what it was. This was an economic transaction to buy a wife for his son and heir.

The scene here is hardly the understanding of marriage I would propose we accept as normative. This understanding is hardly what we should celebrate when we gather for a wedding. It is hardly the standard for relationships within the family. It is, however, an accurate description of Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah's grasp on weddings and marriage. This was the prevailing practice and the n ...

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