And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not. (Genesis 24:19-21) NKJV
After the death of Sarah, Abraham was determined to find a wife for his son Isaac. Wanting someone from his own extended family, he sent his servant Eliezer off to find a suitable bride.
Eliezer left with a large caravan of 10 camels, loaded down with expensive gifts, and traveled roughly 430 miles to Abraham’s homeland. But how would he know which woman to choose?
The Camel Test
Eliezer prayed to the Lord and then devised a test to ensure he would select the right woman:
“Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master” (Genesis 24:14).
What kind of a test is that for a woman? Camels are known to drink roughly 53 gallons of water in 3 minutes … and that’s just for one camel. Eliezer had been traveling a long distance with 10! I don’t know about you, but carrying groceries in from the car is bad enough.
Rebekah’s Generous Spirit
Yet, his test worked. He found a woman who offered water not just to him but to his camels as well. “Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.” At first glance, this seems like an impossible ask and an impossible task, but Rebekah’s generous spirit proved him otherwise:
- To have this many camels was a sign of great wealth. Rebekah was sensitive enough to know that perhaps this man was too wealthy to be accustomed to drawing water for himself. Rather than ignore his request, her response to him demonstrated compassion and a readiness to help.
- To draw gallons of water for thirsty camels would not have been easy. She had compassion not just on the man, but also the animals. Her eagerness to serve, despite the challenge of drawing so much water demonstrated patience and “hesed”—the Hebrew word for mercy or lovingkindness.
With the camel test completed, “the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not” (Genesis 24:21). He did. Of course, Rebekah had no idea that volunteering to do this job would qualify her to be Isaac’s wife and one of the mothers of the Jewish people.
Generosity is a Choice
Every day we have opportunities to perform generous works—and choices to make about whether we will step into those opportunities. Will we be daunted by the measure of exertion required? Will we look upon a person of wealth and say, they have the means to do it themselves? Will we be too distracted and hurried with our own needs to even notice?
Generosity is contagious and, when practiced, demonstrates the character of God. What a testimony it would be to the world if we would all serve and do our tasks with the heart and graciousness of Rebekah!
Read more from the series: Generous Women of the Bible: The Perseverance of Priscilla