GENESIS 23 – 24
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
A Funeral and a Wedding
Abraham prepares for the passing of one generation and the promise of the next. He grieves the loss of his wife, Sarah, negotiates a burial place for them in the land of Canaan, and then makes arrangements for his son, Isaac, to be married so the promise of future descendants will be fulfilled.
Losing a Loved One (23:1-20):
o What kinds of funeral/burial plans have you made for your loved ones or for yourself?
o What might you remember and celebrate about Sarah if you were to speak at her funeral?
o What do we learn about the etiquette of negotiating a transaction in the culture of Abraham’s time? What do we learn about Abraham’s relationship with the Hittite people in Canaan?
While on the surface the negotiations seem friendly and generous, it has been suggested that when Ephron throws the unrequested field into the bargain along with the cave, it is a ploy for demanding an exorbitant price. Historians who have compared records of prices for other purchases of property around that time in the Bible suggest that the price Abraham pays is actually “a king’s ransom.” Abraham’s main objective seems to be to make a legal purchase and he makes it clear that he is unwilling to haggle over the price. (Robert Alter)
o What is the importance of having a burial place in that land which Abraham and his family owns?
Where to Find a Wife for Isaac (24:1-21):
o Why is it important to Abraham that Isaac NOT marry a Canaanite woman?
o Why is it important to Abraham that Isaac NOT go along on the wife-finding journey?
o Where does the servant go to find a wife for Isaac?
o The servant is relying on God’s hesed (vs.12, 14, 27, 49) for success in the task he has been given. From www.discovertheword.org: Hesed is difficult to translate. No single word in English captures its meanings. Translators use words like “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty.” Perhaps “loyal love” is close. Hesed is one of the richest, most powerful words in the Old Testament. It reflects the loyal love that people committed to the God of the Bible should have for one another. It is not a “mood.” Hesed is not primarily something people “feel.” It is something people DO for other people who have no claim on them.
From www.hesed.com: What Is Hesed? We consider the following to be a good, working definition of hesed: the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of our Father God!
o How is that word translated in the Bible you are using? How have you experienced God’s hesed?
o The servant’s bold prayer is made on the basis of God’s hesed. Can we also pray as boldly and specifically?
How to Find a Wife for Isaac (24:22-49):
o What does the servant do after praying his prayer?
o We do not know the servant’s name. How does Laban address him? In what ways is it true?
o Do you believe God has detailed plans for each person’s life or that God’s plans for our lives are broad enough to include a variety of choices? Does it differ from person to person, and situation to situation? In what situations might God have detailed plans?
Finding Love (24:50-67):
o After the servant shares his story with Rebekah’s family, he asks if they will show hesed, “kindness and faithfulness”. Who do they recognize as the basis for making their commitment?
o What do we learn about Rebekah in this story?
o What do we learn about Isaac in this story?
o What do we learn about the power of love in this story?
In light of this passage and our discussion, what one truth about God and about yourself stand out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Robert Alter, Genesis, 1996
John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, 2010
Max Lucado, Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Genesis, 1997