Torah Study Date
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Bereishit (Genesis) 24:17-32
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Starting at Genesis 24:33
Last week we discussed Rebecca as a strong figure, queering the text by taking an active role, a male role (for the gender expectations of the time), Rebecca not only giving Abraham’s servant a little water but also drawing water from the well for the camels (not from the place women usually drew water but from the well), a big job for a strong person given the number of camels (ten) and the amount camels drink, and that she rushed to do it, showing agency, and that Abraham’s servant was astonished and stayed silent to see if YHVH had selected her as the one.
We discussed the gold jewelry the servant took out–a heavy nose ring and two heavy bracelets–showing Abraham’s wealth, and the question he asked: whose daughter are you, and is there a place at your father’s house for us to spend the night? The question would help the servant ascertain the position of the girl and the wealth or lack of it of the family. It also might help him see if the family was hospitable. And, of course, it would show whether she was of Abraham’s family.
Rebecca answers that she is the granddaughter of Nahor and Milcah (Abraham’s brother and his wife) which makes her Abraham’s great-niece as well as the granddaughter of the person the town was named after (giving her some stature). She also tells him that they have room for him to spend the night as well as plenty of straw and fodder (once again, taking charge, indicating her stature, and not waiting to ask her parents about him staying there). The servant kneels and bows to YHVH and blesses YHVH for his kindness and faithfulness and for leading him to the house of Abraham’s brother (the right house). We discussed a certain magical quality to everything that happened (the servant going right to the house of Abraham’s brother, etc.).
We discussed that Rebecca goes to her mother’s household to tell what had happened (where a girl was likely to go) and that her brother, Laban, ran out to the man at the spring (Abraham’s servant), also showing initiative, and invited the servant in once he saw the gold jewelry (and so knew the servant was important and wealthy) and heard Rebecca’s story of how the man spoke to her. He even says he has prepared the house and place for the camels–and the servant goes in after unloading the camels and after the people washed their feet.
Our art this week is more photography by Dikla Laor, Masters student in Biblical Studies at Haifa University in Israel, Rebecca (above), and Noah’s Sons’ Wives (below). Laor lives on the Golan Heights.