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(Gen 23:1 - 25:18)

B'resheet/Genesis 24:53   ... items of silver and gold and garments he gave to Rivka and precious things he gave to her brother


This text comes at the end of the negotiations between Avraham's servant (Eliezer) and Rivka's family for Rivka to come to the land of Canaan (as it was then) to be the wife of Yitz'chak. According to Davidson, - a feminine plural noun - comes from a root (that is not used in biblical Hebrew but means "to be honoured, noble or excellent" in Arabic), to mean choice or precious things. Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi, who is probably trying to make a distinction between the gifts given to Rivka and those given to her family, tells us that "this means 'delicacies', for be brought with him varieties of fruit from the Land of Israel", referring to the use of the word in Song of Songs 4:13. Chazal interpret the word as "parched ears of corn or nuts" (B'resheet Rabbah 60:11) quoting from Ezra 1:6. In either case, they make the point that the gifts given to Rivka - the bride - are of a different calibre to those given to Rivka's family.

Nahum Sarna says that "the two types of gift ... most likely correspond to the 'bride price and gifts' mentioned in 34:12. The first was a fixed amount paid by the groom in compensation for the loss of the bride's services and her potential offspring, which will now belong to the groom's family; the second consisted of ceremonial marriage gifts to the bride's family." Notice that in Sarna's comment and in 34:12, the bride-price is paid not to the bride but to the bride's family, whereas our text is clear that the gifts of gold and silver were given to Rivka herself. Who Is ...

Hirsch: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888 CE), German rabbi, author and educator; staunch opponent of the Reform movement in Germany and one of the fathers of Orthodox Judaism
Hirsch, after confirming the difference in the gifts: "He gave precious gifts to the young bride; confectionery, polite attentions to the mother and brother; to the father - nothing!", comes down very firmly against reading more recent oriental customs and habits back into the text and completely rejects the idea of a bride-price, citing Rachel and Leah's disgust at their father Laban allowing himself to be paid for them by Ya'akov: "Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father's house? Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also completely consumed our purchase price" (B'resheet 31:14-15, NASB).

We can use these ideas to help us see our relationship with G-d more clearly, both at an individual and corporate level. The Scriptures are clear that when Yeshua took the punishment for our sin by dying on the stake at Calvary, a ransom was paid - or a debt was settled. But to whom was the payment made? Not to the devil, the father or originator of sin; this was not a bride-price paid to someone who owned us, but a penalty paid to the court, a ransom or substitute so that we should not have to die - the appropriate punishment for our rebellion and sin. Although the forces of wickedness worked to bring about the crucifixion, thinking that they would thereby defeat G-d's plan ("Let us kill the heir, then the inheritance will be ours" (Mark 12:7)), not only did they not gain anything at all from the transaction - for nothing was due to them in any case - but they were themselves defeated in the process. Death, the price of sin, was both paid and vanquished at the same time, so that those who trust in Yeshua may be free of the "law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2, NASB).

But look also at the gifts that have been given to the bride. We have redemption and forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7), eternal life (John 3:16), the indwelling of the Ruach (John 14:6), the peace of G-d (Philippians 4:7) and peace with G-d (Romans 5:1), the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12), and many other gifts, both individually and as the body/bride of Messiah, for "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32, NASB). As the bride, like Rivka, we have received the choicest gifts both now and in the future. Why? Because G-d loves us and has chosen us; because G-d wants to show His love and generosity through us; because G-d delights in us; because G-d values us and wants to bless us.

Further Study: Deuteronomy 10:17-18; Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 2:9

Application: Do you feel downtrodden and valueless? Do you struggle with self-worth or have a sneaky feeling that G-d only let you in by mistake? Lift up your head and know that you are a son or daughter of the King, chosen and precious to Him and He longs to bless you in more ways than you can ever imagine. Ask Him about it today!

© Jonathan Allen, 2007

01Nov07 21:20 Michael: Very insightful into the difference between the price paid for sin and the gifting to us (the bride) not only of eternal life, but gifting which insures none of us "come to the 'party' empty handed."

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