Wife In Waiting Training, Characteristic #4: Go The Extra Mile

Extra Mile1

Thus far in this series, we have uncovered three character traits Rebekah displayed that positioned her for her God-ordained marriage to Isaac.  They were:

  1. She walked in beauty
  2. She maintained her chastity, and
  3. She was busy about her father’s business.

Today we will explore the fourth characteristic she displayed as the story unfolds.

 

And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.  (Genesis 24:18-20)

 

 REBEKAH’S JOURNEY:
Let’s consider what it would take for Rebekah to accomplish the task of collecting water for herself and for that of Eliezer and ten camels.

The average Jewish maiden of Rebekah’s day had a myriad of chores; cleaning, weaving, grinding and making bread.  In the evening, after completing the household chores, she would be required to collect water for all the household needs.[1]

The city walls of Haran, Rebekah’s mountainous hometown, were approximately 2 ½ miles in length.[2]  The well was situated somewhere beyond the city gates.[3]  Thus, her total commute to fetch water could be anywhere between four to six miles in total. 

Now, let’s say that an average brisk three mile walk to the well with empty canisters would take approximately 1 hour.  After filling her pitcher (possibly made from goat’s skin)[4], I’m sure she would have to slow her pace on her journey back to accommodate the extra weight of water.  She also had to be careful not to spill this precious commodity, which would increase her travel time home to at least 1 ½ hours.  Considering these factors, she may have had to endure a 2 ½ hour total commute.

Now factor in this same journey in Mesopotamia in the summer time.  An evening hike across arid and possibly rugged terrain after a hard day’s work is an energy zapper for sure. If not careful, this can become a great recipe for dehydration.  These facts alone could cause the average damsel to decide not to go too far out of her way to assist anyone else in need.

Of course, the culture at that time dictated that young women cater to the needs of adults upon request.  So, getting Eliezer a cup of water would be no great surprise.  But to offer to get water for his ten camels as well…well, that’s another story entirely!

But Rebekah was no average “damsel”.  She wasn’t a servant that was accustomed to collecting water on her own.  She was a young woman of nobility equipped with a private nurse of her own.[5] A trip of this magnitude could possibly prove even more arduous for someone of Rebekah’s stature.[6]

 

ELIEZER’S JOURNEY

When Eliezer was commissioned to go to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac, he knew this would not be a “short-term” mission.  The distance between Haran and Canaan was approximately 500 miles.[7]  Riding by camel, one could make this journey approximately four to six weeks.[8]

The camel, acclimated to harsh environments can travel as many as 100 miles without water. When thirsty, they can gulp down as much as 30 gallons in 13 minutes.[9]  After their 500 mile trek, I’m sure Eliezer’s beasts of burden were good and ready for a nice long drink!

 

THE HEART OF A TRUE SERVANT

Rebekah, not knowing this man or his purpose went the extra mile in providing for Eliezer and his
camels.  She could have just given him water alone.  Providing water for camels however, requires much more work. It wasn
’t necessary for her to provide since he only asked her to meet his own needs.  

To give Eliezer a drink only required filling up a cup or two until his thirst was quenched.  However, to appease the thirst of 10 camels, she would have to continually fill several troughs of water until each camel could step aside satisfied.  That means she well may have had to pour up to 300 gallons of water into the troughs manually.  There was no mention that any servants accompanied her on her journey.  Despite Rebekah’s fatigue, she served with gladness and humility.  Would you?

 

THE WISDOM OF ELIEZER

Eliezer displayed wisdom in his prayer,

“that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.” (Genesis 24:14)

 

He was looking for someone who could walk humbly in spite of her noble upbringing.[10]  She could wear the hats of queen and servant simultaneously.  And of course, Rebekah did just that.

Eliezer knew that his were prayers answered.  He witnessed first-hand the “help-meet” characteristics necessary to qualify Rebekah to be not only the wife of his master, but also mother of nations, servant AND queen. Rebekah mastered the art of service, while living the life of nobility.

It takes a certain level of humility to display this level of servanthood.  Even though Rebekah saw that Eliezer had many camels, she had no idea if he was a man of wealth or merely a servant.  The spirit of a servant embedded into Rebekah’s heart contributed to her full dedication to meet the need of someone in need.

 

TIME FOR A LITTLE SELF INTROSPECTION

What about you?

  • Are you willing to humble yourself to perform tasks deemed beneath you so that others can relied?
  • Are you willing to go the extra mile without expecting anything in return?
  • Reflect back on the past week. Were there any opportunities for you to go the extra mile?  Did you?

 Go the Extra Mile

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:

Be bold enough to make the following commitment:  Sweet Jesus, teach me the same humility that You displayed by not only serving the disciples by washing their feet, but by ultimately suffering the humiliation of being mocked, scourged and finally crucified for my sins.[11]  By Your grace, I vow to keep myself humble before You by serving those that can be blessed from my service.  I vow to not just serve, but to go the extra mile to serve in the spirit of excellence, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

 

References:

[1] E-sword/John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

[2] http://www.bibleplaces.com/haran/

[3] Genesis 24:11

[4] E-sword/John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

[5] Genesis 24:59

[6] http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/763991/jewish/Rebecca-and-the-Camel-Test.htm

[7] http://www.biblestoriesforadults.com/OT11/OT1108N.htm

[8] David Klinghoffer, The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism, p267. Doubleday, New York, 2003.

[9] http://www.nationalgeographic.com/weepingcamel/thecamels.html

[10] http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/763991/jewish/Rebecca-and-the-Camel-Test.htm

[11] John 13:4-5;  Luke 22:63, 23:11, 33; Matthew 27:26, 35; Mark 15:15, 24-25; John 19:1, 16-18; John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3.

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