I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure that was on Abraham’s servant.
He knew how long Abraham had waited for his son (nearly 30 years, give or take). He also knew what that son meant in terms of future promises (Genesis 12). He probably also was familiar with the time that Abraham took Isaac up on the mountain with the intention to sacrifice him.
Needless to say, Isaac was important. This servant knew that.
Finding a wife for the son of promise wasn’t going to be easy. It needed to be someone who was a true support — a spiritual and emotional pillar he could turn to as he carried on the blessings from Abraham.
It’s only natural then, that the servant prayed for help. But when he did, the sign he asked for was interesting:
The one who offers to water the servant’s camels would be Isaac’s wife.
In the days of the Old Testament, it wasn’t uncommon for people to ask for signs from God. In fact, Hebrews 1:1 even alludes to this: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways…”
So it’s not unheard of — or even out of place — for Abraham’s servant to ask for a sign from God in determining Isaac’s wife. What is unique is the emphasis on camels.
One explanation is that the camels are just the most convenient tool for God to show the servant. Gideon used wool to ensure that God commanded him to fight the Midianites (Judges 6). As a rural farmer, he probably had several of those had lying around.
If I can go a step farther though, I think the servant’s request also shows a little bit about the character of Rebekah.
His specific request is not just that the woman give him a drink, but voluntarily offer to water his camels too. That shows a woman that is considerate and has foresight to those in her charge.
It’s literally exactly what is said of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:27: “She looks well to the ways of her household.”
That’s the kind of wife that Isaac would need. Truthfully, it’s the kind of spouse all of us pray for.