“Unit 6: Day 3, Genesis 23–24,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 6: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
After Sarah’s death and burial, Abraham sent a servant to his former homeland to find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s kindred—his relatives who lived there. The servant obeyed these instructions, prayed for the Lord’s help, and met Rebekah. She chose to return with the servant and be sealed to Isaac in the covenant of eternal marriage (see D&C 132:19–20, 37).
Imagine a young man and a young woman who are in love and hope to build a lasting relationship.
As you read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, look for what he said is the best choice for couples who hope to form a lasting relationship:
“A couple in love can choose a marriage of the highest quality or a lesser type that will not endure. Or they can choose neither. …
“… I … assert the virtue of a temple marriage. It is the highest and most enduring type of marriage that our Creator can offer to His children.
“… A temple marriage is also called a celestial marriage. …
“The best choice is a celestial marriage” (“Celestial Marriage,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 92, 94).
Celestial, or eternal, marriage in the temple is the only type of marriage or union that can endure forever. As you study Genesis 23–24, look for principles that can guide you in your efforts to one day obtain the blessings of eternal marriage.
Remember that Abraham and Sarah entered into a covenant with God that allowed them to have an eternal marriage. Read Genesis 23:1–2, looking for evidence of Abraham’s love for Sarah.
The remainder of Genesis 23 explains that Abraham purchased a burial place for Sarah and that she was buried there.
The Lord had promised Abraham and Sarah that their son, Isaac, would receive the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant—including the priesthood and all the blessings of the gospel. The Lord also promised that through Isaac’s descendants, all the families of the earth would be blessed.
What did Isaac need to do in order for these promises to be fulfilled?
Read Genesis 24:1–3, looking for whom Abraham did not want Isaac to marry.
The Canaanites did not believe in the Lord, and they practiced idolatry, so no Canaanite woman would have been prepared to receive the responsibilities and blessings of the Abrahamic covenant and eternal marriage. The decision Isaac faced concerning whether or not to marry in the covenant is like our choice today of whether or not to have our marriage sealed in the temple.
Read Genesis 24:4, looking for the assignment Abraham gave to his servant.
The journey from Abraham’s location in the land of Canaan to Mesopotamia where his relatives lived and then back again was approximately 900 miles (1,448 kilometers). Think of the substantial time, effort, and provisions that this journey would have required.
What do Abraham’s instructions to his servant teach us about the importance of obtaining the blessings of eternal marriage?
One principle we can learn from Genesis 24:4 is that it is worth great effort and sacrifice to obtain the blessings of eternal marriage. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures.
- In your scripture study journal, explain what efforts and sacrifices today’s youth might have to make in order to obtain the blessings of eternal marriage.
As you read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, look for why it is so important to marry in the temple: “There is no substitute for marrying in the temple. It is the only place under the heavens where marriage can be solemnized for eternity. Don’t cheat yourself. Don’t cheat your companion. Don’t shortchange your lives. Marry the right person in the right place at the right time” (“Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2).
For both Isaac and Rebekah to receive the Lord’s promised blessings for themselves and their descendants, it was essential for them to marry someone worthy of the marriage sealing ordinance and to marry that person in the covenant.
Read Genesis 24:10–14, looking for how Abraham’s servant acted in faith to fulfill the assignment Abraham gave him.
Next, read Genesis 24:15–20, looking for how the servant’s prayer was answered.
- In your scripture study journal, write Character Traits of Rebekah. Then review Genesis 24:16–20, and list words and phrases that imply some of Rebekah’s character traits that are illustrated in these verses.
The servant did not yet know whether this young woman was a relative of Abraham. In Genesis 24:21–25 we learn that he asked Rebekah about her family and found out that she was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor.
Read Genesis 24:26–28, looking for what Abraham’s servant did after learning Rebekah was related to Abraham. What impresses you about the servant’s reaction?
Genesis 24:29–49 tells how Abraham’s servant was invited to eat with Rebekah’s family. He told the family that Abraham had directed him to find a suitable woman for Isaac to marry among Abraham’s relatives. He then explained how he had prayed for guidance and how the Lord had answered his prayer and led him to Rebekah.
Read Genesis 24:50–51, looking for how Rebekah’s brother Laban and her father, Bethuel, responded to Abraham’s servant.
Abraham’s servant then provided gifts to the family, and there was a celebration. The next morning, Abraham’s servant and Rebekah’s family discussed her departure.
Complete the following chart by studying the scripture references and writing your answers to the questions:
When did Abraham’s servant want to depart? When did Rebekah’s family want her to depart?
How was this difference resolved?
You may want to mark Rebekah’s words in verse 58: “I will go.” What character traits did Rebekah demonstrate in this situation? Add these traits to the list in your scripture study journal.
Complete the following principle based on what you have learned from Rebekah’s example: If we now, then we will be better prepared for eternal marriage.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why it is so important to develop righteous qualities now: “If you hope to have an eternal companion who has certain spiritual qualities, then you must strive to develop those spiritual qualities in yourself. Then someone who has those qualities will be attracted to you” (in “Understanding Heavenly Father’s Plan”; lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/understanding-heavenly-fathers-plan).
- In your scripture study journal, write down a righteous quality that you would like to develop or more fully develop in yourself, and explain what you will do to develop that quality.
Imagine what feelings Rebekah may have had as she traveled the long distance to meet Isaac or what Isaac may have felt as he awaited the servant’s return. Read Genesis 24:61–67, looking for words or phrases that suggest Isaac and Rebekah were happy to meet and be married to one another. (It may be helpful to know that when Rebekah covered herself with a veil, she was demonstrating modesty and respect for Isaac.)
Think about the ways Heavenly Father helped Isaac and Rebekah receive the blessings of eternal marriage. An important principle we can learn from Isaac and Rebekah’s experience is that if we are faithful to God, then He will provide a way for us to receive the blessings of eternal marriage.
To understand how this principle relates to us today (including those who may not have the opportunity to marry in this life), carefully study the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. You may wish to mark phrases that are meaningful to you.
“There are those among you fine young members of the Church who might never marry. Although they are worthy in every way, they may never find someone to whom they will be sealed in the temple of the Lord in this life. …
“First, let me tell you that your prayers are heard. Your Father in Heaven knows the desires of your heart. I cannot tell you why one individual’s prayers are answered one way while someone else’s are answered differently. But this I can tell you: the righteous desires of your hearts will be fulfilled.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to see anything beyond the path immediately before us. We are impatient and do not want to wait for a future fulfillment of our greatest desires. Nevertheless, the brief span of this life is nothing in comparison with eternity. And if only we can hope and exercise faith and joyfully endure to the end … there, in that great heavenly future, we will have the fulfillment of the righteous desires of our hearts and so very much more that we can scarcely comprehend now” (“The Reflection in the Water” [Church Educational System devotional for young adults, Nov. 1, 2009]; lds.org/broadcasts).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How might President Uchtdorf’s statement bring comfort to righteous individuals who may not have the opportunity to receive the blessings of eternal marriage in this life?
How does this statement help you understand the importance of preparing now for eternal marriage, regardless of your circumstances?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Genesis 23–24 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: