Genesis 24:63 reads, “Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming” (NASB).
This lengthy chapter narrates how a faithful servant of Abraham left Canaan to travel to Mesopotamia (Abraham had family there) to procure a wife for Isaac. Abraham did not want his son to marry one of the idolatrous Canaanites whom God condemned; Abraham’s descendants were to be a separate people. And thus Genesis 24 tells how Rebekah willingly made the journey to marry Isaac, whom she had never met.
Our text of Gen. 24:63 takes us to the time when Isaac saw Rebekah coming. He was meditating.
Previously he had been to Beer Lahai Roi, (v.62) which means “the well of the Living One who sees me” (see Gen. 16:14). At this time the text tells us that Isaac “dwelt in the Negev” (Gen. 24:26). The word Negev is the designation for the southern desert region of Canaan. Gen. 23 tells us that the patriarchal family was living in Hebron (v.2). Prior to that they were living in Beersheba (22:19). See our map to locate these sites:
The Hebrew word for meditate in Gen. 24:63 is suach, which in this form is found only here in the Old Testament. It is derived from siach, of which the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says,
The basic meaning of this verb seems to be “rehearse,” repent,” or “go over a matter in one’s mind.” This meditation or contemplation may be done either inwardly or outwardly. Since English differentiates these two notions, the word is usually rendered “meditate,” or “talk” (II.875-6).
Consider first the idea of meditation as silent reflection. Siach is used of reflection on God’s works, “I will meditate with my heart” (Psa. 77:6) during a time when he was so troubled that he could not speak (v.4). See the context: “I will meditate [here Heb. hagah] on all Your work And muse on Your deeds” (v.12, etc.).
Second, there is the idea of meditating, of silent reflection, on God’s word. Psalm 119 is that great chapter that in each of its 176 verses declares some point or principle regarding God’s word! It is not surprising that several verses speak of meditation. v. 15: “I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways.” v. 48: “And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.” See also vv. 23, 27, 79, 148, each of which have our word siach.
For the use of the word siach meaning to talk, consider Proverbs 6:22, which speaks of the young man who has bound his father’s command and his mother’s law to his heart: “When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk [siach]to you.” What a beautiful picture: the son has listened, he has made wise teaching from his parents his own. As he goes about in life, denoted by the words walk about, sleep, and awake, the teaching is always with him. The word of the Lord talks to him!
But regarding Isaac, of what did his meditation consist? In short, we don’t know what he was meditating about. But from the context we can make a couple of suggestions:
1. Consider the emphasis that is given to the LORD (YHVH) in this chapter. He is referenced in vv. 3, 6, 12, 21, 26, 31, 35, 40, 42, 44, 48, 50, 51, 52, 56! This is truly a chapter about the LORD, about His will and His purpose!
2. Perhaps meditating on his future marriage? Considerable trouble and time was involved in Abraham’s servant making a journey of some 900 miles or so to obtain a wife for Isaac. I would suggest Isaac may well have been meditating, reflecting, on the marriage he was about to enter, with a woman he had never seen before. Isaac was a godly man, and he no doubt wanted his marriage, his home life, to be pleasing to God.
Time is well spent when it is devoted to meditating on God’s word. This is more than mere reading. It means to make it your own, to let it dominate your thoughts.
Also, there is much to be said for preparation for marriage. First, to be what God wants you to be, and second, to have a marriage that is pleasing to God, that He can bless.
We’ll close with another camel photo, as camels are referenced in our text of Gen. 24:63. This shot was taken at St. Catherine’s Monastery, at the foothills of Mt. Sinai.
Click on images for higher resolution.
This was a great read! Just stumbled upon it, me and my wife did the Torah portion involving this and that word “meditate” stuck out to me. Funny how it is translated once in scripture, I think as well he was reflecting on the marriage at hand, he had to know his father was seeking him a helpmate. Good post! Shalom.