“So he showed them the entrance to the city and they struck it with the edge of the sword. Yet the man and his extended family, they sent away.”
Having been given the covenantal promise of protection, the man revealed to the house of Joseph where the hidden entrance to the city was and the soldiers gained entrance. Once inside they put the city to the edge of the sword (literally, to “the mouth of the sword”). Much as we discussed above, with MårDj (charam — see verse 17), this language speaks of devoting to death everything living within the city. And, as we noted above, this only makes sense in light of a surprise attack upon the city and a surprise attack only makes sense if we understand the entrance to be a secondary, unguarded entrance of which only the inhabitants of the city knew.
In putting the city to the sword, they do provide safe passage for the man who betrayed Luz to the sons of Joseph…but not just to him alone. We discover here that it is his entire, extended family that is delivered. The Hebrew term for “family” that is found here is hDjDÚpVvIm (mishpachah), which refers not only to one’s immediate family, but also to one’s extended family as well — one could translate this even as “clan.” In the historical reading of the text, this only makes sense as the man moves the region of the Hittites (to the north) and establishes a city — a task that would have been all but impossible either alone or with just one’s immediate family. Yet, with an extended family, the result seems far more plausible.
While this deliverance is a reminder of the deliverance of Rahab and her family when Jericho fell, it is also a reminder of the principle of covenant headship. As the head of his family (and clearly, of his extended family), he has the right and privilege of negotiating on behalf of his family as a whole. The family suffers with him in failure but the whole family benefits when he does what is right.
What is fascinating is the change of direction that God providentially seems to give this man, for this account is not just about the deliverance of an individual, but of a family. The city has fortified itself as it soon will be under siege and this man sneaks out with no indication that any of his family is with him. Of course, we don’t know the motivation for this — perhaps he was seeing if this was a safe way to exit the city and would then go back for his family. At the same time, there is nothing to indicate he was trying to save anyone’s skin but his own. If this latter case is true, through his capture by the sons of Joseph and his betrayal of the city, not only was his family delivered…but he was delivered from his own sin of not caring for his family.
One of the plagues on the culture in the west is how often men seem to abdicate their responsibility and their role in their family. Many desert their children, leaving them to be raised by their mothers alone. Many choose to spend their money on themselves rather than sacrificing to provide for a family. But even when men do not desert their financial responsibilities to their families, they sadly abdicate their spiritual responsibility to lead their homes, once again, laying that burden on their wives.
Men, we have a covenant responsibility to lead our households in spiritual things. We must be the primary teachers of our family when it comes to the Bible, to theology, to spiritual living, and to covenant faithfulness. We teach in our actions, we teach in our lifestyle, but we also need to teach intentionally by opening up the Bible, reading it to our families, and instructing them in its meaning and application. And it also includes praying for and with our families as well as teaching them to pray. But how do you teach what you do not know? We must strive to be the “experts in our home” as we are the masters of our homes. That’s the heart of being a spiritual head. The question for those men who are reading this is will you? The question for those ladies who are reading this is, will you encourage your husbands to do so?
“And he caused the camels to kneel outside of the city near the well of water; the time was evening, the time when those come out who are drawing water. And he said, ‘Yahweh, the God of my lord Abraham, please ordain success for me in my presence this day and demonstrate covenant faithfulness to my lord Abraham.’”
Abraham’s servant stops outside of the gate, a place to where visitors would come and a place where the animals could be watered at the end of the journey. A typical baggage camel can travel about 40 miles per day, so here they close about a 2-week journey from the wilderness of Canaan to the city of Nahor. This would be a typical place for a traveler to stop, water the camels, and inquire as to a place to stay for the night.
Though most of our English translations speak of the time of the evening as the time when women come to draw water, this is inferred from the feminine use of the term for those drawing. More specifically, we should state that these ladies coming out to draw would typically have been servant girls and young daughters in service of their mothers, not so much that all of the women of the community were coming out to draw at this time. Indeed, this sets the stage for the introduction of Rebekah, but before introductions are made, Eliezer goes to the Lord in prayer.
What is particularly interesting in this prayer is that he addresses it to “Yahweh, the God of my master (or lord) Abraham.” Here he does not say, “my God,” but only speaks of Yahweh as the God of his master. There are several things that can be implied by this choice of language. The first is that of the Federal Headship of his master, Abraham. As he is in the service of Abraham, he has chosen to submit to the authority of Abraham’s God in this task. Arguably, as second aspect is that Eliezer was a circumcised member of Abraham’s household (Genesis 17:12-13), and in submission to Abraham’s headship over his life and household, Eliezer himself has made Yahweh his God, but is praying in this way to reflect the authority of Abraham in his own life.
This is worth noting because in our modern, individualistic and pluralistic society, this idea of submission to authority and covenantal headship is something that has been all but forgotten. Rarely are fathers recognized as the spiritual heads and authorities in their homes and often families take the attitude that it is perfectly fine for children to choose their own religious preferences. Neither of these attitudes are Biblical, nor are they healthy to society, which is based on the Biblical institution of the family. If you don’t have a strong base of families upon which a society is built, you will not have a strong or vibrant society — and strong families are built on and around the idea of headship and authority…with the ultimate authority being God himself.
Loved ones, as Christians we often pray that God will bring revival to our land, and that is a good prayer that needs to be prayed. Yet often, those who pray for revival are unwilling to do the hard work of heart-work to prepare themselves for such a revival. Jesus told a parable about a sower casting seed and the seed falling on various types of ground, but only that which fell on fertile ground bore fruit (Matthew 13:1-23). Yet, we forget that it is preparation that makes fertile ground fertile in the first place. It has been cleared of weeds and rocks, fertilized, tilled, and irrigated — this takes the work of many hands. In terms of preparing our individual souls for the seed of the Gospel, this is work done through the Holy Spirit, though often the Spirit uses people as tools in that process. But for the soil in churches and in communities to be changed the Holy Spirit clearly demands that Christians order their lives according to God’s law and put away their evil practices. Are we willing and ready to do that? Sadly, I am not convinced that we are. One thing is for sure, though, God will never let go of those he has claimed as his own; yet when his own stray, he draws them back to himself and that process is not always a pleasant one. May God bless America with revival once again, but may he also bless the church with reform such as that his people reorder their lives in a way that would prepare them as a community to receive the anointing of his reviving grace.