What does Genesis 24:8 mean?
ESV: But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there."
NIV: If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there."
NASB: But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free of this oath of mine; only do not take my son back there.'
CSB: If the woman is unwilling to follow you, then you are free from this oath to me, but don’t let my son go back there."
NLT: If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.'
KJV: And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
NKJV: And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.”
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, Abraham expressed confidence that God would make a crucial mission successful. The servant Abraham is sending is meant to find a wife for Abraham's son, Isaac, among Abraham's people in Mesopotamia. An angel of the Lord would go before his servant to ensure that a suitable wife would be found for Isaac among Abraham's people, a woman willing to move from her family and live in the land of Canaan.

Now, though, Abraham assures his servant that if he's wrong, if the woman is not willing to return to Canaan, then the servant will be released from the oath. The most important thing is that his servant not take Isaac out of Canaan under any circumstances. Did Abraham make this concession because he suddenly doubted God would provide? Probably not. More likely is that Abraham wanted to reassure his servant. This would make it easier for the man to swear to take on this mission without himself having to be confident that God would supernaturally intervene.
Verse Context:
Genesis 24:1–9 describes an urgent conversation between Abraham and his most trusted servant. Abraham is asking the servant to swear an oath to find a wife for Isaac from among his own people in Mesopotamia. The servant must not allow Isaac either to marry into a Canaanite family or to leave the promised land of Canaan. With the understanding that he will be released from the oath if no young woman will agree to return with him, the servant swears to find Isaac a wife.
Chapter Summary:
Abraham asks his most trusted servant to travel to his former homeland to find a wife for his son Isaac. Swearing to do so, the servant arrives at the city of Nahor and asks the Lord to show him which young women is appointed for Isaac. Finding Rebekah, the very granddaughter of Abraham's brother Nahor, the servant reveals the reason for his journey to her family. Her father Bethuel and brother Laban agree to allow Rebekah to travel to Canaan and marry Isaac, which she does.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 24 takes place a few years after Sarah has died. Abraham becomes urgent to find Isaac a wife, not among the women of Canaan, but from his own people back in Mesopotamia. His trusted servant, sent to accomplish this mission with the help of the Lord, eventually returns with Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham's own brother. Isaac is married to her at the age of 40. Abraham's death is recorded in the following chapter.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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