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And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water. Bible

“camels kneel.” This is exactly according to custom. Camels are made to kneel down when they are stopped and resting, and people mount and dismount from that position.

“outside the city by the well.” William Thompson who was a missionary for over 40 years in Syria and Palestine, and traveled extensively in the East in the 1800s and wrote about biblical customs, wrote, “The place is said to have been by a well of water, and this well was outside the city. In the East, where wells are scarce, and water indispensable, the existence of a well or fountain [spring] determines the site of the city. The people build near it, but prefer to have it outside the town, to avoid the noise, dust, and confusion always occurring at it, and especially if the place is on the public highway. It is around the fountain that the thirsty traveler and the wearied caravan assemble; and if you have become separated from your own company before arriving at a town, you need only inquire for the fountain, and there you will find them or hear of them. It was perfectly natural, therefore, for Eliezer to halt at the well. The time was evening; but it is further stated that it was when the women go forth to draw water. True to life again. At that hour the peasant returns home from his labor, and the women are busy preparing the evening meal, which is to be ready at sunset. Cool fresh water is then demanded, and of course there is a great concourse around the well. But why limit it to the women? Simply because such is the fact. About great cities men often carry water, both on donkeys and on their own backs, but in the country, among the unsophisticated natives, women only go to the well or the fountain; and often, when traveling, I have seen long files of them going and returning with their pitchers, at “the time when women go out to draw water” (William Thomson, The Land and the Book, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1880, pp. 260, 261. Thomson assumes Abraham’s servant is Eliezer, and that may be, but there is no way to be sure).


Commentary for: Genesis 24:11