20th April 2013

Do The Maths

“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

There are a number of occasions in the Bible when the reader can gain a better understanding of what is being said by doing some maths.

In Genesis 24 we read how Abraham sent out his oldest servant to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s kindred in the city of Nahor.  Notice the old servant took with him ten camels (v 10).  The old servant then positioned himself and the camels by the local well and prayed for success. He prays in verse14, “Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘please let down your pitcher that I may drink’, and she says  ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’- let her be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”  He had not finished praying when Rebekah approached carrying a pitcher which she intended to fill with water from the well.

The amount of water a pitcher holds will depend on the size of the pitcher.  An average sized pitcher will contain about 1.5 litres or 2.639 pints. So again, using a rough estimate, 3 pitchers will give you eight pints or one gallon of water. So it is truly amazing that we read, “After giving the old servant water Rebekah offers to water his camels “until they have finished drinking” (verse 19).

According to wildlife encyclopaedias camels can drink up to 50 gallons of water at one time.  This is where the maths comes in. Ten camels each consuming 50 gallons of water is 500 gallons.  Three average pitchers contain about 1 gallon of water. So that would work out at 1,500 pitchers of water from the well. Even if the camels only drank half their maximum intake it would work out at 250 gallons of water or 750 pitchers.

One explanation might be that the “bucket” used to draw water from the well contained more than enough to fill a pitcher.  A normal household bucket today will hold about 1 gallon of water so if Rebekah was using a bucket that size to draw from the well she would have to draw a maximum of 500 buckets of water and fill the pitcher from that. 

Even if the bucket was twice the normal household size it would be up to 250 buckets to draw.  One gallon of water (UK measure) weighs 10 pounds by definition.  A bucket of water that contained two gallons would weigh 20 pounds and 500 gallons of water would weigh 5000lbs. There are 2,240 pounds in a ton so, Rebekah drew over 2 tons of water!

Whichever way you look at it Rebekah took on a considerable amount of heavy work.  Thus Abraham’s servant established that Rebekah was a person who was generous, not afraid of hard work, had a concern for an old and weary traveller, and had a concern for the welfare of animals.

After he had observed all this the servant then needed to establish that Rebekah was of Abraham’s kindred so he asked her who she is, (verse 23) and found out that she is the grand daughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.

A wonderful example of answered prayer.

Father, as you guided Abraham’s servant to find a wife for Isaac, we ask that you guide us in our daily lives.  We can do the maths, but you total the sums!


petersheppardAbout the Author:
Peter Sheppard is on the Pastoral Council and is a member of the Edinburgh Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Phone: 01506-845725
Email: peter_mill@wcg.org.uk

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