World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0003149523
Reproduction Date:

Title: Bethuel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Milcah, Jacob, Abraham's family tree, Chayei Sarah, Isaac
Collection: Hebrew Bible Places, Torah People, Vayeira
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Bethuel (Hebrew: בתואלBəṯū’êl, “house of God”), in the Hebrew Bible, was an Aramean man,[1] the youngest son of Nahor and Milcah,[2] the nephew of Abraham, and the father of Laban and Rebecca.[3]

Bethuel was also a town in the territory of the tribe of Simeon, west of the Dead Sea.[4] Some scholars[5] identify it with Bethul[6] and Bethel in southern Judah,[7] to which David gives booty.[8]


  • Hebrew Bible 1
    • Family tree 1.1
  • Rabbinic interpretation 2
  • Notes 3

Hebrew Bible

The man Bethuel appears nine times in nine verses in the Hebrew Bible, all in Genesis. Adherents of the documentary hypothesis often attribute most of these verses to the Jahwist source,[9] and the remainder to the priestly source.[10]

Bethuel lived in Padan-aram,[11] and is described as "Aramaean", although his Chaldean background is also indicated, as a descendant of Terah. Bethuel's uncle Abraham sent his senior servant to Padan-aram to find a wife for his son Isaac.[12] By the well outside the city of Nahor, in Aram-naharaim, the servant met Bethuel’s daughter Rebekah.[13] The servant told Rebekah’s household his good fortune in meeting Bethuel’s daughter, Abraham’s relative.[14] Laban and Bethuel answered, “The matter was decreed by the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.”[15]

After meeting Abraham’s servant, Rebekah “ran and told all this to her mother’s household”,[16] that Rebekah’s “brother and her mother said, ‘Let the maiden remain with us some ten days’”,[17] and that “they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads.”[18] Some scholars thus hypothesize that mention of Bethuel in Gen. 24:50 was a late addition to the preexisting story. Other scholars argue that these texts indicate that Bethuel was somehow incapacitated. Other scholars attribute the emphasis on the mother's role to a matrilineal family structure.

A generation later, Isaac sent Jacob back to Padan-aram to take a wife from among Bethuel’s granddaughters, rather than from among the Canaanites.[19]

Family tree

Sarah Abraham Hagar Haran
Ishmael Milcah Lot Iscah
Ishmaelites 7 sons[20] Bethuel 1st daughter 2nd daughter
Isaac Rebecca Laban Moabites Ammonites
Esau Jacob Rachel
Edomites Zilpah
1. Reuben
2. Simeon
3. Levi
4. Judah
9. Issachar
10. Zebulun
11. Dinah
7. Gad
8. Asher
5. Dan
6. Naphtali
12. Joseph
13. Benjamin

Rabbinic interpretation

In the Talmud, Rabbi Isaac called Bethuel a wicked man.[21] The midrash identified Bethuel as a king.[22]

In the Talmud, Rab in the name of Rabbi Reuben b. Estrobile cited Laban’s and Bethuel’s response to Abraham’s servant that “The matter was decreed by the Lord”[23] as a proof text for the proposition that God destines a woman and a man for each other in marriage.[24] Rabbi Joshua b. Rabbi Nehemiah in the name of Rabbi Hanina b. Isaac said that the decree with regard to Rebekah that Laban and Bethuel acknowledged came from Mount Moriah.[25]

Noting that Genesis 24:55 reports that the next day, Rebekah’s “brother and her mother said, ‘Let the maiden remain with us some ten days’” (Gen. 24:55), the Rabbis asked: “Where was Bethuel?” The midrash concluded that Bethuel wished to hinder Rebekah’s marriage, and so he was smitten during the night. (Genesis Rabbah 60:12.) The Rabbis said that Abraham’s servant did not disclose Bethuel’s fate to Isaac.[26]

In his retelling of the story, Josephus reported that Rebekah told Abraham’s servant, “my father was Bethuel, but he is dead; and Laban is my brother; and, together with my mother, takes care of all our family affairs, and is the guardian of my virginity.”[27]


  1. ^ Gen. 28:5
  2. ^ Gen. 22:21-22
  3. ^ Gen. 22:23; Gen. 28:5.
  4. ^ 1 Chron. 4:30.
  5. ^ e.g. Albright
  6. ^ Josh. 19:4
  7. ^ Josh. 8:17; 12:16
  8. ^ 1 Sam. 30:26-27.
  9. ^ E.g., Richard Elliott Friedman The Bible with Sources Revealed, 66, 68, 69. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003; Genesis with sources highlighted, at Wikisource
  10. ^ E.g., Friedman at 71, 76.
  11. ^ Gen. 25:20.
  12. ^ Gen. 24:2-4.
  13. ^ Gen. 24:10-15.
  14. ^ Gen. 24:47-48.
  15. ^ Gen. 24:50-51.
  16. ^ Gen. 24:28
  17. ^ Gen. 24:55
  18. ^ Gen. 24:59-60.
  19. ^ Gen. 28:1-2.
  20. ^ Genesis 22:21-22: Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, and Jidlaph
  21. ^ Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 64a; see also Genesis Rabbah 60:12 (wicked); 63:4 (a rogue); Leviticus Rabbah 23:1 (a deceiver); Song of Songs Rabbah 2:4 (a trickster); Zohar 1:136b (sinful); Rashi to Gen. 25:20 (wicked).
  22. ^ Numbers Rabbah 14:11.
  23. ^ Genesis 24:50-51
  24. ^ Babylonian Talmud Mo'ed Katan 18b; see also Genesis Rabbah 68:3.
  25. ^ Genesis Rabbah 60:10.
  26. ^ Genesis Rabbah 60:15.
  27. ^ Antiquities 1:16:2:248.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.