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Bethuel seems strangely absent in Genesis 24.

First, Rebekah "ran and told her mother’s household about these things" (Gen 24:28).

Then, Laban is the one who ran out to meet Abraham's servant (v29), and is the one who told the servant to "speak on" (v33).

Only in v50 does Bethuel finally appear, before promptly 'disappearing' in v55 when "[Laban] and her mother said, 'Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.' "

Why does Bethuel seem to disappear? Or am I missing something in the text.

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  • It seams to me that Bethuel is just aged, says very little and has handed the management of the estate to his son Laban. He may have died soon after. – Dottard Jan 13 at 22:49
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From the story-telling point of view, in Genesis 24, Bethuel is a minor character. His name appears 4 times, 3 of which have to do with referring Rebekah as the daughter of Bethuel. The 4th times, his name appears along with Laban in Genesis 24:50

Laban and Bethuel answered, "This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.

The name Bethuel does not even appear by itself independently from other names. Bethuel is basically a character in the background if you can imagine the scene acting out in sequence. Laban is emerging as the character in charge of Bethuel's household.

54Then he [Abraham’s servant] and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

55 But her brother [Laban] and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

Laban is becoming more and more important than his father Bethuel. The script is preparing the readers for later that it is Laban whom Jacob has to deal with.

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  • Thanks @Tony! I noticed from googling that there is some debate over whether Bethuel in v50 was a later scribal insertion, whether it was a matriarchal/patriarchal society, and over the status of Bethuel... might be speculative, but would you have a view on some of these debates? – whiskey92 Jan 22 at 12:43

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