“…but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” Then Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there!” Gen. 24:4-6
We note here Abraham’s specific desires to A) take a bride for Isaac from among his own family, and B) not allow Isaac to travel to Abraham’s homeland.
Concerning Not Taking A Bride From the Canaanites
Abraham has been living in different areas of Canaan for many years now, so it is safe to say he has experience with the general moral condition of the Canaanites (including his dealings with king Abimelech and his servants). Thus far God has not specifically told Abraham not to marry from among certain peoples.
We must remember that Abraham was not simply given a promise of many descendants and abundant land without anything to uphold on his part. Back in Genesis 17, the Covenant of the Circumcision, Abraham isn’t just charged with keeping the covenant himself, but “you and your descendants after you throughout their generations” (Gen. 17:9). This covenant was not just about keeping the circumcision – that was merely the outward sign of a people set apart. The covenant itself included “walk before me and be blameless”, Also in Genesis 18 when God is mulling over revealing the destruction of Sodom to Abraham, God says concerning Abraham “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice…” (Gen. 18:19, emphasis mine)
And so one of the main reasons Abraham is so vehement about choosing a bride for Isaac from his own family, and keeping Isaac on the godly path as much as he can within his lifetime is that God charged him with doing so – part of the covenant is to pass down the art of righteousness to the next generation and beyond. Abraham apparently felt this task would be much easier with someone from his family line rather than that of the Canaanites.
And we note that as with many such things, Abraham prefigures the Israelites about the prohibition of marrying the Canaanites (see Deut. 7:1-4). I believe this also is a parallel to followers of Christ in that they are called not to be “unequally yoked to unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Concerning Isaac Not Returning to Mesopotamia:
The distance from Canaan to Mesopotamia would have been between 400-600 miles, so it was not a quick journey. Matthew Henry notes that Abraham didn’t want Isaac going back to his homeland so he would not be tempted to settle there. Josephus notes the perils of traveling to Mesopotamia – the depth of clay in winter; lack of water in summer; and frequent robberies committed (we note that the servant was carrying valuable gifts for the would-be bride.)
Radak tells us that Abraham did not want Isaac to leave the land because it was given to him and his descendants as part of the covenant. We also note that that Abraham just officially acquired a small plot of land in Canaan (the family burial site) which is all he will have to cling to in his lifetime. Thus Abraham is likely being overly cautious about losing any stake in the land, considering his wells have previously been stolen.