Scala/Art Resource, NY

The Discovery of Rebekah at the well—depicted in these 12th-century mosaics from the Cathedral of Monreale, in Palermo, Sicily—successfully concludes Abraham’s final attempt to ensure that his progeny will be many. Recognizing Isaac as his true, divinely selected heir, Abraham determines that he must find his son a spouse and bring her to Canaan, the land God has promised to his offspring. Abraham sends his oldest servant (center, in the scene at left) to his homeland, Haran, to find a wife. Arriving outside the town in the evening, the servant proposes, “Let the girl…who shall say ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one” (Genesis 24:14). The servant selects Rebekah, who, in the left mosaic panel, pours water into a trough for his long-necked camels. In the scene at right, they return to Canaan together on camelback.