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Why Is Eliezer Anonymous?

Why Is Eliezer Anonymous?

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Question:

I recall learning about the story of Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, being sent to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac. Recently, I was challenged by a friend to find how many times Eliezer’s name is mentioned in the Torah portion describing this story. To my surprise, his name is not mentioned even once! Why is that?

Response:

That is a great question. It does indeed come as a surprise to many that the central figure in the story goes nameless throughout the entire account.

After Eliezer had encountered Rebecca and realized that she was the one he was sent to find, he requested permission from her father and brother that she return with him to marry Isaac. His initial statement to them is, “I am a servant of Abraham” (Genesis 24:34). And indeed, throughout his journey, he is consistently referred to as “the servant.”

By his name not being mentioned, we learn that this was not about Eliezer the person; this was about the mission. Eliezer was so dedicated to Abraham that at no time did his own self-interest get in the way of fulfilling that mission. He was a mere servant—an extension of Abraham’s hand.

And this was central to the mission’s success. Eliezer was faced with the near-impossible task of finding a “rose among thorns” (Leviticus Rabbah 23:1). Had he relied on his own capabilities, he would have had no chance of success. It was his constant awareness that he was nothing more than Abraham’s servant that mapped his path through the every challenge and obstacle that lay before him (see Genesis 24:12). By making himself into nothing more than an extension of Abraham, he had all the power and merit of Abraham behind him.

Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is co-director, along with his wife Chanie, of Chabad of Northwest Indiana, and a member of Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (12)
January 6, 2012
Eliezer, a true servant
I can't stop wondering if he ever heard the words of a friend missleading him towards not finding the bride and become the first in line to inherite Abraham's whole estate.

He is even more worthy of recognition for loving his master in such a way that he "rejoiced" when he found Rivka.

He was pleased to accomplish the task, even when doing so, would rob him of material grateness
Mrs. Margarita Sosa
November 16, 2011
Keturah
I have a question. After Sarah dies, Abraham marries a woman by the name of Keturah. My qestion is , the woman who is named Keturah and Hagar, are they the same person, or are they two different women? Also in regards to Eliezer, he took an oath to Abraham to fulfill his wishes in finding a wife for his son, Isaac. From what I read in the parshah, it did not seem that personal feelings were mentioned. It did not mention how Eliezer felt when told to go back to Ur to find a suitable woman for his son. There was no argument. There was no discussion about his own daughter. In reading these comments, it seems to me that much is being read into the story.
Carol Gottlieb
Greensburg, PA/USA
November 15, 2011
ELIEZER
loved that.
joeleaden
omaha, ne.usa
July 28, 2011
It's Clearly Eliezer . . .
. . . and not anonymously. Go back to Genesis 15:2 when the Almighty told Abram "Your reward shall be great!"

To which he replied, "What will you give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

Abram had no heir so he was all set to leave his "estate", if you will, to his eldest and most trusted servant.

Then turn back to Genesis 24:2:
"Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned . . ."

To me that's clear evidence that the reference was to Eliezer as the servant. I know that no one is debating whether or not it's him, but I just didn't see anyone reference Gen 15:2.
Eliezer
Mayberry, NC
October 30, 2010
Eliezer, The Servant of the Master
Hello,

I am not Jewish, but I would very much like to post a comment regarding the discussion you have been discussing. Eliezer, is the servant of his Master Abrham, so I wonder if it would be correct and accurate to take a step back and view Abraham from a typology persepective. That typology portraying Abraham as G-d, not that he is or ever could be, but from a spiritual perspective, and for educating individuals on the spiritual aspect of what G-d would be communicating to the student's studying the truth of the Torah. Eliezer was the servant of his master and did all that his master commanded following it to the full extent. My question is, would it be accurate to view Eliezer from a spiritual perspective or typology also? That perspective being the spiritual servant of his Master. The servant humbly seeks to please his Master, and does not involve his own affairs but diligently listen's for his instruction's and moves out to accomplish just that.
Michael
Murfreesboro, TN
May 24, 2010
Eliezer
We had the question come up, how do we know for sure that Eliezer was the servant that went to get a bride for Isaac? Because he is not named in scripture, wouldn't Abraham have had other servants.
Nancy Wray
Muncie, Indiana
November 26, 2009
Eliezer, The Servant
I thought about this question many yaars ago when teaching the parsha in Chuasmash class. I believe that I saw in one of the commentaries (R Shamshon R. Hisrch, perhaps-I don't have his commentary available to me right now) that Eliezer had a very compelling reason to take out his personality from the quest. In fact he had a compelling reason to refuse to go to Charan. He thought that he had an excellent "shidduch" for Yitzchak Avinu right in Eretz Yisrael, that is, Eliezer's own daughter. Chazal tell us that he really wanted his daughter to marry Yitzchak. As Eliezer, he was very disappointed. But, as a LOYAL SERVANT, he did his job wholeheartedly, even davening sincerely for success. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to call him Eliezer in this parsha. Here, he was the SERVANT, serving his master faithfully, so we call him that to make it clear.
As for a lesson for today: this is the proper approach when making a Shidduch, what is BEST for the two, not for you!
Yisroel Meir
Phila. Balto, PA,MD
November 12, 2009
Eliezer
I once heard that Eliezer was a gilgul (reincarnation) or body form of maybe Eliyahu Hanavi or someone else great? Does anyone know about this and who was he a gilgul of?
Wondering
bkyn, ny
November 11, 2009
But if he was so great as to realise that it wasn't about him, and he was so humble on this mission, shouldn't he deserve praise for that? instead of being '' ignored '', for a lack words. :)
Darielle
Laval, Ca
November 11, 2009
the mirror of the story
It is obvious, as you so graciously point out, that Eliezer took himself out of the picture and his mission for his master was accomplished.

Perhaps the pearl in this story is that if we are to have our Master's mission in us accomplished, we have to take the "Me" out of the mix as well, so G-d can accomplish His work in and through us.
Jerry Farris
Allentown, PA
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