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?
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.