“And Abraham was old and advanced in days.” (24:1)
Question: Why does the Torah add the words “advanced in days?"
Answer: Every individual comes into this world with a mission to study Torah and to do good deeds. Often, days and years go by in which one accomplished very little and wasted precious time. The Torah attests that Abraham was able to account for what he accomplished each and every day of his life. Not only did he age in years, but he was able to recall each day and say what he achieved in it.
“Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘Please tip over your jug so I may drink.’ and who replies ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels….’” (24:14)
Question: Why did Eliezer, Abraham's messenger to find Isaac a wife, test Rebecca in this way?
Answer: Eliezer wanted to verify two basic things about the girl. 1) Was she good natured? 2) Would she be resourceful in difficult situations?
Therefore, Eliezer asked her to tilt the jug so that he could drink from the jug itself. If she was good-natured, she would have pity on a thirsty man and let him drink. However, he was curious to see what she would do with the leftover water. If she would take it home or drink it herself, she would appear to be foolish because Eliezer was a stranger and might have been sick, contaminating the water. On the other hand, if she would spill it out on the ground, this would be disrespectful to Eliezer.
When Eliezer saw that after letting him drink, Rebecca took the remainder of the jug and gave it to the camels, he knew that not only was she good-natured but also very bright and of refined character.
“And food was set before him, but he said ‘I will not eat until I have spoken my words’….And he said ‘I am Abraham’s servant.’” (24:33)
Question: Why did Eliezer refuse to eat before divulging the purpose of his trip?
Answer: Eliezer brought assistance from Abraham’s home with him to assist him and to attend to the camels.
When Laban heard that Eliezer gave gifts, he invited him to his house and provided straw and oats for the camels and water for Eliezer and his people to wash their feet (24:32). Afterwards, the Torah tells us “food was placed before him. ” Eliezer was thinking to himself, “This Laban must be a very stingy fellow. Water, which is free, he gave for me and all my people. However, food, which costs money, he gave only for me and not to any of my people.”
Therefore, he said, “I will not eat alone while my people stay outside with the camels. Let me first tell you the purpose of my visit and I am sure that you will then change your behavior.”
Eliezer told him that the purpose of his trip was to arrange a marriage and that the boy and his father were extremely wealthy. When Laban heard this he said to himself, “If they come home and tell Abraham and Isaac how I treated them, they will consider me stingy and call me a ‘miser.’ Immediately, he started acting very hospitably and gave a full meal to Eliezer and his entire company, as the Torah relates, “They ate and drank, he and all the men who were with him” (24:54).