"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

Eliezer – a Noahide

May 9, 2011

in Judaism vs. Christianity,Noahide - The Ancient Path,Rachav

 

By Rachav

One of the Noahides found in the Scriptures is Eliezer, Abraham’s servant.   Abraham, was still childless and he was concerned that he had no heir.  God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him that he would indeed have heirs of his own loins. However, this did not cause any rift with  Eliezer his servant, who was a Ger. Eliezer remained faithful to Abraham eventhough he would not be his heir.

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I [am] thy shield, [and] thy exceeding great reward.  2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.   4 And, behold, the word of the LORD [came] unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

Many years later, Eliezer was sent by Abraham to find a wife for the son who had been sent to Abraham and his wife Sarah. Abraham made Eliezer swear to him by an oath that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of Canaanites. He sent Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac from among his wife Sarah’s family.

Genesis 24:1 And Abraham was old, [and] well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:  3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:  4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.  5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?  6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; He shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

The story of Eliezer’s faithfulness in fulfilling his task is legendary.   The reason that Abraham did not want his son to marry a daughter of the Canaanites was because of the idolatry that the Canaanites practiced.  “Idolatry is an intellectual perversion, and as such it can be remedied, but a lack of morality, ethics, and modesty affects a person’s entire nature, and disqualifies a woman from being the mate of an Isaac.”(R’ Hirsch, based on Drashos HaRan).  Commentary Stones Chumash.

Abraham entrusted Eliezer “with all the bounty of his master, in order to influence his relatives to allow their daughter to marry Isaac, Abraham wrote over all of his fortune to Isaac and gave Eliezer the deed to show to the prospective in-laws.” (Rashi). ibid.

Eliezer’s criteria in choosing a wife for Isaac was to find someone of modest means, the sort of girl who would draw water for herself, not have servants do it for her (Malbim).So Eliezer prayed and devised a test that he should apply to the girl he would choose, so that he could know that she would be suitable.  This was a test of her character.

Genesis 24:12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.   13 Behold, I stand [here] by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:  14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: [let the same be] she [that] thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.   15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.

Eliezer planned to see how the girl would behave when she was away from her home atmosphere, where her family’s expectations would not influence her behaviour.   Rebekah fulfilled all the criteria that Eliezer had set for a wife suitable for his master’s son Isaac.   “The Matriarch of Israel had to be a woman of kindness and sensitivity,” which Rebekah demonstrated. (Ran, Chullin 95b).  “The test of a mother of the Jewish people had to be kindness, not miracles.” ibid.

Eliezer was so confident that God had intervened to show him who he should choose as Isaac’s future bride that he gave her some lavish gifts, even before he knew her identity.  The gifts which Eliezer gave to Rebekah alluded to the destiny of her future offspring.  The two bracelets symbolised the two Tablets of the Torah; their weight of ten shekels symbolized the Ten Commandments (Rashi).

Rebekah was directly related to Abraham and Sarah.

Genesis 24:23 And said, Whose daughter [art] thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room [in] thy father’s house for us to lodge in?    24 And she said unto him, I [am] the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. Eliezer asked whether he could stay with her family, she responded by inviting both he and his camels also. She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.  26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.    27 And he said, Blessed [be] the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I [being] in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.

Unfortunately Laban did not share his sister’s character. He was a greedy man who was looking to feather  his own nest.   Eliezer recounted to Rebekah’s family how God had led him to their family in his search for a wife for Isaac.   According to the commentary in Stones Chumash  “The Sages exclaimed: íäéðá ìù ïúøåúî íå÷îä éðôì úåáà éãáò ìù ïúçéù äôé the ordinary conversation of the Patriarchs’ servants is more pleasing before God than even the teachings of their children, for Eliezer’s full account of his journey is recorded in the Torah, whereas many important halachic principles can be derived only from textual allusions.   From Eliezer’s subtle changes in recounting the episode, the expositors have perceived both great ethical messages and his own wisdom.” ibid.

Eliezer began his account of events by stating what was to him the greatest mark of distinction that a human being could claim:  A servant of Abraham am I. Thus he established his credentials as a God fearing man of integrity, for no one could be a disciple of Abraham without being touched by his greatness and high moral caliber. With feeling and enthusiasm, Eliezer went on to tell his hosts about Abraham’s miracle-filled life (vs. 35-35), thus summarizing Abraham’s life and accomplishment (Da’as Sofrim).ibid.

Her brother and her mother tried to delay the marriage by asking for extra time, a year or ten months, before sending Rebekah to Isaac, but Eliezer refused and insisted that as HaShem had made his journey successful he must go to his master Abraham.  Rebekah was asked if she was willing to marry Isaac and she agreed that she was willing to go immediately.  They sent Rebekah’s nurse Deborah with her.  Before sending her away with Eliezer, her family blessed Rebekah and her offspring.

Genesis 24:60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou [art] our sister, be thou [the mother] of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.  61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man:  and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.  62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels [were] coming.   64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.  65 For she [had] said unto the servant, What man [is] this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant [had] said, It [is] my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.  66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.  67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s [death].

“The brief passage describing the meeting and marriage of Isaac and Rebekah is touching and reflective of basic principles of Judaism and Jewish marriage.  It begins with Isaac walking back home from praying at a place that recalled God’s mercy to the previous generation, for Jews cleave to their past and the God Who guided it.  Isaac and Rebeccah “met,” but not by chance.  She displayed the personal modesty that has always been one of the glories of Jewish women and she recognized intuitively that the stranger she had just encountered was a holy person.  Finally, Isaac brought her to his mothers’ tent, and there it became apparent that she was a fitting successor to Sarah, for the holy presence of Sarah returned to the tent of her son.   It was then that Isaac loved (v. 67), for the Jewish home is a temple and its priestess is the wife and the mother whose spirit infuses it. Isaac could love only a mate who could be his companion in creating the Chosen People.  In Rebecca he found her.

The Torah begins the narrative by saying that Isaac “happened” to meet Rebecca and Eliezer on the road, before they entered the city, just as Eliezer “happened” to encounter Rebecca at the well.  Both meetings seemed to occur by chance, but in reality they were results of God’s Providential Will (Radak).”

This is one of the finest examples of a righteous Gentile to be found in the Torah, because it shows that Eliezer, whose name means “God is my helper” trusted in God to not only guide him to find a suitable wife for Isaac, but that he demonstrated his own ethical and spiritual nature in the process.   This is a Noahide who should serve as an example to all Noahides. Abraham demonstrated that he had complete trust in Eliezer by sending him to find a wife for his son.

 

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