I am trying to make sense of Eliezer's beginnings / yichus. When I started writing this, a related question popped up here but perhaps we can develop it.

On the one hand we are told in Bereishis Rabbah 60:7:

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן רַבִּי דוֹסָא כְּנַעַן הוּא אֱלִיעֶזֶר, וְעַל יְדֵי שֶׁשֵּׁרַת אוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק בֶּאֱמוּנָה יָצָא מִכְּלַל אָרוּר לִכְלַל בָּרוּךְ.

Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Dosa said that Canaan (the son of Cham) was Eliezer and through serving the righteous man (Avraham) with faith, he went from being cursed to being blessed.

On the other hand, Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 16 says quite clearly that upon Avraham surviving being thrown into the furnace Nimrod gifted his own son, Eliezer to Avraham as a servant.

Thirdly, the Yalkut Shimoni 765 says expressly that Og (the giant) is Eliezer.

So the question is - is there a way to reconcile these differing views. Does anywhere provide a chronology of events that helps to frame his development.

There is the beginnings of a possible mehalach which I will suggest now but there are several potential flaws for it to work completely thus making me more confused.

The Targum Yonasan, Bereishis 14:13 notes:

And Og came, who had been spared from the giants that died in the deluge, and had ridden protected upon the top of the ark, and sustained with food by Noah; not being spared through high righteousness, but that the inhabitants of the world might see the power of the Lord, and say, Were there not giants who in the first times rebelled against the Lord of the world, and perished from the earth? But when these kings made war, behold, Og, who was with them, said in his heart, I will go and show Abram concerning Lot, who is led captive, that he may come and deliver him from the hands of the kings into whose hands he has been delivered. And he arose and came, upon the eve of the day of the Pascha, and found him making the unleavened cakes. Then showed he to Abram the Hebrew, who dwelt in the valleys of Mamre Amoraah, brother of Eshkol and brother of Aner, who were men of covenant with Abram.

So stage 1: Og, aka the grandson of Noach (i.e. Canaan), survives the flood and meets Avraham. The flaw with this though, is firstly, do we know if Cham had a child when the mabul started, and if so, wouldn't he have made it on to the teiva. Now admittedly, one could argue that if his child happened to be a giant(!) that would make sense why Noach let him hitch a ride on the Ark and gave him food, but this would mean that he grew up away from Nimrod, so did Nimrod adopt him later? And how do we rectify this interaction with Avraham, the implication is that they haven't met yet which clashes with the Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer which says that Nimrod gave him over to Avraham. Did they have dealings before he was given over into Avraham's service.

Meanwhile in the following Targum Yonasan 14:14 it says:

And when Abram heard that his brother was made captive, he armed his young men who were trained for war, grown up in his house; but they willed not to go with him. And he chose from them Eliezer the son of Nimrod, who was equal in strength to all the three hundred and eighteen; and he pursued unto Dan.

So here, he is clearly identified as the son of Nimrod, and if we say he is equal in strength to so many people that would make sense as he was a giant, but again the implication is that he was not in Avraham's service yet.

So in short, are we to conclude that he started as grandson of Noach, grabbed a ride on the Ark and was fed by Noach, some how ended up with a relationship of sorts with Nimrod that warranted the classification of 'father' and was then given over into Avraham's service although had had several interactions prior?

Any sources that help make sense of this would be very much appreciated!

  • +1 I saw this today too in Seder Hadorot and was just pondering the same question.
    – Harel13
    Oct 22, 2020 at 22:11
  • Is this fundamentally different from, say, the rabbinic dispute about the identity of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge?
    – Alex
    Oct 22, 2020 at 22:20
  • Hi @Alex - pls can I trouble you to elaborate?
    – Dov
    Oct 22, 2020 at 22:25
  • @Dov What I mean is, is there a reason to think that this is not merely a dispute, much as the rabbis disputed many other things?
    – Alex
    Oct 22, 2020 at 22:39
  • 1
    @Alex - it could well be, but there are so many sources I just wondered if there was an tzad hashavah or thread that linked them
    – Dov
    Oct 22, 2020 at 22:44


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