Avraham made Eliezer promise that he would only find a wife for Yitzchak from his family.

It seems to follow then, that as soon as Eliezer would arrive in Aram Naharaim he'd go straight to Avraham's family. After all, it was only a small family with very few (a couple of?) options to choose from (Rivkah,Ma-acha,?) - [Edit: being that 'family' here seems to refer only to descendants of Nachor (see Ramban on Bereshis 23:24- who suggests that for this reason Nachor's lineage from both wives are mentioned in the end of Parshas Vayeira)]

So why did Eliezer have to make the whole sign/prayer?

On the contrary things were more probable to go wrong this way. (See Gemara Taanit 4a)

[PS: This question is related, but certainly different.]

  • There were probably many many other daughters at each generation whose names aren't mentioned in the pesukim.
    – Double AA
    Nov 8, 2012 at 16:48
  • Nachor only got children when he was old (see Mikraot gedolot in end of Parshat Vayeira) so it's unlikely that the family was large
    – Danield
    Nov 8, 2012 at 16:52
  • @DoubleAA, sounds like an answer.
    – msh210
    Nov 8, 2012 at 16:52
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio, I guess it depends on how you understand the motivation. Just to avoid Canan's children? Cham's children (he refused Eliezar's daughter for that reason)? Children of Shem only? Or did it have to do with Terach repudiating Avoda Zara later in life? Given Rashi's comment that he was specifically motivated by Rivkah's birth, seems like he was looking for her specifically.
    – Yishai
    Nov 8, 2012 at 18:08
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio I edited my question to take your comment into account
    – Danield
    Nov 10, 2012 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


The Or Hachaim Bereshis 24:12 answers this question:

Eliezer was worried that once Betuel and family know that Avraham instructed him to find a wife specifically from the family and NOT from Canaan, they would offer one of their Canaanite maid servants as a match - and say that this is their own daughter.

Therefore Eliezer went by his mission/shlichut the way he did, thereby not only finding a match with exceptional character traits (being that she offers to help even more than requested of her) but also: this way when he asks her which family she's from - she would certainly answer truthfully (= 'lefi tuma') being that she wouldn't yet know the reason why he asked about her lineage.

Just for completeness :

Regarding that which the Gemara (Taanit 4a) says that Eliezer asked improperly(= 'Shelo K'Hogen' - since a blind or lame girl (or a Canaanite girl) could have offered water to him and his camels....

The Ibn Ezra Bereshis 24:14 says that he doesn't understand why the Gemara says that Eliezer asked improperly... because if the girl that passed the water test wasn't from Avraham's family - he would have left her, with no harm done.

  • A good question, but an implausible answer. THere's nothing in Avraham's wording that suggests that his family were liars, so he wouldn't suspect that. We have a serious problem with many Biblical missions that the messenger "always knows better" and thus failing the mission (if not with G-d's help).
    – Al Berko
    Nov 24, 2019 at 11:13
  • @AlBerko Within this very family, you have Besuel trying to poison Eliezer, Lavan running out to try to grab the rest of the wealth that Eliezer had brought with him, and in the next generation cheating Yaakov over and over. Yes, there would have been good reason to suspect the family.
    – Meir
    Dec 17, 2023 at 20:58

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