In Parshas Chayei Sara, Avraham tells Eliezer to go find a wife for Yitzchok from his family, כִּי אֶל אַרְצִי וְאֶל מוֹלַדְתִּי תֵּלֵךְ וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי לְיִצְחָק:‏ and not from the Bnos Cnaan.

Towards the end of Parshas Vayeira 22:20 as Avraham is on the way back from the Akeida, Rashi mentions that Avraham was told about the birth of Rivka, Yitzchok' Zivug. אחרי הדברים האלה ויגד וגו': בשובו מהר המוריה היה אברהם מהרהר ואומר אילו היה בני שחוט כבר היה הולך בלא בנים, היה לי להשיאו אשה מבנות ענר אשכול וממרא, בשרו הקב"ה שנולדה רבקה בת זוגו, וזהו אחרי הדברים האלה הרהורי דברים שהיו על ידי עקידה: ‏

Then why did he not just tell Eliezer go and get Rivka?


5 Answers 5


Avraham was informed Rivka had been born, but Rashi AFAICT doesn't indicate that he knew at the time that she was Yitzchak's match. Yes, the news did make him think of a potential match for Yitzchak, but that doesn't mean that he knew that she'd be such. He needed his messenger to check her (and/or other potential matches) out first. No source.

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    What does רבקה בת זוגו mean? Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 20:42
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    "Rivka, who turned out to be his match", according to my suggestion.
    – msh210
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 5:56

Firstly, I would like to add to the question:

Rashi on Bereshis 25:20 says that after the akeida, Yitzchak waited to marry Rivkah for 3 years

המתין לה עד שתהא ראויה לביאה שלש שנים ונשאה:

He waited for her until she would be fit for marital relations-three years-and then married her. — [From Gen. Rabbah 57:1;

From here it's pretty clear that Yitchak knew from the outset that he would/should marry Rivkah.

Similarly, the Rashi that Gershon quoted shows that Avraham knew that Yitzchak was to marry Rivkah.

So back to the question:

Why didn't Avraham tell Eliezer to go get Rivka?

Well, according to the Or HaChaim 24:12 (cited in my answer here) There was a suspicion that Betuel (and family) would try to foil the prospective match. We also know that Avraham specially blessed Eliezer before he left (Bereshis 24:7)

הוּא יִשְׁלַח מַלְאָכוֹ לְפָנֶיךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי מִשָּׁם:

So maybe we could say that Avraham decided, that if he would go about the match in the regular way (by telling Eliezer: 'go get Rivkah') - Betuel would foil the match and Eliezer would fail in his mission. So instead he relied on Hashem - ie that Hashem would sort Betuel out [which is what happened in the end] and somehow make the match, which could only properly be done without revealing the identity of the girl to Eliezer.

Edit: Futhermore, the above explanation seems to fit in with Betuel's reaction after hearing Eliezer's story (Bereshit 24:50):

וַיַּעַן לָבָן וּבְתוּאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ מֵיהֹוָה יָצָא הַדָּבָר לֹא נוּכַל דַּבֵּר אֵלֶיךָ רַע אוֹ טוֹב: And Laban and Bethuel answered and said, "The matter has emanated from the Lord. We cannot speak to you either bad or good.


We cannot speak to you: to refuse in this matter, either with an unfavorable reply, or with an appropriate reply, because it is obvious that the matter has emanated from the Lord, according to your words, that He designated her for you.

.... which seems to imply that it the matter hadn't come from from Hashem - then they would have naturally refused the match - either unfavorably or appropriately - a refusal nonetheless.


Perhaps Rashi means that Avraham was told in general that "Yitzchak's zivug has been born," but not her name? (I realize that this requires a bit of forcing into his phrasing.) Surely, after all, Rivkah wasn't the only girl born to the twelve sons of Nachor listed in those verses - and any of them could theoretically have been the one.

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    Rashi does clearly mention Rivka? Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 21:02
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    True. But I'm thinking that it's sort of parenthetical (identifying her in retrospect as the one).
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 23:24
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    I appreciate your try. However it does not put my mind at ease. Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 23:34

Another perhaps: Although Avraham was always aware of the importance of marrying off his son, the incident of the Akeida brought such an urgency to the matter that Avraham mistakenly gave up the quality of Yichus in favor of immediacy and felt that the righteous daughters of Aner, Eshkol and Mamre were good enough stock. However, the news of Rivka's birth was enough to bring proper perspective to Avraham who then realized that Yichus was important enough to wait for. (Bas zugo would still be parenthetical, but I think that's plausible. Of course, Avraham's "mistake" should be viewed from the perspective of Avraham's greatness.)


A more pedestrian answer: News didn't travel so well in those days. Perhaps Avraham doubted the veracity of the news of Rivka's birth, or some of the details (such as her name).

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    Rashi says בשרו הקב"ה שנולדה רבקה בת זוגו, and you think Avraham doubted this? Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 12:50
  • Was it prophecy, or merely "bis'ro hakadosh baruch hu" in the usual way, through a (human) messenger? I did not understand it to be the former.
    – msh210
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 15:51
  • בשרו הקב"ה does not have to mean through a vision. It could mean that Hashem made sure he heard the news.
    – YDK
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 15:52
  • msh, why send a team with loaded camels? Send a servant to verify. If her name was the only detail missing, Avraham could have sent for Besuel's daughter.
    – YDK
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 15:56
  • But would Besuel have been interested? As it was, Eliezer had to spend quite a bit of time convincing them that it's Divinely ordained that Rivkah become Yitzchak's wife.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 16:18

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