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I have heard people assert Eliezer was a Canaanite but is there any proof of this other than the mere fact that his daughter was deemed unsuitable for Isaac?

  1. Damascus isn't within Eretz Yisroel according to the maps in the back of the ArtScroll.
  2. Midrash says he is the son of Nimrod (from Iraq)
  3. He only appears after Abraham's pursuit of the 4 kings (to the North of Damascus) and would seem to have joined then.
  • Clint Eastwood, I have seen this multiple times in your questions/answers. It's ArtScroll, not Arts Roll. ;) Just being nitpicky. – ezra Nov 29 '17 at 21:43
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Indeed. According to the Midrash (Genesis Rabba: Hayei Sarah: 60:31) Eliezer is not just a Canaanite, but the Canaanite; Canaan himself!

ויאמר בא ברוך י"י... אמר ר' יוסי בר' דוסה כנען הוא אליעזר ועל ידי ששירת את הצדיק באמנה יצא מכלל ארור לכלל ברוך שנ' ויאמר בוא ברוך י"י


It should be noted that his identity as a Canaanite is a Midrash (Genesis Rabba 59:9), and the story about his daughter is a Midrash, So the latter doesn't really support the former. If one accepts the Midrashim as independent proof, then the latter is not needed, and if not, the the latter doesn't help.

Although many Midrashim make this identification, none of them state what pushes them to make this identification, nor have I found any later commentators who explain the association. It should be noted that Midrashim interpret דמשק (literally Damascene) non-literally (e.g. Yoma 28b, Genesis Rabba 44:9, Midrash Agada (Buber) 15:2), which is perhaps consistent with the Midrashic identification of Eliezer with Canaan.

  • d'oh. I forgot that Eliezer's daughter isn't actually in the Torah – Clint Eastwood Nov 30 '16 at 15:41
  • The midrash isn't saying Canaan is Eliezer. It's expounding word by word the verse כנען בידו מאזני מרמה – b a Nov 29 '17 at 9:43
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    @ba I hear your reading, but I still think that כנען זה אליעזר implies a Midrashic identification of Eliezer as a Canaanite, if not Canaan himself. Furthermore, that very Midrash goes on to state that Eliezer is arur. Why is he arur, if not that ארור כנען? Indeed, other Midrashim state that Eliezer is Canaan which are not making this derasha, e.g. :בראשית רבה (וילנא) פרשת חיי שרה פרשה ס א"ר יוסי ב"ר דוסא כנען הוא אליעזר ועל ידי ששרת אותו צדיק באמונה יצא מכלל ארור לכלל ברוך – mevaqesh Nov 29 '17 at 20:52
  • I seem to recall a midrash which says that Eliezer was in fact Og (who would later become king of Bashan). – ezra Nov 29 '17 at 21:44
  • @ba edited the post so that the midrash quoted is no longer the one you questioned, but a clear and unambiguous one. – mevaqesh Nov 29 '17 at 22:04

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