1

In Genesis 24:2

Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household who was in charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh,

Who was this servant?

0
2

We are not told the name of the servant here. Abraham had previous employed Eliezer of Damascus (Gen 15:2, 4) but whether this same man was still his chief steward is not known.

It is entirely possible that Eliezer of Damascus was still the chief steward of Abraham's household - he had been very well regarded as, in the absence of Ishmael and Isaac was destined to inherit all that Abraham had (Gen 15:2).

However, the fact that he is named in Gen 15 and remains un-named in Gen 24 suggests, but not disprove, that Eliezer had either died and been replaced, or that he was no longer employed by Abraham.

In Gen 15 Abraham is between 75 and 85 years old. In Gen 24 he is 140 years old. It is possible, but not essential that Eliezer had already died by simply being outlived by Abraham. However, if Eliezer were (say) 40 years younger that Abraham (??) then he might still be alive.

Benson believes that the servant in Gen 24 is still Eliezer as does the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary. So does Gill, and the Pulpit commentary. They are possibly correct but we cannot be certain. Nothing in the story rules this out.

1

Because Abraham sent "his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had," it is virtually certain to mean Eliezer.

"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: 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: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac." (Genesis 24:2-4)

That his name is not mentioned probably has much to do with both the servant's own humbleness in not putting himself forward, and the fact that he was not Abraham's heir. In Eastern tradition it is common for those of lower status not to state their own names unless directly asked: instead, they might refer humbly to themselves by an expression like "your servant." Abraham himself demonstrated this a few chapters earlier at his meeting with the three strangers.

"And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it." (Genesis 18:1-7)

In fact, the servant's name was only recorded once.

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? (Genesis 15:2)

Had Abraham not made mention of the name in this conversation with God, we might not have known it at all.

1

Why was Abraham's servant's name not recorded in Genesis 24?

It is undeniable that God orchestrated the events recorded for us in this narrative. It may be that, contrary to our initial assumption, the servant was not Eliezer (Gen. 15:2). The reason for this is, just as Abraham was advanced in age -- indeed, on the verge of death, so too would be Eliezer.

This becomes evident as we consider just how difficult a journey this would have been for an aged Eliezer, someone whose health and vitality had probably declined as much or more than Abraham's, assuming the man was still alive.

Once source commented that the servant's name was "Put." Why? Because some texts read:

Genesis 24:1-3: "And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age. And Jehovah had blessed Abraham in all things.
2And Abraham said unto his servant, the elder of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh [loins].
3And I will make thee swear by Jehovah, the God of heaven and the God of the earth..." (emphasis added).

That the name "Put" (capitalized, w/o quotes) is suggested at all is preposterous (the rest of the clause makes no sense). The argument has been made here only in jest.

There are other very interesting aspects about this story. The woman selected by the servant to be Isaac's wife had to be willing to come, just as the faithful (the Church) must be willing:

Genesis 24:5-8: "The servant said to him, 'Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?' Then Abraham said to him, 'Beware that you do not take my son back there! The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, "To your descendants I will give this land," He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there” (NAS, emphasis added).

Note how Abraham is adamant that his son Isaac have nothing to do with Canaan. It is likely that, just as Egypt typified "sin" in Exodus, Canaan was also a type of "sin" in the time of Abraham (this may be obvious). The fact that the text is consistently silent about the servant's name is highly unusual; there is undoubtedly a very good reason. One scholar, Merrill F. Unger, suggests:

"This unnamed servant furnishes a picture of the Holy Spirit, who takes treasures of the bridegroom to win the Bride, who enriches the Bride with gifts, and brings the Bride to the Bridegroom. Rebekah prefigures the Church, and Isaac typifies Christ." (Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament)

The only test the servant expected the chosen woman to pass was that of her character and attitude toward him (just as it is with the faithful). And, as with Christ, Isaac does not personally, visibly pursue the woman. The Agent through whom that occurs is the Holy Spirit ("His Angel"), just as this Being is sent as in John's Gospel:

John 14:16-17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."

There are many profound elements to this story. As with much of Abraham's life, this account seems to parallel Christ and the Church.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.