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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Eliezer, 1

Elie´zer. This is the same name as Eleazar—whence came the abbreviated Lazar or Lazarus of the New Testament. Mention is made () of Eliezer, whom before the birth of Ishmael and Isaac Abraham regarded as his heir. Abraham, being promised a son, says: 'I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus…. Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in mine house is mine heir' (). The common notion is that Eliezer was Abraham's house born slave, adopted as his heir, and meanwhile his chief and confidential servant, and the same who was afterwards sent into Mesopotamia to seek a wife for Isaac. This last point we may dismiss with the remark, that there is not the least evidence that 'the elder servant of his house' (), whom Abraham charged with this mission, was the same as Eliezer: and our attention may therefore be confined to the verses which have been quoted.

It is obvious that the third verse is not properly a sequel to the second, but a repetition of the statement contained in the second; and, being thus regarded as parallel passages, the two may be used to explain each other.

'Eliezer of Damascus,' or 'Damascene-Eliezer,' is the subject of both verses. The obvious meaning is, that Eliezer was born in Damascus: and how is this compatible with the notion of his being Abraham's house-born slave, seeing that Abraham's household never was at Damascus?

The expression, 'the steward of mine house,' in , will explain the sense of 'one born in mine house is mine heir,' in . The first phrase, literally translated, is 'the son of possession of my house,' i.e. one who shall possess my house, my property, after my death; and is therefore exactly the same as the phrase in the next verse, 'the son of my house (paraphrased by 'one born in mine house') is mine heir.' This removes the whole difficulty; for it is no longer necessary to suppose that Eliezer was a house-born slave, or a servant at all; and leaves it more probable that he was some near relative whom Abraham regarded as his heir-at-law. In this case Abraham obviously means to say, 'Behold, to me thou hast given no children, and not the son of my loins, but the son of my house (i.e. of my family—the son whom my house gives me—the heir at law) is mine heir.' It is by no means certain that 'this Eliezer' was present in Abraham's camp at all: and we, of course, cannot know in what degree he stood related to Abraham, or under what circumstances he was born at, or belonged to Damascus. It is possible that he lived there at the very time when Abraham thus spoke of him, and that he is hence called 'Eliezer of Damascus.'

Eliezer, 2

The second of the two sons born to Moses while an exile in the land of Midian (). Eliezer had a son called Rebadiah ().





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Eliezer'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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