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    How much yichus do you want? – Chayyei Sarah

    Eliezer & Rebekah at the well, by Gustave Dore

    Eliezer & Rebekah at the well, by Gustave Dore

    Without Abraham’s concern for Isaac to marry someone from the right background, Eliezer would not have needed such a complicated match-making expedition.

    But this is the way that Biblical thinking works: the family a person comes from is an essential ingredient in marital happiness and in building a future.

    Jewish parents still operate on the same principle. I cannot count the times that parents have asked what I know about the background of the boy or girl their offspring is going with.

    I suspect that some young people regarded this as parental interference, but a logical mind would have told them that success in marriage requires some knowledge of the value system with which a potential partner has been brought up.

    As far as Abraham was concerned, he was determined not to allow into the family one of the daughters of the Canaanites.

    Was it that they were nobodies and lacked a good enough lineage to boast about?

    If that were the entire consideration, the person without lineage could have borrowed or anticipated the retort that is said to have been given by a supposed nobody when asked by a snooty person, “And whose descendant are you?” The retort was, “I am nobody’s descendant: I am an ancestor!”

    No; lineage has its place, but what concerned Abraham was the idolatrous and probably unethical values of the Canaanite environment.

    Even so, Eliezer found that there were issues with some of Abraham’s own family such as Laban, and he must have agonised over the question of whether Rebekah would show the better or the not so admirable elements of the family character.

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