Thursday, November 01, 2007

Chayyei Sarah: Did Eliezer Make The Camels Kneel?

It certainly is a strong possibility. In Bereishit 24:11:
יא וַיַּבְרֵךְ הַגְּמַלִּים מִחוּץ לָעִיר, אֶל-בְּאֵר הַמָּיִם, לְעֵת עֶרֶב, לְעֵת צֵאת הַשֹּׁאֲבֹת. 11 And he made the camels to kneel down without the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water.
and Ibn Ezra explains that וַיַּבְרֵךְ means that he caused them to kneel down, from birkayim, knees. And people in fact make camels kneel down. That is how you get onto a camel. And that is how you get down from a camel. (Actually, you get down from a duck, but that is another story.) Thus, he stopped his travels outside the city, by the well of water.

Though likely not, I thought I'd mention another possibility, that is, that וַיַּבְרֵךְ comes from the word bereicha, a pool of water. Camels drink a lot before and after journeys, storing the water in their humps. So perhaps something one did with a camel after traveling was bringing it to an oasis.

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