This Land is My Land

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, lived to be one-hundred-and-twenty-seven. She died in the town of Kiriath-arba, which is today’s Hebron. Abraham, not unnaturally, felt sad about Sarah’s death, and wept over her dead body as he knelt beside it.

On leaving the side of Sarah’s deathbed, Abraham saw some Hittites. He said to them, “Although I’m but a stranger who has settled among you, I’d like it if you could give me some land for a burial-place so I could give my poor dead Sarah a proper burial.”

The spokesman for the Hittites said, “We look upon you as a mighty prince, O Abraham. So please, bury Sarah in the best place you can find. None of us will put any obstacles in your way, we assure you.”

“I’m grateful for your kindness” said Abraham. “Do you think you fellows could put in a good word for me with Ephron, the one who is the son of Zohar? You see, I’d like the cave that belongs to him, the cave at Machpelah at the far end of his land. Tell Ephron [1] I’ll pay him what this cave is worth, if he’ll give me full title to it.”

Abraham hadn’t had the presence of mind to inquire of the Hittites he spoke to whether Ephron was among them. In fact, Ephron was there, and so had heard all that Abraham said.

Ephron said to Abraham, “I would like to give this land, and the cave that is on it, to you gratis. So go ahead and bury not only Sarah there, but any other dead in your family.”

“I insist I pay you the full value of this land” said Abraham, “because only then will I feel it’s really mine.”

“So you don’t trust me? You think if you don’t pay me anything, I might take the land back any time I wish, is that it?” said Ephron.

“No, not at all” said Abraham, “it’s just the way I was raised. When I was but a boy, my father, Terah, told me, ‘Abraham, son, never accept anything for free, because this is socialism and socialism is evil’. So, were I not to pay you anything for the land, I would be going against what my late and beloved father, *Terah*, stood for.”

“In that case” said Ephron, “I’ll accept payment from you for this land. Its most recent appraised value was, as far as I remember, four-hundred shekels of silver. Does this sound reasonable?”

“It sounds eminently reasonable” said Abraham, whereupon he fished out four-hundred shekels of silver from the pocket of his robe, and handed the money to Ephron.

“Ta, thanks very much” said Ephron. “Just so there are no misunderstandings, I declare in the presence of all my fellow Hittites gathered here today at Maphelah, to the east of Mamre, which is in Hebron in the land of Canaan, that I, Ephron son of Zohar, hereby forfeit all my rights and title to the cave, the plot of land the cave is on, and every tree on the plot. They all are now legally yours, O Abraham.”

Shortly after, Abraham buried Sarah in the cave which was now his to bury his dead in, for evermore.

Source: Genesis 23

[1] Ephron is not to be confused with the film director, *Nora Ephron*.

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This entry was posted in Abraham, Ephron, Sarah, Terah and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to This Land is My Land

  1. jenny says:

    Are you sure it wasn’t Nora Ephron? The next story is called When Isaac Met Rebekah, isn’t it?

  2. Philippe says:

    Or maybe Sleepless in Shechem. I’ll have to check.

  3. Man of Roma says:

    Abraham is majestic, fascinating, and you portrait him very well Phil.

  4. Philippe says:

    Abraham also had a good instinct for self-preservation at the expense of his wife, as his connivance in her bedding by the Pharaoh and later by Abimelech attests!!!

  5. Man of Roma says:

    Well, those were times and cultures where wives obeyed to their husbands who were like lords to them. Indeed, A. would have been killed by the Egyptians, because Sarah was beautiful hence a prey. Sarah might have liked to go to bed with the Egyptians though by the way – one never knows. Perhaps if she really loved Abraham it is possible she didn’t like to have sex with them. In any case Sarah the beautiful also accepted (or proposed?) that her husband slept with her Egyptian slave, Hagar, in order to give her husband the child she couldn’t give him herself. But I’ll tell you my wife at the sole idea of me having a child (since childless) with another woman, she would have killed me. I am not kidding, she really would have done that (maybe not just at the idea of it). Or, alternatively, she would have killed herself. It is a doubt I have 😉

  6. Philippe says:

    …..those were times and cultures where wives obeyed to their husbands who were like lords to them…….

    It is only in recent years that Christian marriage ceremonies began to leave out “obey” among the things which the bride, as a wife, should promise her husband.

    In the matter of a wife’s reaction to her husband’s fathering a child with another woman, if this makes her homicidally angry it bespeaks she loves him. It is indifference, not hate, which is the opposite of love.

  7. Man of Roma says:

    It is indifference, not hate, which is the opposite of love
    It makes perfect sense to me.

    It is only in recent years that Christian marriage ceremonies began to leave out “obey”

    I agree, and in general the liberation of the woman is recent even in the West (this is why btw I am happy about the Arab upheavals partly also due to FB and the Internet, which are american inventions btw).

    But soon such liberation has become a flood. I am happy for my daughters. They live in a much better world than my, for example, sisters. My eldest sister for instance (the first born) had great legs. Well, my mother constantly punished her severely because she didn’t like my sister to wear the newly invented nylon stockings in the 60’s. She had to wear socks. Which my sister never forgot (and forgave).

  8. Philippe says:

    To the extent that women are liberated, men are liberated too.

  9. Man of Roma says:

    Difficult not to agree, again.

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