November 17, 2006

Breadcrumb: Dotted i's and crossed t's

In the readings, Abraham tries to arrange a burial-place for his wife Sarah. (Gen. 23) He asks for the cave of Machpelah, owned by Ephron the Hittite. Abraham is a mighty lord, and Ephron offers to give the cave, for free, to him. And yet Abraham, in true fashion, refuses to take the free gift and insists on paying the full price (400 shekels of silver). As when he rescued Lot (Gen. 14:21-24), Abraham seems unwilling to be in debt to anyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This story is really about the ownership of Hebron. Its an attempt by its writer to assert legal ownership of Hebron; the proof of purchase is what makes it full and "legitimate" ownership.

The sanctuary at Hebron actually predates the story. Over the centuries it became a more elaborate sanctuary, especially under Islamic rule; it is now known as the "Cave of the Patriarchs" and is a very elaborate building, standing high above ground.