Genesis 23, Sarah's Death

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jun 23, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    That Abraham loved and honored Sarah is very clear. I don't think this needs to be mentioned. But if you think, there must have been other people who had died in Abraham's household before Sarah did, and yet Abraham did not try to buy a burial ground for any of them.

    Sarah died at 127 years old. This means Abraham was 137 at the time, and he still had a ways to go! But nevertheless, we can see that life expectancy ages are coming down continually now. I have sometimes wondered if Sarah's death was a shock to Abraham. Contrary to our way of looking at things today, she was much too young to die! But Sarah was dead.

    Still she had lived to see Isaac into manhood, and that was very special. She never did live to see the twins, Esau and Jacob, though.

    In the middle of his grief and perhaps shock, the conversation between Abraham and the Hittites always makes me laugh. I am not racist, but it is so Jewish! What goes on is psychological bargaining and one-upsmanship as much as anything. Watch it here and my 'translation' will be in brackets and maybe you will see why it tickles me so:

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    Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, "I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead."
    [Translation: I want some land. Sell.]

    The Hittites replied to Abraham, "Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead."
    [Translation: There's no way to fight this guy ! He is too powerful. Anyone who refuses Abraham is putting us all at risk!]

    Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, "if you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you."
    [Translation: I've already checked around and I know what I want. I'll pay full price.]

    Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. "No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give you the field and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."
    [Translation: I'm sunk. It's my land he wants! There is no way out of this one except to appear so rich I can give it away. Criminy, why MY place? This is one guy I can't afford to make irritated...]

    Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, "Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there."
    [Translation: I don't have time for this nonsense. My wife is dead. I want to bury her properly. Just let me have the cave, fella! I know what land's worth around here and I can pay you for it...]

    Ephron answered Abraham, "Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hudnred shekels of silver, but what is that between me and you? Bury your dead."
    [For those of you who have seen "Fiddler on the Roof," or live where you can hear Jews bargain, please try the above speech with the accent and hand motions..."what is that between me and you, ehhhhh?! So we both know what my land is worth. You already spied. You want to pay, here is the price, but you are not going to make me look bad in front of my people. Take the silly thing and be done with it!]

    Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites....
    [Translation: Abraham knew what was going on, and no one was going to ever be able to claim the land and cave were not his. So here's your money, Ephron -- I'm not even going to bargan. Take it, it's yours and the land is mine.]

    And, finally, Abraham owns a tiny piece of the land his descendants have been promised by the Lord. By refusing to actually bargain for it, people might have thought him a fool, but there was no way anyone could claim the land was not really his!
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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