Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Genesis 23

After the excitement of the last chapter—unquestioning child slaughter!—this one is a bit of a come down. And a downer.

The entire chapter is only about the death and burial of Sarah. Although, somewhat predictably, it seems way more focused on Abraham.

Sarah dies (aged 127), and Abraham needs somewhere to bury her. Since he is still a stranger, he doesn't have anywhere to bury her. I'm not sure how he ended up surrounded by Hittites, since last we heard he was cozy amongst the Philistines, but that's where he seems to be now. Anyway, he pleads for a place to bury Sarah. The Hittites are all in awe of him (they call him "my lord" and "mighty prince") and offer him the choicest of their burial places.

Abraham decides he wants a certain cave of Machpelah, owned by Ephron, and declares that he will pay full price for it. Ephron hears this and says that he will give Abraham not just the cave but the whole damn field for free. Abraham insists on paying a fair price. Ephron insists that the field is only worth 400 shekels and is a trivial matter. Abraham pays the 400 shekels and buries Sarah in the cave.

Yes, that's really all that happens in this chapter. It's astonishingly pointless. I guess it's a good story about doing fair business and not taking advantage of the bereaved? There are certainly some people today who do that. If only we could all be a little more like Ephron.

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