Genesis Overview: Nahor's Descendants and Sarah's Death

a) Nahor's Descendants (22.20-24)

22.20-24: An Aramean genealogy is clumsily incorporated into the Abraham narrative. Nahor's twelve echoes Ishmael's twelve and foreshadows Jacob's twelve. Here and in Chapter 24 Rebekah's father is Bethuel but she is also implied to be Nahor's daughter.

b) Sarah's death (23 in P)

23.1-3: Abraham is living near Hebron without property; Hittite is a general term for migrated Canaan "aborigines". The discussion is: "... a delightful miniature of adroit Oriental conversation!" (p247), legal not commercial. The consent of the  whole population to cede land would be necessary.

23.4-6: The people seem not to know anything specific about Abraham but know of his strong protection by his God. The first reply is equivocal.

23.7-15: Abraham thanks them for their willingness and ignores their evasiveness. He then says what he wants and will pay for; the reply is an offer to give him more than he wants for nothing which further obligates Abraham who now knows he will have to pay a great deal. Ephron mentions the price in passing as if it were no concern; but the deal and the price are now inevitable; the cave is traditionally thought to be that under the mosque at Hebron; the squares of Herodian hewn stone attest Jewish cultic status. We do not know why P inserted such a detailed, non-theological text. The answer seems to be the need to establish a link, no matter how tenuous, between the patriarchs and the promised, but not yet obtained, land; but did they really go unrewarded? "... in death they were heirs and no longer 'strangers'. A very small part of the Promised Land - the grave - belonged to them. ... they ... did not have to rest in Hittite earth ... which Israel would have considered a hardship  difficult to bear." (p250).

KC V/14

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