Chayei Sarah – Rishon

Avraham's Daughter?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Sarah had died while Avraham and Yitzchak were away. When Avraham returned to Hebron, he had the sad responsibility of burying her. (The text says that he went to eulogize her and to mourn her. The word “u’livkosa” – and to mourn her – is written with a small letter kaf. If one reads the word without that letter, it says “u’l'bita” – and her daughter. According to the Talmud Baba Basra 16b, Avraham and Sarah had a daughter, some say named Bakol, who also passed away.)

Avraham approached the local people about purchasing the cave of Machpela as a burial site. They originally offered the property to Avraham for free, but he insisted on purchasing the land at full cost so that there should be no question as to its ownership. Efron the Hittite, who owned the land, slyly said to Avraham, “Come on, what’s 400 silver shekels between good friends like us?” Avraham understood Efron’s meaning (which was kind of hard to miss), so he counted out the money. The price requested was exorbitant (see Talmud Baba Metzia 87a, quoted by Rashi here), but Avraham paid it anyway – and the ownership of the Machpela cave is still disputed nowadays! (The other well-recorded land transaction in Tanach is the purchase of the Temple mount by David in II Samuel. Why are the best-documented transactions the ones most hotly disputed?)

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