Now Sara’s life was one hundred and twenty years and seven, these are the years of Sara’s life.
Sara died in Arba-town, that is now Hebron, in the land of Canaan.
Avraham set about to lament for Sara and to weep over her;
then Avraham arose from the presence of his dead,
and spoke to the sons of Het, saying:
I am a sojourner settled among you;
give me title to a burial holding among you,
so that I may bury my dead from my presence.
The Sons of Het answered, saying:
Hear us, my lord!
You are one exalted by God in our midst-
in the choicest of our burial sites you may bury your dead,
no man among us will deny you his burial site
for burying your dead.
he bowed low to the people of the land, to the Sons of Het,
and spoke with them, saying:
If it be then your wish
that I bury my dead from my presence,
hear me and interpose for me to Efron son of Tzohar,
tha he may give me title to the cave of Makhpela, that is his, that is at the edge of his field,
for the full silver-worth let him give me the title in your midst for a burial holding.
Now Efron had a seat amidst the Sons of Het
and Efron the Hittite answered Avraham in the ears of the Sons of Het,
of all who had entry to the council-gate of his city,
Not so, my lord, hear me!
The field I give it to you,
and the cave that is therein, to you I give it
before the eyes f the sons of my people I give it to you –
bury your dead!
Avraham bowed before the people of the land, saying,
But if you yourself would only hear me out!
I will give silver-payment for the field.
Accept it from me,
that I may bury my dead there.
Efron answered Avraham saying:
My lord – hear me!
A piece of land worth four hundred silver weight
what is that between me and you!
You may bury your dead.
And Avraham hearkened to Efron:
Avraham weighed out to Efron the silver-worth
of which he had spoken in the ears of the Sons of Het-
four hundred silver – weight at the going merchant’s rate.
Thus was established the field of Efron, that is Makhpela, that is now Hevron, that faces Mamre,
the field as well as the cave that is in it, and the trees that were in all the field, that were in all their territory round about,
for Avraham as an acquisition,
before the eyes of the Sons of het, of all who had entry to the council-gate of his city.
Afterward, Avraham buried Sara his wife
in the cave of the field of Makhpela, facing Mamre, that is now Hevron in the land of Canaan.
Thus was established the field, as well as the cave that is in it, for Avraham as a burial holding, from the Sons of Het.
Just reading this is to be transported into a more gracious way of doing business than is customary today. Avraham knows what he wants, namely full title to a cave and its surrounding field, so that he and his descendants have full rights of use, and the right to be considered land owners in Canaan. The Sons of Het are ready to be generous which will bring them credit and keep Avraham in their debt, but Avraham wants to play it by the book., Even then the owner does not want to demand a price, so only mentions a value for the land in passing. Avraham takes the hint, does not haggle, and pays the price.
The author wants his audience to see Avraham’s foresight here, in obtaining a legal foothold in the land of promise. It is a mark that he trusts God’s covenant and knows that he must continue to play his part in ensuring its fulfilment. The land has not been much of an issue since the start of Avraham’s story, but here again at the end the author emphasises that it is not forgotten.
13 And they brought little children to him that he might touch them. But the disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But Jesus seeing it, was indignant, and said to them, Allow the little children to come to me; forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Amen I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter into it.
16 And having taken them in his arms, having laid his hands on them, he blessed them.
I have emphasised throughout this commentary that we are reading a story devised by a writer, Mark, who has doubtless, written and oral traditions about Jesus, but who has to invent a narrative which expresses the faith of his church community. We are not reading eye-witness accounts of Jesus ministry, but the church’s memory of him, presented as “glad tidings” for humanity. We always get Jesus-as he-and-his-memory-afftected-the- lives-of- believers.
Nevertheless some aspects of the story are so startling in the light of both Jewish and Greek culture, that we may be justified in arguing that they must proceed from Jesus himself. The importance of children is one of these.
Mark gives his audience an entirely realistic picture of adult disciples not wanting Jesus to be used as a guarantee of blessing by superstitious women. Indeed they may have thought they were acting in accordance with Jesus’; wish not to become a local hero.
Jesus anger at his disciples and his welcome to the mothers and children is startling: children and those who can receive God’s goodness like children are the ones who truly belong to God. There is no sentimentalizing of children here: Jesus is pointing to the child’s lack of rights to possess anything and their consequent openness to receive from others. Those who imagine they have a right to God’s goodness or can earn it, will not receive it.
Mark shows Jesus conveying God’s blessing, not just by words, but by his bodily action, his arms cradling, his hands touching.
If this was the only story we had about Jesus, we’d know he was extraordinary.