Abrahamic Peace Plan

29 12 2016

If we peel back centuries of bickering, revenge and blame, we might discover a way forward in the Israel-Palestinian feud. Consider Abraham as an example of how mutual respect could lead toward peaceful co-existence. Here is a concise rendition of Genesis 23:1-20.

Abraham’s wife Sarah has died and he needs a place to bury her. He is dwelling in the land of the Canaanites, land which has been promised to him by God. But he is there as a visitor, for the Canaanites have lived there for decades.

Abraham approaches the sons of Heth and asks that they allow him to bury his wife in a certain cave, stating that he desires to pay a full price for that property. They direct him to the owner of the cave, a man named Ephron.

The interchange between Abraham and Ephron is, I expect, a cultural dance over the purchase price in which Ephron offers to give the land free of charge, while Abraham insists on paying a full price. All this is done in public view. But it is done cordially, without greed or deception. Finally Abraham acquires the property, paying the full price asked by Ephron.

So the cave with its surrounding field were officially and publicly deeded to Abraham as a place for his family to be buried.

By that time, Abraham was a wealthy man (Gen. 24:35) yet he respected those who dwelt on the land which God had promised him. The residents of that land realized that people of different ethnicities could dwell together side by side. Abraham did not seize the land, but humbly asked to purchase property at a fair price.

Today, centuries of animosity have complicated the path to peace. But Abraham may show a way back to a simpler time with a tentative hope.

 

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