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    Abraham & the Palestinians

    Abraham negotiates with the Hittites, by William Hogarth

    When Abraham wanted to buy a burial place for Sarah he explained to the Hittites that he was a stranger and sojourner (a resident alien) amongst them.

    This is a strange negotiating tactic when God had already assured the patriarch that the territory would be his.

    Abraham could have relied on the Divine promise, but he knew that it would be more effective to ask politely for the Hittites to agree to his needs.

    They finally agreed to sell him the land, though for far more than it was worth. The Anchor Bible calculates that the price he paid – 400 shekels of silver – was probably enough to buy a whole village, not just a burial site. But the important thing was for it all to be done peacefully.

    The modern impasse with the Palestinians seems to be a repeat of the ancient problem. The difference is that (at least so far) the Palestinians are weakening their own position stage by stage by not negotiating when there is no other way that there can be a deal with Israel.

    One wonders if Israel could brandish the Biblical story of Ibrahim before them and achieve anything that way.

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