Sarah dies, and Abraham buys her a grave. There, I summarized the chapter for you.
So, what’s to take from this? Well, given how specific the claim is, it’s likely this passage is intended to justify a certain part of land as properly being part of Israel.
It’s also interesting the way that Abraham works out his deal for the land. The man, Ephron of Zohar, makes a big show that he should give the land to someone as illustrious and respected as Abraham, and Abraham makes a big show of insisting that he pay the full price, until finally Ephron says “a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver—what is that between you and me?” In other words, he names his price without explicitly saying the price, thereby getting his money while still saving face. You’re supposed to be generous, but no, he probably couldn’t afford to lose a piece of land worth four hundred shekels.
To be honest, there’s not a whole lot in this chapter for me. I’ve already made it clear I could never bring myself to fully like Sarah as a character. I’ve also been looking through various midrashim on Ishmael and Hagar, and a lot of them seem to go out of their way to try to justify Sarah’s actions, so I think later rabbis realized the problem they were given with this figure.
But at the end of the day, why does she have to be perfect? Why does she have to even be likable? Not everyone is. Do we want God to abandon them all? It’s a particularly Lutheran thing to see everyone as both 100% a saint and 100% a sinner, simultaneously. As such, we relish our unlikable heroes in the Bible, the scoundrels, bullies, wimps, and womanizers that God nonetheless cares about and uses for good ends. Sarah was the mother of the Jewish people. She doesn’t have to be mother of the year.
By-the-by, this was the bat mitzvot reading for one of my close friends back in middle school. I really wish I could remember what she said about it. I do recall that it involved pointing out that Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age is ever mentioned.
The Japanese: itai “the remands,” katawara “beside” (v 3), shoyuu “possession, property,” yuzuru “to turn over, to sell” (v 4), teikyou “offer, tender,” kobamu “to refuse” (v 6), ataramete “formally” (v 7), tsuuyou “popular use, circulation” (v 16).
The next chapter is very long, but I’ll try to do it in a day because I don’t want to get trapped by my Tuesday-and-Wednesdays-are-busy dilemma.