Why did our founding father Abraham insist on purchasing land for a burial plot for his family in Hebron from the Hittites?

As we know from the Hebrew Bible, Abraham could muster armies and could have conquered the territory needed for the burial plot for his wife Sarah and his family in the Cave of Machpelah. Instead he purchases the plot from Ephron the Hittite at great expense—four hundred shekels of silver.

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The use of force could have garnered Abraham more land and would not have been as costly. Why did he insist on purchasing the burial ground?


The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) accuses the Jews of stealing land from Arabs living in pre-independence Israel in some sort of imperialist and racist plot. In fact, the opposite is true and we can easily counter the BDS libel. The reality is that the Zionist movement followed in the footsteps of Abraham of old.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) was established to purchase land in the Land of Israel and this was the way the land was acquired for Jewish settlement. The JNF, founded in1901, is almost as old as the Zionist movement itself.

The goal was for Jews to acquire land in Palestine which would remain the inalienable possession of the Jewish people. It is true that much territory was captured in war between Jews and Arabs. But these wars were defensive wars for the Jews.

In 1948 Arab armies invaded the new state and swore that this would be a jihad to drive the Jews into the sea. In 1967 Egypt’s dictator Nasser again swore that this was the time to destroy the “Zionist entity.” Israel gained much land—land that it gave away in the pursuit of peace. But the acquiring of land through war was never the ideal.

Abraham bought that land in Hebron so nobody could accuse him of illegally seizing land that did not belong to him. He purposely purchased this land in order to stake a claim in Canaan that could not be disputed. This was precisely the strategy of the founding fathers of Zionism in relation to Palestine, the Land of Israel.

The strategy of this modern movement—rooted in Jewish History and the Bible—was to purchase land from Arabs so that no one could dispute the claim that Jews had in the Land of Israel. This was no imperialist plot and the fact is that Zionism was, at its core, an anti-imperialist movement.

The ideal of purchasing land to stake a legitimate Jewish claim in the Land of Israel was foreshadowed thousands of years ago by Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah. What could have been seized by force was not. Although Abraham was a warrior he was also a man of peace.

No one could dispute his claim in Hebron. And nobody can dispute the claim of the modern Jewish State to its sovereignty in the Land of Israel.
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