Abraham didn’t lead an easy life. He had to endure the tough separation from “his father’s house”, the aggravations of his nephew, Lot, the two occasions on which he has to leave the land because of famine, the long drawn-out wait for a son, the conflict between Sarah and Hagar and the double trial of having to send Ishmael away and almost lose Isaac also.
Abraham reveals his emotions at the displacement of Ishmael and his protest against the destruction of Sodom. But he constantly places himself in God’s hands. He trusts God to do what he says he will do.
He is promised seven times in the Torah that he will inherit the land of Israel, yet he now finds himself without owning a part of land to bury his wife. He seems to be entirely at the mercy of the townspeople. Although initially offered the cave and land for free, Abraham insists on purchasing them.
Ephron sells him his cave and land for an extortionate amount of money. It all seems an impossibly long way from the vision God has painted for him of the entire country one day becoming a home for his descendants. Yet Abraham is content.
That is the faith of an Abraham. The man promised as many children as the stars of the sky has one child to continue the covenant. The man promised the land “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” [15: 18] has acquired one field and a tomb. Abraham knows that “it is not for you to complete the task”. He dies full of belief and hope, content knowing that his and the Jewish people’s journey has begun.
- Rabbi Jonathan Tawil is the founder and director of Torah Action Life
Listen to this week’s episode of the Jewish Views Podcast, focusing on Pittsburgh: