Monday, 18 February 2013
Reading the Bible 14 Gen 23 Strangers in a Strange Land
It strikes me that the writer(s) of this part of Genesis protesteth too much. They are attempting to assert a claim on the burial land for Sarah in the land of the Hittites. They want the reader to be clear that there is no question that Abraham obtained the land legally and paid a fair price for it beyond any doubt. Therefore his descendants have a perfect right to the land in question which might be in dispute when the events were recorded. For me this has reverberations for the present situation in Israel and the West Bank and the settlers encroach in lands beyond what can be legally claimed by Israel. The settlements are like the camel’s nose in the tent and the settlements are attempting to become so entrenched that they will be no possible negotiation around removing them. The last verse of the chapter v20 puts the seal on the situation, “The field and the cave that is in it passed from the Hittites into Abraham’s possession as a burying place”.The situation of Abraham seems to reflect what has gone on in history. As he states he is ‘a stranger and an alien’ residing among the Hittites and they treat him with every hospitality and consent to allow him to have land as a burial site for Sarah. How is that hospitality repaid by Abraham and his descendants? In a similar way the Europeans (my ancestors) came to North America and poked their noses in the tent of North America and we know what happened after that. It was not Terra Nullius as was proclaimed by we Europeans and we have been dealing with the consequences of broken treaties and cultural assimilation to this day with the idle no more protests. History is written by the winners and it does depend on whose ox is being gored and who land is being occupied. So the question remains what is a Christian who is a descendent of those Europeans and who has indirectly at least benefitted by the camel’s nose of those ancestors to do? No easy answers.