Our forefathers were freakishly rich, but they didn't invest in real estate in the Holy Land for their descendants besides two graveyards (for Sarah in Hebron and Yossef in Shechem).

It appears that they could buy a huge portion of the Land to inherit to Am Israel and significantly ease the future conquest.

EDIT 1: The [innumerous commentaries on the] story of Avraham buying the Cave of the Patriarchs shows the importance of appropriating the land in Israel by our forefathers, with no relations to the recognition by other nations. The Torah would certainly document the buys and we could have much better evidence than only the fact that G-d promised the land to the Israelites.

EDIT 2: Many commentaries say that G-d commanded Avraham to "acquire" the land by walking across, which clearly shows the need to acquire the land anyway.

Why didn't they do that?

  • 2
    I just happened upon this quote from a sefer called פענח רזא (the quote didn’t bring a page) that Avraham paid 400 shekel and if you calculate according to זרע חומר שעורים בחמישים שקל then it works out that 600,000 people could each get 1x1 Amos. Doesn’t answer your question but found it interesting.
    – mroll
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 23:11
  • @mroll Do you mean to fit 600K people into the cave of Machpelah?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 23:13
  • it also includes the surrounding land. To be honest I didn’t do the calculation so not positive how it worked out. (It was a side point in what I was learning so I didn’t take the time)
    – mroll
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 23:15
  • רֹעֵה צֹאן עֲבָדֶיךָ--גַּם-אֲנַחְנוּ, גַּם-אֲבוֹתֵינוּ.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 23:54
  • 1
    Re: edit 2: If Avraham could acquire the Land by walking across it, why bother buying it? If walking it was enough to acquire it, what good would buying it do? By the time Avraham's descendants got back 400 years later, others would have crisscrossed the Land, acquiring it for themselves.
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


It would have made absolutely no difference during the conquest if the Jews would show up ~400 years later to claim that they 'purchased and owned the land', just like it made no difference when Jews began returning en masse ~100 years ago to the Holy Land, and in a smaller scale, made little difference when Jewish survivors in Poland tried reclaiming their property after ~5 years. Abandoned lands and properties tend to fill in when no one is there, and those who tend to fill those voids aren't likely to give it up just because someone shows up and says "it's mine".

This can clearly be seen by the fact that the forefathers did indeed own large swaths of land, both physically and through 'spiritually' conquering it, and it made absolutely no difference when their descendants returned.

  • 1. I completely agree, but you overlook edit 1 - the seeming importance of the appropriation. It appears that it has much spiritual importance, not legitimate support. 2. What do you mean by "did indeed own large swaths of land"?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 17:15

If you were told by Ribbono Shel Olam that your descendents starting with your grandchildren would be slaves in a land not their own for 400 years and would emerge with great wealth and recieve the entire Land of Israel as an inheritence, and conducting real estate transactions with the locals was like pulling teeth, would you bother to purchase a single dunam?

  • I hope I'm not stupid. If you combine my latest questions regarding the patriarchs, they clearly behave as they were nomads and not rightful heirs of G-d. They lived in tents, built no houses, didn't buy lands. Don't you agree?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 17:19

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