The midrash records that Esav tried to stop Yaakov from being buried in the cave of machpelah. I would like to know if any commentators explain why Esav would care about this? I recall hearing that he wanted to be buried there himself instead since there were only spots for 4 couples. If so, I would incorporate that into the question and ask why he wanted to be buried there?

1 Answer 1


According to Rabbi Munk in his commentary on Vay'chi, it is because Esav was attempting to deny that he had sold his "birthright" completely. That is, he claimed that he had sold the "first born" rights and had sold the (future) settlement of the land of Canaan (to avoid the 400 years of slavery that was still ahead) but not the 50% share of the remaining undivided portion of the inheritence. In this particular case, the only remaining (undivided) inheritence was the shares in the "family burial plot". Avraham bought the entire cave (2 graves used, 6 graves available). Yitzchak was the only heir so he got the entire cave (4 graves used, four available). When he died (6 graves used 2 available), Esav claimed that one grave was to go to him and one to Yaakov. Yaakov used his grave for Leah, leaving the other to Esav.

The brothers sent Naftali to get the original bill of sale from Egypt which showed that the cave had been included. Meanwhile, Chushim son of Dan who was deaf and did not know what the delay was, found out and became so upset he killed Esav. This fulfilled Rivkah's statement "lose both of you on the same day". They then went ahead and buried Yaakov in the last available grave.

It wasn't so much that Esav wanted to be buried there as he wanted to deny part of the inheritence to Yaakov. It was because Esav wanted to cause trouble for Yaakov and his family that he did this.

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