Genesis 23 describes Avraham's purchase of a burial site from Efron the Hittite. The way Haamek Davar explains it — if I understand his commentary to verse 20 correctly — the transaction that was made (verses 17–18) did not include any mention of what the site would be used for. Yes, that use had been mentioned in the preliminary discussion (verses 4–15), but it was not a condition of the actual transfer of ownership. Only by burying Sara (verse 19) did the land become established as Avraham's burial site (verse 20) and did the neighbors lose their right to protest such use of the land. (A burial site increases foot traffic. [Apparently, according to Haamek Davar, this was not known to be a burial site hitherto.])

Why didn't Avraham make the land use a stipulation of the transaction itself? That would immediately prevent anyone from protesting such use! And it's not like it was a secret: the whole town knew he was out to buy a burial site.

  • I don't understand the difference between burying one or more people. Following the tradition, the site was already a burial site, Adam and Chava was already buried at this place, no? – kouty Jul 12 '16 at 6:22
  • The Netsiv said that Avraham wanted to be allowed for all kind of uses. Burial site makes no noise and no trafic. So if he buy the site for cemetery, he cannot make a discothec. The contrary is not a problem. Have I understand the Natsiv? We can say also, not according to the Natsiv, that the site was already a burial site since Adam and Chava was already buried in Mearat Hamachpela – kouty Jul 12 '16 at 6:27
  • @kouty re your first comment, according to Haamek Davar, people were unaware Adam and Chava were there. And re your second, he notes that a gravesite is a kind of place people would object to: lemme edit that in…. – msh210 Jul 12 '16 at 13:23
  • I see thank you. "וא״כ היה עוד בידו למחות מלעשות אחוזת קבר" The loshon is hard to understand, why not "ואם כן לא היה עוד בידו למחות מלעשות אחוזת קבר"? – kouty Jul 12 '16 at 13:42
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    He is probably saying that he wanted maximal rights to the land. If he purchased it with a stipulation of purpose - that would have been limiting. If he didn't subsequently use it as a burial site, that would have caused zoning problems to do so later, so he did both to maximize his rights to the land. – Yishai Jul 12 '16 at 13:42

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