Shabbat Parashat Vayeira | 5769
Political Negotiations – Yes or No?
Parashat HaShavuahHarav Yosef Carmel
This week, as last, we find Avraham negotiating with leaders, this time, Avimelech, the Plishti. He approached Avraham, seeking a peace treaty, stating: “Hashem is with you in all you do” (Bereishit 21:22). The section concludes with Avraham establishing a home in B’er Sheva, where he called out in the Name of Hashem (i.e., a spiritual center). Was this agreement a positive one? What caused Avimelech to seek a treaty?
The Rashbam says that the miracles for Avraham motivated Avimelech. However, one can also identify a political purpose. The previous story tells about Avraham sending away Hagar (the daughter of Paroh) and Yishmael. This certainly cooled relations between Avraham and the Egyptians. The Plishtim, rivals of the Egyptians for the international route through their land, grabbed the opportunity to strengthen their ties with Avraham. As a result, Avraham advanced his monotheism movement in the south of
Despite the accomplishment, the Rashbam strongly criticizes Avraham. He made a peace treaty with his descendants’ future enemies, thus delaying his descendants’ ability to take over the Land when the time came. Therefore, Hashem made things difficult for Avraham (the akeida). The Rashbam strengthens his thesis with a midrash. The seven months that the aron was under Plishti control, the seven wars in which the Plishtim defeated the Jews, and the seven tzaddikim who thereby died correspond to the seven sheep that Avraham presented to Avimelech during their treaty. These were terrible consequences for Avraham’s descendants from a deal that, despite containing important religious achievements, was improper.
The Ramban, though, viewed this episode positively, as an example of Israelite relations with kings that allow the former to stay in their Land. How can the Ramban answer the Rashbam’s arguments? We have shown elsewhere that the Ramban made the following assumption that is supported by modern archeological discovery. The Plishtim of the patriarchs’ time were not the nation who later fought with
Let us pray that Hashem will lead the hearts and actions of our leaders, who are involved in international negotiations, to avoid agreements that contradict our mitzva to control the Land, as the famous passage of the Ramban confirms we are obligated to do.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend
This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of George Weinstein
Gershon ben Yehudah Mayer, a lover of the Jewish Nation Torah and Land.
As well as
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.