Have heard some commentary on this, but nothing detailed.
Why did the author of Genesis spend so much time on Abraham's purchase of Ephron's field? Maybe more to the point, why was the story important enough to warrant the space given to it?
Also, I have heard a couple of times that Ephron was rather ripping poor Abraham off. Is this true? If so, how do we know this? From some subtlety in the story or idiom in the language? From some archeological knowledge of land prices of the day? Thanks. References would be appreciated.
Although my question relates to the whole chapter, here, by request, is the part that deals with the actual negotiation between Abraham and Ephron (NKJV):
... and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the presence of the sons of Heth, all who entered at the gate of his city, saying, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of the sons of my people. I give it to you. Bury your dead!”
12 Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land;13 and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there.”
14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15 “My lord, listen to me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver. What is that between you and me? So bury your dead.” 16 And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants.
17 So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded 18 to Abraham ...