Friday, November 02, 2007

Chayyei Sarah: The Gematria of Ephron

Baal HaTurim makes an interesting comment on Bereishit 23:16:
טז וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָהָם, אֶל-עֶפְרוֹן, וַיִּשְׁקֹל אַבְרָהָם לְעֶפְרֹן, אֶת-הַכֶּסֶף אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר בְּאָזְנֵי בְנֵי-חֵת--אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שֶׁקֶל כֶּסֶף, עֹבֵר לַסֹּחֵר. 16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
As is famous, Ephron here is spelled chaser vav, because of his behavior of insisting on this money. Thus, he is chaser. Baal HaTurim adds that Ephron spelled without a vav is the gematria 400, which is the full amount Avraham paid. In turn, this 400 is the gematria of ayin hara'ah, by which Baal HaTurim means stinginess, not some mystical "evil eye," as one might accidentally misread it.

Baal HaTurim, of course, is famous for these gematrias. And of course, with enough wiggle room, you can achieve any result with gematrias. Regardless, it makes a neat package. And furthermore, whether or not a given gematria is legitimate, it sheds light on the commentator's approach to the theme of the text.

Here, Ephron insisted on the money, and in the end, it had to be אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שֶׁקֶל כֶּסֶף עֹבֵר לַסֹּחֵר. And it was to be full money. As Avraham promised earlier in pasuk 9, בְּכֶסֶף מָלֵא יִתְּנֶנָּה לִּי.

Thus, he was stingy, and required exactly the price laid out, not less. But while he got when was coming to him, stinginess is a trait which reduces a person. He thus because Ephron without the vav, exactly 400, no more, as a result of the trait with gematria stinginess.

1 comment:

Hebrew Scholar said...

Wow! Thanks for this amazing item of Hebrew Gematria on the spelling of Ephron and ayin hara'ah. The Gematria of Ayin hara'ah would only be 400 if Ayin was spelled chaser yod.


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