The Number 400

The brilliance of our Torah scholars, never ceases to amaze me. The purchase of Me’arat Hamachpela for 400 shekels is mentioned in the Parsha.

The Keli Yakar noted two other places in Tanach, where the number 400 was mentioned, and looked for a common denominator. He also realized that our first example concerned Efron, the seller of the cave.

He felt that the name, Efron, was an indication of his nature. He was called רע עין, or, of a bad eye. This is like Ayin Hara, the evil eye, indicating that Efron was very jealous, and not a good person at all.

The second time the number 400 appears, is concerning Eisav, and the 400 men, he brought, to wage war with Yakov. Needless to say, Eisav had Efron’s negative traits, and even surpassed him.

The third example of 400, referred to the size of David’s army. He used his men to protect a horrible person, named Naval. He was married to the saintly and beautiful, Avigail. Naval was extremely miserly, and refused to feed David’s soldiers, or show any gratitude.

His wife compensated David for her husband’s bad behavior. She brought Donkeys laden with food. Naval died of a heart attack ten days later, and David later married Avigail.

It is very impressive to see the vast knowledge of the Keli Yakar, and how he managed to make that connection to the number 400. There is so much joy to be found in the study of Torah. And it is available to everyone, to partake of it.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at