Friday, August 14, 2009

Brother Wenger explains how to bargain in the Middle East

6 months in Bible Lands

A.D. Wenger grows wiser by experience as the Mennonite evangelist travels through the middle east. He has several close calls, but always maintains his dignity and nonresistant stance, but not always his money. Everything he writes about is analyzed either from the teachings of Jesus, or stories from the Old Testament. When Abraham sought a suitable burial site for his wife Sarah, A.D. explains how it is done even thousands of years later. It made me remember our encounter with the camel jockey in Egypt who stole our 50 euros (I grabbed it back).
    "To one who has witnessed how how bargains are now made in Palestine, it is exceedingly interesting to read the 23rd chapter of Genesis and observe the manner of the bargain when Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah.

    Whenever you wish to buy anything and ask the price of the article the owner first praises you. He calls you master, lord, prince and other like names and says that he is your servant and will gladly give you anything in his possession. If you want to buy a piece of goods worth fifty dollars he will tell you just to take it, he will charge you nothing. Even the carriage drivers will do likewise and offer to take you anywhere for othing and with the greatest of pleasure.

    All this is a mere form of words preliminary to a sharp bargain. (Reminds me of our Congress.) The merchant would soon stop you if you should start away with his goods. The carriage driver would take you, but would charge you 3 or 4 prices afterward. Every time the price should be fixed beforehand. Finally you succeed in getting a price named which he will claim is so low that he is almost giving you the goods or hauling you for nothing as the case may be, but in reality is from two to five times the actual worth. The purchaser begins by offering a very small sum and then raises the offer as the dealer lowers the price. After much time and many words have been wasted they finish the bargain."
He goes on (p. 317) to explain how Abraham bought the cave from Ephron the Hittite. Abraham did not drive a hard bargain Brother A.D. says because he was in deep sorrow, but the price was agreed upon before burial.

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