Genesis Chapter 23
1 Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years. This was the length of Sarah's life.
2 Sarah died in Kiriath Arba (also called Hebron), in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
3 Abraham rose up from before his dead and spoke to the children of Heth, saying,
4 "I am a stranger and a foreigner living with you. Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."
5 The children of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,
6 "Hear us, my lord. You are a prince of God amongst us. Bury your dead in the best of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb. Bury your dead."
7 Abraham rose up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, to the children of Heth.
8 He talked with them, saying, "If you agree that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
9 that he may sell me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the end of his field. For the full price let him sell it to me amongst you as a possession for a burial place."
10 Now Ephron was sitting in the middle of the children of Heth. Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the children of Heth, even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying,
11 "No, my lord, hear me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the children of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead."
12 Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land.
13 He spoke to Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, "But if you will, please hear me. I will give the price of the field. Take it from me, and I will bury my dead there."
14 Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him,
15 "My lord, listen to me. What is a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver between me and you? Therefore bury your dead."
16 Abraham listened to Ephron. Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the current merchants' standard.
17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all of its borders, were deeded
18 to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.
19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan.
20 The field, and the cave that is in it, were deeded to Abraham by the children of Heth as a possession for a burial place.
- Verse 15 (Shekel)
- A shekel is about 10 grams, so 400 shekels would be about 4 kg. or 8.8 pounds.
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Genesis Chapter 23 Guide
We now see Abraham in the midst of personal sorrow, which reveals his character in a remarkable way.
Sarah, who had ever been to him a princess, was now taken from his side, which meant the loss of the strongest human prop to Abraham's faith. It must be remembered that she had been with him along the whole pathway of obedience from Ur of the Chaldees. She had shared his hours of darkness and his hours of light. Doubtless at times she had been a cause of fear and trembling to him, and his very love for her had brought him to some deflections from faith. But far more often her comradeship had strengthened him.
When she died, Abraham is seen in his action as a man full of the dignity that comes from faith. He was first of all a mourner, shedding the tears which expressed the sorrow and loneliness of his life. Faith never kills affection, and the man was keenly alive to the loss he had sustained.
Yet faith never allows sorrow to overwhelm. He "rose up from before his dead." His next action was definitely one of faith. He did not take Sarah to Ur, but buried her in the land which God had given to him. That faith operated, moreover, in the method he now followed. He was willing to receive the land as a gift from God, but would not receive part of God's gift as a gift from the sons of Heth. Abraham's first actual possession in the land, therefore, was a grave. This in itself is a teaching and a prophecy. God begins where man ends. The sorrows of life reveal a man's true character as perhaps nothing else can. Faith weeps beside the dead and then moves on to fulfilment of duty as it puts a check on sorrow. Faith takes hold of earth's greatest despair, death, and makes it the occasion of a possession which holds within itself all the future.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.