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Genesis 23

23
Death and Burial of Sarah
1Sarah lived a hundred and twenty-seven years; this was the length of the life of Sarah. 2Sarah died in Kiriath-arba #This comment indicates that the text was written at a very early date, before Israel entered the promised land, because afterward Hebron was well known. Not only was it conspicuous in Joshua’s and Caleb’s day, but it became a “city of refuge.” Besides all this, David was king in Hebron for seven years.(that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3Then Abraham stood up before his dead [wife’s body], and spoke to the #The Hittites, along with the Egyptians and the Assyrians, were among the great powers in the ancient Middle East. They were famous for their fine horses, many of which were acquired by Solomon through trade. They also discovered and held secret the process of smelting iron when iron was treasured almost as much as gold. These Hittites were of Indo-European origin. The relationship, if any, between these Anatolian Hittites and the descendants of Canaan’s son, Heth, is unclear.sons of Heth (Hittites), saying, 4“I am a stranger and a sojourner (resident alien) among you; give (sell) me property for a burial place among you so that I may bury my dead [in the proper manner].” 5The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6“Listen to us, my lord; you are a prince of God [a mighty prince] among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave or hinder you from burying your dead [wife].” 7So Abraham stood up and bowed to the people of the land, the Hittites. 8And Abraham said to them, “If you are willing to grant my dead a [proper] burial, listen to me, and plead with Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9so that he may give (sell) me the cave of Machpelah which he owns—it is at the end of his field; let him give it to me here in your presence for the full price as a burial site [which I may keep forever among you].” 10Now Ephron was present there among the sons of Heth; so within the hearing of all the sons of Heth and all who were entering the gate of his city, Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham, saying, 11“No, my lord, hear me; I #This was not an offer to give the land to Abraham as a gift, but part of the negotiating process of the time.give you the [entire] field, and I also give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the men of my people I give (sell) it to you; bury your dead [there].” 12Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. 13He said to Ephron in the presence of the people of the land, “If you will only please listen to me and accept my offer. I will give you the price of the field; accept it from me and I will bury my dead there.” 14Ephron replied to Abraham, 15“My lord, listen to me. The land [you seek] is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that between you and me? So bury your dead.” 16So Abraham listened to Ephron [and agreed to his terms]; and he weighed out for Ephron the [amount of] silver which he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
17So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre (Hebron)—the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field and in all its borders around it—were deeded over [legally] 18to Abraham as his possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who were entering at the gate of his city. 19After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of #Here were buried Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah (Gen 49:31; 50:13).Machpelah to the east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20The field and the cave in it were deeded over to Abraham by the Hittites as a [permanent] possession and burial place.
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Purchase of a Burial Plot.#The occasion for purchasing the land is the need for a burial site for Sarah, for it would be unthinkable to bury Sarah outside of the promised land. One of the two great promises to Abraham, that of progeny, has been fulfilled (21:1–7). And now the promise of land is to be fulfilled, through a kind of down payment on the full possession that will take place only with the conquest under Joshua and during the reign of David. This purchase has been prepared for by Abimelech’s recognition of Abraham’s claim to the well at Beer-sheba (21:22–34). Among the ancestral stories this narrative is one of two that are entirely from the P source (chap. 17 being the other). The Priestly writers may have intended to encourage the generation of the exile to a renewed hope of repossessing their land. 1The span of Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years. 2She died in Kiriath-arba—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan, and Abraham proceeded to mourn and weep for her. 3Then he left the side of his deceased wife and addressed the Hittites:#The Hittites: in the Bible the term is applied to several different groups—inhabitants of the second-millennium Hittite empire in Asia Minor and northern Syria, residents of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms in northern Syria in the first part of the first millennium, and (following Assyrian terminology) the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine. The third group is meant here. 4“Although I am a resident alien#A resident alien: such a one would normally not have the right to own property. The importance of Abraham’s purchase of the field in Machpelah, which is worded in technical legal terms, lies in the fact that it gave his descendants their first, though small, land rights in the country that God had promised the patriarch they would one day inherit as their own. Abraham therefore insists on purchasing the field and not receiving it as a gift. among you, sell me from your holdings a burial place, that I may bury my deceased wife.”#Gn 33:19; Acts 7:16; Heb 11:9. 5The Hittites answered Abraham: “Please, 6sir, listen to us! You are a mighty leader among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial sites. None of us would deny you his burial ground for the burial of your dead.” 7Abraham, however, proceeded to bow low before the people of the land, the Hittites, 8and said to them: “If you will allow me room for burial of my dead, listen to me! Intercede for me with Ephron, son of Zohar, 9so that he will sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns; it is at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence at its full price for a burial place.”
10Now Ephron was sitting with the Hittites. So Ephron the Hittite replied to Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his city: 11“Please, sir, listen to me! I give you both the field and the cave in it; in the presence of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead!” 12But Abraham, after bowing low before the people of the land, 13addressed Ephron in the hearing of these men: “If only you would please listen to me! I will pay you the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14Ephron replied to Abraham, “Please, 15sir, listen to me! A piece of land worth four hundred shekels#Four hundred shekels: probably an exorbitant sum; Jeremiah (32:9) paid only seventeen shekels for his field in Anathoth, though the Babylonian invasion no doubt helped to reduce the price. of silver—what is that between you and me? Bury your dead!” 16#Acts 7:16. Abraham accepted Ephron’s terms; he weighed out to him the silver that Ephron had stipulated in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver at the current market value.#The current market value: the standard weight called a shekel varied according to time and place.
17#Gn 49:29–30. Thus Ephron’s field in Machpelah, facing Mamre, together with its cave and all the trees anywhere within its limits, was conveyed 18to Abraham by purchase in the presence of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of Ephron’s city. 19After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan. 20Thus the field with its cave was transferred from the Hittites to Abraham as a burial place.