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Genesis 23

23
1When Sarah was an hundreth twentie and seuen yeere olde (so long liued she). 2Then Sarah dyed in Kiriath-arba: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. and Abraham came to mourne for Sarah and to weepe for her. 3Then Abraham rose vp from the sight of his corps, and talked with the Hittites, saying, 4I am a stranger, and a forreiner among you, giue me a possession of buriall with you, that I may burie my dead out of my sight. 5Then the Hittites answered Abraham, saying vnto him, 6Heare vs, my lorde: thou art a prince of God among vs: in the chiefest of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of vs shall forbid thee his sepulchre, but thou mayest bury thy dead therein. 7Then Abraham stoode vp, and bowed him selfe before the people of the land of the Hittites. 8And he communed with them, saying, If it be your minde, that I shall bury my dead out of my sight, heare me, and intreate for me to Ephron the sonne of Zohar, 9That he would giue me ye caue of Machpelah, which he hath in the ende of his field: that he would giue it me for as much money as it is worth, for a possession to bury in among you. 10(For Ephron dwelt among the Hittites) Then Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of all the Hittites that went in at the gates of his citie, saying, 11No, my Lord, heare me: the fielde giue I thee, and the caue, that therein is, I giue it thee: euen in the presence of the sonnes of my people giue I it thee, to bury thy dead. 12Then Abraham bowed himselfe before the people of the land, 13And spake vnto Ephron in the audience of the people of the countrey, saying, Seeing thou wilt giue it, I pray thee, heare me, I will giue the price of the fielde: receiue it of me, and I will bury my dead there. 14Ephron then answered Abraham, saying vnto him, 15My lord, hearken vnto me: ye land is worth foure hundreth shekels of siluer: what is that betweene me and thee? bury therefore thy dead. 16So Abraham hearkened vnto Ephron, and Abraham weyed to Ephron the siluer, which he had named, in the audience of the Hittites, euen foure hundreth siluer shekels of currant money among marchants. 17So the fielde of Ephron which was in Machpelah, and ouer against Mamre, euen the field and the caue that was therein, and all the trees that were in the fielde, which were in all the borders round about, was made sure 18Vnto Abraham for a possession, in ye sight of the Hittites, euen of all that went in at the gates of his citie. 19And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the caue of the fielde of Machpelah ouer against Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. 20Thus the fielde and the caue, that is therein, was made sure vnto Abraham for a possession of buriall by the Hittites.
23
The Death of Sarah
1 Sarah lived 127 years.#tn Heb “And the years of Sarah were one hundred years and twenty years and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah.” 2 Then she#tn Heb “Sarah.” The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“she”) for stylistic reasons. died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.#sn Mourn…weep. The description here is of standard mourning rites (see K. A. Kitchen, NBD3 149-50). They would have been carried out in the presence of the corpse, probably in Sarah’s tent. So Abraham came in to mourn; then he rose up to go and bury his dead (v. 3).
3 Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife#tn Heb “And Abraham arose from upon the face of his dead.” and said to the sons of Heth,#tn Some translate the Hebrew term “Heth” as “Hittites” here (also in vv. 5, 7, 10, 16, 18, 20), but this gives the impression that these people were the classical Hittites of Anatolia. However, there is no known connection between these sons of Heth, apparently a Canaanite group (see Gen 10:15), and the Hittites of Asia Minor. See H. A. Hoffner, Jr., “Hittites,” Peoples of the Old Testament World, 152-53. 4 “I am a temporary settler#tn Heb “a resident alien and a settler.” among you. Grant#tn Heb “give,” which is used here as an idiom for “sell” (see v. 9). The idiom reflects the polite bartering that was done in the culture at the time. me ownership#tn Or “possession.” of a burial site among you so that I may#tn Following the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose. bury my dead.”#tn Heb “bury my dead out of my sight.” The last phrase “out of my sight” has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
5 The sons of Heth answered Abraham,#tn Heb “answered Abraham saying to him.” 6 “Listen, sir,#tn Heb “Hear us, my lord.” you are a mighty prince#tn Heb “prince of God.” The divine name may be used here as a means of expressing the superlative, “mighty prince.” The word for “prince” probably means “tribal chief” here. See M. H. Gottstein, “Nasi’ ‘elohim (Gen 23:6),” VT 3 (1953) 298-99; and D. W. Thomas, “Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew,” VT 3 (1953) 215-16. among us! You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb to prevent you#tn The phrase “to prevent you” has been added in the translation for stylistic reasons. from burying your dead.”
7 Abraham got up and bowed down to the local people,#tn Heb “to the people of the land” (also in v. 12). the sons of Heth. 8 Then he said to them, “If you agree#tn Heb “If it is with your purpose.” The Hebrew noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) here has the nuance “purpose” or perhaps “desire” (see BDB 661 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ). that I may bury my dead,#tn Heb “bury my dead out of my sight.” The last phrase “out of my sight” has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons. then hear me out.#tn Or “hear me.” Ask#tn Heb “intercede for me with.” Ephron the son of Zohar 9 if he will sell#tn Heb “give.” This is used here (also a second time later in this verse) as an idiom for “sell”; see the note on the word “grant” in v. 4. me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly#tn Heb “in your presence.” for the full price,#tn Heb “silver.” so that I may own it as a burial site.”
10 (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite#tn Or perhaps “Hittite,” but see the note on the name “Heth” in v. 3. replied to Abraham in the hearing#tn Heb “ears.” By metonymy the “ears” stand for the presence or proximity (i.e., within earshot) of the persons named. of the sons of Heth – before all who entered the gate#sn On the expression all who entered the gate see E. A. Speiser, “‘Coming’ and ‘Going’ at the City Gate,” BASOR 144 (1956): 20-23; and G. Evans, “‘Coming’ and ‘Going’ at the City Gate: A Discussion of Professor Speiser’s Paper,” BASOR 150 (1958): 28-33. of his city – 11 “No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell#tn Heb “give.” The perfect tense has here a present nuance; this is a formal, legally binding declaration. Abraham asked only for a burial site/cave within the field; Ephron agrees to sell him the entire field. you both the field and the cave that is in it.#tn The Hebrew text adds “to you I give [i.e., sell] it.” This is redundant in English and has not been translated for stylistic reasons. In the presence of my people#tn Heb “in the presence of the sons of my people.” I sell it to you. Bury your dead.”
12 Abraham bowed before the local people 13 and said to Ephron in their hearing, “Hear me, if you will. I pay#tn Heb “give.” to you the price#tn Heb “silver.” of the field. Take it from me so that I may#tn After the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose or result. bury my dead there.”
14 Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15 “Hear me, my lord. The land is worth#tn The word “worth” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. 400 pieces of silver,#sn Four hundred pieces of silver. The standards for weighing money varied considerably in the ancient Near East, but the generally accepted weight for the shekel is 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce). This makes the weight of silver here 4.6 kilograms, or 160 ounces (about 10 pounds). but what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.”
16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price#tn Heb “listened to Ephron.” and weighed#tn Heb “and Abraham weighed out.” out for him#tn Heb “to Ephron.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons. the price#tn Heb “silver.” that Ephron had quoted#tn Heb “that he had spoken.” The referent (Ephron) has been specified here in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons. in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard measurement at the time.#tn Heb “passing for the merchant.” The final clause affirms that the measurement of silver was according to the standards used by the merchants of the time.
17 So Abraham secured#tn Heb “And it was conveyed.” The recipient, Abraham (mentioned in the Hebrew text at the beginning of v. 18) has been placed here in the translation for stylistic reasons. Ephron’s field in Machpelah, next to Mamre, including the field, the cave that was in it, and all the trees that were in the field and all around its border, 18 as his property in the presence of the sons of Heth before all who entered the gate of Ephron’s city.#tn Heb “his city”; the referent (Ephron) has been specified in the translation for clarity.sn See G. M. Tucker, “The Legal Background of Genesis 23,” JBL 85 (1966):77-84; and M. R. Lehmann, “Abraham’s Purchase of Machpelah and Hittite Law,” BASOR 129 (1953): 15-18.
19 After this Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah next to Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So Abraham secured the field and the cave that was in it as a burial site#tn Heb “possession of a grave.” from the sons of Heth.