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Genesis 23

23
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.

Genesis 23

23
1Sarah lived to be 127, 2and then she died at Kiriath-arba (or Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham went in#23:2. “Went in”: possibly into the tent where the body lay. to mourn her death and to weep over her.
3Then Abraham got up from beside his wife's body and went to talk with the leaders of the Hittites. 4“I am a foreigner, a stranger living among you,” he said. “Please let me buy a burial site so I can bury my dead wife.”
5The Hittites answered Abraham, telling him, 6“Listen, my lord, you are a highly-respected prince among us. Choose the very best of our burial sites to bury your dead. None of us will say no to you.”
7Abraham got up and bowed low before the Hittites, the local people, 8and said to them, “If you agree to help me bury my dead, listen to my proposal. Could you please ask Ephron, son of Zohar, 9to sell me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him, down at the end of his field. I'm willing to pay him the full price here in your presence so I can have my own burial site.”
10Ephron the Hittite was sitting there among his people. He replied to Abraham in the presence of the Hittites who were there at the town gate. 11“No, my lord,” he said. “Please listen to me. I give you the field and the cave that is there. I give it to you and my people are my witnesses. Please go and bury your dead.”
12Abraham bowed low before the local people, 13and said to Ephron so everyone could hear, “Please listen to me. I will pay the price for the field. Take the money and let me go and bury my dead there.”
14Ephron replied to Abraham, telling him, 15“My lord, please listen to me. The land is worth four hundred pieces of silver.#23:15. “Four hundred pieces of silver”: it is generally agreed that this was an exorbitant amount. But what's that between us? Go and bury your dead.”
16Abraham accepted Ephron's offer. Abraham weighed out and gave to Ephron the four hundred pieces of silver he'd mentioned, using the standard weights used by merchants, and with the Hittites acting as witnesses.
17So the property was legally transferred. It comprised Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre, both the field and the cave there, as well as all the trees in the field, and all the area up to the existing boundaries. 18This all became Abraham's property, and the transaction was witnessed by the Hittites who were there at the town gate.
19Then Abraham went and buried Sarah his wife in the cave in the field at Machpelah near Mamre (or Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20Ownership of the field and the cave there was transferred from the Hittites to Abraham to serve as his burial place.