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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.
23
Sarah Dies and Abraham Buys a Burial Ground
1Sarah lived to be 127 years old. 2She died in Hebron in the land of Canaan, and Abraham mourned her death.
3He left the place where his wife's body was lying, went to the Hittites, and said, 4#Heb 11.9, 13; Acts 7.16“I am a foreigner living here among you; sell me some land, so that I can bury my wife.”
5They answered, 6“Listen to us, sir. We look upon you as a mighty leader; bury your wife in the best grave that we have. Any of us would be glad to give you a grave, so that you can bury her.”
7Then Abraham bowed before them 8and said, “If you are willing to let me bury my wife here, please ask Ephron son of Zohar 9to sell me Machpelah Cave, which is near the edge of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for its full price, here in your presence, so that I can own it as a burial ground.”
10Ephron himself was sitting with the other Hittites at the meeting place at the city gate; he answered in the hearing of everyone there, 11“Listen, sir; I will give you the whole field and the cave that is in it. Here in the presence of my own people, I will give it to you, so that you can bury your wife.”
12But Abraham bowed before the Hittites 13and said to Ephron, so that everyone could hear, “May I ask you, please, to listen. I will buy the whole field. Accept my payment, and I will bury my wife there.”
14Ephron answered, 15“Sir, land worth only 400 pieces of silver — what is that between us? Bury your wife in it.” 16Abraham agreed and weighed out the amount that Ephron had mentioned in the hearing of the people — 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard weights used by the merchants.
17That is how the property which had belonged to Ephron at Machpelah, east of Mamre, became Abraham's. It included the field, the cave which was in it, and all the trees in the field up to the edge of the property. 18It was recognized as Abraham's property by all the Hittites who were there at the meeting.
19Then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in that cave in the land of Canaan. 20So the field which had belonged to the Hittites, and the cave in it, became the property of Abraham for a burial ground.