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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
Sarah’s Burial
1Now Sarah lived 127 years; these were all the years of her life. 2Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron#Gn 35:27; Jos 14:15; 15:13; 21:11; Jdg 1:10) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
3When Abraham got up from beside his dead wife, he spoke to the Hethites: 4“I am an alien residing among you.#Gn 17:8; Lv 25:23; 1Ch 29:15; Ps 39:12; 105:12; Heb 11:9,13 Give me burial property among you so that I can bury my dead.”#23:4 Lit dead from before me#Gn 49:30; Ac 7:16
5The Hethites replied to Abraham,#23:5 Lit Abraham, saying to him 6“Listen to us, my lord. You are a prince of God#23:6 Or a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in our finest burial place.#23:6 Or finest graves None of us will withhold from you his burial place for burying your dead.”
7Then Abraham rose and bowed down to the Hethites, the people of the land. 8He said to them, “If you are willing for me to bury my dead, listen to me and ask Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9to give me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him give it to me in your presence, for the full price, as burial property.”
10Ephron was sitting among the Hethites. So in the hearing#23:10 Lit ears, also in vv. 13,16 of all the Hethites who came to the gate of his city,#Gn 34:20,24; Ru 4:1 Ephron the Hethite answered Abraham: 11“No, my lord. Listen to me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the sight#23:11 Lit in the eyes of the sons of my people. Bury your dead.”
12Abraham bowed down to the people of the land 13and said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “Listen to me, if you please. Let me pay the price of the field. Accept it from me, and let me bury my dead there.”
14Ephron answered Abraham and said to him, 15“My lord, listen to me. Land worth four hundred shekels of silver#Ex 30:13; Ezk 45:12  — what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16Abraham agreed with Ephron, and Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver that he had agreed to in the hearing of the Hethites: four hundred standard shekels#23:16 Lit 400 shekels passing to the merchant of silver.#Jr 32:9; Zch 11:12 17So Ephron’s field#Gn 25:9; 49:29–32; 50:13 at Machpelah near Mamre — the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the boundaries of the field — became 18Abraham’s possession in the sight of all the Hethites who came to the gate of his city. 19After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field at Machpelah near Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20The field with its cave passed from the Hethites to Abraham#Jr 32:10–14 as burial property.