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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 Dies
1Sarah lived to be 127 years old. 2She died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham was very sad and cried because of her. 3After a while Abraham got up from the side of his wife’s body. And he went to talk to the Hittites. He said, 4“I am only a stranger and a foreigner here. Sell me some of your land so that I can bury my dead wife.”
5The Hittites answered Abraham, 6“Sir, you are a great leader among us. You may have the best place we have to bury your dead. You may have any of our burying places that you want. None of us will stop you from burying your dead wife.”
7Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the Hittites. 8Abraham said to them, “If you truly want to help me bury my dead wife here, speak to Ephron for me. He is the son of Zohar. 9Ask him to sell me the cave of Machpelah. It is at the edge of his field. I will pay him the full price. You can be the witnesses that I am buying it as a burial place.”
10Ephron was sitting among the Hittites at the city gate. Ephron answered Abraham, 11“No, sir. I will give you the land and the cave that is in it. I will give it to you with these people as witnesses. Bury your dead wife.”
12Then Abraham bowed down before the Hittites. 13He said to Ephron before all the people, “Please let me pay you the full price for the field. Accept my money, and I will bury my dead there.”
14Ephron answered Abraham, 15“Sir, the land is worth ten pounds of silver. But I won’t argue with you over the price. Take the land, and bury your dead wife.”
16Abraham agreed and paid Ephron in front of the Hittite witnesses. Abraham weighed out the full price: ten pounds of silver. They counted the weight as the traders normally did.
17-18So Ephron’s field in Machpelah, east of Mamre, was sold. Abraham became the owner of the field, the cave in it and all the trees that were in the field. The sale was made at the city gate, with the Hittites as witnesses. 19After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave. It was in that field of Machpelah, near Mamre. (Mamre was later called Hebron in the land of Canaan.) 20Abraham bought the field and the cave on it from the Hittites. He used it as a burying place.