Genesis 23 - Outline of Genesis (MENU page)
23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old:
[these were] the years of the life of Sarah.
23:2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same [is] Hebron in the land of Canaan:
and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
23:3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,
23:4 I [am] a stranger and a sojourner with you:
{Heb 11:9,10}
give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
23:5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
23:6 Hear us, my lord:
thou [art] a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead;
none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
23:7 And Abraham stood up,
and bowed himself to the people of the land, [even] to the children of Heth.
23:8 And he communed with them, saying,
If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight;
hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
23:9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which [is] in the end of his field;
for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.
23:10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth:
and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth,
[even] of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,
23:11 Nay, my lord, hear me:
the field give I thee, and the cave that [is] therein, I give it thee;
in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
23:12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.
23:13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying,
But if thou [wilt give it], I pray thee, hear me:
I will give thee money for the field; take [it] of me, and I will bury my dead there.
23:14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,
23:15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land [is worth] four hundred shekels of silver;
what [is] that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron;
and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth,
four hundred shekels of silver, current [money] with the merchant.
23:17 And the field of Ephron, which [was] in Machpelah, which [was] before Mamre,
the field, and the cave which [was] therein, and all the trees that [were] in the field,
that [were] in all the borders round about, were made sure
23:18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth,
before all that went in at the gate of his city.
23:19 And after this,
Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre:
the same [is] Hebron in the land of Canaan.
23:20 And the field, and the cave that [is] therein,
were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.
The importance of this transaction is evident, since so much text is devoted to it.
Abraham purchased a small piece of property in the land which God promised to give him.
Observations and Lessons:
  1. The man of faith walks honestly toward 'them that are without' (ie., outside of the Faith).
    cp. Rom 13:8; 2Cor 8:21; 1The 4:12
  2. The man of faith does all in anticipation of the resurrection. cp. Heb 11:13-16; Mat 22:31,32
    God had promised Abraham the land of Canaan. Although he spent his lifetime as 'a stranger and pilgrim' in that land, Abraham knew by faith that God's promise was sure: he would take possession at the resurrection. This explains -
    1. his careful choice of a burial place -
      His neighbors thought any grave would do (cp. v.6). But where are their graves? Lost beneath the shifting sands. The Cave of Machpelah is a landmark to this day. Abraham purchased a 'sleeping' place in the land for Sarah and for himself. They would rest secure that God would secure the rest of the land.
    2. his careful payment for this possession -
      His neighbors would have honored him with a gift of any tomb, for, to them he was 'a mighty prince' (v.6). But Abraham had learned to be indebted to no man. His provider was the Possessor of heaven and earth (cp. 14:22,23). Therefore, ''while he would pay them for Machpelah, he would look to Him for Canaan.'' [CHM]
      In the custom of the day, the buyer would bargain from the seller's stated price, but Abraham was quick to pay the full price, in cash. His confidence in the resurrection was motivation to do his business in complete openness and honesty. (cp. 1Joh 3:2,3)

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