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FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 23: The Death & Burial of Sarah

 

v.1,2 Sarah Dies

v.3-7 Abraham requests to buy a tomb from the Hittites

v.8-11 He requests a particular cave and is offered it free

v.12-16 Abraham insists on paying for it

v.17-20 He buys the field & cave and buries Sarah

 

 

v.1,2 Sarah Dies

 

v.1 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old.

v.2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

 

[Notes: The start of the end of this couple and the cause of negotiations that follow.]

 

 

v.3-7 Abraham requests to buy a tomb from the Hittites

 

v.3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said,

v.4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”

v.5 The Hittites replied to Abraham,

v.6 “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”

v.7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites.

 

[Notes: Hebron, south of Jerusalem, is the home of an ethnic group called the Hittites at this time. It is clear [v.6] that Abraham who is very rich is highly respected in the land and so they agree to let him have the best of their tombs.]

 

 

v.8-11 He requests a particular cave and is offered it free

v.8,9 He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.”

v.10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city.

v.11 “No, my lord,” he said. “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 presence of my people. Bury your dead.”

 

[Notes: For an undisclosed reason, Abraham has his eye on a particular cave that has been marked out for a future tomb, and offers to buy it. The owner offers to give it to him plus the field in which it is sited.]

 

 

v.12-16 Abraham insists on paying for it

 

v.12,13 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”

v.14 Ephron answered Abraham,

v.15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”

v.16 Abraham agreed to Ephron's terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.

 

[Notes: Abraham declines this kind offer, insisting on paying for it and so they agree a price.]

 

 

v.17-20 He buys the field & cave and buries Sarah

 

v.17,18 So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city.

v.19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan.

v.20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

 

[Notes: Thus the field was bought and owned by Abraham and Sarah was buried there. The chapter really reveals the esteem in which Abraham is held by the locals.]

                

   

Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 23

  

1. The death of Sarah confronts us with the anguish of losing those closest to us, and nothing diminishes that, although God's grace can help us through it.

2. Abraham goes to some effort to buy land to bury Sarah; it is a way of honouring her. When you have walked decades with your partner, the years earn respect, loyalty and honour, built on that foundation of love.

   

     

Continue to Chapter 24