Sarah’s Death and Burial 23 1 Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died at d Kiriath-arba (that is, e Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, 1 4 f “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; g give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5 The Hittites answered Abraham, 6 “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God 1 among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” 7 Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. 8 And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.” 10 Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who h went in at the gate of his city, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” 12 Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. 13 And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred i shekels 1 of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham j weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants. 17 So k the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over 18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 The field and the cave that is in it l were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.
23 1 וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה ׃ 2 וַתָּ֣מָת שָׂרָ֗ה בְּקִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע הִ֥וא חֶבְר֖וֹן בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ ׃ 3 וַיָּ֙קָם֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י מֵת֑וֹ וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֶל ־ בְּנֵי ־ חֵ֖ת לֵאמֹֽר ׃ 4 גֵּר ־ וְתוֹשָׁ֥ב אָנֹכִ֖י עִמָּכֶ֑ם תְּנ֨וּ לִ֤י אֲחֻזַּת ־ קֶ֙בֶר֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם וְאֶקְבְּרָ֥ה מֵתִ֖י מִלְּפָנָֽי ׃ 5 וַיַּעֲנ֧וּ בְנֵי ־ חֵ֛ת אֶת ־ אַבְרָהָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֥ר לֽוֹ ׃ 6 שְׁמָעֵ֣נוּ ׀ אֲדֹנִ֗י נְשִׂ֨יא אֱלֹהִ֤ים אַתָּה֙ בְּתוֹכֵ֔נוּ בְּמִבְחַ֣ר קְבָרֵ֔ינוּ קְבֹ֖ר אֶת ־ מֵתֶ֑ךָ אִ֣ישׁ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ אֶת ־ קִבְר֛וֹ לֹֽא ־ יִכְלֶ֥ה מִמְּךָ֖ מִקְּבֹ֥ר מֵתֶֽךָ ׃ 7 וַיָּ֧קָם אַבְרָהָ֛ם וַיִּשְׁתַּ֥חוּ לְעַם ־ הָאָ֖רֶץ לִבְנֵי ־ חֵֽת ׃ 8 וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אִתָּ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר אִם ־ יֵ֣שׁ אֶֽת ־ נַפְשְׁכֶ֗ם לִקְבֹּ֤ר אֶת ־ מֵתִי֙ מִלְּפָנַ֔י שְׁמָע֕וּנִי וּפִגְעוּ ־ לִ֖י בְּעֶפְר֥וֹן בֶּן ־ צֹֽחַר ׃ 9 וְיִתֶּן ־ לִ֗י אֶת ־ מְעָרַ֤ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁר ־ ל֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֖ר בִּקְצֵ֣ה שָׂדֵ֑הוּ בְּכֶ֨סֶף מָלֵ֜א יִתְּנֶ֥נָּה לִ֛י בְּתוֹכְכֶ֖ם לַאֲחֻזַּת ־ קָֽבֶר ׃ 10 וְעֶפְר֥וֹן יֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּת֣וֹךְ בְּנֵי ־ חֵ֑ת וַיַּעַן֩ עֶפְר֨וֹן הַחִתִּ֤י אֶת ־ אַבְרָהָם֙ בְּאָזְנֵ֣י בְנֵי ־ חֵ֔ת לְכֹ֛ל בָּאֵ֥י שַֽׁעַר ־ עִיר֖וֹ לֵאמֹֽר ׃ 11 לֹֽא ־ אֲדֹנִ֣י שְׁמָעֵ֔נִי הַשָּׂדֶה֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לָ֔ךְ וְהַמְּעָרָ֥ה אֲשֶׁר ־ בּ֖וֹ לְךָ֣ נְתַתִּ֑יהָ לְעֵינֵ֧י בְנֵי ־ עַמִּ֛י נְתַתִּ֥יהָ לָּ֖ךְ קְבֹ֥ר מֵתֶֽךָ ׃ 12 וַיִּשְׁתַּ֙חוּ֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י עַ֥ם הָאָֽרֶץ ׃ 13 וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר אֶל ־ עֶפְר֜וֹן בְּאָזְנֵ֤י עַם ־ הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אַ֛ךְ אִם ־ אַתָּ֥ה ל֖וּ שְׁמָעֵ֑נִי נָתַ֜תִּי כֶּ֤סֶף הַשָּׂדֶה֙ קַ֣ח מִמֶּ֔נִּי וְאֶקְבְּרָ֥ה אֶת ־ מֵתִ֖י שָֽׁמָּה ׃ 14 וַיַּ֧עַן עֶפְר֛וֹן אֶת ־ אַבְרָהָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֥ר לֽוֹ ׃ 15 אֲדֹנִ֣י שְׁמָעֵ֔נִי אֶרֶץ֩ אַרְבַּ֨ע מֵאֹ֧ת שֶֽׁקֶל ־ כֶּ֛סֶף בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵֽינְךָ֖ מַה ־ הִ֑וא וְאֶת ־ מֵתְךָ֖ קְבֹֽר ׃ 16 וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע אַבְרָהָם֮ אֶל ־ עֶפְרוֹן֒ וַיִּשְׁקֹ֤ל אַבְרָהָם֙ לְעֶפְרֹ֔ן אֶת ־ הַכֶּ֕סֶף אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר בְּאָזְנֵ֣י בְנֵי ־ חֵ֑ת אַרְבַּ֤ע מֵאוֹת֙ שֶׁ֣קֶל כֶּ֔סֶף עֹבֵ֖ר לַסֹּחֵֽר ׃ 17 וַיָּ֣קָם ׀ שְׂדֵ֣ה עֶפְר֗וֹן אֲשֶׁר֙ בַּמַּכְפֵּלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י מַמְרֵ֑א הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְהַמְּעָרָ֣ה אֲשֶׁר ־ בּ֔וֹ וְכָל ־ הָעֵץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּשָּׂדֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּכָל ־ גְּבֻל֖וֹ סָבִֽיב ׃ 18 לְאַבְרָהָ֥ם לְמִקְנָ֖ה לְעֵינֵ֣י בְנֵי ־ חֵ֑ת בְּכֹ֖ל בָּאֵ֥י שַֽׁעַר ־ עִירֽוֹ ׃ 19 וְאַחֲרֵי ־ כֵן֩ קָבַ֨ר אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֶת ־ שָׂרָ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֗וֹ אֶל ־ מְעָרַ֞ת שְׂדֵ֧ה הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֛ה עַל ־ פְּנֵ֥י מַמְרֵ֖א הִ֣וא חֶבְר֑וֹן בְּאֶ֖רֶץ כְּנָֽעַן ׃ 20 וַיָּ֨קָם הַשָּׂדֶ֜ה וְהַמְּעָרָ֧ה אֲשֶׁר ־ בּ֛וֹ לְאַבְרָהָ֖ם לַאֲחֻזַּת ־ קָ֑בֶר מֵאֵ֖ת בְּנֵי ־ חֵֽת ׃ ס
Abraham owns a plot of land Introduction Similar but different to previous chapter; grief and loss reveals your heart. Abraham doesn't want to move 'home' when Sarah dies, even to bury her. He is committed to this land since he trusts God's promise that it will be his and his descendants'. Another transitional event; cf the genealogy at the end of chapter 22. Last chapter about confidence in the promise of 'seed'; this time about confidence in promise of 'land' By the end, note Abraham has a 'rightful' heir and also a 'rightful' claim to land. cf Previous threats to land and to seed in the Abraham story 1. Sarah dies and Abraham weeps (v1-2) Remember that Sarah was a great, great woman. Sarah a paradigm for godly women, 1 Peter 3. 'Even the memory of the righteous is a blessing' Mourning and weeping is right, even for people of the promise. It's just that our grief is different. cf Paul's point in 1 Thessalonians 4. 2. Abraham buys land and buries Sarah (v3-20) Confidence in God's promise to give the land: He doesn't move 'home' to bury her. This land is the inheritance and he believes it. And cf Joseph and Jacob want to be buried here later. It can't ever be said that Abraham just received the land as charity; his dependence was on God, who gave him the means to purchase this parcel. Later the inherited land would stretch miles and miles. Why so many details about the property and purchase of land? Because by the end he has an actual toe hold in the land; one rightfully, legally, formally purchased (not gifted). He actually owns some of it. Cf with Abimelech in chapter 20 he could live wherever he wanted, and then made a treaty etc in chapter 21 . But now he has a rightful son, and he has a rightful plot of land. 400 shekels. What is a shekel - 2/5 ounces, or 11 grams in weight. But are we talking about weight, or purchasing power here? E.g., a worker could earn 30 shekels in 3-4 months in Biblical times. Or, good samaritan pays 2 denarii - 1/2 a shekel - for a night's stay in an inn. Can't take today's silver prices; difference in purity etc. Not a commodity investment, but a currency. So 400 shekels x 4 (working days' wages per shekel) = 1600 working days' earnings. Account for sabbaths, ie x 7/6 = 1867 days. Which is 5.11 years. So work out more than 5 years of your income and that's the kind of scale we're talking about. God has blessed him - He has stewarded it as a generous man - He invests it in line with his confidence in the promise God's glory : He is faithful to keep his promise of giving the land. He can be trusted. FCF : We doubt that he will give what he says he will give. We don't see this current pledge as a tiny foretaste of what is coming. By nature : Decisions based on the here and now, tangible in front of us. Even cf the 'anchoring' bias or 'availability'. By choice: Irreligious : We think this life is all there is, and just live with the dissonance in our in-built appeals to justice, beauty, hope etc. Religious : We do briefly consider the promise, but deem it too other worldly? Not sure and certain enough. Opt for safe morality instead. Person of Jesus: He himself is the fulfilment of God's promises, in the land. He is the laser focus of locational blessing; his very body is the place of blessing. What we are to make of the apparent NT silence on the 'land' promises. [Excursus on how to understand promises about 'the land'] Work of Jesus: In his death, the death of curse and exile from the land of promise. In his resurrection body, a pledge of the fulness of New Creation. Union with Jesus : Having died and been raised in him changes how I grieve. It changes how I invest my resources - energy, time, money. Since the pledge of the new creation is here and I'm part of it - Jesus' body, the church. All the promises are fulfilled in miniature in the church (new life, forgiveness, restoration, presence etc) - and therefore I have complete confidence to invest my life with eternity in view. Specific repentance : Turn from lines of thought and behaviour as if this life is all there is. NB there's nuance in this - eg someone might run who is only living for this life; or someone might run because they live for the next. Specific faith : Savour our homecoming. Wrap-up Similar but different to previous chapter; grief and loss reveals your heart. Abraham doesn't want to move 'home' when Sarah dies, even to bury her. He is committed to this land since he trusts God's promise that it will be his and his descendants'. God has given the pledge, the firstfruits, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We have a living Hope.