Genesis 23

Genesis 23:1-20. Death of Sarah. 1,2. Death of Sarah.
3-18. Abraham's Treaty for burying-place.
19. Burial of Sarah.
20. Ratification of Treaty.

Genesis 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

(The only woman whose age is mentioned in the Bible. In 22:23 Rebekah is mentioned: one sun rising before the other sets.)

1859 B.C.

2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba (= the city of the four giants); the same is Hebron (=alliance) in the land of Canaan:

(This land of Canaan is the land of the giants. These giants established Hebron, and it was while Abraham was in Hebron years earlier that God had made his promises to Abraham. So Abraham is living in, and amongst these Canaanites of Heth, and keep in mind the environment that is surrounding Abraham at this time.)

and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

23:3-18. Abraham's Treaty. 3,4. Request.
5,6. Grant.
7-9. Request.
10,11. Grant.
12,13. Request.
14-18. Purchase.

3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,

4 "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

(Abraham wanted to give Sarah a decent burial.)

5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,

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."

(In this case, Abraham knew these people whom he was dealing with. Friendship is friendship, and business is business. This was a time of great loss in Abraham's life, and these people had just offered Abraham the pick of any sepulcher in the whole land that he desired, yet, Abraham knew these people, knowing they were merchants and thus, Abraham desired to keep them at arms length. Abraham wanted to make it legal, and thus keep away from future hardship.)

7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

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,

9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah (= double, or a portion), 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."

(This field that is at the back side of Machpelah, on land owned by Ephron, and he had a cave on it, way in the back and out of the way. Abraham said that this is the land that I have chosen, but I want to buy it at it's market value, and make it all legal. What Jacob bought in 33:19,21 was for an altar.)

10 And Ephron (= fawn-like) 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,

(So there was plenty of witnesses to this "Treaty".)

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."

(Ephron had compassion on Abraham, and immediately spoke out and said, I won't take money for it, I give it to you to bury your dead wife. This was a very good offer, with the witness of all the people. In fact it even sounds legal, but it is not. If the witnesses all turn on him, Abraham has nothing to show in the future of ownership. Remember, Abraham is a stranger, in the heathen land of the Canaanites.

More then likely they would not have turned on Abraham, but that is not the point; the transfer of land from one to another is a legal matter, and requires a business transaction, and Abraham had been around many years, and was no fool.

When we are in a like manner, we also must operate also in like fashion.)

12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.

(Abraham was humbly requesting the people, and not bowing as you would before God.)

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."

14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,

15 "My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver (about $300); what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead."

(Never be so taken in at a time of weakness, that it can be used against you at a time much later. Remember, business is business and friendship is friendship; and don't confuse the two.)

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.

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.

(In the Hebrew text, the word "sure" is a legal word, which means that Abraham had a clear title to the land, bought for with the cash of the day, paid for in front of witnesses, and given in writing. Abraham had the deed to the land where he buried the remains of Sarah, and Abraham knew that they would never be disturbed.)

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.

(The gate of the city is where all the legal process takes place; the judge sits there, and all disputes are settled there also. Today we call it "city hall" today.)

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.

(Though it is a land that God gave to Abraham, we will see that generations later, the Canaanites will not be there and it will become Israel. However, in Abraham's time and place, he desired peace with his neighbors, and the assurance of the lasting protection of Sarah's remains. This is why Abraham purchased the land, and took a clear title to it.)

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.

(This is in strict conformity with the commercial enactments of the "Code of Khumurrabi". All that Abraham possessed; but in the faith and hope of resurrection.

Let's go to Genesis Chapter 49 verse 31 to see what becomes of this place in Hebron.

Genesis 49:31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. (The 5 previously buried their form an acrostic of the 6th. {I}saac, {S}arah, {R}ebekah, {A}braham, {L}eah = ISRAEL. See Heb.11:13. Israel in Hebron.

This area a source of great contention today. But Abraham did buy it, it was passed down to Jacob/Israel and they own it to this day. It was never sold back!

The lesson we can take from Chapter 23 is, if Abraham had been a weak man, Satan could have had the opportunity to take advantage of Abraham. Satan will always hit you strongest, while you are at your weakest, but we, like Abraham, must maintain the wisdom that God gives us; not to offend people, but to do it right.)

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