Sarah’s death and burial site
1Sarah lived to be 127 years old; this was how long she lived. 2She died in Kiriath-arba, that is, in Hebron, in the land of Canaan; and Abraham cried out in grief and wept for Sarah. 3After he got up from embracing his deceased wife, he spoke with the Hittites: 4“I am an immigrant and a temporary resident with you. Give me some property for a burial plot among you so that I can bury my deceased wife near me.”
5The Hittites responded to Abraham, 6“Listen to us, sir. You are an eminent man of God among us. Bury your dead in one of our own select burial sites. None of us will keep our own burial plots from you to bury your dead.”
7Abraham rose, bowed to the local citizens the Hittites, 8and spoke with them: “If you yourselves allow me to bury my dead near me, listen to me and ask Ephron, Zohar’s son, 9to give me his own cave in Machpelah at the edge of his field. Let him give it to me for the full price, to be witnessed by you, as my own burial property.”
10Now Ephron was a native Hittite. So Ephron the Hittite responded to Abraham publicly in order that the Hittites and everyone at his city’s gate could hear: 11“No, sir. Listen, I will give you the field, and I will give you the cave in it. In front of my people’s witnesses, I will give it to you. Bury your dead!”
12Abraham bowed before the local citizens 13and spoke to Ephron publicly in the presence of the local citizens: “If only you would accept my offer. I will give you the price of the field. Take it from me so that I can bury my dead there.”
14Ephron responded to Abraham, 15“Sir, what is four hundred shekels of silver between me and you for the land so that you can bury your dead?” 16Abraham accepted Ephron’s offer and weighed out for Ephron the silver he requested publicly before the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver at the current rate of exchange.
17So the field of Ephron in Machpelah near Mamre—the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the field’s boundaries—was officially transferred 18to Abraham as his property in the presence of the Hittites and of everyone at his city’s gate. 19After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre, that is, Hebron, in the land of Canaan. 20The field and the cave in it were officially transferred from the Hittites to Abraham as his burial property.
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The Death of Sarah
1Sarah lived to be one hundred and twenty-seven. # 23:1 This reference to Sarah is the only time that Scripture mentions a woman’s age at death. 2She died in the land of Canaan at Kiriath Arba, # 23:2 Kiriath Arba means “the city of the four [giants].” See Josh. 14:15. Some Jewish scholars believe “the city of the four” refers to the four couples buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. See also the first footnote on Gen. 23:9 on “Machpelah.” now known as Hebron. There Abraham mourned and wept for her. 3After his time of mourning was over, Abraham got up from where her body lay, and went to speak with the Hittites. He said to them, 4“I live as an alien and stranger among you. Sell me some of your property so I can use it as a burial site for my wife.”
5-6“Hear us, my lord,” the Hittites answered, “you are a mighty prince of God # 23:5–6 Or “king of God” (LXX). The Hebrew reads “a mighty chief among us,” with the generic term for “god” likely being used as the superlative for “mighty.” among us. You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us would withhold our burial ground from you.”
7Then Abraham bowed respectfully before the Hittites, the people of the land 8and he said to them, “If you are willing to allow my wife a proper burial, then please hear me out. On my behalf please persuade your countryman, Ephron the son of Zohar, 9to sell me the cave he owns at Machpelah # 23:9 Machpelah means “double” or “doubling.” Everyone buried in this cave would be as one of a couple: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah (see Gen. 23:19; 25:9; 49:29–32; 50:13). Death for the patriarchs was a gateway into the resurrection. This cave was more like a bedroom to rest in than a tomb, more an altar than a grave. It was an altar to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is not a God of the dead but of the living (see Matt. 22:31–32). According to Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve were also buried in this cave. See Jerusalem Talmud, Ta’anit 4:2; Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 53a; Pirque Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 20; Midrash Rabba (Gen. Rab.), 28:3. According to the Midrash, the patriarchs were buried in this cave because this cave is the threshold to the garden of Eden. Some New Testament scholars believe that it could have been the patriarchs who were raised from the dead at the resurrection of Christ and were seen in Jerusalem. See Matt. 27:52–53. on the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me publicly # 23:9 Or “in your presence” or “among you.” and at the full price, so that I may own it for a burial site.” 10Now Ephron the Hittite was sitting there among his countrymen. He spoke up so all the Hittites who sat at the gate as elders of the city # 23:10 Or “who came in at the gate of his city,” a figure of speech for stating they had leadership in the city. See Ruth 4:1–12. could hear him, and said, 11“No, my lord, listen. I will give you not only the cave but also the entire field! In the presence of my people, I will give it to you to bury your dead.”
12Then Abraham bowed low before the people of the land, 13and he said to Ephron in the hearing of all the people, “No, please listen, kind sir. I will pay whatever the field is worth. Take my money so that I can bury my dead there.”
14-15“If you insist, my lord,” answered Ephron. “But what is a piece of land worth only four hundred silver shekels to men of our standing? Go ahead and bury your dead.” 16So Abraham agreed to the amount, weighed out the four hundred silver shekels # 23:16 The price was undoubtedly high. Jeremiah gave only seventeen shekels for land that was probably no less spacious than the field of Machpelah (see Jer. 32:9). Although difficult to estimate the cost, some have calculated four hundred shekels of silver to be approximately ten pounds of silver. according to the merchant’s standard of weight, and in the presence of the Hittites he gave the money to Ephron.
17So Ephron’s field of Machpelah, east of Mamre, along with the cave and all the trees within its borders, passed 18to Abraham as his legal possession. The complete transaction was carried out in the presence of the Hittites—those who sat as elders at the city gates. 19After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave there in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (now Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20Both the field and the cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham’s possession to be his family burial ground.
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