Purchase of a Burial Plot.#The occasion for purchasing the land is the need for a burial site for Sarah, for it would be unthinkable to bury Sarah outside of the promised land. One of the two great promises to Abraham, that of progeny, has been fulfilled (21:1–7). And now the promise of land is to be fulfilled, through a kind of down payment on the full possession that will take place only with the conquest under Joshua and during the reign of David. This purchase has been prepared for by Abimelech’s recognition of Abraham’s claim to the well at Beer-sheba (21:22–34). Among the ancestral stories this narrative is one of two that are entirely from the P source (chap. 17 being the other). The Priestly writers may have intended to encourage the generation of the exile to a renewed hope of repossessing their land. 1The span of Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years. 2She died in Kiriath-arba—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan, and Abraham proceeded to mourn and weep for her. 3Then he left the side of his deceased wife and addressed the Hittites:#The Hittites: in the Bible the term is applied to several different groups—inhabitants of the second-millennium Hittite empire in Asia Minor and northern Syria, residents of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms in northern Syria in the first part of the first millennium, and (following Assyrian terminology) the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine. The third group is meant here. 4“Although I am a resident alien#A resident alien: such a one would normally not have the right to own property. The importance of Abraham’s purchase of the field in Machpelah, which is worded in technical legal terms, lies in the fact that it gave his descendants their first, though small, land rights in the country that God had promised the patriarch they would one day inherit as their own. Abraham therefore insists on purchasing the field and not receiving it as a gift. among you, sell me from your holdings a burial place, that I may bury my deceased wife.”#Gn 33:19; Acts 7:16; Heb 11:9. 5The Hittites answered Abraham: “Please, 6sir, listen to us! You are a mighty leader among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial sites. None of us would deny you his burial ground for the burial of your dead.” 7Abraham, however, proceeded to bow low before the people of the land, the Hittites, 8and said to them: “If you will allow me room for burial of my dead, listen to me! Intercede for me with Ephron, son of Zohar, 9so that he will sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns; it is at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence at its full price for a burial place.”
10Now Ephron was sitting with the Hittites. So Ephron the Hittite replied to Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his city: 11“Please, sir, listen to me! I give you both the field and the cave in it; in the presence of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead!” 12But Abraham, after bowing low before the people of the land, 13addressed Ephron in the hearing of these men: “If only you would please listen to me! I will pay you the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14Ephron replied to Abraham, “Please, 15sir, listen to me! A piece of land worth four hundred shekels#Four hundred shekels: probably an exorbitant sum; Jeremiah (32:9) paid only seventeen shekels for his field in Anathoth, though the Babylonian invasion no doubt helped to reduce the price. of silver—what is that between you and me? Bury your dead!” 16#Acts 7:16. Abraham accepted Ephron’s terms; he weighed out to him the silver that Ephron had stipulated in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver at the current market value.#The current market value: the standard weight called a shekel varied according to time and place.
17#Gn 49:29–30. Thus Ephron’s field in Machpelah, facing Mamre, together with its cave and all the trees anywhere within its limits, was conveyed 18to Abraham by purchase in the presence of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of Ephron’s city. 19After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan. 20Thus the field with its cave was transferred from the Hittites to Abraham as a burial place.
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B'resheet (Gen) 23
Parashah 5: Hayyei-Sarah (Sarah’s life) 23:1–25:18
1Sarah lived to be 127 years old; these were the years of Sarah’s life. 2Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba, also known as Hevron, in the land of Kena‘an; and Avraham came to mourn Sarah and weep for her. 3Then he got up from his dead one and said to the sons of Het, 4“I am a foreigner living as an alien with you; let me have a burial site with you, so that I can bury my dead wife.” 5The sons of Het answered Avraham, 6“Listen to us, my lord. You are a prince of God among us, so choose any of our tombs to bury your dead — not one of us would refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”
7Avraham got up, bowed before the people of the land, the sons of Het, 8and spoke with them. “If it is your desire to help me bury my dead, then listen to me: ask ‘Efron the son of Tzochar 9to give me the cave of Makhpelah, which he owns, the one at the end of his field. He should sell it to me in your presence at its full value; then I will have a burial site of my own.”
10‘Efron the Hitti was sitting among the sons of Het, and he gave Avraham his answer in the presence of the sons of Het who belonged to the ruling council of the city: 11“No, my lord, listen to me: I’m giving you the field, with its cave — I’m giving it to you. In the presence of my people I give it to you.” 12Avraham bowed before the people of the land 13and spoke to ‘Efron in their hearing: “Please be good enough to listen to me. I will pay the price of the field; accept it from me, and I will bury my dead there.” 14But ‘Efron answered Avraham, 15“My lord, listen to me. A plot of land worth 400 silver shekels — what is that between me and you? Just bury your dead.” 16Avraham got the point of what ‘Efron had said, so he weighed out for ‘Efron the amount of money he had specified in the presence of the sons of Het, 400 silver shekels of the weight accepted among merchants [ten pounds].
(ii) 17Thus the field of ‘Efron in Makhpelah, which is by Mamre — the field, its cave and all the trees in and around it — were deeded 18to Avraham as his possession in the presence of the sons of Het who belonged to the ruling council of the city.
19Then Avraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Makhpelah, by Mamre, also known as Hevron, in the land of Kena‘an. 20The field and its cave had been purchased by Avraham from the sons of Het as a burial-site which would belong to him.
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