Genesis 23

1 And the life of Sarrha was an hundred and twenty-seven years.
2 And Sarrha died in the city of Arboc, which is in the valley, this is Chebron in the land of Chanaan; and Abraam came to lament for Sarrha and to mourn.
3 And Abraam stood up from before his dead; and Abraam spoke to the sons of Chet, saying,
4 I am a sojourner and a stranger among you, give me therefore possession of a burying-place among you, and I will bury my dead away from me.
5 And the sons of Chet answered to Abraam, saying, Not so, Sir,
6 but hear us; thou art in the midst of us a king from God; bury thy dead in our choice sepulchres, for not one of us will by any means withhold his sepulchre from thee, so that thou shouldest not bury thy dead there.
7 And Abraam rose up and did obeisance to the people of the land, to the sons of Chet.
8 And Abraam spoke to them, saying, If ye have it in your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hearken to me, and speak for me to Ephron the son Saar.
9 And let him give me the double cave which he has, which is in a part of his field, let him give it me for the money it is worth for possession of a burying-place among you.
10 Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the children of Chet, and Ephron the Chettite answered Abraam and spoke in the hearing of the sons of Chet, and of all who entered the city, saying,
11 Attend to me, my lord, and hear me, I give to thee the field and the cave which is in it; I have given it thee before all my country men; bury thy dead.
12 And Abraam did obeisance before the people of the land.
13 And he said in the ears of Ephron before the people of the land, Since thou art on my side, hear me; take the price of the field from me, and I will bury my dead there.
14 But Ephron answered Abraam, saying,
15 Nay, my lord, I have heard indeed, the land four hundred silver didrachms, but what can this be between me and thee? nay, do thou bury thy dead.
16 And Abraam hearkened to Ephron, and Abraam rendered to Ephron the money, which he mentioned in the ears of the sons of Chet, four hundred didrachms of silver approved with merchants.
17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Double Cave, which is opposite Mambre, the field and the cave, which was in it, and every tree which was in the field, and whatever is in its borders round about, were made sure in its borders round about, were made sure
18 to Abraam for a possession, before the sons of Chet, and all that entered into the city.
19 After this Abraam buried Sarrha his wife in the Double Cave of the field, which is opposite Mambre, this is Chebron in the land of Chanaan.
20 So the field and the cave which was in it were made sure to Abraam for possession of a burying place, by the sons of Chet.

Genesis 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

The death of Sarah, Abraham applies for a burying-place. (1-13) Sarah's burying-place. (14-20)

Verses 1-13 The longest life must shortly come to a close. Blessed be God that there is a world where sin, death, vanity, and vexation cannot enter. Blessed be his name, that even death cannot part believers from union with Christ. Those whom we most love, yea, even our own bodies, which we so care for, must soon become loathsome lumps of clays, and be buried out of sight. How loose then should we be to all earthly attachments and adornments! Let us seek rather that our souls be adorned with heavenly graces. Abraham rendered honour and respect to the princes of Heth, although of the ungodly Canaanites. The religion of the Bible enjoins to pay due respect to all in authority, without flattering their persons, or countenancing their crimes if they are unworthy characters. And the noble generosity of these Canaanites shames and condemns the closeness, selfishness, and ill-humour of many that call themselves Israelites. It was not in pride that Abraham refused the gift, because he scorned to be beholden to Ephron; but in justice and in prudence. Abraham was able to pay for the field, and therefore would not take advantage of Ephron's generosity. Honesty, as well as honour, forbids us to take advantage of our neighbour's liberality, and to impose, upon those who give freely.

Verses 14-20 Prudence, as well as justice, directs us to be fair and open in our dealings; cheating bargains will not bear the light. Abraham, without fraud or delay, pays the money. He pays it at once in full, without keeping any part back; and by weight, current money with the merchant, without deceit. See how anciently money was used for the help of trade, and how honestly it should be paid when it is due. Though all the land of Canaan was Abraham by promise, yet the time of his possessing it not being come, what he had occasion for he bought and paid for. Dominion is not founded in grace. The saints' title to an eternal inheritance does not entitle them to the possessions of this world, nor justify them in doing wrong. Ephron honestly and fairly makes a good title to the land. As that which is bought, must be honestly paid for, so that which is sold, must be honestly delivered and secured. Let us manage our concerns with punctuality and exactness, in order to avoid contention. Abraham buried Sarah in cave. or vault, which was in the purchased field. It would tend to endear the land to his posterity. And it is worth noting, that a burying-place was the only piece of the land which Abraham possessed in Canaan. Those who have least of this earth, find a grave in it. This sepulchre was at the end of the field; whatever our possessions are, there is a burial-place at the end of them. It was a token of his belief and expectation of the resurrection. Abraham is contented to be still a pilgrim while he lives, but secures a place where, when he dies, his flesh may rest in hope. After all, the chief concern is, with whom we shall rise.

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of the age, death, and funeral of Sarah, and the place of her interment: of her age, Ge 23:1; of her death, Ge 23:2; of the motion Abraham made to the sons of Heth, to obtain a burial place among them, Ge 23:3,4; of the answer of them to him, giving him leave to bury in any of their sepulchres, Ge 23:5,6; of a second motion of his to them, to use their interest with Ephron the Hittite, to let him have the cave of Machpelah for the above purpose, Ge 23:7-9; of Ephron's consent unto it, Ge 23:10,11; of the purchase Abraham made of it for four hundred shekels of silver, Ge 23:12-16; and of its being secured unto him, which he interred Sarah his wife, Ge 23:17-20.

Genesis 23 Commentaries

The Brenton translation of the Septuagint is in the public domain.