Genesis 23

Death and Burial of Sarah

1 Now Sarah lived * one hundred and twenty-seven * years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.
2 Sarah died in 1Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron ) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
3 Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the 2sons of Heth, saying,
4 "I am 3a stranger and a sojourner among you; 4give me a 5burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
5 The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,
6 "Hear us, my lord, you are a 6mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none * of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead."
7 So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth.
8 And he spoke with them, saying, "If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach 7Ephron the son of Zohar for me,
9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site."
10 Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even 8of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying,
11 "No, my lord, hear me; 9I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead."
12 And Abraham bowed before the people of the land.
13 He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, "If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there."
14 Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him
15 "My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred 10shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead."
16 Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham 11weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.
17 So 12Ephron's field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over
18 to Abraham for a possession 13in the presence of the sons of Heth, 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 at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron ) in the land of Canaan
20 So the field and the cave that is in it, were 14deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.

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.

Cross References 14

  • 1. Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13; Joshua 21:11
  • 2. Genesis 10:15; Genesis 15:20
  • 3. Genesis 17:8; Leviticus 25:23; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 39:12; Psalms 105:12; Psalms 119:19; Hebrews 11:9, 13
  • 4. Acts 7:16
  • 5. Genesis 49:30
  • 6. Genesis 14:14; Genesis 20:7
  • 7. Genesis 25:9
  • 8. Genesis 23:18; Genesis 34:20, 24; Ruth 4:1, 11
  • 9. 2 Samuel 24:21-24
  • 10. Exodus 30:13; Ezekiel 45:12
  • 11. 2 Samuel 14:26; Jeremiah 32:9, 10; Zechariah 11:12
  • 12. Genesis 25:9; Genesis 49:29, 30; Genesis 50:13
  • 13. Genesis 23:10
  • 14. Jeremiah 32:10-14

Footnotes 13

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 23

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