Bereshis 23

1 3 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty shanah old: these were the shnei chayyai Sarah.
2 And Sarah died in Kiryat- Arba; the same is Chevron in eretz Kena’an: and Avraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
3 And Avraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke unto the bnei Chet, saying,
4 I am a ger and a sojourner with you: give me an achuzzah (possession) of a kever with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
5 And the bnei Chet answered Avraham, saying unto him,
6 Hear us, adoni: thou art a nasi Elohim among us; in the choice of kevareinu bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his kever, that thou mayest bury thy dead.
7 And Avraham stood up, and bowed himself to the am ha’aretz, even to the bnei Chet.
8 And he spoke to them, saying, If it be your nefesh (will) that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intercede for me to Ephron ben Tzochar,
9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his sadeh; for the kesef maleh (full price) he shall give it me for an achuzzah (possession) of a kever amongst you.
10 And Ephron dwelt among the bnei Chet: and Ephron the Chitti answered Avraham in the hearing of the bnei Chet, even of all that went in at the sha’ar of his city, saying,
11 Lo, adoni, hear me; the sadeh give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the bnei ammi give I it thee; bury thy dead.
12 And Avraham bowed down himself before the am ha’aretz.
13 And he spoke unto Ephron in the hearing of the am ha’aretz, saying, But if thou wilt give it, now, hear me; I will give thee kesef for the sadeh; accept it from me, and I will bury my dead there.
14 And Ephron answered Avraham, saying unto him,
15 Pay heed, adoni, unto me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of kesef; what is that between me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.
16 And Avraham paid heed unto Ephron; and Avraham weighed to Ephron the kesef, which he had named in the hearing of the bnei Chet four hundred shekels of kesef, according to current merchant value.
17 And the sadeh of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was near Mamre, the sadeh, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the sadeh, that were in all the borders round about, were deeded
18 Unto Avraham for a property in the presence of the bnei Chet, before all that went in at the sha’ar of his city.
19 And after this, Avraham buried Sarah his isha in the cave of the sadeh of Machpelah near Mamre; the same is Chevron in the eretz Kena’an.
20 And the sadeh, and the cave that is therein, were deeded unto Avraham for an achuzzah of a kever by the bnei Chet.

Bereshis 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.

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.

Bereshis 23 Commentaries