Genesis 23

1 Sara was an hundred and .xxvij. yere olde (for so longe lyued she)
2 and than dyed in a heade cyte called Hebron in the londe of Canaan. Than Abraham came to morne Sara and to wepe for her.
3 And Abraham stode vp from the coorse and talked with the sonnes of heth saynge:
4 I am a straunger ad a foryner amonge yow geue me a possession to bury in with you that I may bury my dead oute of my sighte
5 And the children of heth answered Abraham saynge vnto him:
6 heare vs lorde thou art a prynce of God amonge vs. In the chefest of oure sepulchres bury thy dead: None of vs shall forbydd ye his sepulchre yt thou shuldest not bury thy deade therein.
7 Abraha stode vp and bowed hi selfe before ye people of ye lade ye childre of heth.
8 And he comoned with them saynge: Yf it be youre myndes yt I shall bury my deade oute of my sighte heare me ad speke for me to Ephron the sonne of Zoar:
9 and let him geue me the dubill caue which he hath in the end of his felde for as moch money as it is worth let him geue it me in the presence of you for a possession to bury in.
10 For Hephron dwelled amoge ye childern of heth.Than Ephron the Hethite answered Abraham in the audyece of the childern of Heth and of all that went in at the gates of his cyte saynge:
11 Not so my lorde but heare me: The felde geue I the and the caue that therein is geue I the also And even in the presence of the sonnes of my people geve I it the to bury thy deede in.
12 Than Abraham bowed himselfe before the people of the lade
13 and spake vnto Ephro in the audyence of the people of the contre saynge: I praye the heare me I will geue sylver for the felde take it of me ad so will I bury my deed there.
14 Ephron answered Abraha saynge vnto hi
15 My lorde harken vnto me. The lande is worth iiij. hundreth sycles of syluer: But what is that betwixte the and me? bury thy deede.
16 And Abraham harkened vnto Ephron and weyde him the sylver which he had sayde in the audyence of the sonnes of Heth. Euen .iiij. hudred syluer sycles of currant money amonge marchauntes
17 Thus was the felde of Ephron where in the dubbill caue is before Mamre: euen the felde and the caue that is therein and all the trees of the felde which growe in all the borders rounde aboute made sure
18 vnto Abraham for a possession in the syghte of the childern of Heth and of all that went in at the gates of the cyte.
19 And then Abraham buried Sara his wyfe in the double caue of the felde that lyeth before Mare otherwise called Ebron in the lande of Canaan
20 And so both the felde ad the caue that is therein was made vnto Abraham a sure possession to bury in of the sonnes 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.

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

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