We will begin this lesson in Genesis 23:1 “And Sarah was an hundred and
seven and twenty years old: [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.”
After the flood, God reduced the time of life to 120 years, and so
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, lived a few more years.
Genesis 23:2 “And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same [is] Hebron in
the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for
It is a very natural thing to weep at the loss of a loved one. It is
even more stressful to lose your spouse. It is as if some of you have been
torn away, and truly it has, because they two are one flesh. Hebron is
approximately 20 miles out of Jerusalem.
Genesis 23:3 “And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake
unto the sons of Heth, saying,” Genesis 23:4 “I [am] a stranger and a
sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I
may bury my dead out of my sight.”
Even though this was the land that God had promised to Abraham, he did
not own even one acre of this land at that time. He really was saying to
them (allow me to buy a burying place from you for my dead wife). This land
someday would all belong to the descendents of Abraham, and Abraham wanted
his wife buried there in the Promised Land.
Genesis 23:5 “And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto
him,” Genesis 23:6 “Hear us, my lord: thou [art] a mighty prince among us:
in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold
from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.”
These children of Heth were aware that the blessings of God were upon
Abraham. They were excited to think that some of that blessing might be
theirs, if they were cooperative with Abraham. These sons of Heth were
Hittites and descendents of Ham. Any one of them would gladly have given a
place of burying to this man of God.
Genesis 23:7 “And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of
the land, [even] to the children of Heth.” Genesis 23:8 “And he communed
with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my
sight; hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar”
Abraham was humbled by their generosity and thus bowed. Then he said,
if it is your wish that I bury my dead here, please talk to Ephron for me.
“Ephron” means fawn-like, so he had to be a very congenial man. His father,
“Zohar”, means whiteness. Abraham had chosen the cave he wanted.
Genesis 23:9 “That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath,
which [is] in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he
shall give it me for a possession of a burying place amongst you.”
You see, Abraham intended all along to pay for the buryung place.
Genesis 23:10 “And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron
the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, [even]
of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,” Genesis 23:11 “Nay,
my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that [is] therein, I
give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury
Ephron wanted to give this area to Abraham. He offered to give it to
Abraham in front of witnesses. Abraham wanted to pay. This was a running
struggle to see who would weaken.
Genesis 23:12 “And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the
land.” Genesis 23:13 “And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people
of the land, saying, But if thou [wilt give it], I pray thee, hear me: I
will give thee money for the field; take [it] of me, and I will bury my dead
Abraham wanted the piece of land, but he wanted to pay for it, so that
he would not be obligated to this people.
Genesis 23:14 “And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,”
Genesis 23:15 “My lord, hearken unto me: the land [is worth] four hundred
shekels of silver; what [is] that betwixt me and thee? Bury therefore thy
They had finally come to a price, 400 shekels of silver. The symbolism
is great. Again, silver means redemption. A shekel is 10 penny weights, so
this was 4000 penny weights of silver. This piece of land today’s standards
would be 2331.00 He tried once more to tell Abraham that this small amount
of money was unimportant, but Abraham wanted to pay.
Genesis 23:16 “And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed
to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of
Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current [money] with the merchant.”
The deal was finally settled. Abraham paid in front of witnesses. He
would not be obligated.
Genesis 23:17 “And the field of Ephron, which [was] in Machpelah,
which [was] before Mamre, the field, and the cave which [was] therein, and
all the trees that [were] in the field, that [were] in all the borders round
about, were made sure” Genesis 23:18 “Unto Abraham for a possession in the
presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his
This was very similar to us putting a fence around our property to
secure it fro the world around us. This was showing Abraham’s possession in
the midst of a strange land.
Genesis 23:19 “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the
cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same [is] Hebron in the
land of Canaan.”
Many of the prominent Old Testament people were buried in this area.
Hebron is still in existence today in the Holy Land.
Genesis 23:20 “And the field, and the cave that [is] therein, were made
sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.”
This is the last credit given to the sons of Heth for being willing to
sell this burying place to Abraham.
For the next lesson, study chapter 24 of Genesis.