Genesis 23



1 “And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the

years of the life of Sarah.”  And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty

years old (literally, and the lives of Sarah were an hundred and twenty and seven

years); so that Isaac must have been thirty-seven, having been born in his mother's

ninetieth year. Sarah, as the wife of Abraham and the mother of believers (Isaiah 51:2;

I Peter 3:6), is the only woman whose age is mentioned in Scripture. These were the

years of the life of Sarah - an emphatic repetition designed to impress the Israelitish

mind with the importance of remembering the age of their ancestress.


2 “And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan:

and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”  And Sarah died

in Kirjath-arba - or city of Arba, Abraham having again removed thither after an

absence of nearly forty years, during which interval Murphy thinks the reign of Arba

the Anakite may have commenced, though Keil postpones it to a later period (compare

Joshua 14:15). The same is Hebron - the Original name of the city, which was

supplanted by that of Kir-jath-arba, but restored at the conquest (Keil, Hengstenberg,

Murphy; see ch. 13:18) in the land of Canaan - indicating that the writer was not

then in Palestine ('Speaker's Commentary'); perhaps rather designed to emphasize

the circumstance that Sarah's death occurred not in the Philistines' country, but in

the promised land (Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy). And Abraham came - or went;

ἤλθεaelthe - came (Septuagint), venit (Vulgate); not as if he had been absent

at her death (Calvin), either in Beersheba, where he retained a location (Clarke),

or in Gerar, whither he had gone to sell the lands and other properties he held there

(Luther), or in the pasture grounds adjoining Hebron (Keil, Murphy)'; but as

addressing himself to the work of mourning for his deceased wife (Vatablus,

Rosenmüller), or perhaps as going into Sarah's tent (Maimonides, Ainsworth,

Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary') - to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

"To arrange for the customary mourning ceremony" (Keil); the first verb, סָפַד

(compare σφαδάζω sphadazo - ), referring to the beating of the breast as a sign

of grief (compare I Kings 14:13); and the second, בָּכָה, to flow by drops, intimating

a quieter and more moderate sorrow. Beyond sitting on the ground and weeping in

presence of (or upon the face of) the dead, no other rites are mentioned as having

been observed by Abraham; though afterwards, as practiced among the Hebrews,

Egyptians, and other nations of antiquity, mourning for the dead developed into

an elaborate ritual, including such ceremonies as rending the garments, shaving

the head, wearing sackcloth, covering the head with dust and ashes (see II Samuel

3:31, 35; 21:10; Job 1:20; 2:12; 16:15-16).


3 "And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth,

saying,"  And Abraham stood up - during the days of mourning he had been sitting

on the ground; and now, his grief having moderated (Calvin), he goes out to the

city gate - from before (literally, from over the face of) his dead, - "Sarah, though

dead, was still his" (Wordsworth) - and spake unto the sons of Heth. - the Hittites

were descendants of Heth, the son of Canaan (see ch. 10:15). Compare "daughters

of Heth" (ch. 27:46) and "daughters of Canaan" (ch. 28:1) - saying.


4 "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a

buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you. Ger, one living out of his own country,

and Thoshabh, one dwelling in a land in which he is not naturalized; advena et

peregrinus (Vulgate); πάροικος καὶ παρ ἐπίδημος - paroikos kai par epidaemos -

I am a stranger and a foreigner (Septuagint). This confession of the heir of Canaan

was a proof that he sought, as his real inheritance, a better country, even an heavenly

(Hebrews 11:13-14). Give me a possession of a burying-place with you. The first

mention of a grave in Scripture, the word in Hebrew signifying a hole in the earth, or

a mound, according as the root is taken to mean to dig (Furst) or to heap up (Gesenius).

Abraham's desire for a grave m which to deposit Sarah's lifeless remains was dictated

by that Divinely planted and, among civilized nations, universally prevailing reverence

for the body which prompts men to decently dispose of their dead by rites of honorable

sepulture. The burning of corpses was a practice common to the nations of antiquity;

but Tacitus notes it as characteristic of the Jews that they preferred interment to

cremation ('Hist.,' 5:5). The wish to make Sarah's burying-place his own possession

has been traced to the instinctive desire that most nations have evinced to lie in

ground belonging to themselves (Rosenmüller), to an intention on the part of the

patriarch to give a sign of his right and title to the land of Canaan by purchasing

a grave in its soil - compare Isaiah 22:16 (Bush), or simply to anxiety that his dead

might not lie unburied (Calvin); but it was more probably due to his strong faith

that the land would yet belong to his descendants, which naturally led him to crave

a resting-place in the soil with which the hopes of both himself and people were

identified (Ainsworth, Bush, Kalisch). That I may bury my dead out of my sight -

decay not suffering the lifeless corpse to remain a fit spectacle for grief or love

to gaze on.


5 "And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,  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."  And the children of Heth answered. Abraham, saying unto him,

Hear us, my lord. My lord (Adoni) = sir, monsieur, or mein herr. One acts as the

spokesman of all; the number changing from plural to singular. The Septuagint,

reading לֹא instead of לו, after the Samaritan Codex, render μὴ κύριε - mae kurie -

 Not so, my lord; but hear us. Thou art a mighty prince among us. Literally, a

prince of Elohim; not of Jehovah, since the speakers were heathen whose ideas

of Deity did not transcend those expressed in the term Elohim. According to a

familiar Hebrew idiom, the phrase might be legitimately translated as in the

Authorized Version - compare "mountains of God," i.e. great mountains, Psalm 36:6;

"cedars of God," i.e. goodly cedars, Psalm 80:10 (Calvin, Kimchi, Rosenmüller,

'Speaker's Commentary'); but, as employed by the Hittite chieftains, it probably

expressed that they regarded him as a prince or phylarch, not to whom God had

given an elevated aspect (Lange), but either whom God had appointed (Gesenius),

or whom God manifestly favored (Kalisch, Murphy). This estimate of Abraham

strikingly contrasts with that which the patriarch had formed (v. 4) of himself.

In the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us will withhold from

thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. This remarkable offer

on the part of the Hittites Thomson ('Land and Book,' p. 578) regards as having

been merely compliment, which Abraham was too experienced an Oriental not

to understand. But, even if dictated by true kindness and generosity, the proposal

was one to which for many reasons - faith in God, love for the dead, and respect

for himself being among the strongest - the patriarch could not accede. With

perfect courtesy, therefore, though likewise with respectful firmness, he declines

their offer.


7 "And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to

the children of Heth."  And Abraham stood up (the customary posture among

Orientals in buying and selling being that of sitting), and bowed himself to the people

of the land, even to the children of Heth - an act of respect quite accordant with

modern Oriental manners (vide Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 579).


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 intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,

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 buryingplace amongst you."  And he communed with them, saying, If it be

your mind - literally, if it be with your souls, the word nephesh being used in this

sense in Psalm 27:12; 41:3; 105:22 - that I should bury my dead out of my might;

hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar. The ruler of the city (Keil);

but this is doubtful (Lange). "There is scarcely anything in the habits of Orientals

more annoying to us Occidentals than this universal custom of employing mediators

to pass between you and-those with whom you wish to do business. Nothing can be

done without them. A merchant cannot sell a piece of print, nor a farmer a yoke of

oxen, nor any one rent a house, buy a horse, or get a wife, without a succession of

go-betweens. Of course Abraham knew that this matter of the field could not be

brought about without the intervention of the neighbors of Ephron, and therefore

he applies to them first" ('Land and Book,' p. 579). That he may give me the cave

of Machpelah, - Machpelah is regarded as a proper noun (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch,

Rosenmüller), as in ch. 49:30, though by others it is considered as an appellative,

signifying that the cave was double (Septuagint, Vulgate), either as consisting of

a cave within a cave (Hamerus), or of one cave exterior and another interior

(Aben Ezra), or as having room for two bodies (Calvin), or as possessing two

entrances (Jewish interpreters). It is probable the cave received its name from

its peculiar form, - which he hath (Ephron s ownership of the cave is expressly

recognized, and its situation is next described), which is in the end of his field -

"so that the cession of it will not injure his property" (Wordsworth). At the same

time Abraham makes it clear that an honest purchase is what he contemplates.

For as much money as it is worth - literally, for full silver (I Chronicles 21:22).

Compare siller (Scotch) for money. This is the first mention of the use of the

precious metals as a medium of exchange, though they must have been so employed

at a very early period (see ch. 13:2) - he shall give it me for a possession of a

burying-place amongst you. The early Chaldaeans were accustomed to bury their

dead in strongly-constructed brick vaults. Those found at Mughheir are seven

feet long, three feet seven inches broad, and five feet high, are composed of sun-dried

bricks embedded in mud, and exhibit a remarkable form and construction of arch,

resembling that occurring in Egyptian buildings and Scythian tombs, in which the

successive layers of brick are made to overlap until they come so close that the

aperture may be covered by a single brick (Rawlinson's 'Ancient Monarchies,'

Vol. 1. p. 86). In the absence of such artificial receptacles for the dead, the nearest

substitute the patriarch could obtain was one of those natural grottoes which the

limestone hills of Canaan so readily afforded.


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," And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth. Not habitabat

(Vulgate), in the sense of resided amongst, but sedebat, ἐκάθητο  - ekathaeto - was

sitting (Septuagint); was then present sitting amongst the townspeople (Rosenmüller),

but whether in the capacity of a magistrate or councilor is not stated. And Ephron

the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Hath, even of all

that went in at the gate of his city, - this does not imply that he was the chief

magistrate (Keil), but only that he was a prominent citizen (Murphy). On the gate

of the city as a place for transacting business see ch. 19:1 - saying -


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 thy dead."

Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee -

an Oriental mode of expressing willingness to sell. Ephron would make a present of

cave and field to the patriarch, - "and just so have I had a hundred houses, and fields,

and horses given to me" ('Land and Book,' p. 578), - the design being either to obtain

a valuable compensation in return, or to preclude any abatement in the price (Keil),

though possibly the offer to sell the entire field when he might have secured a good

price for the cave alone was an indication of Ephron's good intention (Lange). At least

it seems questionable to conclude that Ephron's generous phrases, which have now

become formal and hollow courtesies indeed, meant no more in that simpler age

when the ceremonies of intercourse were newer, and more truly reflected its spirit

(Dykes, 'Abraham, the Friend of God,' p. 287). In the presence of the sons of my

people give I it thee (literally, have I given, the transaction being viewed as finished):

bury thy dead.


12 "And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.  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 there."  And Abraham bowed down himself before the

people of the land. To express his sense of their kindness, and appreciation of

Ephron's offer in particular; after which he courteously but firmly urged forward

the contemplated purchase. 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. Literally,

if thou, I would that thou wouldst hear me, the two particles אִם and לוּ being

conjoined to express the intensity of the speaker's desire. I will give thee money

for the field. Literally, money of the field, i.e. the value of the field in money.

This seems to indicate that Abraham at least imagined Ephron's offer of the field

and cave as a gift to be not wholly formal. Had he regarded Ephron as all the while

desirous of a sale, he would not have employed the language of entreaty. Take it of

me, and I will bury my dead there.


14 "And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,   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 dead."  And Ephron answered Abraham,

saying unto him, My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred

shekels of silver. The word "shekel," from shakal, to weigh, here used for the

first time, was not a stamped coin, but a piece of metal of definite weight,

according to Exodus 30:13, equal to twenty gerahs, or beans, from garar, to roll.

Coined money was unknown to the Hebrews until after the captivity. In the time

of the Maccabees (I Maccabees 15:6) silver coins were struck bearing the

inscription שקל ישראל. According to Josephus (Ant., iii. 8, 2) the shekel in

use in his day was equal to four Athenian drachmae; and if, as is believed,

these were one-fifth larger than the old shekels coined by Simon Maccabeus,

the weight of the latter would be equal to three and one-third drachms, or two

hundred grains, reckoning sixty grains to a drachm. It is impossible to ascertain

the weight of the shekel current with the merchant in the time of Abraham;

but reckoning it at a little less than 2s. 6d. sterling, the price of Ephron's field

must have been somewhat under £50; a very consider able sum of money, which

the Hittite merchant begins to depreciate by representing as a trifle, saying, What

is that betwixt me and thee? - words which are still heard in the East on similar

occasions (vide ' Land and Book,' p. 578) - bury therefore thy dead.


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."  And Abraham hearkened

unto Ephron (either as knowing that the price he asked was reasonable, or as being

in no humor to bargain with him on the subject); and Abraham weighed to Ephron

the silver, - "Even this is still common; for although coins have now a definite name,

size, and value, yet every merchant carries a small apparatus by which he weighs

each coin to see that it has not been tampered with by Jewish Clippers" ('Land and

Book,' p. 578) - which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth (the

stipulation and the payment of the money were both made in the presence of

witnesses), four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant -

literally, silver passing with the merchant, or goer about, i.e. with merchandise;

from sachar, to go about (compare ἔμπορος, ἐμπορεύομαι - emporos, emporeuomai -

). The Canaanites, of whom the Hittites were a branch, were among the earliest

traders of antiquity (compare Job 41:6; Proverbs 31:24); and the silver bars

employed as the medium of exchange in their mercantile transactions were

probably stamped in some rude fashion to indicate their weight.


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.  18 Unto Abraham for

a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the

gate of his city." And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, - here the word

is used as a proper name - which was before Mamre, - לִפְגֵי over against (Lange), to

the east of (Keil), the oak grove - 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, - "In like

manner the operations in the contract are just such as are found in modern deeds.

It is not enough that you purchase a well-known lot; the contract must mention

everything that belongs to it, and certify that fountains or wells in it, trees upon

it, &c., are sold with the field" ('Land and Book,' p. 578) - were made sure - literally,

stood up or arose, i.e. were confirmed (compare Leviticus 27:14, 19) - unto Abraham

for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at

the gate of the city. "This also is true to life. When any sale is now to be effected

in a town or village, the whole population gather about the parties at the usual place

of concourse, around or near the gate where there is one. There all take part and

enter into the pros and cons with as much earnestness as if it were their own

individual affair. By these means the operation, in all its circumstances and details,

is known to many witnesses, and the thing is made sure without any written contract"

('Land and Book,' p. 579).


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."

And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife - with what funeral rites can

only be conjectured. Monumental evidence attests that the practice of embalming

the dead existed in Egypt in the reign of Amunophth I. ( B.C. 1500), though probably

originating, earlier. (Sharpe's 'Egypt, vol. 1. p. 31); and an examination of the

Mugheir vaults for burying the dead shows that among the early Chaldaeans

it was customary to place the corpse upon a matting of reed spread upon a brick

floor, the head being pillowed on a single sun-dried brick, and the body turned

on its left side, the right arm falling towards the left, and the fingers resting on

the edge of a copper bowl, usually placed on the palm of the left hand (see

Rawlinson s 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 87) - in the cave of the field of

Machpelah before Mamre. In which also in succession his own remains and

those of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah were deposited, Rachel alone of the

great patriarchal family being absent. This last resting-place of Abraham and

his sons, as of Sarah and her daughters, has been identified with Ramet-el-Kalil,

an hour's journey to the north of Hebron (which is too distant), where the foundations

of an ancient heathen temple are still pointed out as Abraham's house; but is more

probably to be sought for in the Mohammedan mosque Haram, built of colossal

blocks, and situated on the mountain slope of Hebron towards the east (Robinson,

Thomson, Stanley, Tristram), which, after having been for 600 years hermetically

sealed against Europeans, - only three during that period having gained access to

it in disguise, - was visited in 1862 by the Prince of Wales and party (vide Stanley,

'Lectures on Jewish Church,' App. 2.). The same is Hebron in the land of Canaan

(see v. 2).


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."  The palpable discrepancy

between the statements of the Hebrew historian in this chapter concerning the

patriarchal sepulcher and those of the Christian orator when addressing the Jewish

Sanhedrim (Acts 7:16) has been well characterized as praegravis quaedam et perardua,

et quorundam judicio inextricabilis quaestio (Pererius). Of course the Gordian knot of

difficulty may be very readily cut by boldly asserting that a mistake has been committed

somewhere; either by Stephen, the original speaker, under the impulse of emotion

confounding the two entirely different stories of Abraham's purchase of Machpelah

and Jacob's buying of the field near Shechem (Beds, Clarke, Lange, Kalisch, Alford,

and others); or by Luke, the first recorder of the Martyr's Apology, who wrote not

the ipsissima verba (the precise words) of the speech, but simply his own recollection

of them (Jerome); or by some subsequent transcriber who had tampered with the

original text, as, e.g., inserting Αβραὰμ - Abraham  which Luke and Stephen both

had omitted, as the nominative to ὠνήσατο - onaesato - purchases (Beza, Calvin,

Bishop Pearce). The last of these hypotheses would not indeed be fatal to the

inspiration of the record; but the claims of either Luke or Stephen to be authoritative

teachers on the subject of religion would be somewhat hard to maintain if it once

were admitted that they had blundered on a plain point in their own national history.

And yet it is doubtful if any of the proposed solutions of the problem is perfectly

satisfactory; such as:


(1) that the two purchases of Abraham and Jacob are here intentionally, for the sake

     of brevity, compressed into one account (Bengel, Pererius, Willet, Hughes); or,


(2) that Abraham bought two graves, one at Hebron of Ephron the Hittite, as recorded

     by Moses, and another at Shechem of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem

     (Wordsworth); or,


(3) that the words "which Abraham bought for a sum of money" should be regarded

      as a parenthesis, and the sentence read as intimating that Jacob and the fathers

      were carried over into Shechem, and (afterwards) by the sons of Hamor the

      father of Shechem interred in Abraham's sepulcher at Hebron (Cajetan).


Obvious difficulties attach to each of them; but the facts shine out clear enough in

spite of the encompassing obscurity, viz., that Abraham bought a tomb at Hebron,

in which first the dust of Sarah was deposited, and to which afterwards the bodies

of himself, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah were consigned, while Joseph and

the twelve patriarchs, who all died in Egypt, were brought over to the promised land

and buried in Jacob's field at Shechem.




The Death and Burial of Sarah (vs. 1-20)




Ø      The mournful event. The death of:


o        An aged woman. “Sarah was an hundred and twenty-seven years old.”

o        A distinguished princess. As the wife of Abraham and the mother of the

promised seed, Sarah was doubly ennobled.

o        An eminent saint. Sarah, like her husband, was renowned for faith and

piety; indeed in these respects only second to the mother of our Lord,

whom she conspicuously typified, and proposed by, the Holy Spirit

as a pattern for Christian women.

o        A beloved wife. Sarah s married life extended over the greater part of

a century, and the tender and constant love which gilded it with

happiness through all the passing years shines on every page of the

inspired narrative.

o        A revered parent. In the death of Sarah Isaac lost a loving and a

much-loved mother.


Ø      The attendant circumstances. Sarah died:


o        In the land of Canaan. If not the place of her birth, Canaan had become

the country of her adoption, and the scene of her spiritual nativity. A

special sadness attaches to death upon a foreign shore, and among

heathen peoples. Sarah may be said to have expired upon her own

inheritance, and in Jehovah’s land.


o        In the bosom of her family. If Sarah was not spared the anguish of

dying in the absence of her noble husband, her latest moments, we

may be sure, were soothed by the tender ministries of her gentle son.


o        In the exercise of faith. Sarah was one of those “all” who “died in

faith,” looking for a better country, even an heavenly. (Hebrews

11:13-14)  Hence the last enemy, death, we cannot doubt, was

encountered with quiet fortitude and cheerful resignation.




Ø      The days of mourning. “Abraham came to mourn and to weep for

Sarah.” The sorrow of the patriarch was:


o        Appropriate and becoming. Lamentation for the dead is agreeable

to the instincts of nature and the dictates of religion. Witness:


§       Joseph (ch. 50:1),

§       David (II Samuel 12:16),

§       Job (Job 1:20),

§       the devout men of Jerusalem (Acts 8:2),

§       Christ (John 11:35).


o        Intense and sincere. Though partaking of the nature of a public

ceremonial, the patriarch’s grief was none the less real and profound.

Simulated sorrow is no less offensive than sinful.


o        Limited and restrained. If there is a time to mourn and a time to weep,

there is also a time to cast aside the symbols of sorrow, and a time to

refrain from tears. Nature and religion both require a moderate indulgence

in the grief occasioned by bereavement.


Ø      The purchase of a grave. Here may be noted:


o        The polite request.


§         Its object — a grave for a possession;

§         its purpose— to bury his dead;

§         its plea — his wandering and unsettled condition in the



o        The generous proposal; prefaced with respect, proffered with

magnanimity; teaching us the respect owing neighbors, the honor due

superiors, and the kindness which should be shown strangers.


o        The courteous refusal. Unwilling to acquiesce in the proposed

arrangement, Abraham:


§       declines with much respectfulness (v. 12),

§       expresses his desire with greater clearness (v. 13), and

§       urgently requests the friendly intercession of the people of

the land (v. 8).


Abraham’s politeness a pattern for all.


o        The liberal donation. Ephron indicates his wish to bestow the cave

upon the patriarch as a gift. Liberality is a Christian virtue which may

sometimes be learned from the men of the world.


o        The completed purchase. Abraham weighs out the stipulated sum,

neither depreciating Ephron’s property nor asking an abatement in the

price; an example for merchants and traders.


o        The acquired possession. The field and cave were made sure to

Abraham forever. The only thing on earth a man can really call his

own is HIS GRAVE!


Ø      The last rites of sepulture. After this Abraham buried Sarah his wife in

the cave of the field of Machpelah;” with unknown funeral rites, but

certainly with reverence, with sadness, with hope.


  • LEARN:


1. The duty of preparing for death.

2. The propriety of moderate indulgence in grief.

3. The obligation resting on surviving relatives to carefully dispose of the

    lifeless bodies of the dead.

4. The wisdom of good men acquiring as soon as possible for themselves

    and their families a burial-place for a possession.






The Death and Burial of Sarah (vs. 19-20)



Those who know themselves blessed of God do not only feel that their

human affections are precious and true, but do, in obedience to His will,

preserve the greatest respect for their bodily frame, and for their dead who

died in the Lord, and whose dust is committed tenderly to His keeping.



CARE FOR THE DEAD. They looked beyond the grave. Some say there

is no evidence of the doctrine of immortality in the Old Testament until

after the captivity Surely Abraham’s feelings were not those of one who

sorrowed without hope. The purchase of the field, the securing possession

for all time of the burying-place, pointed to faith, not the lack of it. Where

there is no sense of immortality there is no reverence for the dead.


·         THE PURCHASE OF THE FIELD was not only its security, but a

testimony to the heathen that the people of God held in reverence both the

memory of the dead and the rights of the living. All social prosperity has its




Lessons from the Sepulcher (v. 20)


“And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham

for a possession of a burying-place.” Abraham’s first and only possession

in Canaan was a sepulcher. The importance of the purchase appears in the

careful narrative of the transaction. For himself he was content to live as a

stranger and pilgrim (compare I Peter 5:7); but Sarah’s death led him to

acquire a burying-place. Declining the offer to use any of the sepulchers of

the people of the land (compare the separation at death between God’s people

and aliens), he bought the field and the cave, and carefully prepared the

evidence of the purchase. The purchase showed his faith in God’s truth;

one of the branches of Adam’s temptation (ch. 3:4). It had been

promised that his seed, after dwelling in a land not theirs, should return and

possess that whereon he stood (compare Jeremiah 32:14-15). This is a type of

entrance into rest after pilgrimage (compare II Corinthians 5:1). It showed

also his faith in a resurrection (compare Psalm 16:10). The desire that he and

his family should lie in the same sepulcher speaks of a life beyond the

present. Parted by death, they were one family still. Sarah was to him “my

dead.” There was a link between them still. The living and dead still are one

family. Consider:


1.  The Doctrine of communion of saints (compare Matthew 22:32).

2.  Death was the gate of life (compare I Thessalonians 4:16).

3.  Canaan is a type of the rest which remaineth;

4.  Abraham as of the “children of the kingdom,”

5.  We are all pilgrims with a promise.

6.  There is no true rest here.

7.  Life is full of uncertainties.

8.  One thing is for sure, We must all die and appear before the judgment

     seat of Christ!  (Hebrews 9:27; II Corinthians 5:10)





faith. Great and glorious promises are our encouragement, that we may not

make our home here; yet we know not what we shall be. Sight cannot

penetrate the curtain that separates time from eternity. (I John 3:2)  Thus

there is the trial, do we walk by faith or by sight? We instinctively shrink

from death. It is connected in our mind with sorrow, with interruption of plans,

with breaking up of loving companionship; but faith bids us sorrow not as

those without hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)  It reminds that it is the passing

from what is defective and transitory to WHAT IS IMMORTAL!   Here

we are trained for the better things beyond, and our thoughts are turned to

that sepulcher in which THE VICTORY OVER DEATH WAS WON!

Thence we see the Lord arising, the pledge of eternal life to all who will

have it.



should enter it as one of the company gathered there to await the

resurrection day; but meanwhile it was his. And if we look upon this as

typical of OUR INTEREST IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST, it speaks of

comfort and trust.  He took our nature that He might “taste death for every

man.” His grave is ours (II Corinthians 5:14). We are buried with Him,”

planted together in the likeness of His death.’ The fact of His death is a

possession that cannot be taken from us (Colossians 3:3-4). HE DIED

THAT WE MIGHT LIVE!  If frail man clings to the tomb of some dear one;

if the heart is conscious of the link still enduring, shall we not rejoice in our

union with him whose triumph makes us also more than conquerors?


·         THE FIELD AND CAVE. How small a part did Abraham possess in

his lifetime, but it was an earnest of the whole; he felt it so, and in faith

buried his dead (compare ch. 50:25; Hebrews 11:22). An earnest is all

we possess here, BUT WE STILL HAVE AN EARNEST! 


Ø      In the presence of the Lord (John 14:23),

Ø      in the peace which He gives,

Ø      in the spirit of adoption,


we have the “substance of things hoped for,” a real fragment and sample of the

blessedness of heaven.




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