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
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
supplanted by that of Kir-jath-arba, but restored at the conquest (Keil, Hengstenberg,
Murphy; see ch. 13:18) in
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;
ἤλθε – aelthe - came (Septuagint), venit (Vulgate); not as if he had been absent
at her death (Calvin), either in
or in Gerar, whither he had gone to sell the lands and other properties he held there
(Luther), or in the pasture grounds adjoining
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
(ch. 27:46) and "daughters of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
'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
(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
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
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
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
o A revered parent. In the death of Sarah Isaac lost a loving and a
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
§ 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.
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)
· TRUE RELIGION SANCTIFIES NATURAL RELATIONSHIPS.
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.
· THE PEOPLE OF GOD WERE UPHELD BY FAITH IN THEIR
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
root in RELIGIOUS LIFE!
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
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
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)
· WE ENTER THE HEAVENLY REST THROUGH DEATH; THE
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
· THE SEPULCHRE WAS MADE SURE TO ABRAHAM. In time he
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.
"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.
Materials are reproduced by permission."
This material can be found at:
If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.