Gen 23: Outline: The age and death of Sarah: vv 1,2; Abraham
respected by the Gentiles: vv 3-7; he purchases the cave of Machpelah: vv 8-16;
Abraham's sole possession in the Land of promise: vv 17-20.
Abraham keeps himself separate, distinct, proclaiming himself
as a stranger, and accepts no favors at their hands. He refuses intermarriage
between his race and theirs; refuses the gift (if it really was a gift!) of a
sepulcher from Ephron, and the spoils from the king of Sodom. The tomb of
Machpelah is a constant reminder of this separateness (cp Act 7:5).
Sarah is the only woman whose age at death is given in the
Bible. Note Isaac's sorrow at the death of his mother: Gen 24:69.
SHE DIED IN KIRIATH ARBA: Sarah is the only woman whose
age, death, and burial are so distinctly noted in the Bible.
ABRAHAM WENT TO MOURN FOR SARAH: Does this imply that
Sarah died while Abraham was away from the compound, perhaps tending his flocks
in another area?
Making an Arab contract always requires intermediaries, and is
very delicate and tedious in negotiation (LB 578).
GIVE... GIVE... GIVE: Merely an Arab form of speech,
meaning "sell". Absolutely no intention to give away free (LB 578). Cp v
Why did Abraham insist on buying the land? One of the lessons
could be that which he stated himself in v 4 -- that he was a "stranger and
sojourner with you". To give him a section of the land might imply that it was
already his in some way at that time. But his insistence on buying that small
section showed that the land as a whole was not his then. Of course he knew that
it would be his in the future -- an everlasting inheritance. But the future was
not then. See Act 7:5. Also it is likely that Abraham did not want to feel
obligated to Ephron in any way. Cp Rom 13:8: "Owe no man anything"
400 SHEKELS OF SILVER: An exorbitant price (cp Jer
32:9, where Jeremiah buys a field for seventeen shekels of silver). Abraham
agrees to the first mentioned price. Those who bargain overmuch run the risk of
caring for material things too much (Mat 6; cp Pro 20:14). Also, this was not
the time and place to do any bargaining, since Sarah had just died. But even in
different circumstances, it is unlikely Abraham would have done any
Abraham is in sorrow, and in no mood to bargain. It is
unthinkable to accept the first price offered.
WEIGHED OUT: Eastern merchants commonly carry scales to
test the weight of coins (LB 578).
The contract must enumerate all the landmarks that pertain to
a piece of land. A characteristic trait in Hittite business documents is the
consistent listing of the exact number of trees on a tract (Tes
"Up to this day, in this very city, a purchase thus witnessed
is legal, while the best drawn deeds of a London lawyer, signed and sealed,
would be of no avail without such living witnesses" (LB 579).
The cave of Machpelah is only one of a very few Biblical sites
known with absolute certainty. Described in LB 580-582. Here are buried: I -
Isaac; S - Sarah; R - Rebekah; A - Abraham; L - Leah.
DEEDED: "Made sure" (AV). All the land is "made sure"
to Abraham and Sarah as a future possession!