Gen. 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
Gen. 23:2 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.
Sarah lived to be 127 years old, making Abraham 137 and Isaac 36. She died in Hebron and Abraham mourned her loss. The wording seems to indicate that Abraham “came” to mourn for her at her death. Indicating he could have been away on business, such as checking on his cattle or flocks, when Sarah died.
Another choice from the Hebrew would have been entered or went into mourning as translated by the NASB.
Genesis 23:2 “…and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.”
Stedman adds some insight: “As was customary in those days, the body of Sarah was placed in a tent all by itself and into that tent goes Abraham alone to weep and mourn.”
Clarke: "It is worthy of remark that Sarah is the only woman in the sacred writings whose age, death, and burial are distinctly noted. And she has been deemed worthy of higher honor, for St. Paul, Galatians 4:22-23, makes her a type of the Church of Christ; and her faith in the accomplishment of God's promise, that she should have a son, when all natural probabilities were against it, is particularly celebrated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 11:11.”
Gen. 23:3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,
Another good thought from Stedman: “I love this phrase, "Abraham rose up from before his dead." That signified a squaring of the shoulder, a lifting up of the eye, a firming of the step, a facing of life again, and it is followed by a wonderful confession of faith: "I am a stranger and a sojourner among you." That is the word of a man who looks beyond all that earth has to offer and once more sees the city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God.”
Gen. 23:4 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.
Gen. 23:5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Gen. 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.
Gen. 23:7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
Gen. 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 intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
Gen. 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 buryingplace amongst you.
Gen. 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,
Gen. 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 thy dead.
Gen. 23:12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.
Gen. 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 there.
Gen. 23:14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Gen. 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 dead.
Gen. 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.
Gen. 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
Gen. 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 city.
Gen. 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.
Gen. 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.
Hebron was in the land of the Hittites, so Abraham asked to buy some land to bury his wife. The Hittites greatly respected Abraham who they considered to be a prince. They offered him his pick of any tomb he wanted. He refused a gift, but asked for their support in seeking the purchase of the cave of Machpelah. He would pay full price to purchase the land as a burial site. The owner of the land, Ephron, again offered to give the cave to Abraham in the hearing of many witnesses. Abraham bowed in respect before the people, but insisted on purchasing it. Ephron agrees to 400 shekels of silver as the worth of the land Abraham wanted. Abraham agreed and paid the price. Note that v16 says that Abraham weighed the silver to pay Ephron; that was the method of determining payment at that time.
The field and the cave as established by the agreed borders were deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of many witnesses. After completing his business transaction, Abraham buried Sarah in the cave.
This tomb later became the burial site for Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. It is known today as the Cave of the Patriarchs.
“I am a stranger….” – This fact is referenced in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:13-16 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
Abraham knew he would not to be around when his descendants entered the promised land; in fact, he wasn’t looking forward to living on planet earth at all. He was looking towards his home in heaven.
This was one of the sites we visited in the Holy Land that we know is authentic, not traditional. It was pretty unbelievable to think that it can still be identified as the exact site from so long ago. I hope I get to go back some day.
Interesting note from Gill: “Benjamin of TudelaF8 says, in his time (who lived in the latter end of the twelfth century), in the field of Machpelah was a city or town, and in it a large temple called Saint Abraham, where were shown the sepulchres of the six persons before mentioned, and inscriptions over each of them, showing whose they were; and that at the end of the field was the house of Abraham, and before the house a fountain, and no other was suffered to be built there in honour to Abraham….”
It’s interesting that God inspired so much detail regarding Abraham’s purchase of this land. This scripture serves to verify the oldest deed of land on record.