Sarah’s Death and Burial
23 Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”
Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.
Genesis 23 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“I am a stranger and a sojourner among you.”Genesis 23:4
This world is not our home. We’re simply passing through on this journey of ours. Sarah’s death brought mourning for Abraham. In negotiating with the people of the land, he looked and requested a burial spot but his words make a profound statement. Although he was a stranger in this foreign land, he also recognized his real home was heaven. Moses knew the same as did David as they both wrote of this.
It can be so hard for us to maintain the right perspective when it comes to this. We get so caught up in life and things that surround it. Mourning one we loved can overwhelm. But with the speed of life as it is these days, the busyness of our schedule and ways, we all too easily forget that this is not the end all be all. Death brings that reality back into focus. Abraham recognized he was just passing through and moving toward a greater final reward.
To me, there is hope in these thoughts. For as many of us struggle through things in life; as we wrestle with ourselves and even others it doesn’t last… not really. There is a beautiful reward of heaven promised for those who maintain their relationship with God through Jesus. There is something far beyond what we can imagine. We are all strangers in this thing we call life. We are all journeying toward another landing spot, a far greater city.
Genesis 23 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
It is significant that the age of Sarah is given when she dies. This is not the case with other matriarchs. Rebekah’s death is not even recorded and Rachel’s death is only highlighted by her burial location. It is speculated that the Lord let Sarah live 127 years because it represented an exceedingly blessed life. A long life was considered 120 years.
Then the LORD said, “I will not allow people to live forever; they are mortal. From now on they will live no longer than 120 years.”Genesis 6:3 GNB
God gave Sarah an extra 7 years, a complete number that represents fullness.
Being able to have a proper burial for his wife required that Abraham own land. He did not want a borrowed tomb. The issue is that he had been wandering ever since God had called him. It would have been easy for Abraham, in his emotions, to be frustrated with his situation. This certainly wasn’t ideal, but God had a plan.
After some interesting bargaining, Abraham was able to buy and retain ownership of a small piece of real estate that existed within the land promised to his descendants. It is fascinating to consider that this cave would become the burial plot for Abraham and his family. Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob would all be buried there.
It may seem like a small detail, but this was the provision of God taking shape in Abraham’s life. It was the beginning of a promise fulfilled.