Although the man of faith knows that in the resurrection glory he shall be heir to the land,
until that time he will be no debtor to those in temporary possession (v. 15, 16).
1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
2 And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
3 ¶ And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, 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.
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.
7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Genesis 23:1-6 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 23:7-9 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 23:10-20 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 23:1-20 – Abraham Buys a Burial Place
Death is an ever-constant monitor that this world is not our home. We rise up from before our dead to confess that we are only strangers and sojourners on the earth. Though the whole country, by God’s deed and gift, belonged to Abraham, it had not as yet been made over; hence the necessity for this deliberate purchase with all the stately formalities of the leisured East. Abraham’s insistence on buying this grave, and the care with which the negotiations were pursued, show that he realized that his descendants would come again into that land and possess it. It was as though he felt that he and Sarah should lie there awaiting the return of their children and children’s children. See also Genesis 49:29, 30. So the graves of the martyrs and of missionaries who have fallen at the post of duty are the silent outposts that hold those lands for Christ, as the graves of the saints await the Second Advent. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Genesis 23:4 – I am a Stranger and a Sojourner.
The minute details of this purchase are recorded to emphasize the fact that, though the whole land was Abraham’s by the Divine gift, he would not enter on its possession until God’s time was come. We may be sure of certain blessings—ours in God’s safe keeping—though they are withheld until the moment that his wisdom sees best. It was a touching confession. The aged patriarch had for long years owned no settled dwelling-place. After years in the land of promise he was still without land enough for a grave.
Faith cannot be satisfied with the things of this world.—The sons of Heth had goods and lands, but Abraham did not envy them; he had caught a glimpse of the city which hath foundations, and this so satisfied and attracted him that he had no desire for aught that Palestine could yield.
Faith detaches us from the present.—We are content to dwell in tents, because here we have no abiding place. The shows and vanities of the world, in comparison with the vision of eternal realities, are as the glare of the streets compared with the steady glory of the constellations of the night.
Faith prompts to confession.—It bewrayeth itself. We should be careful and orderly in our business arrangements; but, in our dealings with our fellows, in our justice, fairness, honor, the lightness of our hold on the present world, we should make it manifest that we are seeking a country not our own.
Faith cannot be ashamed.—The God who prompted it must satisfy it, else He would have reason to be ashamed of having failed the souls that trusted Him. But now He is not ashamed to be called our God, because He has prepared for us a city. —Our Daily Homily