Genesis 23: Sarah’s Death and Burial

Why do you think Sarah lived so much longer than people live today?

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Genesis 23:1 Sarah lived 127 years.
King James
Genesis 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

What is the best way to recover from grief after losing a loved one? Why do some people never seem to recover from a loss?

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Genesis 23:2 She died in Kiriath Arba, the town known as Hebron, in the land of Canaan.
Abraham mourned her passing, weeping.
King James
Genesis 23:2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

Why did Abraham want a special burial place for his wife?

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Genesis 23:3–4 Abraham left his wife’s body to speak to the Hittites. “I am a stranger living among you, without land of my own. Please let me buy property where I can bury my dead.”
King James
Genesis 23:3–4 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, 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.

Why did the Hittites offer Abraham his choice of burial places?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 23:5–6 The Hittites said to Abraham, 6 “Listen, sir. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead wherever you want. We will not refuse any burial place.”
King James
Genesis 23:5–6 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, 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.

What was so special about Ephron’s field that Abraham wanted to buy it and not something else? Why didn’t he ask for only the cave?

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Genesis 23:7–9 Abraham rose and bowed before the Hittites. 8 “If that is your desire,” he said, “then ask Ephron, son of Zohar, to sell me the cave of Machpelah at the end of his land for its full value so I may own it as a burial place.”
King James
Genesis 23:7–9 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. 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, 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.

What had happened that would lead Ephron to want to freely give Abraham something that had great market value?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 23:10–11 From among the Hittites assembled there, Ephron said, “No, sir. Listen, I want to give it to you. My people are witnesses that the land and the cave are yours so you can bury your dead.”
King James
Genesis 23:10–11 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, 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.

Why was Abraham unwilling to accept Ephron’s generosity?

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Genesis 23:12–13 Abraham bowed before the people and said to Ephron and all the witnesses, “No, listen to me. I appreciate your generosity, but you must accept my offer for the full price. I can then bury my dead there.”
King James
Genesis 23:12–13 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. 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.

Why was it important for the Hittites to witness the sale of land to Abraham?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 23:14–18 Ephron said to Abraham, “Listen, sir. The land is worth 400 shekels of silver, which is nothing compared to the value of our relationship. Go bury your dead.”
Abraham paid Ephron the exact amount, weighing before witnesses the 400 shekels of silver according to commercial standards. With its field, trees, and cave, Ephron’s land in Machpelah near Mamre now belonged to Abraham, with the transaction witnessed by the Hittites.
King James
Genesis 23:14–18 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, 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 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 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 unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.

What do you think Abraham said and did when he buried his wife? Who else was present?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 23:19–20 Then Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the Machpelah cave near Mamre, which is Hebron in the land of Canaan. The Hittites sold the field and its cave to Abraham for a burial site.
King James
Genesis 23:19–20 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 the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.