(Genesis 23, Questions)
Background and Printed Text: Genesis 23:1-20
Genesis 23:1 And the lives of Sarah were 100 year and twenty year and seven years, the years of the lives of Sarah. 2And Sarah died in the City-of-Four. He is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And Avraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
3And Avraham arose from upon the faces of his dead-one. And he spoke unto the sons of Khet to say, 4 “I am a sojourner and a dweller with you. Give to me a possession of a tomb with you, and I will entomb my dead-one from my faces.” 5And the sons of Khet answered Avraham to say to him, 6“Hearken-to us, my lord! Thou art a prince of Elohim in our midst. Entomb thy dead-one in a choice of our tombs. A man from us will not obstruct his tomb from thee from entombing thy dead-one.” 7And Avraham arose. And he prostrated to the people of the land, to the sons of Khet. 8And he spoke with them to say, “If there is with your being to entomb my dead from to my faces, hearken-ye to me and encounter-ye for me in Ephron the son of Tzokhar. 9And he has given to me the cave of the Makhpaylah that is to him that is in the edge of his field. He will give her to me in your midst for a possession of a tomb via the full silver.”
10And Ephron dwelt in the midst of the sons of Khet. And Ephron the Kheti answered Avraham in the ears of the sons of Khet to all comers of the gate of his city to say, 11“No my lord. Hearken-to me! I gave the field to thee and the cave that is in him. I gave her to thee to the eyes of the sons of my people. I gave her to thee to entomb from thy dead.” 12And Avraham prostrated to the faces of the people of the land. 13And he spoke unto Ephron in the ears of the people of the land to say, “But if thou— were— hearken-to me. I gave silver of the field. Take from me, and I have entombed my dead there.” 14And Ephron answered Avraham to say to him, 15“My Lord, hearken to me. A land of 400 shekels of silver is between thee and between me. What is he? Entomb thy dead-one.” 16And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron. And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver that he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, crossed-over to a merchant.
17And the field of Ephron that is in Machpelah that is to the faces of Mamre, the field and the cave that is in him and all the tree that is in the field that is in all his borders around arose 18to Abraham for an acquisition to the eyes of the sons of Heth, and all comers of the gate of his city. 19And afterward, Avraham entombed Sarah his woman into the cave of the field of Machpelah upon the faces of Mamre. He is Hevron in the land of Canaan. 20And the field stood, and the cave that is in him, to Avraham for a possession of a tomb from the sons of Khet.
I. Sarah’s Death (verses 1-2)
Sarah had her first son at age 91 (see Genesis 17:17 and 17:21). She therefore had 36 years with her son before she died.
She died in the city of Hebron. Avraham came to mourn and weep for her.
1. Why is the English so strange in verse 1?
2. Why are her lives plural (instead of ‘life’)?
3. Why does the text twice mention, “the lives of Sarah”?
4. Where is Hebron?
5. Wasn’t Avraham present when Sarah died?
6. What does mourn mean?
7. What does weep mean?
II. Approaching the People for a Burying Place (verses 3-9)
Avraham mourned and wept over Sarah.
He then arose, and spoke unto the sons of Khet on whose land he was grazing the cattle and sheep. He needed a place to put her body.
Avraham told the sons of Heth that he is a sojourner and a dweller with them. He asked them to give him a possession of a tomb.
The sons of Heth recognized Avraham as a prince of Elohim among them. They told him to choose one of their tombs to place his dead one. None of their men would keep him from taking one of their tombs.
Avraham stood, and he then prostrated before the people of the land, the sons of Heth.
Avraham spoke to them; if there was ‘with their being’ to entomb his dead from his faces, that is, from his sight, if they would encounter in (speak directly with) Ephron the son of Tzokhar, that will result in his giving the cave of the Makh-pay-lah located in the edge of his field. Ephron will give her (the cave) to Avraham in the midst of their land for a possession of a tomb, and at the full price of its value in silver.
1. How long did Avraham mourn and weep for Sarah before he began to discuss with the sons of Heth regarding a burial place?
2. Why didn’t Avraham use the word sell instead of give?
3. Did the sons of Heth (Khet, in Hebrew, meaning hot in English) believe in Elohim?
4. Why was Avraham friendly with them (if they didn’t believe in Elohim)?
5. What did the sons of Khet mean by, “Thou art a prince of Elohim”?
6. Why would no one among the sons of Khet obstruct Avraham’s choosing any tomb among them, since tombs were often very expensive and difficult to construct?
7. Why did Avraham prostrate to the people of the land, and who are they?
8. Why didn’t Avraham ask Ephron for himself?
9. Did did Avraham insist on paying the full price, and refused to seek a bargain?
III. The Supposed Price (verses 10-16)
Ephron was now present. He spoke to Avraham in front of witnesses: the sons of Khet and all comers to the city gate.
He first spoke as if he were in an argument with Avraham: “No my lord. Hearken-to me!” He then stated, “gave the field to thee and the cave that is in him.” He next stated, “I gave her to thee to the eyes of the sons of my people.” Still, as if that wasn’t enough, he stated, “I gave her to thee to entomb from thy dead.”
Avraham prostrated himself (went flat down on his stomach) to the faces of (straight in front of) the people of the land. He spoke unto Ephron so that the people of the land could hear: “But if thou— were— hearken-to me. I gave silver of the field. Take from me, and I have entombed my dead there.” Avraham determined to purchase the field, not take it as a gift.
Ephron then spoke of the price and his and Avraham’s relationship: “My Lord, hearken to me. A land of 400 shekels of silver is between thee and between me. What is he? Entomb thy dead-one.”
Avraham then hearkened to Ephron and weighed the silver to him that Ephron had determined. The silver was the same kind that “crossed over to a merchant,” the same kind used in stores.
1. Where was Ephron before this?
2. Why did Ephron answer Avraham “in the ears of the sons of Ket to all comers of the gat of his city”?
3. Why did Ephron start by saying, “No, my lord. Hearken to me”?
4. Why did Ephron state, “I gave” three times?
5. What does “to the eyes of the sons of my people” mean?
6. The expression, “to entomb from thy dead” is not the way speakers of the English language would say this. What does it mean?
7. Explain “But if thou— were— hearken-to me”:
8. Why did Avraham insist on giving silver for the field instead of taking it as a gift?
9. Was 400 shekels of silver a lot?
10. Why was the fact that the silver was crossed over to a merchant important?
IV. The Receipt (verses 17-20)
The text explains what arose to Avraham for an acquisition (something that a person acquires: gets, obtains, and now owns):
- The field of Ephron located in Machpelah, straight in front of Mamre
- The field and the cave in the field
- All the tree (we would say trees) in the field in all the fields borders.
The sons of Khet and all covers of the gate of this city saw this transaction.
Avraham entombed Sarah in the cave of this field. The other name of this location is Hevron (most call it Hebron) in the land of Canaan (named after the most powerful race present, the Canaanites). The text again stated that the field and its cave stood for a possession of a tomb from the sons of Khet.
1. Why are so many words used to indicate that Avraham truly acquired the field from the sons of Khet by legal means?