Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 23:15-19

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.

Here we have the conclusion of this gentlemanly negotiation. At Abraham’s insistence, Ephron names the price for the cave and accompanying field. Ephron follows it up with “what is that betwixt me and thee?” which I take to mean, “four hundred shekels is unimportant to me, you really don’t need to pay for this.” But Abraham keeps to his word and measures out the full amount.

And there are two details to note here. Abraham is paying in full right up front. There is no loan, no interest, he covers the whole thing at once. The second detail is that Abraham is paying with “current money” that was still good “with the merchant.” Nothing outdated, nothing counterfeit, nothing left to be paid off. It was a full transaction and the matter is completely resolved.

Then verse seventeen and eighteen speak again to that reason that Abraham paid for this land so quickly and carefully: so that the ownership would be “made sure.” The entire transaction had been done “in the presence of the children of Heth,” so that there were many witnesses to it.

Only now, when Abraham has done absolutely everything within his power to make Sarah’s resting place permanent and sure, does he lay her down to her burial. He has made as much certainty as any mortal ever could that she will never be disturbed in her slumber.

There are some wonderful lessons to be gleaned from this chapter about how to treat friends and family with honor and dignity. Abraham is the epitome of a gentleman in these passages, treating everyone with graciousness and also fulfilling his every duty.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 23:8-13

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 entreat 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.

The extreme good manners continue in this part of the story. The people of Heth have asked Abraham to name whatever plot of land he wants as a burying place for Sarah. He approached them meekly and at their mercy, but now they have encouraged him to speak his desire directly. So emboldened, Abraham names a cave that belongs to Ephron, and asks him to name what that place is worth and he will pay it. Continuing with the politeness, Ephron says Abraham may certainly have the cave, and he will even give it to him freely, no pay is necessary. Abraham, of course, refuses, and insists on paying whatever the fair price for the plot of land is. And Abraham is making the right choice here because of three reasons.

The first is that it will provide Abraham security. With an official payment his ownership of the land becomes sure. No one will be able to doubt that Abraham legally owns the cave, as there will be a clear transaction to prove his rightful purchase of it.

The second is that this is doing right by Ephron. This whole conversation has been public, polite, and formal, and Ephron could possibly feel compelled to offer up his land for free, even if he didn’t really want to. But Abraham won’t let Ephron be taken advantage of that way. He will give the man what he is due.

The third reason is that this is doing right by Sarah. She is Abraham’s beloved wife, and he should be willing to sacrifice his personal possessions for her. He wouldn’t insult her memory by giving her a resting place that he obtained cheaply. This is him showing that she is worth it.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 23:3-7

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.

No sooner did Abraham rise from his grieving than he went to buy a place to bury Sarah.

Notice how Abraham describes himself to them: “a stranger and a sojourner.” He is well aware that he has foreign roots, that he is not like the natives of this place. But in return the people call him “a mighty prince among us.” They revere him and are honored by his presence. They state that every one of them will gladly give a plot of land for his sepulcher. Abraham bows before them, perhaps to show gratitude for their response, perhaps to still show humility before moving on with his request.

The good manners here are abundant, and they will only continue as the narrative proceeds. Abraham is meek and unassuming, but that doesn’t mean he is passive-aggressive. He shows a great deal of decorum before making his request, but then he still makes it, clearly and plainly. These verses show what it is to walk the fine line of being polite, but direct.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 23:1-2

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.

Sarah was Abraham’s longtime companion and friend. From one journey to the next, Abraham had to part ways with one family member after another, but she remained his constant partner. Now, though, after 172 years, Sarah finally took a separate journey of her own.

Abraham has had many causes to attend to throughout the Genesis chapters. He has proven honorable and devoted with Lot, Abimelech, and God. He has faithfully fulfilled his duty to each in turn. Now his story is winding to its close, and there are not going to be any more duties to perform, just a quiet retirement until he rests in his grave.

Or rather, almost it is time for that retirement. Before he comes to that there remains one last duty for Abraham to fulfill, and it is fitting and touching that it is to his wife, Sarah. Now that she has died he must find a place to bury her, and the entirety of this chapter is about Abraham diligently seeking and finding the perfect resting place for her. We will read in the next chapter how he begins entrusting his duties to his servants, but this one task, this is the last that he will undertake with his own hand.