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 Nothing outdated, nothing counterfeit, nothing left to be paid off.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.