Dave Burnette's Commentary

Genesis Chapter 23

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: To Record God's Creation and Identify His Plan (c 1-22)
Theme: The Story of Abraham (c 12-25)
Message: Abraham Buries Sarah (v 1-20)

Genesis 23 Commentary

(23:1-4) Death Comes to Abraham - In Abraham's day, death and burial were steeped in ritual and traditions. Failing to honor a dead person demonstrated the greatest possible lack of respect. An improper burial was the equivalent of a curse. Mourning was an essential part of the death ritual. Friends and relatives would cry loudly for the whole neighborhood to hear. Because there were no funeral homes or undertakers, these same friends and relatives would help prepare the body for burial, which usually would take place on the same day because of the warm climate.

(23:4-6) Abraham Reputation Helps Him in His Time of Need -  Abraham was in a foreign land looking for a place to bury his wife. Strangers offered to help him because he was "a mighty prince" and they respected him. Although Abraham had not put down roots in the area, his reputation was above reproach. Those who invest their time and money in serving God often earn a pleasant return on their investment-a good reputation and the respect of others.

(23:10-16) Abraham Purchases the Land -  The polite interchange between Abraham and Ephron was typical of bargaining at that time. Ephron graciously offered to give his land to Abraham at no charge; Abraham insisted on paying for it; Ephron politely mentioned the price but said, in effect, that it wasn't important; Abraham paid the 400 shekels of silver. Both men knew what was going on as they went through the bargaining process. If Abraham had accepted the land as a gift when it was offered, he would have insulted Ephron, who then would have rescinded his offer. Many Middle Eastern shopkeepers still follow this bargaining ritual with their customers.

(23:16) Abraham Pays a High Price -   Four hundred shekels of silver was an outrageous price for the piece of property Abraham bought. The "sons of Heth," or Hittites, weren't thrilled about foreigners buying their property, so Abraham had little bargaining leverage.
The custom of the day was to ask for double the fair market value of the land, fully expecting the buyer to offer half the stated price. Abraham, however, did not bargain. He simply paid the initial price. He was not trying to take anything he did not gain fairly. Even though God had promised the land to Abraham, he did not just take it away from Ephron.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

A Great Price

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. There are many applications we can make from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Genesis with Chapter 23, and in today's text, we see the death of Sarah and Abraham's response to this tragic event in his life. Sarah died in a foreign land where Abraham had no burial place for his bride. Abraham paid a great price for the land, twice its fair market value, although Ephron offered it to Abraham for free. In applying today's text, I see an example of the importance of life. Although we no longer indwell the dead body, we see a significant price paid to respect Sarah from a loving husband. Today, life is not respected; we see abortions, murders, drug abuse, and the list goes on, but it seems that many do not respect others or even themselves. Our lives are important to God as you see Him giving Jesus to each of us. A great price paid shows each of us our life has great value. I see many people today immersing their lives in sin because they don't think they are worth anything. How about you? Do you know the value of your life and the life of others? Let us learn from our text today and, more importantly, the price Jesus paid for you to realize that you have great worth in the eyes of our Lord, a value - worthy of a great price.


Genesis 23

Genesis 23

 1And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

 2And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

 3And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,

 4I 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.

 5And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,

 6Hear 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.

 7And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

 8And 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,

 9That 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.

 10And 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,

 11Nay, 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.

 12And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.

 13And 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.

 14And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,

 15My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.

 16And 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.

 17And 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

 18Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.

 19And 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.

 20And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.