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1 And Sarah was an hundred and seuen and twenty yeeres olde: these were the yeeres of the life of Sarah.

2 And Sarah died in Kiriath arba, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: And Abraham came to mourne for Sarah, and to weepe for her.

3 And Abraham stood vp from before his dead, & spake vnto the sonnes of Heth, saying,

4 I am a stranger and a soiourner with you: giue me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

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

6 Heare vs, my Lord, thou art a mightie Prince amongst vs: in the choise of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of vs shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.

7 And Abraham stood vp and bowed himselfe to the people of the land, euen to the children of Heth.

8 And hee communed with them, saying, if it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, heare me, and entreat for me to Ephron the sonne of Zohar:

9 That he may giue me the caue of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field: for as much money as it is worth he shall giue it mee, for a possession of a burying place amongst you.

10 And Ephron dwelt amongst the children of Heth. And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, euen of all that went in at the gates of his citie, saying,

11 Nay, my lord, heare mee: the field giue I thee, and the caue that is therein, I giue it thee, in the presence of the sonnes of my people giue I it thee: bury thy dead.

12 And Abraham bowed downe himselfe before the people of the land.

13 And he spake vnto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt giue it, I pray thee, heare mee: I will giue thee money for the field: take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.

14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying vnto him,

15 My lord, hearken vnto mee: the land is worth foure hundred shekels of siluer: what is that betwixt mee and thee? bury therefore thy dead.

16 And Abraham hearkened vnto Ephron, and Abraham weighed to Ephron the siluer, which he had named, in the audience of the sonnes of Heth, foure hundred shekels of siluer, currant money with the merchant.

17 And the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the fielde and the caue 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 gates of his Citie.

19 And after this Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the caue of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.

20 And the field, and the caue that is therein, were made sure vnto Abraham, for a possession of a burying place, by the sonnes of Heth.

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Commentary for Genesis 23

The death of Sarah, Abraham applies for a burying-place. (1-13) Sarah's burying-place. (14-20)1-13 The longest life must shortly come to a close. Blessed be God that there is a world where sin, death, vanity, and vexation cannot enter. Blessed be his name, that even death cannot part believers from union with Christ. Those whom we most love, yea, even our own bodies, which we so care for, must soon become loathsome lumps of clays, and be buried out of sight. How loose then should we be to all earthly attachments and adornments! Let us seek rather that our souls be adorned with heavenly graces. Abraham rendered honour and respect to the princes of Heth, although of the ungodly Canaanites. The religion of the Bible enjoins to pay due respect to all in authority, without flattering their persons, or countenancing their crimes if they are unworthy characters. And the noble generosity of these Canaanites shames and condemns the closeness, selfishness, and ill-humour of many that call themselves Israelites. It was not in pride that Abraham refused the gift, because he scorned to be beholden to Ephron; but in justice and in prudence. Abraham was able to pay for the field, and therefore would not take advantage of Ephron's generosity. Honesty, as well as honour, forbids us to take advantage of our neighbour's liberality, and to impose, upon those who give freely.

14-20 Prudence, as well as justice, directs us to be fair and open in our dealings; cheating bargains will not bear the light. Abraham, without fraud or delay, pays the money. He pays it at once in full, without keeping any part back; and by weight, current money with the merchant, without deceit. See how anciently money was used for the help of trade, and how honestly it should be paid when it is due. Though all the land of Canaan was Abraham by promise, yet the time of his possessing it not being come, what he had occasion for he bought and paid for. Dominion is not founded in grace. The saints' title to an eternal inheritance does not entitle them to the possessions of this world, nor justify them in doing wrong. Ephron honestly and fairly makes a good title to the land. As that which is bought, must be honestly paid for, so that which is sold, must be honestly delivered and secured. Let us manage our concerns with punctuality and exactness, in order to avoid contention. Abraham buried Sarah in cave. or vault, which was in the purchased field. It would tend to endear the land to his posterity. And it is worth noting, that a burying-place was the only piece of the land which Abraham possessed in Canaan. Those who have least of this earth, find a grave in it. This sepulchre was at the end of the field; whatever our possessions are, there is a burial-place at the end of them. It was a token of his belief and expectation of the resurrection. Abraham is contented to be still a pilgrim while he lives, but secures a place where, when he dies, his flesh may rest in hope. After all, the chief concern is, with whom we shall rise.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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