DEATH AND BURIAL OF SARAH.
(1) Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old.—Sarah is the only woman whose age at her death is mentioned in the Bible, an honour doubtless given her as the ancestress of the Hebrew race (Isaiah 51:2). As she was ninety at Isaac’s birth, he would now be thirty-seven years of age.
Abraham came to mourn.—At this period Abraham was in quiet possession of several headquarters, and apparently was himself at Beer-sheba when Sarah died at Hebron, where probably he had left Isaac in charge of his mother and the cattle.
The sons of Heth.—Up to this time we have read only of Amorites, Mamre and his toothers, at Hebron. It now appears that it was the property of the Hittites, a race who, while the Israelites sojourned in Egypt, became so powerful as to contend for empire with the Egyptians themselves. Their capital was Emesa in Northern Syria, and their history is now being made known to us not only by means of Egyptian records, but also of inscriptions in their own language (See Note on Genesis 10:15).
In the choice of our sepulchres.—The interview between Abraham and the Hittites is marked by the utmost courtesy on both sides, but it is a mistake to suppose that this acceptance of the patriarch’s proposal contained the idea that he might select a sepulchre without paying for it. The payment, in true Oriental fashion, is kept in the background, but is pre-supposed on both sides. After the acceptance of his proposal, it was Abraham’s turn to name the burying-place he wished, and the owner next consents, but while treating the purchase-money as a matter of small importance, he nevertheless asks a very high price, to which Abraham at once consents.
For as much money as it is worth.—Heb., for full silver, rendered “the full price” in 1 Chronicles 21:22.
A buryingplace amongst you.—This translation is quite wrong. Abraham had no wish that Sarah should be buried amongst the Hittites, but required that the sale should be duly attested. The Heb. is. Let him give it me in the midst of you (that is, in a general assembly of the people), for a possession and a buryingplace.
The field, and the cave . . . —It is interesting to compare this document, so legally exact and full, with the numerous tablets of terra-cotta now in our museums, and which record with equal exactness the daily business transactions of the people of Ur-Chasdim, whence Abraham had migrated.