This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at www.fbcroxana.com.
God’s redemptive program focuses upon a nation that, by this chapter, had not come into existence. At this point, the nation who would be the focus of redemptive history was but a family of three. God would multiply this family exceedingly into a kingdom. He had made a covenant with Abraham, the patriarch of the family, that He would give him a large family that would possess all the land of Canaan, give birth to kings, bless the whole earth, and be the people of God. That promise was far from full fulfillment, though its fulfillment had begun with the birth of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. Many years later, Sarah died, and the family was once again only two people. And these two people did not even own a piece of the Promised Land. Yet they knew that God’s promise was true, and they trusted God to bring it all about.
1 Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
Sarah lived until Isaac was thirty seven years old. She had sojourned with Abraham in the land of Canaan for sixty two years. Her faith in God’s promises grew strong, and she died awaiting the fulfillment of that promise.
3 Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, 4 “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
Though he had been in the land for six decades, he still owned no portion of it. The first and only part of the land that Abraham would own during his lifetime would be a place for his family to rest in death.
5 The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, 6 “Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.”
The Hethites were aware of the blessing of God upon Abraham. They literally called him ‘a prince of God.’ Wherever he went, it was evident that God’s hand was leading and protecting Abraham. They respected Abraham and would not refuse him the right to use their tombs, but seem hesitant to give him a permanent possession in the land.
7 So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. 8 And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.”
Abraham made it known that he desired a certain cave called Machpelah (double-cave). He requested the cave only, not wishing to interfere with the business of Ephron, the owner. He also made it clear that he wanted to pay full price to buy the site. So Abraham appealed to the elders of the people to pressure Ephron into selling him the cave.
10 Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11 “No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.”
Ephron was sitting among the elders at the gate of the city when Abraham made his request. He did not need to be pressured, but was willing to sell Abraham the cave along with the field. Even in this, the Lord’s hand was upon Abraham to make him successful.
12 And Abraham bowed before the people of the land. 13 He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If you will only please listen to me; I will give the price of the field, accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Then Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 15 “My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.” 16 Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard.
It is impossible to say what four hundred shekels would equal in today’s currency, but Abraham immediately took the offer without any bargaining. We cannot say too much about this either, for the buying/selling customs of the sons of Heth are unknown. What is important is that Abraham owned a piece of land in Canaan in which he would bury his dead.
17 So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over 18 to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.
What is important about Abraham owning a tract of land in Canaan? It means that there is a future for that land and the family of Abraham. Even though it is a burial spot, it looks forward also to the resurrection of the dead to obtain the kingdom of Abraham.
Since Genesis 3, we have been awaiting the appearance of the Seed of the woman, the Messiah. The Messiah was neither Abraham nor Isaac, but He would be one of their descendants. He is the one who will usher in the Kingdom of God and rule as King over the world from Jerusalem. But first, He had to deal with the curse of sin and defeat death. So He was born of a virgin in Israel, the Son of Man and Son of God. He was tempted in all ways that people are, yet He did not sin. According to the will of God, He was crucified, and died for the sins of all in the world who will believe in Him. Those who believe in Him will be raised to eternal life. Those who do not believe in Him will suffer the second death: eternal condemnation in a place of torment.
To receive everlasting life, believe that Jesus died and rose again so that sin would be atoned for and we could be declared righteous by God. Trust that He died to take away sins and all those who are His will be saved. Accept Him as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and receive the gift of eternal life in His Kingdom.