Genesis 23 - Sarah Dies and Is Buried
A. The death of Sarah.
1. (1) The death of Sarah.
a. Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age at death is recorded; it gives us some measure of understanding how great a woman she is in the Bible.
b. Nowhere in in the Bible are we told to look to Mary as an example of a godly woman. Twice we are told to look to Sarah as such an example (Isaiah 51:1-2, 1 Peter 3:3-6).
2. (2) Abraham's mourning.
a. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah; "That is, he set himself deliberately to all the functions of a mourner." (Boice) Abraham wasn't afraid to mourn, though he did not sorrow as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
b. "To weep for a loved one is to show that we have been close, that the loss is keenly felt, that death is an enemy, and that sin has brought this sad punishment upon the human race." (Boice)
B. Abraham buys land for Sarah's burial.
1. (3-16) Abraham haggles with the Philistines for the land of Sarah's tomb.
a. The feeling I am a foreigner and a sojourner among you in Abraham was not because he came from Ur of the Chaldeans; it was because he recognized his real home was heaven. Moses knew the same, and commanded Israel to know it (Leviticus 25:23). David also knew this truth (1 Chronicles 29:14, Psalm 39:12).
b. This way of negotiating the price is typical of ancient and modern practices in that culture. As a gesture of kindness, the selling party may offer to give the property in question to the buyer, until the buyer insists on paying a price.
i. The Canaanite, Ephron, is following the cultural customs of bargaining. First, offer to give it. Then, when that is refused, suggest a price, which you claim is modest but is really very high. This is understood to be the starting point, and from there the bargaining begins.
c. Abraham shows how a Christian should do business with the world: courteously, fairly, prudently.
i. "They who, under the sanction of religion, trample under foot the decent forms of civil respect, supposing that because they are religious, they have a right to be rude, totally mistake the spirit of Christianity" (Clarke).
2. (17-20) Abraham buys the field and buries Sarah.
a. The text emphasizes this property was Abraham's land by deed, not only by the promise of God. If this was the only piece of land Abraham ever owned in the land promised to him, it shows he was a real man of faith!
b. This is where Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham. Isaac and Rebekah were both buried here. Jacob buried Leah here, and Joseph buried Jacob here. And this was the place Joseph told his descendants to bury him, taking his bones with them when they came into the Promised Land.