Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Ge 23:1, 2.
1. Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old,
&c.--Sarah is the only woman in Scripture whose age, death, and burial
are mentioned, probably to do honor to the venerable mother of the
2. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, &c.--He came from his own
tent to take his station at the door of Sarah's. The "mourning"
describes his conformity to the customary usage of sitting on the
ground for a time; while the "weeping" indicates the natural outburst
of his sorrow.
PURCHASE OF A
3. Abraham stood up, &c.--Eastern people are always provided
with family burying-places; but Abraham's life of faith--his pilgrim
state--had prevented him acquiring even so small a possession
spake unto the sons of Heth--He bespoke their kind offices to
aid him in obtaining possession of a cave that belonged to Ephron--a
9. Machpelah--the "double cave."
10. Ephron dwelt--literally, was "sitting" among the children of
Heth in the gate of the city where all business was transacted. But,
though a chief man among them, he was probably unknown to Abraham.
11-15. Ephron answered, Nay, my lord, &c.--Here is a great show
of generosity, but it was only a show; for while Abraham wanted only
the cave, he joins "the field and the cave"; and though he offered them
both as free gifts, he, of course, expected some costly presents in
return, without which, he would not have been satisfied. The patriarch,
knowing this, wished to make a purchase and asked the terms.
15. the land is worth four hundred shekels, &c.--as if Ephron
had said, "Since you wish to know the value of the property, it is so
and so; but that is a trifle, which you may pay or not as it suits
you." They spoke in the common forms of Arab civility, and this
indifference was mere affectation.
16. Abraham weighed . . . the silver--The money,
amounting to £50 was paid in presence of the assembled witnesses;
and it was weighed. The practice of weighing money, which is often in
lumps or rings, each stamped with their weight, is still common in many
parts of the East; and every merchant at the gates or the bazaar has
his scales at his girdle.
19. Abraham buried Sarah--Thus he got possession of Machpelah
and deposited the remains of his lamented partner in a family vault
which was the only spot of ground he owned.