MACHPELAH (mak pee' luh) Place name meaning, “the double cave.” Burial place located near Hebron for Sarah (Genesis 23:19), Abraham (Genesis 25:9), Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah, and probably other members of the family. After Sarah's death Abraham purchased the field of Machpelah and its cave as a sepulcher. The owner, Ephron the Hittite, offered it to Abraham for free, but the patriarch refused the gift and paid the fair price of 400 shekels of silver. Such conversation was typical of negotiations to purchase land in that day. Both Ephron and Abraham expected a purchase to be made. The cave became the burial place for each of the succeeding generations. Jacob requested burial there before he died in Egypt, and was returned there by his sons (Genesis 49:29; Genesis 50:13).
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.