Genesis 23

The Word Made Fresh

1Sarah was 127 years old 2when she died at Kiriath Arba (also called Hebron) in Canaan. Abraham went to mourn her death and weep for her. 3He got up from beside her death bed and said to the Hittites, 4“I am a stranger, a foreigner living here. Please let me have some land to use as a cemetery so that I can bury my dead.” 5The Hittites replied, 6“Listen, my lord, you are an important man here. Bury your dead wherever you want. None of us will refuse any land for you to use as a burial ground.”

7So, Abraham bowed down to the Hittites 8and said, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead here, please ask Ephron son of Zohar, 9to let me have the cave of Machpelah which he owns. It is at the end of his pasture. Let him give it to me at the full price, named in your presence, so that I can use it as a burial ground.”

10Ephron happened to be present and he answered Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites gathered there who went in and out of the city gate: 11“No, my lord. I give you the pasture and the cave there. In the hearing of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.”

12Abraham bowed before the people 13and said to Ephron in their hearing, “Please, listen, I will pay you for the pasture. Tell me the price, and then I can bury my dead.”

14Ephron answered, 15“Listen, my lord, the property is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”

16Abraham agreed to the price and weighed out the four hundred shekels of silver according to the scales used by the local merchants.

17So the tract of land of Ephron in Machpelah, which was east of the grove of Mamre, including the field with the cave, and the trees within it, was transferred 18to Abraham with all the Hittites as witnesses.

19Then Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave in Machpelah, facing the grove of Mamre in the land of Canaan. 20That is how the pasture and the cave came into Abraham’s possession from the Hittites.


1-16: Sarah died in Hebron. Abraham was last seen in Beer-sheba, about 25 miles southwest of Hebron. Did the incident with Isaac result in a rift between them? In any case, Abraham comes to Hebron and secures a burial place for his family from one of the locals. They at first offer to sell him one of their tombs, but he wishes to have his own separate burial ground and so offers to buy a specific piece of property. The account of the bartering between Abraham and Ephron is fascinating. It is told in great detail in order that there will be no mistake about who now owns the property.

17-20: Sarah is buried there. Abraham will be buried there as well, and so will their grandson Jacob.


God never provided any guidance for humans in matters of finance and trade; I imagine God watches such activity with keen interest and cannot be pleased with the dishonesty that often accompanies this arena of human conduct. Abraham is acting with honor in this exchange.