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Genesis Chapter 23
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Sarah Dies
23:1 Sarah had lived to be 127 years old. [These were] the years of Sarah's life.
23:2 Sarah died in Kiryath Arba, also known as Hebron, in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her.
23:3 Abraham rose from beside his dead, and he spoke to the children of Heth.
23:4 'I am an immigrant and a resident among you,' he said. 'Sell me property for a burial place with you so that I can bury my dead, [and not have her here] right in front of me.'
23:5 The children of Heth replied to Abraham, saying to him,
23:6 'Listen to us, Sir. You are a prince of God in our midst. Take our best burial site to bury your dead. No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.'
23:7 Abraham rose, and he bowed down to the local people, the children of Heth.
23:8 He spoke to them and said, 'If you really want to help me bury my dead and [put her out of] my presence, listen to me, and speak up for me to Ephron son of Tzohar.
23:9 Let him sell me the Makhpelah Cave, which belongs to him, at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence for its full price, as a burial property.'
23:10 Ephron was then sitting among the children of Heth. Ephron the Hittite replied to Abraham in the presence of the children of Heth, so that all who came to the city gate could hear.
23:11 'No, my lord,' he said. 'Listen to me. I have already given you the field. I have [also] given you the cave that is there. Here, in the presence of my countrymen, I have given it to you. Bury your dead.'
23:12 Abraham bowed down before the local people.
23:13 He spoke to Ephron so that all the local people could hear. 'If you will only listen to me,' he said. 'I am giving you the money for the field. Take it from me, and I will bury my dead there.'
23:14 Ephron replied to Abraham, saying to him,
23:15 'My lord, listen to me. What's 400 silver shekels worth of land between you and me? Bury your dead.'
23:16 Abraham understood what Ephron meant. He weighed out for Ephron the silver that had been mentioned in the presence of the children of Heth, 400 shekels in negotiable currency.
23:17 Ephron's field in Makhpelah adjoining Mamre thus became [Abraham's] uncontested property. [This included] the field, its cave, and every tree within its circumference.
23:18 It was Abraham's purchase with all the children of Heth who came to the city gate as eyewitnesses.
23:19 Abraham then buried his wife Sarah in the cave of Makhpelah Field, which adjoins Mamre (also known as Hebron), in the land of Canaan.
23:20 This is how the field and its cave became the uncontested property of Abraham as a burial site, purchased from the children of Heth.



Commentary:

Sarah had lived...
  Literally, 'The life of Sarah was....'

Kiryath Arba
  See Genesis 35:27. This was the original name for Hebron; see Joshua 14:15, Judges 1:10. Also see Joshua 15:54, 20:7. The name Kiryath Arba literally means 'City of the Four,' or 'City of Arba.' Some say that Arba was the father of a number of giants who lived there (Joshua 15:13, 21:11), and according to this, Arba was the greatest of the Anak-giants (Ibn Ezra here; Joshua 14:15, Rashi ad loc.). It also could have been called 'City of the Four' because four giants lived there, Sheshai, Achiman, Talmi, and their father (Rashi here; Numbers 13:22, Joshua 15:14, Judges 1:10. See Artscroll commentary). Others say that it was given this name because of the four pairs buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah (Bereshith Rabbah 58; Rashi). According to the Talmud, the giant mentioned in Joshua 14:15 is Abraham (Yerushalmi, Shabbath 16:1), and hence 'City of the Four' might have referred to the four allies, Abraham, Aner, Eshkol and Mamre (Genesis 14:13, 14:24; Bereshith Rabbah 58). This name was still retained in later times; Nehemiah 11:25.

Hebron
  This would appear to indicate that they lived in Hebron at the time. According to Talmudic tradition, Sarah died right after the Test (chapter 22), and they had lived in Hebron for the past 12 years. Thus, on the way back from Moriah, Abraham only stopped in Beer-sheba for a short while (see note on Genesis 22:19). According to other sources, they lived in Beer-sheba at this time, but Sarah was heading north toward Jerusalem to inquire about her husband and son when she died in Hebron (Sefer HaYashar, p.64)

children of Heth
  That is, the Hittites. See note on Genesis 10:15.

burial site
  Or grave, tomb, or cemetery.

local people
  Literally, 'the people of the land.'

Ephron
  Significantly, there is a Mount Ephron some 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:9, 2 Chronicles 13:19).

Makhpelah Cave
  Literally, 'Doubler Cave.' It was so named because it had two levels (Targum; Eruvin 53a; Rashi). The name also applied to the entire area; Genesis 23:17,19. According to tradition, Adam and Eve had been buried there (Yerushalmi, Taanith 4:2). It can still be visited today.

shekels
  A shekel was a unit of weight, equal to 22.8 grams or 0.8 ounces. A silver shekel was therefore a little smaller than a silver dollar, and worth around $1.00. Abraham therefore paid 20 pounds of silver, or about $400 for the cave. Considering land values at the time, this was highly excessive. Thus, for example, King Omri paid only 6000 shekels for the entire territory of Samaria (1 Kings 16:25), and Jeremiah paid only 17 shekels for a property that was at least as large as Makhpelah Field (Jeremiah 32:9). For comparison, according to the Hammurabi Code of that time, a year's wage for a working man was between six and eight shekels.

adjoining Mamre
  (Chizzkuni). See Genesis 13:18. Josephus notes that the 'Tree of Mamre' is approximately one half mile (6 furlongs) from Hebron proper (Wars 4:9:7).





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