Genesis xxiii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Sara. She is the only woman whose age the Scripture specifies; a distinction which her exalted dignity and faith deserved. (Galatians iv. 23; Hebrews xi. 11.) She was a figure of the Christian Church. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. City. Hebrew, Cariath arbah, Josue xiv. 15. — Which is Hebron. Serarius thinks it took its name from the society (cherber) between Abraham and the princes of the city. Hebron the son of Caleb possessed it afterwards. — Came from Bersabee, (Chap. xxii. 19.) or to the place where the corpse lay, at Arbee, which signifies four; as Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their four wives, reposed there. (Calmet) — And weep. In the middle of this word, in the printed Hebrew, there is left a small c; whence the Rabbins ridiculously infer, that Abraham wept but a short time. But the retaining of greater, less, suspended and inverted letters in the Hebrew Bible, can be attributed to no other cause than a scrupulous veneration even for the faults of transcribers. (Kennicott)

Ver. 3. Obsequies, or solemn mourning, accompanied with prayer. (Acts viii. 2; Matthew xii.[xi. 17.?]) The Jews are still accustomed to say, when they bury their dead, “Ye fathers, who sleep in Hebron, open to him the gates of Eden;” herein agreeing with the Catholic doctrine, as they did in the days of Judas the Machabee. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Prince of God, powerful and holy, and worthy of respect. (Haydock) — A great prince. See Acts vii. 5, where St. Stephen says, that God did not give Abraham a foot of land, meaning as an inheritance; and that Abraham bought this double cave, for a sepulchre, of the sons of Hemor, the son of Sichem; (Calmet) from which latter he seems to derive the name of the place, which is here called Hebron. (Haydock) — Nothing is more common, than for men and places to have two names; though some think, the name of Abraham has been inserted in the Acts by a mistake of the copyists, when Jacob was meant. See chap. xxxiii. 19. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. Bowed down to the people. Adoravit, literally, adored. But this word here, as well as in many other places in the Latin Scriptures, is used to signify only an inferior honour and reverence paid to men, expressed by a bowing down of the body.

Ver. 16. Sicles. About £50. (Haydock) — It was no simony to buy land for a sepulchre, as it was not blessed. (Menochius) — Current money, was such as passed among merchants, though probably not yet coined in any part of the world; and therefore we find, that Abraham and others weigh the pieces of silver or gold. In this manner were bargains concluded before witnesses, who in those days supplied the want of writings and lawyers. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Sara’s death, and burial in the field bought of Ephron.

1 And Sara lived a hundred and twenty-seven years.

2 And she died *in the city of Arbee which is Hebron, in the land of Chanaan: and Abraham came to mourn and weep for her.

3 And after he rose up from the funeral obsequies, he spoke to the children of Heth, saying:

4 I am a stranger and sojourner among you: give me the right of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead.

5 The children of Heth answered, saying:

6 My lord, hear us, thou art a prince of God among us: bury thy dead in our principle sepulchres: and no man shall have power to hinder thee from burying thy dead in his sepulchre.

7 Abraham rose up, and bowed down to the people of the land, to wit, the children of Heth:

8 And said to them: If it please your soul that I should bury my dead, hear me, and intercede for me to Ephron the son of Seor.

9 That he may give me the double cave, which he hath in the end of his field: for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me before you, for a possession of a burying place.

10 Now Ephron dwelt in the midst of the children of Heth. And Ephron made answer to Abraham in the hearing of all that went in at the gate of the city, saying:

11 Let it not be so, my lord, but do thou rather hearken to what I say: The field I deliver to thee, and the cave that is therein; in the presence of the children of my people, bury thy dead.

12 Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.

13 And he spoke to Ephron, in the presence of the people: I beseech thee to hear me: I will give money for the field; take it, and so will I bury my dead in it.

14 And Ephron answered:

15 My lord, hear me. The ground which thou desirest, is worth four hundred sicles of silver: this is the price between me and thee: but what is this? bury thy dead.

16 And when Abraham had heard this, he weighed out the money that Ephron had asked, in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred sicles of silver, of common current money.

17 And the field that before was Ephron’s, wherein was the double cave, looking towards Mambre, both it and the cave, and all the trees thereof, in all its limits round about,

18 Was made sure to Abraham for a possession, in the sight of the children of Heth, and of all that went in at the gate of his city.

19 And so Abraham buried Sara, his wife, in the double cave of the field, that looked towards Mambre,* this is Hebron in the land of Chanaan.

20 And the field was made sure to Abraham, and the cave that was in it, for a possession to bury in, by the children of Heth.



2: Year of the World 2145, Year before Christ 1859.

19: Genesis xxxv. 27.