Saturday, October 6, 2007

Genesis 23 - Sarah's Burial Place

Sarah's Burial Place

Gen 23:1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

Isaac was born to Sarah, at age 91, so Isaac was 36 when his mother died. Sarah is the only woman in Scripture whose age, death, and burial are mentioned, probably to do honor to the beloved mother of the Hebrew people.

Gen 23:2 And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Hebron means community or alliance, or the city of four. Hebron was a town in the mountains of Judah, about 3000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. About 2 miles to the north was Mamre, where Abraham had stayed when Lot went to Sodom.

Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her

Sarah, was his beloved companion, now in his old age she has gone on to paradise. As was customary in those days, the body of Sarah was placed in a tent all by itself and into that tent goes Abraham alone to weep and mourn.

Eccl 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Eccl 3:3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Eccl 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
John 11:34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
John 11:35 Jesus wept.
John 11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

Mat 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

1 Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

Gen 23:3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,

He had probably sat on the ground some days in sorrow, as the custom then was.

Although Abraham has been weeping in the valley of the shadow of death, he somehow senses there can be no shadow without a light somewhere. Have you learned that? When shadows come into your life, it is a sign that there must be light somewhere. Of course, if we turn our back on the light, then we ourselves are the ones who cause the shadow. I think thousands of people today are living in a constant shadow because their back is turned toward the light and they themselves cast a pall upon their own existence. But if we face the light, as Abraham did all through his life, looking at that light streaming from the city whose builder and maker is God, then the only shadow comes temporarily when some object obscures the light for a moment. (Stedman)

Gen 23:4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
Gen 23:5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Gen 23:6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.

mighty prince or prince of God, he was called. The people offered him a place of burial among their graves, as a courtesy.

Gen 23:7 And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

He bowed to show respect in turn.

Gen 23:8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
Gen 23:9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, ( the double cave) which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.
Gen 23:10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,

dwelt; Or, sitting (as the word frequently denotes) among the children of Heth, at the gate of the city, where all public business was transacted. Ephron, though a chief man, might have been personally unknown to Abraham; but now he answers for himself, making a free tender of the field and cave to Abraham, in the presence of all the people.

Gen 23:11 Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
Gen 23:12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.
Gen 23:13 And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
Gen 23:14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,
Gen 23:15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.

The Canaanite, Ephron, is following the cultural customs of bargaining. First, offer to give it. Then, when that is refused, suggest a price, which you claim is modest but is really very high. This is understood to be the starting point, and from there the bargaining begins.

Gen 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.

In those early times, money was given in weight; for it is said that "Abraham weighed," wayishkal, the silver; and hence, we find that it was a certain weight which afterwards passed as a current coin; for the word shekel is not only used to denote a piece of silver, but also to weigh. Ten shekels weight is 4 oz of silver. He paid the full amount, 40 oz's of silver.

Gen 23:17 And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure

The deal was for the cave and the land around it. This made it more costly.

Gen 23:18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.

This was the only land of his inheritance that Abraham, the Sojourner owned.

Gen 23:19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
Gen 23:20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.

This is the one place among many doubtful sites in the land of Palestine that has been authenticated today. This is where Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham. Isaac and Rebekah were both buried here. Jacob buried Leah here, and Joseph buried Jacob here. And this was the place Joseph told his descendants to bury him, taking his bones with them when they came into the Promised Land.

Today it is the traditional site of the cave of Machpelah, and is currently marked by the mosque of Hebron, which was formerly a Crusader church and that stands on the site of a church erected by the emperor Justinian in the sixth century.

Sarah is a type of the Church, and Abraham is a type of the man of faith.

Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

The church is spiritually born, through faith. Abraham represents the man of faith which must choose between the desires of the flesh and the walking by faith in God's promises. Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would come the promised seed: Jesus the faithful son of God, who would deliver us from bondage and to show us the way to the Father's house. Through faith in Jesus we are born into the kingdom of God. This earth is not our home, but our burial place.

Eccl 3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

1 Cor 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
1 Cor 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
1 Cor 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
1 Cor 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
1 Cor 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
1 Cor 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
1 Cor 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they alsothat are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

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