Thursday, August 18, 2011

Genesis Chapter 23 ~ The Death and Burial of Sarah

Genesis Chapter 23

Sarah lived to be 127 years old, and she died at Kiriath-arba or Hebron, which is in Canaan, and Abraham mourned and wept for her. When he rose he asked the Hittites to give him land to bury Sarah, "out of my sight." (Gen. 23:4) I think this just means that he wanted to bury her, not that he was disgusted with her for some reason or that there was a way of burying in one's sight. They told him he could bury her in their best burying places. Abraham asked them to entreat Ephron the son of Zohar to let him to bury her at the end of his field in the cave of Machpelah for the full price that it would cost.

Ephron was with the Hittites, so he answered Abraham and tried to give him the field and cave to bury Sarah for free. Abraham bowed down insisting that he pay the proper price for the field. Ephron told him that the land was worth 400 shekels of silver, and asked, "What is that between you and me? Bury your dead." (Gen. 23:15) Abraham insisted on paying and gave the price to Ephron with all the Hittites witnessing it, and he paid Ephron in the currency that they used.

The cave of Machpelah was east of Mamre, and the field and cave then belonged to Abraham. So he buried Sarah, his wife, in the cave of Machpelah east of Mamre (Hebron) in Canaan.

In this chapter we see how much Abraham honored his wife, and we also see the death of a very important woman in God's plan of redemption. This is the beginning of the close of one generation, making way for God's plan to continue to work through the next generation. Also, we see that Abraham is still a sojourner in this world. He has been sojourning for about 62 years. He started sojourning with Lot at age 75 (Gen. 12:4), and he is about 10 years older than Sarah, so he would have been about 137 years old (Abraham was about 10 years older than Sarah Gen. 17:17; 21:5). So from age 75 to 137 he sojourned, that's 62 years of being without a home and it's in this manner of life that here he loses his wife. This is a vivid example of how even when God makes covenant promises to His people they will live in this world in a manner that it is not their home. This only builds our hope for our eternal home which is accessed only through the gospel of Jesus Christ, a city whose designer and builder is God! Consider the outcome of Abraham and Sarah's faith in Hebrews 11:10-11, "For [Abraham] was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him [God] faithful who had promised." God provided in their sojourning, so even as we sojourn let us look forward to our true home with Christ forever!

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