Genesis 23

Written and compiled by Gary Kukis

Genesis 23:1–20

Abraham Purchases a Burial Plot for Sarah


These studies are designed for believers in Jesus Christ only. If you have exercised faith in Christ, then you are in the right place. If you have not, then you need to heed the words of our Lord, Who said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten [or, uniquely-born] Son, so that every [one] believing [or, trusting] in Him shall not perish, but shall be have eternal life! For God did not send His Son into the world so that He should judge the world, but so that the world shall be saved through Him. The one believing [or, trusting] in Him is not judged, but the one not believing has already been judged, because he has not believed in the Name of the only-begotten [or, uniquely-born] Son of God.” (John 3:16–18). “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life! No one comes to the Father except through [or, by means of] Me!” (John 14:6).


Every study of the Word of God ought to be preceded by a naming of your sins to God. This restores you to fellowship with God (1John 1:8–10). If there are people around, you would name these sins silently. If there is no one around, then it does not matter if you name them silently or whether you speak aloud.


Document Navigation

Quotations

Preface

Outline of Chapter

Charts, Graphics, Short Doctrines

Doctrines Alluded to

Chapters Alluded to

Dictionary of Terms

Introduction and Text

First Verse

Addendum

A Complete Translation

Chapter Word Clouds


Links to the word-by-word, verse-by-verse studies of Genesis (HTML) (PDF) (that is what this document is). This incorporates 2 previous studies done in the book of Genesis. However, much of this material was thrown together without careful editing. Therefore, from time to time, there will be concepts and exegetical material which will be repeated, because there was no overall editing done once all of this material was combined.

 

There is a second, less complete set of weekly lessons of Genesis (HTML) (PDF). Every word of that study can be found in the word-by-word, verse-by-verse studies.

 

This study makes reference to a wide-range of sources. There are quotations from doctrinal teachers, of course; but from Catholic commentaries and from other sources as well. Wherever I found relevant truth, I quoted from it or was inspired by it. Even though it is clear that some churches have a better concept of our reason for being here, that does not mean that there is no truth to be found anywhere else. So, from time to time, I will quote from John Calvin, even though I do not subscribe to 5-point Calvinism; I will quote from some Catholic sources, even though I believe that they are very wrong regarding Mary, the pope, apostolic succession and other such doctrines. The intention is for this to be the most thorough and accurate study of Genesis available anywhere.

 

Also, it is not necessary that you read the grey Hebrew exegesis tables. They are set apart from the rest of the study so that you can easily skip over them (based upon the suggestion of a friend). However, if you ever doubt the translation of a word, phrase or a verse, these translation tables are then available.


Preface:


In Gen. 23, Sarah, wife of Abraham, passes from life to death. Most of this chapter concentrates on Abraham purchasing her burial plot in Hittite territory.


This should be the most extensive examination of Gen. 23 available, where you will be able to see every word of the original text.


Quotations:

 

Eccles. 3:1–2 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. (ESV)

 

God (speaking to Adam): “You are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen. 3:19b; ESV)

 

Ayn Rand: Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.

 

Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary: Here we have the first record of property in land, of purchase, of silver employed as money, and of mourning for the dead, and of burial.

 

Kukis: Gen. 23 is one of the most enigmatic chapters of the Bible. This entire chapter seems to deal with relatively trivial information, and could be summed up in one verse: Sarah died at age 127, so Abraham purchased a plot of land with a cave from the Hittites for her grave site. There are details about Abraham’s interactions with some of the prominent Hittite men which seem excessive, to say the least. You may not realize this the first time you read this chapter; but when you read it a second time, and ask yourself, why is this chapter in the Word of God; you might find yourself hard-pressed to answer that question.

 

Maya Angelou: I answer the heroic question "Death, where is they sting?" with "It is here in my heart and mind and memories." 


Outline of Chapter 23:

 

Introduction

 

         v.       1–2           Sarah’s Death

         vv.     3–16         Abraham’s Public Meeting with the Hittites to Purchase a Burial Plot for Sarah

         vv.    17–20         The Conclusion of Abraham’s Land Deal with Ephron ben Zohar

 

Addendum


Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines:

 

         Preface               Quotations

 

         Introduction         The Prequel of Genesis 23

         Introduction         The Principals of Genesis 23

         Introduction         The Places of Genesis 23

         Introduction         The Patriarchal Timeline for Genesis 23

         Introduction         A Synopsis of Genesis 23

         Introduction         Matthew Henry’s Alternate Outline of Genesis 23

 

         v.       1              Sarah’s Life

         v.       2              The Doctrine of Physical Death

         v.       2              Map of Hebron

         v.       2              A Brief Summary of the Doctrine of Hebron

         v.       2              Hebron, the Home of Abraham (graphic)

         v.       2              And Sarah died in Kiryat Arba by Yoram Raanan

         v.       3              An Introduction to the Hittites

         v.       3              When Critics Ask, on the Sons of Heth in Canaan

         v.       3              Driver on the Hittites

         v.       9              Genesis 23:8b–9a (graphic)

         v.      12              Map of Hebron and Mamre

         v.      18              Scofield on the Burying Place of Sarah

         v.      18              Who is buried where?

         v.      18              Three Explanations Given by the Pulpit Commentary

         v.      19              The Burial of Sarah from Gustave Doré

         v.      19              The Burial of Sarah in Hebron by Tom Lovell (a graphic)

 

         Addendum          Why Genesis 23 is in the Word of God

         Addendum          What We Learn from Genesis 23

         Addendum          Josephus’ History of this Time Period

         Addendum          Edersheim Summarizes Genesis 23

         Addendum          A Complete Translation of Genesis 23

         Addendum          Word Cloud from a Reasonably Literal Paraphrase of Genesis 23

         Addendum          Word Cloud from Exegesis of Genesis 23


Chapter Outline

 

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

Forward

Doctrines Covered and Alluded to

Chapters of the Bible Alluded To

Psalms Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Other Chapters of the Bible Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Definition of Terms

Introduction

Text

Addendum

www.kukis.org

 

Exegetical Studies in Genesis


Doctrines Covered or Alluded To

 

 

Hebron

 

Additional doctrines and links are found in Definition of Terms below.


Chapters of the Bible Alluded To and/or Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Genesis 22

 

 

 


Many who read and study this chapter are 1st or 2nd generation students of R. B. Thieme, Jr., so that much of this vocabulary is second nature. One of Bob’s contributions to theology is a fresh vocabulary along with a number of concepts which are theologically new or reworked, yet still orthodox. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with his work, the definitions below will help you to fully understand all that is being said. Also, I have developed a few new terms and concepts which require definition as well.

In addition, there are other more traditional yet technical theological terms which will be used and therefore defined as well.

Sometimes the terms in the exegesis of this chapter are simply alluded to, without any in-depth explanation of them. Sometimes, these terms are explained in detail and illustrated. A collection of all these terms is found here: (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Definition of Terms

Gloss

A gloss is simply taking the name of a place in one era and identifying it with the same place under a new name in a later era, so that the reader knows where the area is. This would have been done by a later writer or copyist.

The History of God and Man

This would be the first 10 or 11 chapters of Genesis; and perhaps the book of Job. This would be the Bible that Abraham had access to. It may or may not have been in written form. The Jews who were slaves in Egypt also had a rudimentary understanding of their relationship to God, suggesting that they may be in possession of the books of Genesis and Job, to which I have given the title, The History of God and Man.

Jews

Genetically, those with the genes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Religiously, those who follow the faith of Abraham (and today, those who follow a distorted version of the faith of Moses). See Jews, Gentiles and Christians; Jewish Civilization; The Jewish Religious Systems; The Jews and Hellenism; Jews and Judaism; and Jews and Gentiles in Bible Times.

JEPD Theory (also known as Documentary Hypothesis)

Documentary Hypothesis simply asserts that the Pentateuch was not authored by Moses but written 1000 years after Moses by several authors who wrote portions here and there and then other men have performed extensive revisions, colating and editing after them. See Documentary Hypothesis (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Some of these definitions are taken from

http://gracebiblechurchwichita.org/?page_id=1556

http://www.bibledoctrinechurch.org/?subpages/GLOSSARY.shtml

http://rickhughesministries.org/content/Biblical-Terms.pdf

http://www.gbible.org/index.php?proc=d4d

http://www.wordoftruthministries.org/termsanddefs.htm

http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics.html

http://www.theopedia.com/


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An Introduction to Genesis 23


I ntroduction: Gen. 23 is one of the most enigmatic chapters of the Bible. This entire chapter seems to deal with relatively trivial information, and could be summed up in one verse: Sarah died at age 127, so Abraham purchased a plot of land with a cave from the Hittites for her grave site. There are details about Abraham’s interactions with some of the prominent Hittite men which seem excessive, to say the least. You may not realize this the first time you read this chapter; but when you read it a second time, and ask yourself, why is this chapter in the Word of God; you might find yourself hard-pressed to answer that question.


It is possible that the previous chapter was so intense and so filled with information, that this chapter cleanses the pallet, so to speak. Our mind is given some time to absorb and digest all that has come before.


There is no illogic to the subject matter. That is, it would make sense that, Abraham, as an old man, would recognize the importance of recording the events of Gen. 22 (where he offers up his son to God) and this chapter, where Abraham buries his wife of many, many decades. See Genesis 22 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).


In Gen. 23, we come to the end of Sarah’s life. She is 127 years old. This would make Abraham 137 years old and their son Isaac would be 37. I believe that Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age is given at her death. No other woman’s death is given this much attention—but, the attention is mostly upon the legal purchase of a plot of land that Abraham makes.


In Gen. 23, Abraham will purchase the first plot of land that he will clearly own in the Land of Promise. We do not know about his ranch, whether he leased land or owned it; but he seemed to move around quite a bit—and he may have had several established compounds. This is the first time the Bible speaks of him actually owning a plot of ground.


The content of this chapter argues strongly for Abrahamic authorship. Most of this chapter is about Abraham choosing a plot of land and working out a deal with a group of Hittites to purchase the land. From an historical perspective, this appears to be a very inconsequential chapter. We might wonder, why don’t we have the verse, And Sarah died at age 127, and Abraham purchased a plot of land from the Hittites and buried her there. This should be the verse that we find here rather than 20 verses of a chapter, which goes into this transaction in detail. This is important to Abraham; and since Abraham is a friend of God, this information is important to God. And so it is recorded. Had a later author been in charge of gathering these records and recording the history, this chapter would have been summed up with one verse.


You may wonder, why is Abraham buying this land? Has not God given him and his seed this land? Abraham is going to buy a small portion of this land. Just as he and his wife will be seeds, so to speak, planted to be raised up later, so it would be for his son, his daughter-in-law, and for his grandson and his wife. Even Joseph will ask that his bones be carried back into the Land of Promise when the children of Israel return from Egypt to the land.


What Abraham is doing is claiming a small plot of ground, a little portion of land; and he and the patriarchs would rise up from the dead in the Land of Promise, the land that God had promised to him. They will all rise up in a burial cave which Abraham has legally purchased from the people who live there, the sons of Heth.


There is a blurring of events here. Does this actually take place in Kiriath-arba? Regarding the purchase of this plot of land, how many meetings and where do these meetings occur? We will determine that somewhere between 2 and 4 meetings took place—the first may have occurred at Sarah’s compound and one of them definitely occurred at the gate of the city (v. 10). What is happening is, these details—some of them—are very clear to Abraham, as this is the last day he spends with his wife. However, given the fact that Sarah has died, some of these things are blurred together, as one would expect in the final days of the burial of a loved one. The things which we remember are often odd, often blurred, but some specific memories are very distinct. That describes the style and memories noted in this chapter exactly. Abraham remembers exactly what was said—what he said, what the Hittites said. Except for Ephron, the owner of the land, Abraham does not recall which Hittite said what—but he remembered specific things that were said. If you have not lost a loved one—someone as close to Abraham as Sarah was—you may not have experienced this. However, when this happens, you will remember specific events, specific things which were spoken, but you might jumble up portions of it in your mind.


So that there is no confusion—none of this chapter is incorrectly recalled—there are no misstatements in here. But, as we examine this chapter carefully, it will become clear that there are minor things which are left out, which would have given us a better handle on the narrative. There is nothing left out that we desperately need to know, and that we will crowd around Abraham in heaven and ask him about—but there are some narrative gaps, nevertheless, easily explained by Abraham’s state of mind at the time.


There is also a contrast that we ought to note as we study this chapter; the contrast between Abraham and his relationship to the people of the land; and Lot and his relationship to the people of the land where he lived. Abraham had spiritual power; Lot had political power. Abraham knew the Word of God; Lot was a moral man. Both men were saved, but Abraham had a vibrant spiritual life; and Lot had none. Lot’s spiritual life was so sorry that, when he had gone to his own sons-in-law and warned them of the coming judgment, they laughed at him like some crazy old man.

 

Barnes notes many of the firsts found in this chapter: This chapter is interesting as containing the first record of mourning for the dead, of burial, of property in land, of purchase of land, of silver as a medium of purchase, and of a standard of weight.


These things named by Barnes are not found in human history here for the first time; they are presented in this chapter as being commonplace events.

 

Monson makes the observation: It should be stressed here that the world of the patriarchs was that of a developed and organized society and not what is usually regarded as a simple pastoral-bedouin existence. Throughout Genesis 12-50 there are connections to Mesopotamia and to Egypt as well as negotiations with local political centers (Shechem, Salem and Hebron) as well as Gerar in the Western Negev on a branch of the Coastal Highway. Much of the theological relevance of the patriarchs is based upon the fact that there were other more attractive lifestyles available to these early Biblical figures. The option they chose gave them few of the advantages they could have enjoyed elsewhere, especially in Mesopotamia where their family was established. In light of this fact and the great promises made to Abraham during his lifetime, his remark to the leaders of Hebron after the death of his wife, Sarah, takes on new meaning.


It is important to understand what has gone before.

The Prequel of Genesis 23

Abraham and his wife Sarah have lived in the land of Canaan for 62 years. They left for a very short time to go to Egypt; but have spent most of that time in the land. God told Abraham to travel the land, and he has done that, primarily in the southern area.


In this chapter, we come to the death of Sarah, when she is in Kiriath-arba (Hebron). It is not clear if she and Abraham were living there now or why she is there.

Gen. 23 will begin with the death of Sarah.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


We need to know who the people are who populate this chapter.

The Principals of Genesis 23

Characters

Commentary

Abraham

Abraham is the man called by God to move to the Land of Promise. In this chapter, he is buying a burial plot for his wife, Sarah (and eventually for himself).

Sarah

The chapter begins with Abraham’s wife, Sarah, having died at age 127.

The elders of Kiriath-arba

There are two assumptions being made here. First is, that this chapter takes place in Kiriath-arba. That is not really confirmed. Sarah dies in Kiriath-arba and Abraham has several meetings with the men who are identified as the sons of Heth. Although these meetings probably take place in Kiriath-arba, this is not confirmed to us; and this could be a nearby unnamed Hittite settlement. Secondly, these men are not identified as elders; I suggest that they are elders, property owners, and businessmen. This is also an assumption.

Ephron

Ephron is the actual owner of the plot of land that Abraham wants to purchase.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


We need to know where this chapter takes place.

The Places of Genesis 23

Place

Description

Kiriath-arba

This is where Sarah appears to be living. She dies here. It appears that the city meetings take place in Kiriath-arba proper, although that is an assumption I am making (v. 19 appears to confirm this assumption). Kiriath-arba is later named Hebron.

The cave of Ephron

Abraham knows of a cave that he would like to purchase as a burial plot for Sarah. Ephron, the owner, sells Abraham a larger plot of land than he originally asks for. This is the first plot of land that Abraham owns within the Land of Promise.

Machpelah

The entire tract of land that Abraham purchases is called Machpelah. This includes the cave of Ephron.

It would appear that these places are all very close together.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


The Patriarchal Timeline for Genesis 23


Legend

Birth or death

God speaks with Abraham

Historical incidents (most of which are related to Abraham)

Parenthetical dates (2065 b.c.) simply refer to taking the date assigned by the chronologist and using Scripture to determine the next date.

The entire Abrahamic Timeline (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

The entire Patriarchal Timeline (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).


Brent MacDonald

Age of Abraham

Reese’s Chronology Bible

Scripture

Event/Description

2234 b.c.

 

2097 b.c.

Gen. 11:24

Terah, Abram’s father, is born. Gen 11:24–26 Nahor lived 29 years and fathered Terah. After he fathered Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and fathered other sons and daughters. Terah lived 70 years and fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

2164 b.c.

0

1967 b.c.

Gen. 11:26–27

Abraham (Terah’s son) and Lot (Haran’s son) born in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram would be the 43rd generation from Adam. Gen 11:26 Terah lived 70 years and fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Reese occasionally supplies 2 dates in his Chronological Bible; the first is his and the second is Klassen’s.

 

 

1957 b.c.

 

Birth of Sarai

 

 

1927 b.c.

Gen. 11:29–30

Marriage of Abram to Sarai

 

 

1907 b.c.

1927 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 11:28, 23

Abram’s family travel from Ur to Haran, although their original intention had been to go to the land of Canaan. Gen 11:28, 23 Haran died in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans, during his father Terah's lifetime. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran's son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram's wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.

2089 b.c.

75

1892 b.c.

Gen. 12:1–4

Abraham leaves for Promised Land from Haran, after being so instructed by God. Gen 12:4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.

Reese actually gives the date of Terah’s death as April 1–4, 1892 b.c. and the date of Abram leaving Haran as April 5, 1892 b.c.

 

 

1891 b.c.

1892 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 12:10–20

Abraham & Sarah in Egypt (Goshen, Memphis), return to the Land of Promise (Genesis 12:10-23:1)

(2065 b.c.)

99

(1868 b.c.)

Gen. 17:15–19

Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah and Isaac, a future son, is promised the Abraham and Sarah. Gen 17:17 Abraham fell to the ground, laughed, and thought in his heart, "Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?"

(2065 b.c.)

99

(1868 b.c.)

Gen. 17:21–22

The time that Sarah would give birth is revealed; at a set time in the next year. Gen 17:21 But I will confirm My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at a set time next year."

(2065 b.c.)

 

(1867 b.c.)

Gen. 18:1–15

Jehovah and two angels come to Abraham and promise that Sarah would have a child in a year’s time. Gen 18:10, 14 The LORD said, "I will certainly come back to you in about a year's time, and your wife Sarah will have a son!" Now Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him. Is anything impossible for the LORD? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son."

 

 

 

Gen. 20:1–18

Abraham lies again about his wife to King Abimelech in Gerar, in southern Judah. Although some believe that this chapter is placed here in Genesis due to thematic elements rather than because it belongs here chronologically, we find Abraham in Gerar in the next chapter, which suggests that this chapter is correctly placed.

2064 b.c.

100

 

Gen. 21:1–7 1Chron. 1:34

Isaac born to Abraham. Isaac would be the 44th generation from Adam. Gen 21:5 Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

 

137

1830 b.c.

Gen. 23:1–20

The death of Sarah. She dies in Kirjatharba, it is Hebron, in the land of Canaan. Gen 23:1 Now Sarah lived 127 years; these were all the years of her life. She is buried in a cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre; it is Hebron, in the land of Canaan, purchased by Abraham from the sons of Heth.


Bibliography

MacDonald’s timeline is from: http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna63.htm accessed October 11, 2011.

See http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna63dating.htm for his justification of his timeline.

From: http://www.christianshepherd.org/bible_study_guides/abram_to_the_exodus.pdf (Christian shepherd)

The Reese Chronological Bible; KJV translation; Editor: Edward Reese; ©1977 by Edward Reese and Klassen’s dating system ©1975 by Frank R. Klassen; Ⓟ1980 by Bethany House Publishers, South Minneapolis, MN; pp. 18–19, 54–74.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Here is what to expect from Genesis 23:

A Synopsis of Genesis 23

This chapter is easily summed up to: Sarah dies and Abraham negotiates a plot of land for her body to be placed.

There are 2–4 meetings which take place between Abraham and the elders of Kiriath-arba (we are assuming that these are the elders and that it is Kiriath-arba proper where Abraham has gone to).

Abraham tells the Hittites that he would like to purchase a piece of property from them in which to bury his wife’s body. They agree; and Abraham specifies a particular property which belongs to Ephron. Ephron is brought into the discussion and he first offers the property to Abraham as a gift, and when Abraham insists on paying, Ephron asks for 400 shekels of silver. That is the agreed upon price.

Abraham exchanges the silver for what appears to be a public verbal deed, and he buries Sarah there.

Like all chapters of the Word of God, you need more than just the simple plot outline to understand what God wants us to know.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

 

Thomas Coke: Sarah dies. Abraham agrees with the children of Heth for the possession of a burying-place; and buries Sarah in a cave of the field of Machpelah.


This outline approach is reasonable.

Matthew Henry’s Alternate Outline of Genesis 23

I.       Abraham a mourner for the death of Sarah (Gen. 23:1, Gen. 23:2).

II.      Abraham a purchaser of a burying–place for Sarah.

         1.      The purchase humbly proposed by Abraham (Gen. 23:3, Gen. 23:4).

         2.      Fairly treated of, and agreed to, with a great deal of mutual civility and respect (Gen. 23:5–16).

         3.      The purchase–money paid (Gen. 23:16).

         4.      The premises conveyed and secured to Abraham (Gen. 23:17, Gen. 23:18, Gen. 23:20).

         5.      Sarah's funeral (Gen. 23:19).

Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible; from e-Sword, Gen. 23 chapter comments.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

 

Peter Pett: This chapter...is the record of the business transaction between Abraham and Ephron the Hittite and bears the marks of a typical Hittite contract. But as far as the compiler is concerned in it we learn of the first piece of the land which comes permanently into the possession of the family of Abraham. It is the firstfruits, the earnest (visible and tangible guarantee) of his inheritance. Thus Isaac's beginnings are founded in a solemn occasion, first ownership of the land.

 

Pett continues: So while it is at first sight the record of the closing of an era (the death of Sarah) it is actually the depiction of the beginning of a new era, the commencement of the possession of the land. Genesis 22:20-24 has begun the preparation for the new era, and this continues it. The emphasis of the compiler is on the fact that `the field and the cave that is in it were made sure to Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the children of Heth' (Genesis 23:20). It is a proof of permanence in the land.


As a technical note, I should have combined several verses here, but did not think to do so until I was about ¾ths through. These verses were broken up in very unusual ways, where often a portion of a verse without much meat in it would be separated out from the rest. Bear in mind that the chapter divisions and the verses are not inspired; the text itself is inspired by God the Holy Spirit.


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Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Sarah's Death


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

And so are lives of Sarah a hundred a year and twenty a year and seven years; years of lives of Sarah.

Genesis

23:1

And Sarah’s life was 127 years; the years of the life of Sarah.

Paraphrase:

And Sarah lives until she was 127.


Here is how others have translated this verse:

 

Ancient texts:                       Note: I compare the Hebrew text to English translations of the Latin, Syriac and Greek texts, using the Douay-Rheims translation; George Lamsa’s translation, and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation as revised and edited by Paul W. Esposito, respectively. I often update these texts with non-substantive changes (e.g., you for thou, etc.). I often use the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible instead of Brenton’s translation, because it updates the English text.

 

The Septuagint was the earliest known translation of a book (circa 200 b.c.). Since this translation was made before the textual criticism had been developed into a science and because different books appear to be translated by different men, the Greek translation can sometimes be very uneven.

 

When there are serious disparities between my translation and Brenton’s (or the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible), I look at the Greek text of the Septuagint (the LXX) to see if a substantive difference actually exists (and I reflect these changes in the English rendering of the Greek text). I use the Greek LXX with Strong’s numbers and morphology available for e-sword. The only problem with this resource (which is a problem for similar resources) is, there is no way to further explore Greek verbs which are not found in the New Testament. Although I usually quote the Complete Apostles’ Bible here, I have begun to make changes in the translation when their translation conflicts with the Greek and note what those changes are.

 

The Masoretic text is the Hebrew text with all of the vowels (vowel points) inserted (the original Hebrew text lacked vowels). We take the Masoretic text to be the text closest to the original. However, differences between the Masoretic text and the Greek, Latin and Syriac are worth noting and, once in a great while, represent a more accurate text possessed by those other ancient translators.

 

In general, the Latin text is an outstanding translation from the Hebrew text into Latin and very trustworthy (I say this as a non-Catholic). Unfortunately, I do not read Latin—apart from some very obvious words—so I am dependent upon the English translation of the Latin (principally, the Douay-Rheims translation).

 

Underlined words indicate differences in the text.

 

Bracketed portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are words, letters and phrases lost in the scroll due to various types of damage. Underlined words or phrases are those in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not in the Masoretic text.

 

The Targum of Onkelos is actually the Pentateuchal Targumim, which are The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel. On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. Taken from http://targum.info/targumic-texts/pentateuchal-targumim/ and first published in 1862.

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so are lives of Sarah a hundred a year and twenty a year and seven years; years of lives of Sarah.

Targum of Onkelos                And the days of the life of Sarah were an hundred and twenty and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah.

Latin Vulgate                          And Sara lived a hundred and twenty-seven years.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    AND Sarah was a hundred and twenty-seven years old; these were the years of the life of Sarah.

Septuagint (Greek)                And the life of Sarah was one hundred and twenty-seven years.

Brenton’s Septuagint             And the life of Sarrha was an hundred and twenty-seven years.

 

Significant differences:           The targum adds days of the. The Hebrew refers twice to the lives of Sarah; this is not found at all in the Latin and only once in the Greek.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Sarah's death and burial site

Sarah lived to be 127 years old; this was how long she lived.

Contemporary English V.       When Sarah was one hundred twenty-seven years old,...

Easy English                          Sarah dies and Abraham buries her

Sarah lived for 127 years. That was her age when she died.

Easy-to-Read Version            Sarah lived to be 127 years old.

New Berkeley Version           Sarah’s length of life was 127 years;...

New Living Translation           The Burial of Sarah

When Sarah was 127 years old,...


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Well, SarAh lived a hundred and twenty-seven years,...

God’s Word                         Sarah lived to be 127 years old. This was the length of her life.

International Standard V        A Burial Place for Sarah

Sarah lived for 127 years. That's how long Sarah's life was.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Sarah had lived a hundred and twenty seven years, the years of the life of Sarah.

Bible in Basic English             Now the years of Sarah's life were a hundred and twenty-seven.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 The Death of Sarah

Now the life of Sarah was one hundred and twenty-seven years, the whole life of Sarah;...

HCSB                                     Now Sarah lived 127 years; these were all the years of her life.


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And the life of Sarah was one hundred and twenty-seven years, the years of the life of Sarah.

New American Bible              Purchase of a Burial Plot.* [23:1-20] The occasion for purchasing the land is the need for a burial site for Sarah, for it would be unthinkable to bury Sarah outside of the promised land. One of the two great promises to Abraham, that of progeny, has been fulfilled (21:1-7). And now the promise of land is to be fulfilled, through a kind of down payment on the full possession that will take place only with the conquest under Joshua and during the reign of David. This purchase has been prepared for by Abimelech's recognition of Abraham's claim to the well at Beer-sheba (21:22-34). Among the ancestral stories this narrative is one of two that are entirely from the P source (chap. 17 being the other). The Priestly writers may have intended to encourage the generation of the exile to a renewed hope of repossessing their land.

The span of Sarah's life was one hundred and twenty-seven years.

New Jerusalem Bible             The length of Sarah's life was a hundred and twenty-seven years.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   THE DEATH OF SARAH

And the life of Sarah is a hundred years

and seven years and twenty years

- the years of the life of Sarah:...

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Sarah’s lifetime—the span of Sarah’s life—came to one hundred and twenty-seven years.

Kaplan Translation                 Sarah Dies

Sarah had lived [Literally, 'The life of Sarah was....'] to be 127 years old. [These were] the years of Sarah's life.


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    The Death of Sarah

And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old; these were the years of the life of Sarah. She thus lived to a ripe old age and saw her son Isaac grow up to full manhood, for the latter was now thirty-seven years old. Meanwhile Abraham had moved back to Hebron.

Lexham English Bible            Sarah's Death and Burial

And {Sarah lived} one hundred and twenty-seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.

NET Bible®                             The Death of Sarah

Sarah lived 127 years [Heb "And the years of Sarah were one hundred years and twenty years and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah."]. When it comes to making an actual material change to the text, the NET Bible® is pretty good about indicating this. Since most of these corrections will be clear in the more literal translations below and within the Hebrew exegesis itself, I will not continue to list every NET Bible® footnote. Some of their notes will be reproduced in the exegesis of the chapter.

Translation for Translators     After Sarah died, Abraham bought a burial place for her

When Sarah was 127 years old, she died at Kiriath-Arba, which is now called Hebron city, in Canaan land. V. 2 is included for context.

The Voice                               When Sarah reached the end of her life, she was 127 years old.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And coming is the life of Sarah to be a hundred and twenty seven years--the years of the life of Sarah.

Emphasized Bible                  And the life of Sarah came to be, a hundred and twenty-seven years,—the years of the life of Sarah.

English Standard Version      Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.

A Voice in the Wilderness      Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.

Young's Literal Translation     And the life of Sarah is a hundred and twenty and seven years—years of the life of Sarah.

 

The gist of this verse:          Sarah lived to the age of 127.


Genesis 23:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

hâyâh (הָיָה) [pronounced haw-YAW]

to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #1961 BDB #224

chayyîym (חַיִּים) [pronounced khay-YEEM]

life, lives, living, being alive, having life, immortality, a long life, sustenance, sustaining life; refreshment; being vigorous; prosperity, welfare, happiness, living prosperously

masculine plural substantive; construct form

Strong's #2416 BDB #313

Sârâh (שָׂרָה) [pronounced saw-RAW]

princess, noble woman; transliterated Sarah

proper noun; feminine singular

Strong’s #8283 BDB #979

mêʾâh (מֵאָה) [pronounced may-AW]

one hundred, a hundred, hundred

feminine singular numeral

Strong’s #3967 BDB #547

shânâh (שָנָה) [pronounced shaw-NAW]

year

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʿeserîym (עֶשְׂרִים) [pronounced ģese-REEM]

twenty

plural numeral adjective

Strong’s #6242 BDB #797

shânâh (שָנָה) [pronounced shaw-NAW]

year

feminine singular noun

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

shebaʿ (שֶבַע) [pronounced sheb-VAHĢ]1

seven

numeral masculine construct

Strong's #7651 BDB #987

shânîym (שָנִים) [pronounced shaw-NEEM]

years

feminine plural noun

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040


Translation: And Sarah’s life was 127 years;... A word-for-word translation would be quite cumbersome here; suffice it to say, she was 127 years old. There is somewhat more flare in her age being named here than in previous ages of others.


In chapter 22, Abraham was approximately 115 years old and he was 9 years older than Sarah. This would make him 136 years old, so over 20 years have passed between these two chapters. Abraham lived a long time and we only touch on the spiritual high and low points in his life and on the things which touched him.


These are only a few points on the life of Sarah—concentrating mostly on where she is mentioned retrospectively in the Word of God.

Sarah’s Life

1.      There are a number of prominent women in Scripture; but only Sarah has her age and death recorded.

2.      When she gives birth to Isaac, she begins to fulfill the promises made by God—not just to her and Abraham but made many years previous to Eve , the first woman (and to Satan).

3.      Gen 3:14–16 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (ESV). There would be something special about the Seed of the Woman, which is, in itself, a misnomer—as the woman does not have a seed.

4.      There was a long period of time between God’s promises to Abraham and the birth of Isaac. This is to parallel the long period of time between God’s promise concerning the Seed of the Woman and that birth coming to pass.

5.      Furthermore, there is only one child. Sarah did not have 2 children. This was to parallel the Lord Jesus Christ.

6.      Isaiah speaks of Sarah and Abraham as people to look towards and learn from. "Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.” (Isa 51:1; ESV; capitalized)

7.      The writer of Hebrews speaks of Sarah in the great chapter of faith. Heb 11:11–12 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful Who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. (ESV; capitalized). So, even though Sarah laughed when she heard that she would definitely give birth to a child herself, she apparently believed that this would occur. My guess is, she may not have had faith when she first heard God tell her this, but there was a particular night when her faith increased greatly.

8.      Peter uses Sarah and Abraham as examples of the emphasis of life in 1Peter 3:3–6 Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear--but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (ESV; capitalized)

This tells us that God held Sarah in high regard.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Genesis 23:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

shânîym (שָנִים) [pronounced shaw-NEEM]

years

feminine plural noun; construct form

Strong’s #8141 BDB #1040

chayyîym (חַיִּים) [pronounced khay-YEEM]

life, lives, living, being alive, having life, immortality, a long life, sustenance, sustaining life; refreshment; being vigorous; prosperity, welfare, happiness, living prosperously

masculine plural substantive; construct form

Strong's #2416 BDB #313

Sârâh (שָׂרָה) [pronounced saw-RAW]

princess, noble woman; transliterated Sarah

proper noun; feminine singular

Strong’s #8283 BDB #979

The Latin and Greek leave this phrase out altogether.


Translation: ...the years of the life of Sarah. This is somewhat of an odd phrase, the years of the life of Sarah, and it is the first time in the Bible that we have this particular phrase; however, it will be repeated in Gen. 25:7, 17 47:9 Ex. 6:16, 18, 20 and it is apparently one way of indicating a person’s age.


These last few words are somewhat odd here. Two are repeated exactly as they are at the beginning of this verse, but the years of is the first time this noun is used as a construct. What I tried to do was to set up a title first, and then lead this into: and the years of the lives of Sarah were 127. However, the verb in this verse is placed in such a way so that cannot be done. Perhaps these last 3 words are somewhat of a title for the remainder of this chapter; or an epilogue for what has gone before.


This does not appear to be a common copyist error, because of the addition of the construct of years. However, the Greek and Latin just leave this phrase out. However, it is possible that they did not know what to do with this phrase. The Dead Sea Scrolls do not help us, as there are not manuscripts which exist that contain Gen. 23:1. However, we do find this in the targum, which suggests that they are a part of the original text.


I have a few possible explanations: one or two words were dropped out early in the text; or the verb to be was misplaced, and, without that verb, we have a title, and it belongs with the second half of this verse. Or, this could be an example of a Hebraism with which I am not acquainted (nor anyone else, insofar as I can tell).


Perhaps the best translation was: And the life of Sarah was 127. [These were] the years of the life of Sarah. And, perhaps the explanation is, Abraham or Isaac wrote this, and it was difficult for them to let go, so what is written is repetitive. As if, between these two phrases, the writer pauses and thinks about his memories of Sarah (whether written by Abraham or Isaac)—this thinking might go on for several minutes—and then adds, The years of the life of Sarah.


Interestingly enough, Sarah is the only woman whose age is recorded in Scripture.


Some of Sarah’s life is described in Heb. 11:11–16 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city. (ESV; capitalized) In some ways, Abraham and Sarah coming to Canaan originally is metaphorical, for their heavenly inheritance, for the city that God would later provide for them in eternity.


Even though this verse sounds like a title, this chapter will have little to do with Sarah directly and will examine the business of buying a burial plot in the ancient world.


Nearly every commentator says that Moses wrote Genesis, and leaves it at that. Although I believe that it is possible that Moses edited Genesis, I do not believe that he wrote it; and I certainly do not believe that God dictated it to him. God may have dictated the first two chapters to Adam (or to Seth); but the rest became a family history, which was repeated from generation to generation (not in every generation, obviously). There are at least two intensely personal verses in the book of Genesis, things that God would not dictate, but that God the Holy Spirit would allow the inclusion of: this verse and Gen. 29:20 (something only a man in love would write).


This chapter that we are studying is not something that an historian would seize upon and record. The detail is simple too minute.


Abraham wrote this, and likely Moses, a great student of history and geography, added the information that this was now Hebron. It would be likely that Abraham wrote this portion of Scripture and that it was Moses and not an intervening person who copied it, adding brief bits of geographical information (which would have been a part of his training when a young man destined for the throne of Egypt).


——————————


Sarah died in Kirjatharba (later known as Hebron). Hebron is 25 miles S-SW of Jerusalem, having been rebuilt around 1728 b.c. (as per Numbers), but archeology has shown it to be consistently occupied back as far as 3300 b.c.


And so dies Sarah in Kiriath-arba (that [is] Hebron) in the land of Canaan. And so goes Abraham to grieve for Sarah and to weep for her.

Genesis

23:2

Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that [is], Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Consequently, Abraham went to grieve for Sarah and to weep for her.

When Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (later known as Hebron) in the land of Canaan, Abraham went to grieve for Sarah and to weep for her.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so dies Sarah in Kiriath-arba (that [is] Hebron) in the land of Canaan. And so goes Abraham to grieve for Sarah and to weep for her.

Targum of Onkelos                And Sarah died in Kiryath Arba, which is Hebron. [JERUSALEM. And Sarah died in the city of the giants.] And Abraham came from the mountain of worship, and found that she was dead; and he sat to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Latin Vulgate                          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.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Sarah died at Koriath Gabarey (the Town of the Giants); that is Hebron in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Sarah died in Kirjath Arba, which is in the valley, this is Hebron in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to lament for Sarah and to mourn.

Brenton’s Septuagint             And Sarrha died in the city of Arboc, which is in the valley, this is Chebron in the land of Chanaan; and Abraam came to lament for Sarrha and to mourn.

 

Significant differences:           The Syriac adds that this is the Town of the Giants.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           She died in Kiriath-arba, that is, in Hebron, in the land of Canaan; and Abraham cried out in grief and wept for Sarah.

Contemporary English V.       ...she died in Kiriath-Arba, better known as Hebron, in the land of Canaan. After Abraham had mourned for her,...

Easy English                          Sarah died in Kiriath-Arba. (That is, Hebron.) It is in that country called Canaan. Abraham went to weep about her. And he expressed that he was very sad because of her death.

Easy-to-Read Version            She died in the city of Kiriath Arba (Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham was very sad and cried for her there.

Good News Bible (TEV)         She died in Hebron in the land of Canaan, and Abraham mourned her death.

New Berkeley Version           ...she died at Kiriath-Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan. Abraham [Abraham had moved back to Mamre. Sarah had her own tent; which Abraham entered for the mourning.] came to lament and weep for her.

New Century Version             She died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham was very sad and cried because of her.

New Life Bible                        Then Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. And Abraham had sorrow for Sarah and cried for her.

New Living Translation           ...she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          ...and then [she] died in the city of ArBoc (Hebron in the land of CanaAn), which is located in a valley. So, AbraHam went to SarAh to mourn for her.

God’s Word                         She died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in Canaan. Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to cry about her death.

International Standard V        She died in Kiriath-arba (that is, in Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham went in [i.e. into Sarah's tent] to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

NIRV                                      She died at Kiriath Arba. Kiriath Arba is also called Hebron. It's in the land of Canaan.

Sarah's death filled Abraham with sorrow. He went to the place where her body was lying. There he sobbed over her.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Sarah died in the town of Arba (it's Hebron in the land of Canaan). Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her.

Bible in Basic English             And Sarah's death took place in Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron, in the land of Canaan: and Abraham went into his house, weeping and sorrowing for Sarah.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 ...and Sarah died in Kiriath-Arba [“Now Hebron” is also an ancient explanatory note—F. F.], in the land of Canan; and Abraham came to mourn and Lament for Sarah.

New Advent Bible                  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.


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And Sarah died in Kiriath Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn [mourn, caphad. The main meaning of caphad is to beat the breast in lamentation and grief. This is the first occurrence of caphad in the Bible.] for Sarah, and to weep for her.

New American Bible              She died in Kiriath-arba-now Hebron-in the land of Canaan, and Abraham proceeded to mourn and weep for her.

New Jerusalem Bible             She died at Kiriath-Arba -- now Hebron -- in the land of Canaan, and Abraham proceeded to mourn and bewail her.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   ...and Sarah dies in Qiryath Arba;

- Hebron in the land of Kenaan:

and Abraham comes to chop and to weep for Sarah:...

Hebrew Names Version         Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba (the same is Chevron), in the land of Kena`an. Avraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Judaica Press Complete T.    And Sarah died in Kiriath arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to bewail her.

Kaplan Translation                 Sarah died in 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.], also known as 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)], in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her.


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. It appears from Joshua 14:15 and Judges 1:10 that Hebron, one of the very oldest settlements in Canaan, for a while bore the name of its conqueror, Arba of the Anakims, but the original name was restored by the children of Israel. Here Sarah died. And Abraham came, that is, he went about, he made preparations for the customary period of mourning, the lament for the dead.

Lexham English Bible            And Sarah died in Kiriath Arba; that [is] Hebron, in the land of Canaan.

NET Bible®                             Then she [Heb "Sarah." The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun ("she") for stylistic reasons.] died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her [Mourn...weep. The description here is of standard mourning rites (see K. A. Kitchen, NBD3 149-50). They would have been carried out in the presence of the corpse, probably in Sarah's tent. So Abraham came in to mourn; then he rose up to go and bury his dead (Gen. 23:3).].

The Voice                               She died at Kiriath-arba (a city now known as Hebron) in Canaan. Abraham went in where her body was laid out to mourn and weep over her.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And dying is Sarah in the town of Arba, in the vale. (It is Hebron, in the land of Canaan.) And coming is Abraham to wail over Sarah and to lament for her.

English Standard Version      And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

World English Bible                Sarah died in Kiriath Arba (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Young’s Updated LT             And Sarah dies in Kirjath-Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Caanan, and Abraham goes in to mourn for Sarah, and to bewail her.

 

The gist of this verse:          Sarah died in Kiriath-arba, which is later known as Hebron, and Abraham mourns her death.


Genesis 23:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

to die; to perish, to be destroyed

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

Sârâh (שָׂרָה) [pronounced saw-RAW]

princess, noble woman; transliterated Sarah

proper noun; feminine singular

Strong’s #8283 BDB #979

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Qireyâth (פִרְיָת) [pronounced kir-YAWTH]

city, town

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #7151 BDB #900

ʾArebbaʿ (אַרְבַּע) [pronounced ahre-BAHĢ]

related to the Hebrew word to lie in wait, to ambush (Strong’s #693 BDB #70); or to the numeral four (Strong’s #702 BDB #916)

Proper noun; location

Strong’s #none BDB #916

Together, these are transliterated Kiriath-arba, Kirjatharba and the word probably means city of Arba; city of the four (giants?); the four-fold city. Strong’s #7153 BDB #900.


Translation: Sarah died in Kiriath-arba... All people must die; it is only a matter of time. Sarah’s death is the first death of a woman that we have in Scripture (possibly the only one).


Application: All believers, no matter how favored by God, will die—this includes you and I. We will all grow old and we will all breathe our last. This is the fate of all mankind. For some, pondering death is key to understanding life and the importance of our choices and actions in this life.


This doctrine is put together from two other doctrines from three doctrinal internet sites. The bulk of this doctrine no doubt was the work of R. B. Thieme, Jr.

The Doctrine of Physical Death

1.      Physical death for all mankind:

         1)      We will all die. Heb. 9:27 reads: It is appointed [or, destined, ordained] for man to die once... Ray Pritchard said, If you are like me, your days are filled with one meeting or phone call after another. Sometimes we may be late for an appointment or we may miss it altogether. Sometimes we even forget we have an appointment. Things like that happen in a fallen world. But there is one appointment you will never miss-your appointment with death.1

         2)      As Eccles. 3:1–2 puts it: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. (ESV)

         3)      Although death is the end of our physical life, it is not the end of our existence. We will inhabit some sort of physical body in the future, and either be in some form of paradise or some form of torments. Luke 16:19–31

2.      Physical death for the unbeliever:

         1)      The soul leaving the body (Lk.16:22) and:

         2)      Torment in hell (Lk.16:23,24).

         3)      Remembrance of life on earth (Lk.16:25).

         4)      Desire not to see earthly loved ones (Lk.16:27,28).

         5)      Is permanent (Lk.16:26).

         6)      Occurs in the midst of temporal pursuits and is unexpected (Lk.12:16-21).

         7)      Principle: Mk.8:36,37 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

         8)      Apply Mt.10:28 "And do not fear those who can kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

3.      For the believer,

         1)      Physical death does not separate the believer from God. Romans 8:38-39

         2)      Physical death means no appointment with judgment. Hebrews 9:27.

         3)      Physical death means that the believer is face to face with the Lord. 2Corinthians 5:8

         4)      Physical death involves the separation of soul and spirit from the body (Eccl.12:7 "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it"; Jn.2:26; Acts.5:10),

         5)      Waiting for the resurrection body while in an interim body, John 11:25 1Thesolonians 4:13-18 Job 19:25-26 Philippians 3:21 1Co 5:51-57

         6)      And includes conscious existence in heaven (Lk.16:25, Abraham & Lazarus; Phil.1:21 2Cor.5:8 Ps.72:24).

         7)      Bliss (Lk.23:43 cp. 2Cor.12:4 Rev.2:7, as implied in the term "Paradise").

         8)      No judgment, only an eternal reward (or inheritance) for the worthy believer. Rom.8:1 1Pet.1:4,5

         9)      No sin.

         10)    No more pain, death, or sorrow (Rev.21:4).

         11)    A new home. John 14:1-6

         12)    Full realization of spiritual maturity blessing (2Cor.4:16-18).

         13)    Realizing what eternal life is all about. John 11:25 10:28 20:31 1John 5:11-12

         14)    In the case of martyrdom: Rev.14:13; cp. 12:11.

4.      Divine regulating principles.

         1)      God is the ultimate cause (directive and permissive; Acts.17:28 Ps.66:9 Job.34:14,15).

         2)      Protection against death lies with God (overruling will Pss.30:3 118:18).

         3)      Physical death is a matter of the sovereign decision of God based on His perfect knowledge and perfect timing. Psalm 68:19-20

         4)      He determines the time and manner (Eccl.3:2 7:17 "Do not be very wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?"; Rom.14:8).

         5)      It has an end (Rev.20:14 21:4 1Cor.15:26).

5.      As applied to the believer.

         1)      Bible Doctrine removes the fear of death (Ps.23:4).

         2)      The positive believer is kept alive by grace to attain maturity (Ps.119, esp. vs.17).

         3)      The reversionistic believer dies the sin unto death (Prov.5:23 8:36 10:21 12:28 13:14 14:12 15:10 19:16 23:13,14 Deut.30:15 cp. Jer.21:8 Jn.5:19,20 1Jn.5:16).

         4)      There is dying grace for the positive believer (Ps.116:15 Phil.1:21).

         5)      Church Age believers ("dead in Christ", 1Thess.4:13-18) are promised resurrection.

         6)      The Rapture generation will not experience it (1Cor.15:51ff; 1Thess.4:15-18; cp. Mt.16:28; Mk.9:1; Lk.9:27; cp. Heb.11:5,6).

         7)      Christ died physically and Faith-Rested His resurrection (Ps.22:15 Isa.53:9 Mt.27:50 1Pet.3:18 cp. Acts.2:22-28 Heb.5:7).

         8)      Physical death secures a great victory and that is how it should be viewed. The sting of death has been removed by our Lord Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 15:55- 57). If you understand what heaven is all about, what eternity holds and what the word of God promises you will not live in fear of death.

From: http://www.versebyverse.org/doctrine/deaths.html accessed June 13, 2013.

Identical to http://gracebiblechurchwichita.org/?page_id=54 accessed June 13, 2013 (which suggests that this doctrine in its entirety original was put together by R. B. Thieme, Jr.).

Some material from http://dikaosune.com/documents/Doctrineofdeath.pdf accessed June 13, 2013.

Some material is from http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1996-07-07-Death-of-a-Princess/ accessed December 13, 2014.

These sites go further and examine in depth the other kinds of deaths found in the Bible.

1 From http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/1996-07-07-Death-of-a-Princess/ accessed December 13, 2014.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


We do not know the reason why Sarah is in Kiriath-arba. The last that we heard, in Gen. 22:19, Abraham was living in Beersheba. However, that would have been as much as 20 years earlier. So, Abraham and Sarah could have both been living in Kiriath-arba; they may have been living in different places; and Abraham may have been seeing to his herds at this time, and not in Kiriath-arba. Sarah may have lived here and she may have been visiting here.


Kiriath-arba is the original name for the city of Hebron. Although this name is only found in Genesis, Joshua, and Judges, it makes an odd reappearance many centuries later in Neh. 11:25.


Kiriath-arba means the city of Arba; the city of the Four [Giants?]; the four-fold city. The Jerusalem targum and the Syriac both record that this refers to giants. The Kaplan translation above states who these giants are (I assume by tradition).


Driver suggests that this could be called a Tetrapolis, which is formed from four confederate tribes.

 

Barnes: Arba is called the father of Anak (Joshua 15:13; Joshua 21:11); that is, of the Anakim or Bene Anak, a tall or gigantic tribe (Num. 13:22; 28; 33), who were subsequently dispossessed by Kaleb. The Anakim were probably Hittites.


Clarke suggests that this may have been called the City of the Four because it was the burial place of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This would be problematic, as (1) Adam was not buried there and (2) this city would be taking on this name before Isaac and Jacob are buried there.


Some point to Judges 1:10, which reads: And Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba), and they defeated Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai. The three named men were tribes when defeated by Judah and when added to Arba, their father, that would be four.


The simplest explanation is, Arba founded this city, and Arba was a man of great distinction (Joshua 14:15 15:13). He was the father of Anak, from whom were the Anakim (giants).


Genesis 23:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hîyʾ (הִיא) [pronounced hee]

she, it; also used as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person feminine singular, personal pronoun; sometimes the verb is, is implied

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

Cheberôwn (חֶבְרוֹן) [pronounced khebv-ROHN]

association, league, joined; transliterated Hebron

proper noun; location

Strong’s #2275 BDB #289


Translation:...(that [is], Hebron)... Hebron is about 25 miles south-southwest of Jerusalem, and a short version of this doctrine is located below:


Kirjatharba is in southern Judah (not as far south as Beer-sheba), about 30 miles south of Jerusalem and about midway down the Dead Sea. This city came to be known as Hebron, and this would be from where David began to rule over Judah and years in the future and where his son, Absalom, would go to foment revolution.


The Map of Hebron below comes from holylandarchive.com, and was accessed June 26, 2013.


86_hebronmap3.jpg

Interestingly enough, Abraham is somewhere else at this time, and he comes to Hebron to mourn her. Abraham would be 137 at this time, and he will live for another 38 years. It is likely that he had route that he traveled with his herds. Or his servants moved about with his herds and Moses rode about overseeing the operation (recall that Abraham is a very wealthy man with a huge ranch).


Although some think that Abraham has taken on another wife by this time, I do not believe that to be the case. He will be involved in purchasing a burial plot for Sarah in this chapter and then getting a wife for Isaac in the following chapter. In Gen. 25, Abraham will marry again, apparently fulfilling the ancient saying, “142 is the new 60.” Or, however that goes.


It is also possible that, Abraham lives there with Sarah, and is simply going in to the burial tent to mourn Sarah. And Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. This is another definition for the word bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh], which means to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter, to advance. Strong’s #935 BDB #97. There are details left out of this narrative, as if the writer wrote a few words, paused, thought about Sarah, and then added a few more words. So the author knows whether he meant that Abraham came to Hebron to mourn or whether he went into the burial tent to mourn Sarah.


Hebron was not actually built as Hebron until Num. 13:22; but that does not mean that the land had not been occupied prior to that time.


The first half of the Doctrine of Hebron (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). Here is a brief summary of that doctrine.

A Brief Summary of the Doctrine of Hebron

Hebron means association, league, joined. McGee suggests that it means fellowship, communion; as Hebron was a place of fellowship with God.

Like many of the ancient cities which Israel captures, Hebron had a variety of names. It was previously know as Kiriath-arba (Gen. 23:2 35:27 Joshua 14:15 15:54 20:7 Judges 1:10 Neh. 11:25); the oaks of Mamre or simply Mamre (Gen. 13:18 14:13 18:1 23:17, 19 25:9 35:27 49:30 50:13); the city of Arba (Joshua 14:15 15:13 21:11) and the city of Arbah (Gen. 35:27).

Hebron is about 20 miles west from the midpoint of the Dead Sea in the hill country of Judah, 25 miles south-southwest of Jerusalem. Mamre is traditionally located 2 miles north of Hebron, making them so close as to be interchangeable.

Hebron has an elevation of approximately 2800 ft. It is situated in a valley between two ridges. Hebron is an area which would certainly be populated. It has several natural springs and wells and there are two large pools with cut stone walls within the city limits today. There are apple, plum, fig, pomegranate, apricot and nut trees; and grapes, melons and other produce are grown in the rich soil of the valley and terrace.

Hebron is where most of the Patriarchs lived and where most of them were buried.

We first hear about Hebron immediately after the separation of Abram and Lot somewhere in the early the mid 20th century b.c. Lot settles in around Sodom, a particularly horrid city and God takes Abram up to a hill and has him look in all directions and tells him that this land would belong to his descendants forever. God tells Abram to walk through the land to get a feel for it (it is like you have just gotten your son this great Christmas gift and you want to show him how to play with it). Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to Jehovah (Gen. 13:18). Abram and Sarai apparently lived there for awhile (Gen. 14:13).

It was here that God appeared to Abram and promised him a son through Sarai (Gen. 18:1ff). Several decades after the birth of Isaac, Sarah dies at the age of 127 and is buried in Hebron, also called Kiriath-arba (Gen. 23:2). Abraham is also buried there by Isaac at age 175 (Gen. 25:7–10).

Jacob also chose to live in Hebron (Gen. 37:1). Jacob later Jacob asked his sons to bury him with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah (Gen. 49:29–33 50:13), which would have been Hebron.

In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites use deceit in order to attain an alliance with Joshua and then five kings allied themselves and attacked the Gibeonites. These five kings were from the hill country, one of them being the king of Hebron (Joshua 10:3, 5, 23). Joshua destroyed the armies of those kings and executed the kings as well (Joshua 10:22–26).

Joshua went through a half dozen cities and destroyed the people in the cities. One of the last ones was Hebron and he left no survivors (Joshua 10:36–39). They took no prisoners.

Hebron proper will actually go to the tribe of Aaron as a Levitical city and as a city of refuge. The surrounding area and villages will go the Caleb and his family (Joshua 21:11–13 I Chron. 5:55–56). In Joshua 14:12 and in great detail in Judges 1:10, we will discuss in more detail the chronological sequence involved.

The actual doctrine goes into much greater detail than we find here. I will cover the history of Hebron after the time of Joshua at another time.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


So far, we have: When Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (later known as Hebron)... At the time that this was written (assuming an Abrahamic authorship), there was no Hebron. Therefore, this would be known as a gloss, something which was added by a later editor or copyist. Very likely, this is based upon the geographical training that Abraham received as a young man—and that he only appended the book of Genesis with a few updated geographical references.


It is possible that Joshua added this in, as he would have no doubt copied the Scriptures as he had them. We find the same gloss in Joshua 15:54. This city was known as Hebron only, after Joshua’s conquest of the land.


Apparently Keil suggests that this city was originally called Hebron, then Arba the Anakite called it Kiriath-arba, and then the Jews restored the name to Hebron. Whereas, this may be true; if this is offered as an explanation

genesis23.gif

as to why the addition of the word Hebron here is not a gloss, that does not solve the problem of dozens of similar glosses throughout the Word of God. Furthermore, this is not really a problem. At some point in time, the book of Genesis was reduced to writing; or was copied—and many believe that Moses had a hand in this (most believe that Moses wrote Genesis, although I have never seen any credible proof of this). A gloss simply means that Moses (or whomever) knows, from his training in geography, that Hebron used to be known as Kiriath-arba; and so he simply adds in this clarification for newer readers without such a background. Such a gloss does not change anything—it simply gives an updated name to a city, village, river, or whatever. That Moses did this for the book of Genesis ought not to be a problem for any believer.


Hebron, the Home of Abraham (graphic) from GoVista.com; accessed December 14, 2014.


Genesis 23:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ʾerets (אֶרֶץ) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land, territory, country, continent; ground, soil; under the ground [Sheol]

feminine singular construct

Strong's #776 BDB #75

Kenaʿan (כְּנַעַן) [pronounced keNAH-ģahn]

which possibly means merchant and is transliterated Canaan

masculine proper noun; territory

Strong’s #3667 BDB #488


Translation: ...in the land of Canaan. Canaan is the general area where Abraham lived, which later became Israel, as God had given this land to Abraham. God told Abraham to travel throughout this land, to enjoy its beauty and to recognize that it had been given him.


Although Abraham most recently is said to live in Beersheba, he and Sarah had lived in Hebron previously (Gen. 13:18). Why Sarah was there, we do not know—perhaps she was visiting and perhaps she had taken up permanent residence in Hebron.


Genesis 23:2d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter, to advance

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4


Translation: Consequently, Abraham went... This is an odd phrase as Abraham is said to be living in Hebron in Gen. 13:18 14:13 18:1 (the Oaks of Mamre is in Hebron—Gen. 13:18). Since this word can mean to go in, it is possible that Abraham is simply going into his tent or there may have been a tent erected for Sarah’s funeral.

 

Adam Clarke provides an excellent explanation for this: From Gen. 22:19 of the preceding chapter it appears that Abraham had settled at Beer–sheba; and here we find that Sarah died at Hebron, which was about twenty–four miles distant from Beersheba. For the convenience of feeding his numerous flocks, Abraham had probably several places of temporary residence, and particularly one at Beer–sheba, and another at Hebron; and it is likely that while he sojourned at Beersheba, Sarah died at Hebron; and his coming to mourn and weep for her signifies his coming from the former to the latter place on the news of her death.


Abraham probably had several living quarters, which he traveled to in order to oversee his flocks and herds. He was in Beersheba when his wife died in Hebron.


The lack of specificity here is an interesting trait of this chapter. There will be sequential information left out; and yet, there will be extraordinary detail elsewhere. This is typical of human memory—particularly on a day so emotionally jarring as this day would have been for Abraham. For much of the day, it would appear as if he is walking in a fog. We flit from one scene to another scene, but without any intervening text (Abraham appears to meet with these Hittites anywhere from 2 to 4 times—but there is no clear delineation between these meetings). So, just as a day of great sorrow affects our own recollection of events, so it is with Abraham. There is nothing in this chapter which is incorrectly recalled or distorted; but we simply have an interesting commingling of explicit events (including dialogue) interspersed with some very indistinct narrative. In fact, this is very much like a dream state—where you may have a very vivid dream, but when you go to recall it, you can recall some shapes and colors and events with great specificity, but the interconnectedness of the dream along with many events in your dream, are lost. If you have not yet had such a sorrow-inducing day; perhaps then you have had a dream where you wake up with great sadness, but you do not fully recall the dream. This might help to explain both Abraham’s mental state as well as his recollection of these events.


If you think that everything should be a blur, then you do not understand the human mind. I recall a wonderful principal at the school where I worked, and he was dying of cancer. Apparently there was some discussion or questions going about, should we save electricity by turning off the lights in our room when we leave, or by leaving them on (these are florescent lights, . Mr. Taylor put out a memo—just weeks before his death, if I recall—discussing this very question in the most minute detail possible.


Genesis 23:2e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

çâphad (סָפַד) [pronounced saw-FAHD]

to lament, to grieve, to mourn; to wail, to bewail

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #5594 BDB #704

This is the first occurrence of this word in Scripture.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

Sârâh (שָׂרָה) [pronounced saw-RAW]

princess, noble woman; transliterated Sarah

proper noun; feminine singular

Strong’s #8283 BDB #979


Translation: ...to grieve for Sarah... Wherever it is that Abraham went, it was to grieve for Sarah or to lament her death.


When a loved one dies, there are often customary steps that one takes—and Abraham, as the first of the Hebrews, was probably quite demonstrative in his grief.


Guzik points out that we are never told to look at Mary, the mother of the humanity of Jesus, as an example; but Sarah is named twice as an example for us (Isa. 51:1–2 1Peter 3:3–6). Given that Mary was with Jesus when He was on the cross, she was obviously a woman of character and dedication. However, the point that should be taken from this is, there is no Scriptural reason for us to idolize Mary any more than Sarah. There is one celebrity in the heavens and earth, and that is Jesus Christ. It is reasonable to want to emulate some believers from the Bible (they are given to us as examples), but there is only One who receives our worship.


Genesis 23:2f

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bâkâh (בַּכָה) [pronounced baw-KAW]

to weep [for] (in grief, humiliation, or joy), to weep [bitterly], to weep upon [i.e., to embrace and week], to cry [for], to bewail

Qal infinitive construct with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong’s #1058 BDB #113


Translation: ...and to weep for her. This involved great weeping. Although we have no idea when Abraham and Sarah became an item, they left their home with his parents at age 75 and now it is 52 years later, so they have been an independent family unit now for 52 years—meaning independent of his and her family (they were closely related).


genesis231.gif

Whereas, one could interpret to grieve as a series of actions and ceremony, to weep indicates heartfelt grief.

 

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: The "mourning" describes his conformity to the customary usage of sitting on the ground for a time; while the "weeping" indicates the natural outburst of his sorrow.


Although sometime is given to describing Abraham’s sorrow, the bulk of this chapter is given over to his purchase of a burial site for Sarah. This is not unusual for a man’s way of dealing with sorrow.


And Sarah died in Kiryat Arba by Yoram Raanan from the Jerusalem Post, accessed December 14, 2014. Quite obviously, Raanan is very impressionistic in his style.


——————————


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Abraham's Public Meeting with the Hittites to Purchase a Burial Plot for Sarah


We all process grief differently. Abraham recalls in great detail his purchasing a burial plot for his late wife.


And so rises up Abraham from over faces of his dying one. And so he speaks unto the sons of Heth, to say,...

Genesis

23:3

Abraham rose up from over his dead [wife’s body] and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...

Abraham rose up from over his dead wife’s body, and said to the Hittites:...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so rises up Abraham from over faces of his dying one. And so he speaks unto the sons of Heth, to say,...

Targum of Onkelos                And Abraham rose up from the sight of the face of his dead, and spake with the sons of Hittah, saying,...

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

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abraham rose up from before the bier of his dead and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abraham stood up from before his dead; and Abraham spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...

 

Significant differences:           I am unsure about the underlined words found in the Latin and Vulgate; they do not appear to match exactly with the Hebrew.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           After he got up from embracing his deceased wife, he spoke with the Hittites:...

Contemporary English V.       ...he went to the Hittites and said,...

Easy-to-Read Version            Then Abraham left his dead wife and went to talk to the Hittite people. He said,...

Good News Bible (TEV)         He left the place where his wife's body was lying, went to the Hittites, and said,...

The Message                         Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites:...

New Berkeley Version           Then arising from the presence of his dead, Abraham said to the sons of Heth,... The Hittites were a great nation north and east of Palestine. A colony of them had migrated to southern Canaan.

New Living Translation           Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders,...


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And as AbraHam stood before his dead [woman], he spoke to the sons of Chet, saying,...

Beck’s American Translation After bowing over the face of his dead wife, Abraham got up and said to the Hittites,...

God’s Word                         Then Abraham left the side of his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites,...

International Standard V        Then Abraham stood up from beside his dead wife [The Heb. lacks wife] and addressed the Hittites. He said, "I am an alien and an outsider among you. Give me a cemetery among you where I can bury my dead away from my presence." V. 4 is included for context.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abraham raised his face from over the dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...

Bible in Basic English             And Abraham came from his dead and said to the children of Heth,...

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Then Abraham rose up from the presence of his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...

HCSB                                     Then Abraham got up from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites:...

New Advent Bible                  And after he rose up from the funeral obsequies, he spoke to the children of Heth, saying:...

NIV – UK                                Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites [Or the descendants of Heth; also in verses 5, 7, 10, 16, 18 and 20]. He said,...


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And Abraham stood up from the face of his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth [Heth, the second son of Canaan, Gen 10:15; 1 Chr 1:13, and ancestor of the terrorizing Hittites. Heth means terrible or terrorizing.], saying,...

New American Bible              Then he left the side of his deceased wife and addressed the Hittites:... The Hittites: in the Bible the term is applied to several different groups-inhabitants of the second-millennium Hittite empire in Asia Minor and northern Syria, residents of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms in northern Syria in the first part of the first millennium, and (following Assyrian terminology) the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine. The third group is meant here.

New Jerusalem Bible             Then rising from beside his dead, Abraham spoke to the Hittites,...

Revised English Bible            When at last he rose and left the presence of his dead one, he approached the Hittites:...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Then he got up from his dead one and said to the sons of Het,...

exeGeses companion Bible   ...and Abraham rises from the face of his who died

and words to the sons of Heth, saying,...

Hebrew Names Version         Avraham rose up from before his dead, and spoke to the children of Chet, saying,...

Kaplan Translation                 Abraham rose from beside his dead, and he spoke to the children of Heth. That is, the Hittites. See note on Genesis 10:15.



Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    Abraham Negotiates for a Burial-Place. â?"

And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, ...

Lexham English Bible            And Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from his dead, and he spoke to the Hittites [and] said,...

NET Bible®                             Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife [Heb "And Abraham arose from upon the face of his dead."] and said to the sons of Heth,...

Translation for Translators     After Abraham mourned and cried over her, he left the body of his wife and spoke to some of the descendants of Heth, saying, "I am a foreigner [DOU] living among you, so I do not own any land here. Sell me some land here so that I can bury my wife's body." Vv. 2b and 4 are included for context.

The Voice                               When he got up from his place beside her, he spoke to the Hittites who had been his neighbors for many years.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...

Concordant Literal Version    And rising is Abraham from over the face of his dead. And speaking is he to the sons of Heth, saying,...

World English Bible                Abraham rose up from before his dead, and spoke to the children of Heth, saying,...

Young's Updated LT              And Abraham rises up from the presence of his dead, and speaks unto the sons of Heth, saying,...

 

The gist of this verse:          After mourning the death of his wife, Abraham stands up to speak before the sons of Heth.


Genesis 23:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

qûwm (קוּם) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to get up; to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4

min (מִן) [pronounced mihn]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ʿal (עַל) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5920, #5921 BDB #752

Together, they mean from upon, from over, from by, from beside, from attachment to, from companionship with, from accompanying [in a protective manner], from adhesion to, from. Some translators rendered this away from.

pânîym (פָּנִים) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Gesenius suggests that this means in front of a thing; before a thing. However, various translators rendered this as from upon the face [surface] of, from the face [surface] of, on, from over.

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

Qal active participle, with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: Abraham rose up from over his dead [wife’s body]... The participle here logically refers to a state of being, rather than to a state of dying. So Abraham’s wife is dead. We do not know exactly what the customs were of that day, but Abraham apparently went into a place, and here we have him rising up from being over his wife’s body.


Abraham was mourning his wife; and then he stood up. We do not know from what position Abraham came out of, but I suspect that he is laying on the ground, mourning his wife, as the Jews tended to be very demonstrative with their emotions.


Part of the translation of v. 3 has been left out. Every language has its idioms and Hebrew has an abundance of them. The plural of the word face is found here (it is almost always in the plural) and it would have been more accurate to translate this: and Abraham arose from before the faces of his dead. Face is always in the plural in this type of usage because it refers to the various features of the face (in English, pants is always in the plural) and this is not unlike the Greek word προς, which means face to face with. Here is one of the many places where a strictly literal translation does not improve the understanding of the meaning of the passage. It is because of passages like this that I have gone to 3 translations.


Mourning is always a temporary process. For those who remain, life continues. No matter how important a person is to you, once they have died, if you are still alive, then God has a plan for your life. One of the first things which jars people in mourning out of this state is simply the fact of having to deal with the body of the loved one. You cannot leave Aunt Mabel in a rocking chair watching cable news after she has passed. Even in Abraham’s day, there were procedures that must be followed—in his day, procedures dictated not by law but by custom. For Abraham, there were two primary considerations: (1) to bury his wife’s body out of his sight and (2) to place her in a picturesque setting. In any case, Abraham must function; Abraham must transact business—simply as a natural result of Sarah’s passing.


From what follows, there is no indication that Abraham had to search that place out. It appears that he already had a very specific place in mind. Had he thought about this as a grave site originally? Had he and his wife traveled by this place and sat and admired its quiet beauty and peacefulness? We do not really know that part of the backstory.


Genesis 23:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

dâbar (דָּבַר) [pronounced dawb-VAHR]

to speak, to talk [and back with action], to give an opinion, to expound, to make a formal speech, to speak out, to promise, to propose, to speak kindly of, to declare, to proclaim, to announce

3rd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect

Strong’s #1696 BDB #180

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied)

Strong's #413 BDB #39

bânîym (בָּנִים) [pronounced baw-NEEM]

sons, descendants; children; people; sometimes rendered men

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Cheth (חֵת) [pronounced khayth]

transliterated Heth; Hittite

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #2845 BDB #366

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55


Translation: ...and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,... The sons of Heth are thought by some to be the Hittites and, as we have seen so far in Genesis, there are a number of disparate groups throughout Palestine.

 

However, the NET Bible footnote here is: Some translate the Hebrew term "Heth" as "Hittites" here (also in vv. 5, 7, 10, 16, 18, 20), but this gives the impression that these people were the classical Hittites of Anatolia. However, there is no known connection between these sons of Heth, apparently a Canaanite group (see Gen 10:15), and the Hittites of Asia Minor. See H. A. Hoffner, Jr., "Hittites," Peoples of the Old Testament World, 152-53.

 

Dr. Thomas Constable: These Hittites (Hethites) were residents of Canaan, not members of the mighty Hittite Empire that later flourished north of the Promised Land in Syria. [Note: See Bryant G. Wood, "Hittites and Hethites: A Proposed Solution to an Etymological Conundrum," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54:2 (June 2011):239-50.].


The Hittites were the descendants of Heth, Canaan's son, and one of the seven tribes which proceeded from Canaan. The relationship that we see here with Abraham is far different than what we will see later. God commanded the Jews to completely annihilate the Hittites, yet they did not do so (Deut. 7:1, 2, 24 Judges 3:5). They occupied this area of the land of Canaan, later known as Hebron (Deut. 7:1 1Kings 10:29). There were honorable Hittites found in Scripture, besides this passage. Ahimelech and Uriah are found in 1Sam. 26:6 and in 2Sam. 11:6, 21. However, in general, the Hittites were a powerful, warlike people.


Archeologists and historians have questioned whether there were Hittites in Palestine during this time because (1) the Hittite kingdom was in Asia Minor (now Turkey); (2) the Hittites did not rise to power until 400 years after this passage. However, we find them here and later in Num. 13:29 when Joshua and 11 other spies discover that there are Hittite settlements in this same area. However, it is very possible that the influence of the Hittites had extended to Palestine. For instance, archeologists have discovered a nonagression pact signed by the Hittite New Kingdom and by Egypt with the treaty line drawn in such a way to put Palestine under Egyptian influence. This was much later in Hittite history—in the 13th century b.c.; but it shows that there was Hittite interest in Palestine. Earlier than this we have discovered cuneiform mercantile tablets in Cappadocia left by early Assyrian merchants, dating between 1950–1850 b.c. This would indicate trade between the Hittites and the Assyrians.


It is possible that these Hittites are not related to the famous Hittites that we find as a superpower ruling what is now Turkey during the time of King David. It is possible that these are the Hattis—or, possibly the ones who conquered the Hattis an adopted the name for themselves. This would have occurred between 2300–2000 b.c. and in the original Hebrew, Hatti and Hittite would have been spelled exactly the same as there were no vowels used in the original manuscripts. The vowels have been supplied by the oral tradition. If this is the case, then it is likely that it is this group which is found through Genesis during the time of the patriarchs.


However, it is not difficult to believe that these were the original Hittites; that they were pushed north by the Hebrews (although some were left in the land) and that they regrouped and formed a powerful kingdom north of Israel. We are lacking archeological evidence to substantiate this; but, a half century or so ago, we lacked archeological evidence for the Hittites as a world power anyway. As an investigative science, archeology is not finished. We have put but a small dent in the remaining archeological information for ancient history.


Keeping the NET Bible commentary in mind, let’s take a brief look at the Hittites:

An Introduction to the Hittites

1.      The name Heth is found in relatively few places in the Bible: Gen. 10:15 23:3, 5, 7, 10, 16, 18, 20 25:10 27:46 49:32 1Chron. 1:13. As you can see, the bulk of those references are found here in this chapter. Two of these mentions look back on this incident. Two of them, Gen. 10:15 and 1Chron. 1:13 are genealogical mentions. Only one of these passages, Gen. 27:46 is slightly different: And Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these of the daughters of the land, what good is my life to me?” Rebekah did not want her son Jacob to marry one of the daughters of Heth.

2.      Although there is a large civilization of Hittites north and east of Canaan, the Word of God speaks of them differently than it does here, using a slightly different word. It appears in the context of this chapter that this group of Hittites are the dominant population where Abraham is, God has not judged them harshly as He did Sodom and Gomorrah, and, as this narrative goes on, it is clear that Abraham has a good relationship with these men. Furthermore, it will be clear from this chapter that these are good, honorable and honest men as well. Therefore, the most likely explanation is, a few of the sons of Heth came from the east and moved into the land of Canaan, and had populations in various places in Canaan. Although related by blood to the Hittites that we will encounter later in the Bible, there is likely a cultural disconnect with these same Hittites, so that these sons of Heth here probably have more in common with Abraham than they do with their own flesh and blood in the Hittite empire. Probably many of these men and women believe in Abraham’s God and are eternally saved (God worked circumstances to place them together).

3.      What appears to be the case is, down the road, four centuries or more, the Hittites who live in the land will retrogress—they will no longer regard the spiritual heritage of their fathers by means of Abraham—and they will become just one more set of people in the land that God will drive out of the land in favor of the Jews (Ex. 23:28 33:2 34:11 Deut. 7:1); and that Joshua would destroy by means of the power of God (Joshua 11:1–8 24:11).

4.      After Joshua had conquered the land, God allowed many groups of peoples to live in the land, to help keep Israel in line. Judges 2:1–3 3:4–5

5.      Throughout Israel’s history, there would continue to be individual men, Hittites, who side with the God of Israel. 2Sam. 23:39

We will pick up with this doctrine again in the future when Israel has to deal with the Hittites as an opposition force.

Chapter Outline

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Although it is not clear if the Hittites were right there at the time, it does appear as if Abraham speaks before a number of Hittites in a fairly large meeting, and this is when he says the following:


The sons of Heth are Hittites. Therefore, at this time, they apparently had control of a major portion of the Land of Promise.

When Critics Ask, on the Sons of Heth in Canaan

GENESIS 23 —How could the sons of Heth have been in Hebron in 2050 B.C. when their kingdom was in what is now modern Turkey?

PROBLEM: Heth was the progenitor of the Hittites, whose kingdom was located in what is now modern Turkey. But, according to some archaeological evidence, the Hittites did not become a prominent force in the Middle East until the reign of Mursilis I, which began about 1620 B .C. , and who captured the city of Babylon in 1600 B.C.


However, several times in Genesis 23 reference is made to Abraham’s encounter with the sons of Heth, who controlled Hebron about 2050 B .C. How could the Bible claim the presence of Hittites in control of Hebron so many years before they became a significant force in the area?

SOLUTION: More recent archaeological evidence from cuneiform tablets describes conflicts in Anatolia (modern Turkey), among the various Hittite principalities from about 1950 to 1850 B.C. Even before this conflict, however, there was a race of non- Indo-Europeans called Hattians. These people were subdued by invaders about 2300 to 2000 B.C . These Indo-European invaders adopted the name Hatti. In Semitic languages, like Hebrew, Hatti and Hitti would be written with the same letters, because only the consonants were written, not the vowels.


In the days of Ramses II of Egypt, the military strength of the Hittites was sufficient to precipitate a non-aggression pact between Egypt and the Hittite empire which set a boundary between them. At this time, the Hittite empire reached as far south as Kadesh on the Orontes river (modern Asi). However, additional evidence indicates that the Hittites actually penetrated further south into Syria and Palestine. Although the Hittite kingdom did not reach its zenith until the second half of the 14th century, there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a Hittite presence in Hebron at the time of Abraham, which was significant enough to control the area.

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask; Victor Books; taken from e-Sword, Gen. 23:1.

Chapter Outline

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This may be way more than you want to know.

Driver on the Hittites

The term 'Hittite,' as has been explained (on X. 15), is used in the OT. (1) of the great people resident on the N. ofPhoenicia and the Lebanon; (2) of a branch of them settled in the extreme N. of Canaan, under Hermon; (3) in the lists of nations to be dispossessed by the Israelites, of a branch, perhaps the same as (2), but possibly (see on xv. 20) a branch located, or supposed to have been located, elsewhere in Canaan (see Nu. xiii. 29); (4) in P of the inhabitants of Hebron (see the passages on xxiii. 3), and of two of Esau's wives (Gen. xxvi. 34, xxvii. 46, xxxvi. 2). This mention of Hittites at Hebron, in the South of Canaan, is surprising, and difficult to explain satisfactorily. (a) It is possible, no doubt, in the abstract, that there might have been a colony of the N. Hittites there ; but if so, it is remarkable that there is no hint of its existence elsewhere, e.g. in the accounts of the conquest of Hebron by the Israelites (Josh. xv. 13 f.; (∥ Jud. i. 10). The alleged proof from archaeology of the existence of Hittites in Hebron1 breaks down entirely : the fact that * among the prisoners of Ramses II. (1275—1208 b.c., Petrie), represented on the walls of Kamak, are natives of Ashkelon, whose features and mode of wearing the hair are Hittite' proves nothing as to the presence of Hittites in Hebron 1000 years previously2; while the argument that because Thothmes III. speaks of the 'greater Hittite land* (in the North), therefore there must have been a 'lesser Hittite land' at Hebron in the South, is a very bad piece of reasoning: it is obvious that it may have lain equally well in any other direction. (b) There are grounds for supposing that, after the Hittites had ceased to exist as an independent people (c. 700 b.c.), and when they came to be known practically to the Hebrews only by tradition, the term was generalized, and used vaguely with reference to the pre-Israelite population of Canaan generally, much as *Canaanite' and *Amorite' were often employed3: it is possible therefore that P, when he speaks of the natives of Hebron as 'children of Heth,' really means no more than to describe them as ' Canaanites.' In support of this view we may point to Josh. i. 4 (Deuteronomic4), where 'all the land of the Hittites' manifestly embraces the whole of Palestine; to Ez. xvi. 3, 45, where the prophet, reproaching Jerusalem for its innate depravity, says that (morally) its father was an ' Amorite,' and its mother a ' Hittite'; and to Gen. xxvii. 46, xxviii. 1, 6, 8 (all P), where, with reference to Esau's 'Hittite' wives (xxvi. 34), 'daughters of Heth ' and ' daughters of Canaan ' are used interchangeably (cf. xxxvi. 2). In illustration of the vague and general ideas associated with some of these ethnographic terras it may be observed that the inhabitants of Hebron, who are called 'Hittites' by P, are called 'Amorites' by E (Josh. x. 5), and ' Canaanites ' by J (Jud. i. 10). (c) Jastrow {EncB. s.v. Hittites) thinks that, though the Hittites of Hebron were certainly by Hebrew tradition identified with the Hittites of the North, they were in reality a different tribe altogether, who were settled in S. Palestine, and had nothing in common with the N. Hittites but the name. This seems rather a forced solution of the difficulty. To the present writer, judging as far as he is able on the basis of present knowledge, (b) seems the most probable view.

From https://ia600406.us.archive.org/27/items/bookofgenesisnot00drivuoft/bookofgenesisnot00drivuoft.pdf (pp. 228–231); accessed December 10, 2014.

1 Sayce, Monuments, 144; EHH. 55 f., and elsewhere.

2 Prof. Sayce's date for Bamses 11. is b.c. 1348—1281; and for Hammurabi (with whom, if he be the Amraphel of Gen. xiv. 1, Abraham will have been contemporary) 2376—2333 b.c. {Early Israel, 1899, pp. 277, 281).

3 It is remarkable that the term was generalized similarly by the Assyrians: Sennacherib, for instance, in the *land of the Hatti,' includes Phoenicia and Palestine {EncB. ii. 2098).

4 Or perhaps, as the clause is not in the lxi., a gloss by a late hand: but even so, it remains as evidence of what was believed at the time when it was introduced.

Driver can provide some great insights sometimes, but he believed the JEPD theory (which is what the J, P and E stand for above).

Chapter Outline

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After all of that, I then came across H. C. Leupold, D. D., who writes: The three arguments advanced are 1) that also Ezechiel traces the descent of Jerusalem from a Hittite mother (16:3, 45); 2) the country of the Hittites was promised to the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 15:19-21); 3) the testimony of the Tell-el-Amarna letters agrees to this in that the sons of a Hittite prince by name of Arzawia dwell to the south of the land and take part in an expedition against Jerusalem. His approach is much shorter, refers to some reasonably clear passages of Scripture, and without making weird references to J, E, P or D.


V. 3 reads: Abraham rose up from over his dead [wife’s body] and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,... It is not clear whether they are with Abraham while he is mourning his wife, or if Abraham seeks them out. Again, like the last verse, there are details left out. Sometimes we will be able to fill in these details in this chapter, but here we do not know. If you have ever suffered a great loss—and losing a spouse, even to old age, is a great loss—then your mind does not necessarily remember everything from that time. So, Abraham may have gotten up, and went to Kiriath-arba proper (to the city gate); or he may have turned around and begun speaking to Hittites who were there offering their condolences to him. We do not know where this first meeting takes place. Vv. 17 and 19 suggest that Kiriath-arba is the city where Abraham makes these arrangements (as the cave is said to be opposite of Mamre in those two verses).


Although throughout this chapter, these men will appear to be decent folk, the Hittites appear to take a turn for the worst, where two generations from now, their women cause great sadness for Rachel, Abraham’s daughter-in-law (she will become his daughter-in-law in Gen. 24, and her position on her Hittite daughters-in-law will be expressed in Gen. 27:46).


Here is what we have so far: And Sarah’s life was 127 years; the years of the life of Sarah. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that [is], Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Consequently, Abraham went to grieve for Sarah and to weep for her. Abraham rose up from over his dead [wife’s body] and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,...


Although the gate of the city will be mentioned in v. 10, we are not necessarily at this gate when Abraham first speaks to the sons of Heth. He rises up and speaks to the sons of Heth. It sounds very much as if they are right there with him. This would not be out of the question for many Hittites to be in attendance of Sarah’s funeral (or, they have come to express their own sadness to Abraham). So the men with whom Abraham speaks at first, from this verse till v. 9 could have taken place at Abraham’s compound, which is not too far from the gate of the city. So, if this is not a formal meeting at the gates of the Hittite city; there will be a formal meeting there by the time we get to v. 10.


What is most likely—although this is not clearly laid out—that Abraham knew he needed to provide a burial place for Sarah, so he went to the Hittite city (which may have been Hebron, where Sarah lived) to the gate of the city, where legal business was transacted, and he made his proposal there. However, what Abraham says in vv. 3–9 would have been appropriately said to Hittites who have come to mourn with him. Essentially, he will say, “I need to bury my wife. I have a place where I would like her to be buried.”


The person from whom he would like to purchase the land does not appear to be at the first meeting, but he will be at the second meeting. This second meeting will take place at the gate of the city. What city this is, is not named, unless it is Hebron (Kiriath-arba at this time).


Again, perhaps due to the emotions of the writer, important connecting events are left out and assumed. The verb which means to stand, to get up, to rise up; is often used to indicate that a person is about to do something. He has a clear mission, and this verb indicates that he is going to accomplish this mission. What is possible is, in between v. 3a and 3b is, Abraham travels to a nearby Hittite city and makes this proposal in a town courthouse (which is at the city gate). However, this possibly occurs, as mentioned, at Sarah’s compound, where she is being mourned.


——————————


“A sojourner and a stranger I [am] with you [all]. [You all] give to me a possession of a grave with you [all] and I may bury my dying from to my faces.”

Genesis

23:4

“I [am] an immigrant and a newcomer [without property rights] near you [all]. Give me possession of a grave site near you that I may bury my dead away from my presence.”

“I am an immigrant in your territory lacking property rights. Nevertheless, sell me a plot of land for a grave that I may bury my wife there, away from my sight.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        “A sojourner and a stranger I [am] with you [all]. [You all] give to me a possession of a grave with you [all] and I may bury my dying from to my faces.”

Targum of Onkelos                I am a sojourner and dweller with you; I pray sell me the inheritance of a sepulchre among you, and I will bury my dead there.

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

Peshitta (Syriac)                    I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me the possession of a burial ground with you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Septuagint (Greek)                I am a sojourner and a stranger among you. Therefore give me possession of a burying-place among you, and I will bury my dead away from me.

 

Significant differences:           Possession (in the second phrase) can be also translated inheritance and possible as right.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           "I am an immigrant and a temporary resident with you. Give me some property for a burial plot among you so that I can bury my deceased wife near me."

Contemporary English V.       "I live as a foreigner in your land, and I don't own any property where I can bury my wife. Please let me buy a piece of land."

Easy English                          `I am only a foreigner who is living among you. Give to me a grave in your country. So then I will be able to bury my dead wife properly.'

Easy-to-Read Version            “I am only a traveler staying in your country. I have no place to bury my wife. Please give me some land so I can bury my wife.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         "I am a foreigner living here among you; sell me some land, so that I can bury my wife."

New Berkeley Version           “As I am a stranger and immigrant among you, may I have my own burial ground among you, so that I may bury my dead from my presence?”

New Century Version             "I am only a stranger and a foreigner here. Sell me some of your land so that I can bury my dead wife."

New Life Bible                        "I am a stranger living among you for a time. Give me some of your land so I may bury my wife."

New Living Translation           "Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial."


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          'I'm just a visitor and a stranger among you, so, [please] allow me to buy a burying-place among [your people], and then I will bury my dead away from [my place].'

Beck’s American Translation “I’m living as a foreigner with you. Let me have a burial place with you where I can bury my dead.”

God’s Word                         "I'm a stranger with no permanent home. Let me have some of your property for a tomb so that I can bury my dead wife."

International Standard V        He said, "I am an alien and an outsider among you. Give me a cemetery among you where I can bury my dead away from my presence." A portion of v. 3 is included for context.

NIRV                                      "I'm an outsider. I'm a stranger among you. Sell me some property here as a place for a family tomb. Then I can bury my wife's body."


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you. Give to me a home for a grave with you to bury my dead in front of me."

Bible in Basic English             I am living among you as one from a strange country: give me some land here as my property, so that I may put my dead to rest.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 “I am a foreigner and wanderer with you, give me the possession of a grave among you, so I can bury my dead from my sight.”

HCSB                                     "I am a resident alien among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead."


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

Christian Community Bible     ...and spoke to the Hittites, “I am only a stranger among you; give me a burial place among you, so that I may bury my dead.” Obviously, the CCB took a portion of v. 3 and added it to v. 4.

The Heritage Bible                 I am a foreigner and a temporary resident with you; give me a possession of a burying-place with you that I may bury my dead from before my face.

New American Bible              "Although I am a resident alien [A resident alien: such a one would normally not have the right to own property. The importance of Abraham's purchase of the field in Machpelah, which is worded in technical legal terms, lies in the fact that it gave his descendants their first, though small, land rights in the country that God had promised the patriarch they would one day inherit as their own. Abraham therefore insists on purchasing the field and not receiving it as a gift.] among you, sell me from your holdings a burial place, that I may bury my deceased wife." Gn 33:19 Acts 7:16 Heb 11:9.

New Jerusalem Bible             'I am a stranger resident here,' he said. 'Let me have a burial site of my own here, so that I can remove my dead for burial.'

New RSV                               `I am a stranger and an alien residing among you; give me property among you for a burying-place, so that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Revised English Bible            ‘I am an alien and a settler among you,’ he said, ‘Make over to me some ground among you for a burial-place, that I may bury my dead.’


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           "I am a foreigner living as an alien with you; let me have a burial site with you, so that I can bury my dead wife."

Hebrew Names Version         "I am a stranger and a foreigner living with you. Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               “I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.”

Judaica Press Complete T.    "I am a stranger and an inhabitant with you. Give me burial property with you, so that I may bury my dead from before me."

Kaplan Translation                 '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.'

The Scriptures 1998              “I am a foreigner and a sojourner among you. Give me property for a burial site among you, so that I bury my dead from my presence.”


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a possession of a burying-place with you that I may bury my dead out of my sight. That Abraham observed the usual period of mourning did not in any way conflict with his faith. Sarah had been his wife, a believer in the true God, in spite of all her weaknesses, the mother of all believing women. He had loved her dearly, as a faithful husband should, and she was his even in death. He now left the tent where Sarah lay in state, and appeared in the gate of the city, the customary assembling-place of the people, where all business was commonly transacted. The children of Heth, the Hittites, were living there, for Hebron was located in Hittite country, although not far from that of the Amorites on the west. As a stranger and a nomad in their midst he now negotiated for a burial-place, first of all for Sarah, his wife.

Lexham English Bible            "I [am] a stranger and an alien among you; give to me {my own burial site} among you so that I may bury my dead from before me.”

NET Bible®                             "I am a temporary settler [Heb "a resident alien and a settler."] among you. Grant [Heb "give," which is used here as an idiom for "sell" (see v. 9). The idiom reflects the polite bartering that was done in the culture at the time.] me ownership [Or "possession."] of a burial site among you so that I may [Following the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose.] bury my dead [Heb "bury my dead out of my sight." The last phrase "out of my sight" has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.]."

The Voice                               Abraham: I am a stranger and an outsider living here among you. In my heartache, I am asking you please to allow me to obtain some property here among you as a grave site for my dead wife. This would allow me to give her a proper burial.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burial plot with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Concordant Literal Version    A sojourner and a settler am I with you. Give me a holding for a tomb with you, and I will entomb my dead from my face.

Context Group Version          I am a stranger and a sojourner with you { pl }. Give me a possession of a burying-place with you { pl }, that I may bury my dead out of my sight

English Standard Version      "I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

LTHB                                     I am an alien and a visitor with you. Give to me a possession among you, so that I may bury my dead from before the eyes.

NASB                                     "I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site [Lit possession of a grave] among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

World English Bible                "I am a stranger and a foreigner living with you. Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

Young’s Updated LT             “A sojourner and a settler I am with you; give to me a possession of a burying-place with you, and I bury my dead from before me.”

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham asks for a burial place among the Hittites.


Genesis 23:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

gêr (גֵר) [pronounced gare]

sojourner, stranger, immigrant [or, outsider], temporary resident [inhabitant]; newcomer without inherited [property] rights

masculine singular noun

Strong's #1616 BDB #158

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

tôwshâb (תּוֹשָב) [pronounced toh-SHAWBv]

emigrant, stranger, sojourner [not naturalized; without rights], temporary visitor

masculine singular noun:

Strong’s #8453 BDB #444

This is the first occurrence of this word in Scripture.

ʾânôkîy (אָנֹכִי) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

ʿîm (עִם) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near; like; from

preposition of nearness and vicinity with the 2nd person masculine plural suffix

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767


Translation: “I [am] an immigrant and a newcomer [without property rights] near you [all]. First of all, Abraham, although he has lived in this country for a half century, does not appear to have property rights. He seems to be recognizing here that, to these men, he is like someone who just moved into town. To some degree, he is saying, “I know that I do not have the right to ask you for this.”


Now, Abraham has lived in this land for some 60+ years. However, he moved here, and he is dealing with a group of Hittites—perhaps a town council. Abraham still presents himself as a newcomer, a stranger and a visitor in their land, despite having spent a half a lifetime in Canaan.

 

Driver: The word {ger) [is]...applied figuratively, to denote one having a precarious tenure and position. Lev. xxv. 23, Psalm xxxix. 12, 1 Ch. xxix. 15, 1 P. ii. 11.


This suggests that the Hittites have a fairly firm grasp of the country where they inhabit. That is, they would have cities, ranches and farms—and probably a military and a government. Abraham probably has several outposts, most of them temporary; and we know that he can raise an army if need be. However, he is allowed the access to these lands from the various peoples that the Jews will eventually displace.


Abraham, at this point, does not really own any land, but only lives by permission of the folks in the land of Canaan. As we have observed, Abraham has quite a good relationship with most of the people of the land.


This is a rather tricky situation. When we go from our land to another country, most of the time, there is a police force there and most of the time, they are there to protect its citizens and its visitors. However, there are portions of Africa or South America where the borderlines are questionable and the authority of that area is not clear.


Abraham is going to take some land which falls within a fairly well-defined area. However, there is reason to believe that Moses travels through some iffy portions of Palestine, where ownership is sort of defined, but where he might not be protected by a specific police force. Abraham has his own enforcement apparatus who traveled with him (remember, he was able to raise up a very small army quickly in Gen. 14). And there have been times when his wells and their ownership was not clearly defined. So, Abraham is going to buy a portion of land in a well-defined area, where there is an army and ownership, as well as peace and law.


As an aside, David will not be in such a clearly defined area when he personally sees to the protection of a man (Nabal) who is sheering his considerable herd. His wife understands the service that David provided and appreciated it; Nabal did not.


So far, we have Abraham speaking to a group of Hittites: “I [am] an immigrant and a newcomer [without property rights] near you [all].”


Although I like ending this phrase with among you, that does not appear to be a valid use of this preposition. In that case, we would find a bêyth preposition here instead. This indicates that Abraham lives near these people, and obviously has a good relationship with them. However, there is not this huge city of Heth with Abraham living smack dab in the middle of it on rented land. His ranch is probably nearby and we do not know if he owns that property or whether he is leasing it or exact what his arrangements are. As we have observed before, Abraham has moved a great deal throughout the land, and likely moves his flocks and herds about as well.


Genesis 23:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

2nd person masculine plural, Qal imperative

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾăchûzzâh (אֲחֻזָּה) [pronounced uh-khooz-ZAW]

possession [of land, slaves, etc.], land possession; inheritance

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #272 BDB #28

qeber (קֶבֶר) [pronounced KEHb-VEHR]

grave, sepulcher, tomb; burial place

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6913 BDB #868

This is the first occurrence of this word in Scripture.

ʿîm (עִם) [pronounced ģeem]

with, at, by, near; like; from

preposition of nearness and vicinity with the 2nd person masculine plural suffix

Strong’s #5973 BDB #767


Translation: Give me possession of a grave site near you... Although to us, when we demand that someone give us something, it is something belongs to them and we want them to just put it into our hands, thank you very much. Here, this is a request, but in the imperative mood, for these men to sell him a piece of property.

 

Driver: As a temporary settler, Abraham has no landed possession in Canaan: he therefore asks, as a favour, to be allowed a site for a family sepulchre, such as all families of distinction possessed in the East.


God has given the land to his progeny. Abraham is not arrogant; he makes a reasonable request for a burial plot, since this would be a permanent dwelling place for Sarah now. He is choosing for this place to be a distance from him; out of his sight. He does not use the common expressions of entreaty, but uses the imperative mood instead, which is a sign of great grief and a natural preoccupation with his loss.


These men may or may not be attending Sarah’s funeral. They may or may not be nearby to Abraham when he was mourning for his wife. However, he seems to be among a group of men here who have lived in this land for some period of time, and he is asking to purchase a small plot of land for his wife’s burial place (the purchase aspect of this will become more clear when we get to v. 9).


Again, we have the ʿîm preposition, so Abraham is asking for this land to be near them.


Genesis 23:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

qâbar (קָבַר) [pronounced kaw-BAHR]

to bury, to heap up a mound

1st person singular, Qal imperfect with the cohortative hê

Strong’s #6912 BDB #868

The cohortative expresses volition. In the English, we often render this with let or may; in the plural, this can be let us. The cohortative is designed for the 1st person, it can express a wish or a desire or purpose or an intent. It is found in conditional statements. Generally there is the hê suffix to indicate this.

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

Qal active participle, with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

min (מִן) [pronounced mihn]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (פָּנִים) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural noun (plural acts like English singular) with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, the two prepositions and pânîym mean from before, from the presence of, from a position before a person or object, from before a place. However, this also expresses source or cause, and is also rendered because of, on account of.


Translation: ...that I may bury my dead away from my presence.” Here, Abraham uses the cohortative, to indicate that this is a request, which is a wish or a desire on his part. He speaks of his wife’s body as being in a state of death.


There is no doubt that Abraham has already buried various servants and employees of his over the years, along with members of their families. Nothing is said of this in Scripture, but people do die and we would reasonably assume that Abraham oversaw their burial somewhere around one of his compounds (he appears to have had compounds in Beersheba and Kiriath-arba—which is, Hebron). He could have dealt with Sarah in the same way—but he chose not to. Abraham chose to own a piece of land in Canaan—even though it would be a relatively small parcel of land (large by today’s standards for the average person). And Sarah, and then the rest of their family as they pass on, would be placed there. Perhaps the idea was, as they awoke in the resurrection, they would be on this little plot of land, and all around them would be a huge mass of land belonging to the Jewish people.


We do not know the different languages involved here, and what we may be getting is a translation from the language that Abraham used to speak to the sons of Heth with. However, it is not dramatically different from the usage of these same words anywhere else.


Interestingly enough, Abraham wants to bury Sarah away from his own ranch. Some people want their loved ones buried in a place where they can visit; Abraham did not want to see the burial place of Sarah on a regular basis. We know that their marriage was at least 60 years in length; and it well may have been much longer. If Abraham married Sarah at age 40, then their marriage lasted 97 years.


The words out of my sight is not a literal rendering from the Hebrew, but a reasonable interpretation of what Abraham is saying. The final phrase suggests that Abraham wants a plot of ground this is away from him. He does not want to bury his wife’s body on his ranch, but out of his sight.


As we get further into this chapter, it will be clear that Abraham has a very specific place in mind, and we do not know how he came across this place or why he thought of it. However, there is probably a personal story involved here.


——————————


There are several pairs of verses that I should have combined; including vv. 5–6:


And so answer sons of Heth Abraham, to say to him,...

Genesis

23:5

The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,...

The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying,...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so answer sons of Heth Abraham, to say to him,...

Targum of Onkelos                And the sons of Hittah responded unto Abraham, saying to him,...

Latin Vulgate                          The children of Heth answered, saying:...

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And the sons of Heth answered and said to Abraham,...

Septuagint (Greek)                And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying, Not so, sir,...

Brenton’s Septuagint             And the sons of Chet answered to Abraam, saying, Not so, Sir,...

 

Significant differences:           The Latin leaves out Abraham’s name. The Greek contains the first portion of the answer.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           The Hittites responded to Abraham,...

Easy English                          The family of Heth replied to Abraham and they said this.

Easy-to-Read Version            The Hittite people answered Abraham,...

Good News Bible (TEV)         They answered,...

The Message                         The Hittites responded,...


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And the sons of Chet replied to AbraHam, saying, 'No Sir!

International Standard V        The Hittites responded to Abraham,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             And in answer the children of Heth said to Abraham,...

HCSB                                     The Hittites replied to Abraham,...


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,...

New American Bible              The Hittites answered Abraham: "Please,...

New Jerusalem Bible             The Hittites replied to Abraham,...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           The sons of Het answered Avraham,...

exeGeses companion Bible   And the sons of Heth answer Abraham,

saying to him,...

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               And the Hittites replied to Abraham, saying to him,...

Kaplan Translation                 The children of Heth replied to Abraham, saying to him,...



Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Lexham English Bible            And the Hittites answered Abraham [and] said to him,...

NET Bible®                             The sons of Heth answered Abraham [Heb "answered Abraham saying to him."],...

The Voice                               The Hittites conferred and answered Abraham.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And the sons of Heth are answering Abraham, saying, "No!"

English Standard Version      The Hittites answered Abraham,...

World English Bible                The children of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,...

Young's Updated LT              And the sons of Heth answer Abraham, saying to him,...

 

The gist of this verse:          Several men from the audience before which Abraham is speaking answer him.


Genesis 23:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʿânâh (עָנָה) [pronounced ģaw-NAWH]

to answer, to respond; to speak loudly, to speak up [in a public forum]; to testify; to sing, to chant, to sing responsively

3rd person masculine plural, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6030 BDB #772

bânîym (בָּנִים) [pronounced baw-NEEM]

sons, descendants; children; people; sometimes rendered men

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Cheth (חֵת) [pronounced khayth]

transliterated Heth; Hittite

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #2845 BDB #366

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4


Translation: The sons of Heth answered Abraham,... Although we appear to have this coherent quotation from one of the Hittites, that is not really what we find here. To answer is a plural verb, indicating that several Hittites are speaking. Therefore, this quotation here is actual a summary of what several different men said to Abraham.


Abraham is therefore speaking to a number of men, most of whom are probably landowners, so that they can respond to his request.


We have several people answering him, so what we may find below are the responses of several men.


Genesis 23:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: ...saying to him,... For whatever reason, these quotations are removed from the people saying them in these verses. The separation of verses is not inspired, and sometimes it is clumsy. As mentioned before, I should have combined some of these pairs of verses.


——————————


Bear in mind that, because of the plural verb in the previous verse, this is probably a conglomeration of comments made by several men at this meeting.


“Listen, my lord, a prince of Elohim you [are] in our midst. In a choicest of our graves, bury your dying [one]. A man from us his grave will not be withheld from you from burying your dying [one].”

Genesis

23:6

“Listen, my lord, you [are] a prince of Elohim in our midst. Bury your dead in the choicest of our graves. No man from [among] us will withhold his grave from you burying your dead.”

“Listen, my lord, you are a prince of God in our midst. Please bury your dead in the choicest of our grave sites. There is no man among us who would withhold from you his grave site for the purpose of burying your wife.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        “Listen, my lord, a prince of Elohim you [are] in our midst. In a choicest of our graves, bury your dying [one]. A man from us his grave will not be withheld from you from burying your dying [one].”

Targum of Onkelos                Attend to us, our lord. Great before the Lord are you among us, in the best of our sepulchres bury your dead: there is not a man of us who will refuse you his sepulchre, that you may bury your dead.

Latin Vulgate                          My lord, hear us, you are a prince of God among us: bury your dead in our principal sepulchres: and no man will have power to hinder you from burying your dead in his sepulchre.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Hear us, our lord; you are a prince of God among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our sepulchres; none of us will withhold from you his sepulchre for the burial of your dead.

Septuagint (Greek)                ...but hear us; you are in the midst of us a prince of God; bury your dead in our choice tombs, for none of us will by any means withhold his tomb from you, so that you should not bury your dead there.

 

Significant differences:           The targum does not match the Hebrew text. The Latin appears to add a little text, but it affects the meaning very little.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           "Listen to us, sir. You are an eminent man of God among us. Bury your dead in one of our own select burial sites. None of us will keep our own burial plots from you to bury your dead."

Contemporary English V.       "Sir," they answered, "you are an important man. Choose the best place to bury your wife. None of us would refuse you a resting place for your dead."

Easy English                          `Listen to us, my *lord. You are a great prince among us. Please bury your dead people in the best grave that we have. Nobody here would refuse to give his grave to you so that you can bury your dead people.'

Easy-to-Read Version            “Sir, you are one of God’s great leaders among us. You can have the best place we have to bury your dead. You can have any of our burying places that you want. None of us will stop you from burying your wife there.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         "Listen to us, sir. We look upon you as a mighty leader; bury your wife in the best grave that we have. Any of us would be glad to give you a grave, so that you can bury her."

The Message                         "Why, you're no mere outsider here with us, you're a prince of God! Bury your dead wife in the best of our burial sites. None of us will refuse you a place for burial."

New Berkeley Version           “Listen to us, Sir! You are a godlike prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our sepulchres; none of us will refuse you his sepulchre for burying your dead.”

New Century Version             "Sir, you are a great leader among us. You may have the best place we have to bury your dead. You may have any of our burying places that you want, and none of us will stop you from burying your dead wife."

New Living Translation           "Listen, my lord, you are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there. No one here will refuse to help you in this way."


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Listen; You may live among us, but you're [really] a king from God; so bury your dead in our best tombs! None of us will ever withhold our tombs to keep you from burying your dead here!'

God’s Word                         "Listen to us, sir. You are a mighty leader among us. Bury your dead in one of our best tombs. Not one of us will withhold from you his tomb for burying your dead."

International Standard V        "Listen to us, sir [Lit. us, my lord]. You are a mighty prince [MT reads a prince of God; LXX reads a king of God] among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial tombs. None of us would refuse you his tomb for burying your dead."

NIRV                                      "Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead wife in the best of our tombs. None of us will refuse to sell you his tomb for burying her."

New Simplified Bible              »Listen to us, my lord. You are a mighty leader among us. Bury your dead in one of our best tombs. Not one of us will withhold from you his tomb for burying your dead.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      "Hear us, my lord: You are a chief of God in our midst. Bury your dead in the choice grave. None of our men can contain his grave from you to bury your dead."

Bible in Basic English             My lord, truly you are a great chief among us; take the best of our resting-places for your dead; not one of us will keep back from you a place where you may put your dead to rest.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 “We listen to my lord, who stands like a god among us. Choose from our tombs a grave for your dead. None of us will deny his tomb to you, where you can bury your dead.”

New Advent Bible                  My lord, hear us, you are a prince of God among us: bury your dead in our principal sepulchres: and no man shall have power to hinder you from burying your dead in his sepulchre.


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

Christian Community Bible     “Hear us, my lord. You are God’s prince among us; bury your dead in the best of our tombs; none of us would refuse you a tomb to bury your dead.”

The Heritage Bible                 Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us; bury your dead in the choice of our sepulchers; not a man of us shall shut off from you his sepulcher so that you may bury your dead.

Revised English Bible            ‘Listen to us, sir; you are a might prince among us; bury your dead in the best grave we have. There is not one of us who would deny you his grave or hinder you from burying your dead.’


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   Hear us, my adoni:

you are a hierarch of Elohim among us:

in the choice of our tombs entomb yours who died;

no man of us restrains from you his tomb,

to entomb yours who died.

Kaplan Translation                 'Listen to us, Sir. You are a prince of God in our midst. Take our best burial site [Or grave, tomb, or cemetery.] to bury your dead. No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.'


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    Hear us, my lord; thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. The narrative presents a beautiful scene of politeness, simplicity, kindness, frankness, humility, modesty, not unmingled with some shades of avarice, as one commentator remarks. Abraham had come to purchase a piece of ground, but with true Oriental ceremoniousness the men of the city drew out the negotiations, paying Abraham the compliment that they considered him a prince of God in their midst, and that he had but to pick out any burial-place which might suit his fancy, and they would feel honored in having him accept it as a gift.

Lexham English Bible            "Hear us, my lord, you [are] a mighty prince in our midst. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial sites. None of us {will withhold his burial site} from you [for] burying your dead."

NET Bible®                             "Listen, sir [Heb "Hear us, my lord."], you are a mighty prince [lit., prince of God] among us! You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb to prevent you [The phrase "to prevent you" has been added in the translation for stylistic reasons.] from burying your dead."

Translation for Translators     They replied to him, "Sir, you are a powerful prince among us. Choose one of our finest tombs and bury your wife's body in it. None of us will refuse to sell land to you for a tomb for your wife's body." V. 5 is included for context.

The Voice                               Hittites: Listen, my lord. We recognize you are a powerful prince among us, and God is certainly with you. Bury your dead in the best of our burial places. None of us will deny you any tomb so that you might properly bury your dead.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Listen to us, my lord; you are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in any tomb or grave of ours that you choose; none of us will withhold from you his tomb or hinder you from burying your dead.

Concordant Literal Version    Hear us, my lord! A prince of the Elohim are you in our midst. In the choice of our tombs entomb your dead. Not a man of us will forbid the use of his tomb from you to entomb your dead there.

English Standard Version      "Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God [Or a mighty prince] among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead."

World English Bible                "Hear us, my lord. You are a prince of God among us. In the choice of our tombs bury your dead. None of us will withhold from you his tomb, but that you may bury your dead."

Young’s Updated LT             “Hear us, my lord; a prince of God are you in our midst; in the choice of our burying-places bury your dead: none of us his burying-place does withhold from you, from burying your dead.”

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham is assured by these men that they will not deny him a burial place for his wife.


Genesis 23:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

shâmaʿ (שָמַע) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

listen [intently], hear, listen and obey, [or, and act upon, give heed to, take note of], hearken to, be attentive to, listen and be cognizant of

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]

Lord (s), Master (s), my Lord (s), Sovereign; my lord [master]; can refer to the Trinity or to an intensification of the noun; transliterated Adonai, adonai

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #113 & #136 BDB #10

There are actually 3 forms of this word: ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; ʾădônay (אֲדֹנַי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; and ʾădônîy (אֲדֹנִי) [pronounced uh-doh-NEE].

This is a form of Strong’s #113, where there are three explanations given for the yodh ending: (1) this is a shortened form of the plural ending, usually written -îym (נִים) [pronounced eem], an older form of the pluralis excellentiæ (the plural of excellence), where God’s sovereignty and lordship are emphasized by the use of the plural; (2) this is the actual, but ancient, plural of the noun, which refers to the Trinity; or (3) this is the addition of the 1st person singular suffix, hence, my Lord (the long vowel point at the end would distinguish this from my lords).


Translation: “Listen, my lord,... You will note how differently these men treat Abraham as compared to how Lot’s sons-in-law treated him. Lot warns them of God’s coming wrath and they laughed at him. Here, these men take Abraham’s request very seriously. They call him my lord, which indicates great respect.


Genesis 23:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

nâsîyʾ (נָשִׂיא) [pronounced naw-SEE]

one lifted up, leader, chief, prince

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #5387 BDB #672

ʾĚlôhîym (אלֹהִים) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

God; gods, foreign gods, god; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

NET Bible: Heb "prince of God." The divine name may be used here as a means of expressing the superlative, "mighty prince." The word for "prince" probably means "tribal chief" here. See M. H. Gottstein, "Nasi' `elohim (Gen 23:6)," VT 3 (1953) 298-99; and D. W. Thomas, "Consideration of Some Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew," VT 3 (1953) 215-16.

ʾattâh (אַתָּה) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you (often, the verb to be is implied)

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #859 BDB #61

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

tâveke (תָּוֶ) [pronounced taw-VEKE]

midst, among, middle

masculine singular noun with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong's #8432 BDB #1063

With the bêyth preposition, tâveke can mean in the middle of, in the midst of; into, among. In the Hebrew, this is spelled בְּתוֹך׃. With the 1st person plural suffix, it means in our midst. With the 2nd person masculine plural suffix, it can mean in your midst, among you. with the 3rd person masculine plural suffix, it can mean in their midst, among them.


Translation: ...you [are] a prince of Elohim in our midst. Abraham is called a prince or leader of God among them (or in their midst).


During this period of occupation, Abraham had a generally very good relationship with those around him. Some may have even recognized the blessing by association which was involved with living in the same geographical area as he did. What is being said is that he can have any of the privately own burial places from any of the Hittites who are there. This reveals a great deal of respect for Abraham. There would be associated with this a great deal of blessing by association. Prince of God is said to be idiomatic for a mighty prince, but I do not believe that to be true. I believe that Abraham's testimony was such that the Hittite businessmen recognized and respected his relationship to the living God. Many of these Hittites were likely saved and will spend eternity in heaven because of Abraham.

 

Bible Query on Abraham’s exalted status among the Hittites: [W]hy did the Hittites consider Abraham a mighty prince among them? Abraham was very wealthy. Abraham also had apparently cultivated close relations with them and they counted him as not only a friend, but also one of their own.


Let me suggest instead that they recognized and believed in Abraham’s God; and therefore recognized and respect Abraham as a prince of his God.


Genesis 23:6c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

mibechâr (מִבְחָר) [pronounced mibv-KHAWR]

election; choice; the most excellent, the best

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #4005 BDB #104

qeber (קֶבֶר) [pronounced KEHb-VEHR]

grave, sepulcher, tomb; burial place

masculine plural noun with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong’s #6913 BDB #868

qâbar (קָבַר) [pronounced kaw-BAHR]

to bury, to heap up a mound

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #6912 BDB #868

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

Qal active participle, with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: Bury your dead in the choicest of our graves. The imperative used here indicates that these men will certainly go along with Abraham’s request. He’s requested a grave site away from his home, and they insist upon him doing this.


Even though we do not have the words, I insist, that appears to be the function of the imperative mood here.


Genesis 23:6d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾîysh (אִיש) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun (sometimes found where we would use a plural)

Strong's #376 BDB #35

min (מִן) [pronounced mihn]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, beyond, more than

preposition of separation with the 1st person plural suffix

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

qeber (קֶבֶר) [pronounced KEHb-VEHR]

grave, sepulcher, tomb; burial place

masculine plural noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #6913 BDB #868

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

kâlâʾ (כָּלָא) [pronounced kaw-LAW]

to close up, to shut up; to hold in, to restrain; to prohibit; to withhold [from someone]

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3607 BDB #476

min (מִן) [pronounced mihn]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, beyond, more than

preposition of separation with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

qâbar (קָבַר) [pronounced kaw-BAHR]

to bury, to heap up a mound

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #6912 BDB #868

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

Qal active participle, with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: No man from [among] us will withhold his grave from you burying your dead.” There are several men speaking, so some of these phrases could have been repeated or affirmed, and spoken by different men. However, it is clear that none of them would refuse Abraham’s request.


Again, Abraham’s personal witness among these people is so much different than Lot’s witness among his people.


What we will find in this passage is an unusual negotiation take place—unusual by today’s standards. Abraham seems to have a good relationship with the Hittites here. You will recall that Abraham has a good relationship with the Philistines of Gerar as well, despite some early missteps on his part.


As an aside, there are several incidents throughout this section of Genesis which indicates that the people in the land were fine people. Many of them are clearly believers. Abraham seemed to have a good relationship with most of them. However, as we observed in Sodom and Gomorrah, there was a potential for great degeneracy (something which is true in every society). In Canaan, this would not happen overnight. It would take another 500 years before the people of Canaan will turn into nations of rabid dogs, which the Jews would have to destroy. However, at this point in their history, the interactions between Abraham and the Hittites are civil and indicate great mutual respect. The lesson that we should draw from this is, people change. When the people change, so does the nation. In the United States, the most recent generations have nearly nothing in common with the WWII generation, which is rapidly dying off now. That sort of thing can dramatically change our nation and the ideals upon which our nation was founded. The changes which will occur with the various peoples of Canaan—most of whom at this time are pretty nice and honorable—will result in their wholesale slaughter 500 years hence.


Genesis 23:5–6 And the sons of Heth answered Abraham saying to him, “Hear us, my lord. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choice of our burying places. None of us will withhold from you his burying-place from burying your dead.”


The Hittite council has indicated to Abraham that they are willing to make a deal. As you may recall, Abraham does not own any land in Canaan, but these Hittites are willing to sell him a plot of land for the burial of his wife.


Notice that these men have a great deal of respect for Abraham. In this world, because we are believers, we do have enemies; and it is pretty much impossible for a person to go through this life without enemies. However, being a Christian does not mean that we are going to be at odds with every person that we meet. In fact, if that describes you, then you are probably at fault.


——————————


And so rises up Abraham and so he bows to people of the earth, to the sons of Heth.

Genesis

23:7

Therefore, Abraham rose up and then he bowed down with reference to the people of the land, [even] to the sons of Heth.

Therefore, Abraham rose up and then he bowed down before the people of the land, the sons of Heth.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so rises up Abraham and so he bows to people of the earth, to the sons of Heth.

Targum of Onkelos                And Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Hittah.

Latin Vulgate                          Abraham rose up, and bowed down to the people of the land, to wit, the children of Heth.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, that is, to the Hittites.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abraham rose up and bowed himself to the people of the land, to the sons of Heth.

 

Significant differences:           Both the Latin and the Syriac have a couple of extra words in them; and the Syriac lacks sons of.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Abraham rose, bowed to the local citizens the Hittites,...

Contemporary English V.       Abraham bowed down...

Easy English                          Abraham stood up. And he *bowed to the family of Heth, who lived in that country.

Easy-to-Read Version            Abraham got up and bowed to the people.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Then Abraham bowed before them...

The Message                         Then Abraham got up, bowed respectfully to the people of the land, the Hittites,...

New Berkeley Version           Then Abraham stood up, bowed earthward to the Hittites, the people of the land,...


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Then AbraHam arose and bowed low before the people of the land (the sons of Chet).

God’s Word                         Abraham got up in front of the Hittites, the people of that region, and bowed with his face touching the ground.

International Standard V        Abraham rose and bowed before the Hittites, the people of the land,...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             And Abraham got up and gave honour to the children of Heth, the people of that land.

New Advent Bible                  Abraham rose up, and bowed down to the people of the land, to wit, the children of Heth:...


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And Abraham stood up, and prostrated himself to the people of the land, to the children of Heth.

New American Bible              Abraham, however, proceeded to bow low before the people of the land, the Hittites,...

New Jerusalem Bible             At this, Abraham rose and bowed low to the local people, the Hittites,...

Revised English Bible            Abraham rose and bowing low to the Hittites, the people of that region,...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abraham rises and prostrates

to the people of the land - the sons of Heth:...

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Thereupon Abraham bowed low to the people of the land, the Hittites,...

Kaplan Translation                 Abraham rose, and he bowed down to the local people [Literally, 'the people of the land.'], the children of Heth.


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    And Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. This ceremonial, rising and bowing, on the part of Abraham signified that he deeply appreciated their compliments and their kindness in making such a liberal offer.

Lexham English Bible            And Abraham rose up and bowed to the people of the land, to the Hittites.

NET Bible®                             Abraham got up and bowed down to the local people [Heb "to the people of the land" (also in v. 12).], the sons of Heth.

Translation for Translators     Then Abraham stood up and bowed in respect in front of the people who owned the land, the descendants of Heth.

The Voice                               Abraham got up and bowed in respect to the people of the land, the Hittites.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

Concordant Literal Version    And rising is Abraham and bowing down to the people of the land, to the sons of Heth.

English Standard Version      Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land.

Third Millennium Bible            And Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

World English Bible                Abraham rose up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

Young’s Updated LT             And Abraham rises and bows himself to the people of the land, to the sons of Heth.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham bowed before these people to show his respect and deference to them, as well as his appreciation to them.


Genesis 23:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

qûwm (קוּם) [pronounced koom]

to stand, to rise up, to get up; to establish, to establish a vow, to cause a vow to stand, to confirm or to fulfill a vow

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #6965 BDB #877

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4


Translation: Therefore, Abraham rose up... This suggests that Abraham and the people he is with are all sitting and perhaps this is a larger meeting with more than 3 or 4 men.


Genesis 23:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâchah (שָחַה) [pronounced shaw-KHAW]

to bow down, to prostrate oneself, to do obeisance to; to honor [with prayers]; to do homage to, to submit to

3rd person masculine singular, Hithpael imperfect

Strong’s #7812 BDB #1005

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʿam (עַם) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun; construct form

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

ʾerets (אֶרֶץ) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land, territory, country, continent; ground, soil; under the ground [Sheol]

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #776 BDB #75


Translation: ...and then he bowed down with reference to the people of the land,... This is the first time we have this phrase in this chapter, people of the land, suggesting that this is a town meeting, probably led by some prominent men (the sons of Heth), but attended by several dozen people.


This also could have been the funeral of Sarah, and these could be attendees, all gathered together in one general area. Although that is a possibility, we are not given certain information or clues.


In any case, wherever they are, Abraham does business showing respect and honor to the other side.


Genesis 23:7c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

bânîym (בָּנִים) [pronounced baw-NEEM]

sons, descendants; children; people; sometimes rendered men

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Cheth (חֵת) [pronounced khayth]

transliterated Heth; Hittite

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #2845 BDB #366


Translation:...[even] to the sons of Heth. There does seem to be a particular group of men to whom Abraham is directly dealing with, the sons of Heth, who are probably a subset of the people that Abraham is addressing.


Abraham shows them reasonable deference here. What we are doing is looking into ancient history here and how business deals were struck in those days.


Whatever sort of bowing down shows them respect; Abraham, of course, is not worshiping them.


——————————


And so he spoke with them, to say, “If being with your soul to bury my dying from to my faces, hear me and urge for me Ephron ben Zohar;...

Genesis

23:8

Then he spoke with them, saying, “If there is with your soul to bury my dead away from me, listen to me and urge for me Ephron ben Zohar,...

Then Abraham spoke with them, saying, “If you are willing to allow me to bury my wife here, then urge Ephron the son of Zohar for me,...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so he spoke with them, to say, “If being with your soul to bury my dying from to my faces, hear me and urge for me Ephron ben Zohar;...

Targum of Onkelos                And he spake with them, saying, If it be with the consent of your mind that I bury my dead from before my face, receive of me, and intercede for me before Ephron bar Zochar...

Latin Vulgate                          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.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And he discussed the matter with them and said to them, If you consent that I may bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,...

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abraham spoke to them, saying, If you have it in your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, listen to me, and speak to Ephron the son of Zohar for me.

 

Significant differences:           The Latin reduces the first two phrases into one; they Syriac treats the first phrase with some originality.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       ...and replied, "If you are willing to let me bury my wife here, please ask Zohar's son Ephron...

Easy English                          He appealed to them, `I would like to bury my dead people properly. If you are pleased to let me, then listen to me. Please persuade Ephron, Zohar's son,...

Easy-to-Read Version            Abraham said to them, “If you truly want to help me bury my dead wife, then speak to Ephron the son of Zohar for me.

Good News Bible (TEV)         ...and said, "If you are willing to let me bury my wife here, please ask Ephron son of Zohar...

The Message                         ...and said, "If you're serious about helping me give my wife a proper burial, intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar.

New Berkeley Version           ...and told them, “If you are willing to have me bury my dead frm my presence, then listen to me: Request for me of Ephron, Zohar’s son,...

New Century Version             He said to them, "If you truly want to help me bury my dead wife here, speak to Ephron, the son of Zohar for me.

New Living Translation           ...and said, "Since you are willing to help me in this way, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of Zohar...


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And AbraHam said to them, 'If you approve of me burying my dead out of my sight, then listen to what I have to say and [please] speak on my behalf to EphRon, the son SaA.

God’s Word                         He said to them, "If you are willing to let me bury my wife, listen to me. Encourage Ephron, son of Zohar,...

International Standard V        ...and addressed them, "If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, listen to me and make a request of Zohar's son Ephron on my behalf.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      He spoke with them, saying, "If it exists in your soul to bury my dead, hear me, and welcome my face to Ephron the son of Zohar...

Bible in Basic English             And he said to them, If you will let me put my dead to rest here, make a request for me to Ephron, the son of Zohar,...

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 ...and addressed them saying; “If it is in your minds to let my dead be buried from my sight, listen to me, and apply for me to Ephron, the son of Tzohar,...

HCSB                                     He said to them, "If you are willing for me to bury my dead, listen to me and ask Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf...


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And he spoke with them, saying, If it exists in your soul that I should bury my dead from before my face, hear me and impinge for me upon Ephron, the son of Zohar,...

New Jerusalem Bible             ...and pleaded with them as follows, 'If you consent to my removing my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zohar,...

Revised English Bible            ...he said to them, ‘If you have a mind to help me about the burial, then listen to me: speak to Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf,...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   ...and he words with them, saying,

If it is your soul

that I entomb mine who died from my face;

hear me and intercede for me

to Ephron the son of Sochar,...

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               ...and he said to them, “If it is your wish that I remove my dead for burial, you must agree to intercede for me with Ephron son of Zeohar.

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


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Lexham English Bible            And he spoke with them, saying, "{If you are willing} [that] I bury my dead from before me, hear me and intercede for me with Ephron the son of Zohar,...

NET Bible®                             Then he said to them, "If you agree [Heb “If it is with your purpose.” The Hebrew noun נֶפֶש (nefesh) here has the nuance “purpose” or perhaps “desire” (see BDB 661 s.v. נֶפֶש).] that I may bury my dead [Heb "bury my dead out of my sight." The last phrase "out of my sight" has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.], then hear me out [Or "hear me."]. Ask [Heb "intercede for me with."] Ephron the son of Zohar...

Translation for Translators     He said to them, "If you say that you are willing for me to bury my wife's body here, listen to me, and ask Ephron, the son of Zohar for me,...

The Voice                               Abraham (to the Hittites): If you are really willing for me to give my dead wife a proper burial, then would you please ask Ephron (Zohar's son) for me if I might buy the cave of Machpelah. It is a tract of land he owns located at the end of his field. With you as my witnesses, I will offer him full price for the property as a place to bury my dead.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        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,...

Concordant Literal Version    And speaking is Abraham with them, saying, "Should it forsooth, please your soul to entomb my dead from my face, hear me, and intercede for me with Ephron, the son of Zohar, the Hittite,...

A Conservative Version         And he conversed 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,...

Context Group Version          And he spoke with them, saying, If it is your { pl } mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,...

Emphasized Bible                  ...and spake with them, saying,—If it is with the consent of your minds that I should bury my dead from before me, hear me, and intercede for me, with Ephron son of Zohar:...

LTHB                                     And he spoke with them, saying, If it is your desire to bury my dead from before the eyes, hear me. Ask for me of Ephron the son of Zohar,...

NASB                                     And he spoke with them, saying, "If it is your wish [Lit soul] for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me,...

World English Bible                He talked 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,...

Young’s Updated LT             And he speaks with them, saying, “If it is your desire to bury my dead from before me, hear me, and meet for me with Ephron, son of Zoar.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham asks that they speak on his behalf with Ephron ben Zoar.


Genesis 23:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

dâbar (דָּבַר) [pronounced dawb-VAHR]

to speak, to talk [and back with action], to give an opinion, to expound, to make a formal speech, to speak out, to promise, to propose, to speak kindly of, to declare, to proclaim, to announce

3rd person masculine singular, Piel imperfect

Strong’s #1696 BDB #180

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

with, at, near, by, among, directly from

preposition (which is identical to the sign of the direct object) with the 3rd person plural suffix

Strong's #854 BDB #85

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55


Translation: Then he spoke with them, saying,... Again, it is clear that Abraham is speaking to more than one person.


Genesis 23:8b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾîm (אִם) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

The particle ʾîm (ם ̣א) can be used as a demonstrative (lo, behold), an interrogative (usually expecting a negative response and often used with other particles and rhetorically), and as a conditional particle (if, though); an indication of a wish or desire (oh that, if only; this is a rare usage).

yêsh (יֵש) [pronounced yaysh]

being, substance, existence; used as a substitute for to be (without reference to number or tense); there [is, are]; to be present, to be ready, to exist

substantive with a 3rd person masculine singular suffix; the verb to be may be implied

Strong’s #3426 BDB #441

The substantive yêsh often acts as a substantive plus the absolute status quo verb to be; e.g., [if] there be (1Sam. 20:8), there is (Esther 3:8), there shall be (Jer. 31:6). However, this acts not as a mere copula [pronounced KOP-ye-la], but existence is emphasized. In the KJV, the verbal portion of this is often italicized. The second word in the second line of Job 6:6 is the substantive of existence or being—or is there, or does there exist. We often render this there is, even though there is no verb.

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

with, at, near, by, among, directly from

preposition (which is identical to the sign of the direct object)

Strong's #854 BDB #85

nephesh (נֶפֶש) [pronounced NEH-fesh]

soul, life, living being, desire, volition

feminine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine plural suffix

Strong’s #5315 BDB #659

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

qâbar (קָבַר) [pronounced kaw-BAHR]

to bury, to heap up a mound

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #6912 BDB #868

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

Qal active participle, with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

min (מִן) [pronounced mihn]

from, away from, out from, out of from, off, on account of, since, above, than, so that not, beyond, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (פָּנִים) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural noun (plural acts like English singular) with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, the two prepositions and pânîym mean from before, from the presence of, from a position before a person or object, from before a place. However, this also expresses source or cause, and is also rendered because of, on account of.


Translation:...“If there is with your soul to bury my dead away from me,... The wording here is difficult, and I suspect that this is related to people communicating who do not speak the same language. Each bastardizes a little of his own language in order to communicate.


With all the descriptions found in the Bible about Canaan, this was once a well-watered and wonderful plot of ground, and therefore, it drew people of a variety of racial backgrounds to this area, not unlike the United States in this way. However, this was never organized into a country until the children of Israel went in there for the exodus.


Abraham is a relative newcomer to the area, having lived there for 60 years or so, and he has certainly developed a way of communicating with the variety of people in the area. Some of these peoples were Semitic, so some had a very similar language to his.


The idea here is, Abraham sets up an if...then... statement, and the “if” part is, they are willing to let him bury his wife’s body on their property away from him.


Genesis 23:8c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

shâmaʿ (שָמַע) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

listen [intently], hear, listen and obey, [or, and act upon, give heed to, take note of], hearken to, be attentive to, listen and be cognizant of

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

pâgaʿ (פָּגַע) [pronounced paw-GAHĢ]

to fall upon, to meet, to encounter, to reach; to entreat [by request], to assail [with a petition], to urge; to strike, to kill, to slay; to touch out of boundary; to reach [to anyone]; to strike a covenant [with someone], to make peace

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #6293 BDB #803

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ʿEpherôwn (עֶפְרוֹן) [pronounced ģef-ROHN]

fawn-like; transliterated Ephron

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #6085 BDB #780

bên (בֵּן) [pronounced bane]

son, descendant

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Tsôchar (צֹחַר) [pronounced TSOH-khahr]

reddish-gray, tawny; transliterated Zohar

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #6714 BDB #850


Translation: ...listen to me and urge for me Ephron ben Zohar,... Abraham repeats one of the words that they spoke to him, which suggests here simply that he is going to make his desires known. Abraham appears to know the plot that he wants. He also knows who the plot of land belongs to.


It will appear as though Ephron is in the crowd of men, suggesting that Abraham does not know him by face, based upon the way that he is speaking here. He is speaking to the group, and he is not addressing Ephron directly. Or, more likely, Ephron is not there, but it is a portion of his land which Abraham desires.


Abraham has obviously seen this plot of ground and knows to whom it belongs.


Abraham has walked this land for most of his life, and he knows it quite well. He has a particular piece of land already picked out. Ephron ben Zohar means Ephron son of Zohar, and today, we have shortened that to Ephron Zohar.


Abraham speaks about Ephron in the 3rd person, and the way that this verse is worded suggests that he is not at this meeting. Again, we do not know where this meeting is taking place. The text is so sketchy about this that, these people may be outside of Sarah’s burial tent discussing these matters or Abraham may have gone to this Hittite city and is speaking at the gate with several of the Hittite leaders and judges (which is what I believe to be the case).


Again, Abraham speaks of burying his wife out of his sight.


The Pulpit Commentary claims that the orient demands that there be go-betweens on every business venture, but I don’t believe that is what is going on here. It is not likely that the person Abraham needs to speak to simply has the time off and is by the gate of the city (if indeed that is where Abraham is). Like anyone else, he is probably working. Legal business did take place at the gates of the city; and people were there who witnessed the transactions.


——————————


...and so he will give to me a cave of Machpelah which [is] to him which [is] in an extremity of his field. In silver, full he will give her to me in your midst for a possession of a grave.

Genesis

23:9

...that he will give to me the cave of Machpelah which [is] his at the outskirts of his field. At the full [price] in silver he will sell [lit., give] it to me in your midst for a possession of the burial site.”

...that he will sell me his cave called Machpelah, which is at the end of his property line. I will pay him the full price in your presence so that I might take possession of this as a burial site.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        ...and so he will give to me a cave of Machpelah which [is] to him which [is] in an extremity of his field. In silver, full he will give her to me in your midst for a possession of a grave.

Targum of Onkelos                ...that he sell me his double cave which is built in the side of his field, for the full price in silver let him give it me among you, for an inheritance of sepulture.

Latin Vulgate                          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.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    That he may give me the double cave which belongs to him, which is by the side of his field; let him give it to me for a full price as a possession for a burial ground among you.

Septuagint (Greek)                And let him give me the double cave which he has, which is in a part of his field, let him give it to me for the money it is worth for possession of a burying-place among you.

 

Significant differences:           The lot that Abraham wants is at the extremity (end) of Ephron’s land. The targum and Syriac both have side and the Greek has part. The words inheritance and possession can come from the same Hebrew word.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           ...to give me his own cave in Machpelah at the edge of his field. Let him give it to me for the full price, to be witnessed by you, as my own burial property."

Contemporary English V.       ...to sell me Machpelah Cave at the end of his field. I'll pay what it's worth, and all of you can be witnesses."

Easy English                          ...to sell the cave in Machpelah to me. He owns the cave. It is at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me now as a grave. Let him sell it at the full price. You will be witnesses to that.'

Easy-to-Read Version            I would like to buy the cave of Machpelah. Ephron owns this. It is at the end of his field. I will pay him the full price—all that it is worth. I want all of you to be witnesses that I am buying it as a burial place.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         ...to sell me Machpelah Cave, which is near the edge of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for its full price, here in your presence, so that I can own it as a burial ground."

The Message                         Ask him to sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, the one at the end of his land. Ask him to sell it to me at its full price for a burial plot, with you as witnesses."

New Berkeley Version           ...to let me have the Machpelah cave he has at the end of his field. At its full price he should let me have it in your presence for my own cemetery lot.”


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          [I want] him to give me the double cave that he owns, which is located in his field. I will [be happy to pay] whatever it's worth [to buy] a burial-place among you.'

God’s Word                         ...to let me have the cave of Machpelah that he owns at the end of his field. He should sell it to me for its full price as my property to be used as a tomb among you."

International Standard V        Give me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him, at the end of his field. He should sell [Lit. give] it to me in your presence at full price for a burial site."

NIRV                                      Ask him to sell me the cave of Machpelah. It belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price. I want it as a place to bury my dead wife among you."

New Simplified Bible              ...to sell me Machpelah Cave. It is near the edge of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for its full price here in your presence. Then I can own it as a burial ground.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      ...to give me the cave of his in Machpelah in the end of his field. Give me a home and a grave in your midst, for full silver."

Bible in Basic English             That he will give me the hollow in the rock named Machpelah, which is his property at the end of his field; let him give it to me for its full price as a resting-place for my dead among you.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 ...and let him sell to me the Cave of Macphelah, which is within the boundaries of his land. He shall sell it to me for full value as a tomb possessed among you.”

HCSB                                     ...to give me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him give it to me in your presence, for the full price, as a burial place."


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

Christian Community Bible     ...to give me the cave of Machpelah belonging to him; it is at the edge of his field. For the full price and in your presence, let him give it to me for a burial place.”

The Heritage Bible                 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which is his, which is in the end of his field; he shall give it to me for full payment for a possession of a burying-place among you.

New Jerusalem Bible             ...for him to let me have the cave he owns at Machpelah, which is on the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence at its full price, for a burial site of my own.'

Revised English Bible            ...and ask him to grant me the cave that belongs to him at Machpelah, at the far end of his land. In your presence let him make it over to me for the full price, so that I may take possession of it as a burial-place.’


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           ...to give me the cave of Makhpelah, which he owns, the one at the end of his field. He should sell it to me in your presence at its full value; then I will have a burial site of my own."

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Let him sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, which is at the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst.”

Kaplan Translation                 Let him sell me the 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.], 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.'


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    ...that he may give me the cave of Machpelah 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 burying place amongst you. Abraham continued to conduct his business with all circumspection and politeness, begging the men present to intercede for him with Ephron, a man of some importance in the community, if that was in agreement with their ideas. For this Ephron was the owner of a piece of ground which contained a cave known as Machpelah, which Abraham thought would suit his purposes very well. For full silver he wanted to buy it, that is, he wanted to pay what the land was worth, since he intended to use it for a perpetual place of burial for his family. Believers will always do well if they do not place themselves under obligations to unbelievers, since the result may often react upon their Christianity.

Lexham English Bible            ...that he may sell to me the cave of Machpelah which {belongs to him}, which [is] at the end of his field. At full value let him sell [it] to me in your midst as {a burial site}."

NET Bible®                             ...if he will sell [Heb "give." This is used here (also a second time later in this verse) as an idiom for "sell"; see the note on the word "grant" in v. 4.] me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly [Heb "in your presence."] for the full price [Heb "silver."], so that I may own it as a burial site."

Translation for Translators     ...so that he will sell to me the cave in the Machpelah area, which is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price he wants, so that I can have a burial ground among you."


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, 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 burial plot among you.

Concordant Literal Version    ...that he shall give to me the double cave which is his, which is at the end of his field. For silver, in full, shall he give it to me for a holding for a tomb in your midst.

English Standard Version      ...that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place."

LTHB                                     ...that he may give to me the cave of Machpelah which he has, which is in the edge of his field. In full silver let him give it to me among you, for a possession of a burying place.

Third Millennium Bible            ...that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he hath, which is in the end of his field. For as much money as it is worth he shall give it to me as a possession for a burying place amongst you."

World English Bible                ...that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in the midst of you for a possession of a burying-place."

Young’s Updated LT             And he gives to me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the extremity of his field; for full money does he give it to me, in your midst, for a possession of a burying-place.”.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham asks that Ephron sell him a cave for its full price. Again, he is speaking to the crowd of Hittite men.


Genesis 23:9a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

meʿârâh (מְעָרָה) [pronounced me-ģaw-RAW]

cave, den, hole

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #4631 BDB #792

Makephêlâh (מַכְפֵלָה) [pronounced mahk-pay-LAW]

double portion, the double; transliterated Machpelah

proper singular noun/location

Strong’s #4375 BDB #495


Translation: ...that he will give to me the cave of Machpelah... Abraham knew exactly the place that he wanted to bury Sarah in. There was the cave of the double portion, or the cave of Machpelah. We do not have any personal information or background here, but that this cave was probably known to most of the people there, and perhaps it had a special meaning to Sarah, which we are unaware of.


Like many proper nouns, Machpelah is a transliteration. It means double portion, the double; transliterated Machpelah. Strong’s #4375 BDB #495. It is suggested that this cave has two entrances or that there is a cave within a cave. Some suggest that Machpelah refers to the field and the cave; suggesting perhaps something else is doubled unrelated to the cave.


Genesis 23:9b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to, belonging to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

qâtseh (קָצֶה) [pronounced kaw-TSEH]

end, extremity, border, outskirts; the whole [which includes the extremities]; at the end of [a certain time]; the sum

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #7097 BDB #892

sâdeh (שָׂדֶה) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, country, open field, open country

masculine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961


Translation: ...which [is] his at the outskirts of his field. Abraham knows exactly where this cave is, on the outskirts of Ephron’s field or land which he owned. This suggests that Abraham has done some previous legwork. He appears to know about this land—he appears to know exactly what he wants. He appears to know where Ephron’s land ends, and that this is right at the edge of his land.


gene23_9.jpg

King David, when he first became king, knew about Jerusalem and knew that he wanted this city as his own. He knew all of this and all about the city before he attacked it and made it a possession of the Jewish people. Similarly, Abraham knows about this place. We do not know how he knows, but that is one of the many unspoken background issues of this chapter.



Genesis 23:8b–9a (graphic); picture from Bible Walks; accessed December 14, 2014. This is not the cave that Abraham bought; and it is probably not a very good representative sample. But the colors are nice.

Genesis 23:9c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

keçeph (כֶּסֶף) [pronounced KEH-sef]

silver, money; silver [as a metal, ornament, color]; shekels, talents

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #3701 BDB #494

mâlêʾ (מָלֵא) [pronounced maw-LAY]

filled [with]; full, filling; fullness, that which is full; abundant; a multitude, a crowd

masculine singular, verbal adjective

Strong’s #4392 BDB #570

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: At the full [price] in silver he will sell [lit., give] it to me... At this point, even though we have the word to give used 3 times in this chapter, it is clear that the cave would be given based upon an exchange for money, a fair price. The idea is, the cave would then belong to Abraham completely and totally and forever. He would have free and clear title to this cave and the surrounding area.


The phrase at the full silver simply indicates that Abraham is willing to pay the full price for this plot of ground.


We know from Gen. 13:2 that Abraham has a great deal of silver, gold and livestock. However, this is the first financial transaction in the Bible which involves a precious metal.


We do not know at what time that the History of God and Man (that is, the book of Genesis) was committed to paper. Ancient men were obviously healthier—given that they lived for hundreds of years—and it is likelier that they had a greater capacity for memory. In this transaction, it is not clear if any “papers are filed” but the witnessing of the other Hittites appears to be fundamental to this transaction. Let me postulate that what was required for a transaction like this was a dozen or so men to sit in on the proceedings, and they kept track of the land sale which occurs here. If that is the case, then it is reasonable for The History of God and Man to be committed to memory for many generations.


At some point, perhaps during the time of Moses, this was committed to writing—and Moses was clearly an educated man with the ability to write these things down. Furthermore, God tells him to write stuff down throughout the 4 books of Moses.


How the History of God and Man came to Moses is unknown—was it from the Jews in Egypt? Did it come from his father-in-law? Was it a part of the extensive royal library of Egypt? We don’t know—however, given that chapters like this are recorded in all of their minute detail suggests that Moses only functioned as an editor to this degree: he knew geography, and he updated some geographical references (which updating, we call a gloss). However, it is a chapter like this which suggests that Moses did not do any other editing of the material. As mentioned before, this entire chapter could be summarized with a verse or two.


Given the number of Jews in Egypt who prayed to God to act (Ex. 2:23), I would suggest that there were many copies of this book in existence (or, hundreds of people memorized it). If this is the case—if there was in existence for many of the Jewish slaves in Egypt the books of Genesis and Job (again, perhaps written, perhaps memorized), then Moses would not have felt comfortable with making any deletions or summations of this book. Let me suggest that, by that time, the book of Genesis was their Word of God and they treated it in this way.


This chapter, and chapters about Jacob’s love for Rachel, along with Gen. 24, which has a dramatically different style from all other chapters of Genesis, suggests that many different people wrote the book of Genesis. Let me suggest that some subset of the following men wrote the book of Genesis: Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Abraham’s servant (or Rebekah), Isaac, Jacob and/or Joseph. Also, some unknown author would have added the last few paragraphs to Genesis.


Over the past several decades, we have unearthed an abundant amount of written material predating Abraham by hundreds of years—the Code of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), who lived within 250 years of the life of Abraham; we have stele’s from that general era and before. Furthermore, Abraham hailed from the city of Ur, which was a very literate culture even during the times of Abraham. So there is nothing which prevents the memories of Abraham from being preserved, either by writing or by memory.


Since Abraham came from a very civilized area and was obviously a learned man, the most likely chain of events was that he merely added to the Scriptures which had already been written down.


In any case, it ought to be clear that this attention to detail could only be that of a grieving husband.


The word soul refers to the will or desire of those Hittites present; specifically Ephron. This is called a metonymy and it has been covered previously.


Genesis 23:9d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

tâveke (תָּוֶ) [pronounced taw-VEKE]

midst, among, middle

masculine singular noun with the 2nd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #8432 BDB #1063

With the bêyth preposition, tâveke can mean in the middle of, in the midst of; into, among. In the Hebrew, this is spelled בְּתוֹך׃. With the 1st person plural suffix, it means in our midst. With the 2nd person masculine plural suffix, it can mean in your midst, among you. with the 3rd person masculine plural suffix, it can mean in their midst, among them.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾăchûzzâh (אֲחֻזָּה) [pronounced uh-khooz-ZAW]

possession [of land, slaves, etc.], land possession; inheritance

feminine singular construct

Strong’s #272 BDB #28

qeber (קֶבֶר) [pronounced KEHb-VEHR]

grave, sepulcher, tomb; burial place

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #6913 BDB #868


Translation: ...in your midst for a possession of the burial site.” When a financial exchange took place, particularly for land, it apparently takes place in the presence of several men. Therefore, for the rest of Abraham’s life, and thereafter, there will be no confusion as to who owns this cave. There would be a deed, they would see the money change hands, and this would become Abraham’s cave as a grave site.


Abraham is not looking for any plot of land anywhere; he has a very specific site picked out. My guess is, he is able to easily describe its location to family and that it is easy for him to find, if it is to be Sarah’s grave site.


Burials in gardens, caves, and fields is also recorded occurring in our Lord’s day. John 11:30-31, 38. Matthew 27:7, 66.


——————————


This is another verse I should have combined with the verse that follows.


Note that Abraham was not asking for a free ride. He was willing to pay the market value for the plot of land that he requested. Ephron was there and he responded:


And Ephron was sitting in a midst of the sons of Heth and answers Ephron the Hittite Abraham in ears of sons of Heth, to all going in a gate of his city, to say,...

Genesis

23:10

And Ephron was sitting [or, residing] in the midst of the sons of Heth, and he [lit., Ephron the Hittite] answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth, and [lit., to] all going in the gate of the city, saying,...

All this time, Ephron was sitting out in the crowd of Hittites, so he answered Abraham so that all the Hittites there as well as those entering the city, could hear him. He said,...


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And Ephron was sitting in a midst of the sons of Heth and answers Ephron the Hittite Abraham in ears of sons of Heth, to all going in a gate of his city, to say,...

Targum of Onkelos                But Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the presence of the sons of Hittah, of all who entered the gate of his city, saying,...

Latin Vulgate                          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:...

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Ephron dwelt among the Hittites; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the presence of the Hittites and in the presence of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying...

Septuagint (Greek)                Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the children of Heth, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham and spoke in the hearing of the sons of Heth, and of all who entered the city, saying,...

 

Significant differences:           The targum leaves out that Ephron is sitting in the midst of the sons of Heth. The Syriac makes it sound as if he just lives among them.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Now Ephron was a native Hittite. So Ephron the Hittite responded to Abraham publicly in order that the Hittites and everyone at his city's gate could hear:...

Contemporary English V.       Ephron was sitting there near the city gate, when Abraham made this request, and he answered,...

Easy English                          Now Ephron was sitting among the family of Heth, so Ephron, from Heth's family answered Abraham. Many members of the family of Heth were going in at the gate of the city. They were all listening to Ephron.

Easy-to-Read Version            Ephron was sitting there among the people. Ephron answered Abraham,...

Good News Bible (TEV)         Ephron himself was sitting with the other Hittites at the meeting place at the city gate; he answered in the hearing of everyone there,...

The Message                         Ephron was part of the local Hittite community. Then Ephron the Hittite spoke up, answering Abraham with all the Hittites who were part of the town council listening:...

New Berkeley Version           Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; so Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites [We would say, “The citizens,” in this case of Hebron.], who were entering the city-gate,...

New Century Version             Ephron was sitting among the Hittites at the city gate. He answered Abraham,...

New Life Bible                        Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth. So Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham so what he said could be heard by the sons of Heth and all who came in through the gate of his city.

New Living Translation           Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the Hittite elders of the town.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Now, EphRon happened to be sitting there in the midst of the children of Chet, and [he] answered AbraHam (speaking where he could be heard by all the sons of Chet and all who were entering the city), saying,...

Beck’s American Translation Ephron was sitting among the Hittites. Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham while all the Hittites who used to go into the gate of the town listened:...

God’s Word                         Ephron was sitting among the Hittites. He answered Abraham so that everyone who was entering the city gate could hear him. He said,...

International Standard V        Now since Ephron the Hittite had taken a seat there among the Hittites, he responded publicly to Abraham where the Hittites and everyone who was entering the gate of his city could hear him:...

NIRV                                      Ephron the Hittite was sitting there among his people. He replied to Abraham. All of the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city heard him.

New Simplified Bible              Ephron was sitting with the other Hittites at the meeting place at the city gate. He answered in the hearing of everyone there:...


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Ephron dwelled amidst of the sons of Heth. Ephron of Central-Syria answered Abraham in the ears of the sons of Heth, and to all coming in the gate of his city, saying,...

Bible in Basic English             Now Ephron was seated among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite gave Abraham his answer in the hearing of the children of Heth, and of all those who came into his town, saying,...

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Now Ephron resided among the sons of Heth, and Ephron spoke after Abraham, in the hearing of the sons of Heth, to all who came to the gates of the town, saying...

New Heart English Bible        Now Ephron was sitting in the middle of the children of Heth. Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the children of Heth, even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying,...

NIV – UK                                Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city.


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

Christian Community Bible     Now Ephron was there sitting among the Hittites, and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all who were seated at the gate of the town,...

The Heritage Bible                 And Ephron was sitting among the children of Heth, and Ephron, the Hittite, answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, of all who were coming in the gate of his city, saying,...

New American Bible              Now Ephron was sitting with the Hittites. So Ephron the Hittite replied to Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his city:...

Revised English Bible            Ephron was sitting with the other Hittites and in the hearing of all who had assembled at the city gate he gave Abraham this answer:...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           'Efron the Hitti was sitting among the sons of Het, and he gave Avraham his answer in the presence of the sons of Het who belonged to the ruling council of the city:...

exeGeses companion Bible   And Ephron settles among the sons of Heth:

and Ephron the Hethiy answers Abraham

in the ears of the sons of Heth,

of all entering the portal of his city, saying,...

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Ephron was present among the Hittites; so Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his town [I.e., all his fellow townsmen.], saying,...

Kaplan Translation                 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.


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    The Purchase of Machpelah

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, ...

Lexham English Bible            Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites. And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites with respect to all [who were] entering the gate of his city, [and] said,...

NET Bible®                             (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite [Or perhaps "Hittite," but see the note on the name "Heth" in v. 3.] replied to Abraham in the hearing [Heb "ears." By metonymy the "ears" stand for the presence or proximity (i.e., within earshot) of the persons named.] of the sons of Heth — before all who entered the gate [On the expression all who entered the gate see E. A. Speiser, "`Coming' and `Going' at the City Gate," BASOR 144 (1956): 20-23; and G. Evans, "`Coming' and `Going' at the City Gate: A Discussion of Professor Speiser's Paper," BASOR 150 (1958): 28-33.] of his city —...

Translation for Translators     Ephron was sitting among the people near the city gate where many [HYP] descendants of Heth had gathered. He heard what Abraham said to them.

The Voice                               Now it happened that Ephron was sitting right there among the Hittites. He personally answered Abraham so that all those present at the city gate could hear.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        And Ephron dwelled 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,...

Context Group Version          Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the sons of Heth. And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the sons of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,...

English Standard Version      Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city,...

Fred Miller’s Revised KJV     And Ephron dwelled among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even all that went in at the gate of his city, saying...

World English Bible                Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the children of Heth. Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the children of Heth, even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying,...

Young's Literal Translation     And Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth; and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the ears of the sons of Heth, all who entered at the gate of his city, saying,...

 

The gist of this verse:          Ephron is sitting among the sons of Heth, and he will answer Abraham so that all can hear his answer.


Genesis 23:10a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʿEpherôwn (עֶפְרוֹן) [pronounced ģef-ROHN]

fawn-like; transliterated Ephron

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #6085 BDB #780

yâshab (יָשַב) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

inhabiting, staying, remaining, dwelling, residing; sitting

Qal active participle

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

tâveke (תָּוֶ) [pronounced taw-VEKE]

midst, among, middle

masculine singular construct

Strong's #8432 BDB #1063

With the bêyth preposition, tâveke can mean in the middle of, in the midst of; into, among. In the Hebrew, this is spelled בְּתוֹך׃. With the 1st person plural suffix, it means in our midst. With the 2nd person masculine plural suffix, it can mean in your midst, among you. with the 3rd person masculine plural suffix, it can mean in their midst, among them.

bânîym (בָּנִים) [pronounced baw-NEEM]

sons, descendants; children; people; sometimes rendered men

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Cheth (חֵת) [pronounced khayth]

transliterated Heth; Hittite

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #2845 BDB #366


Translation: And Ephron was sitting [or, residing] in the midst of the sons of Heth,... This verse is a little tricky, and part of the reason is the verb here, which can indicate either that Ephron was sitting among the Hittites who were there; or that he simply lived among the Hittites. What follows suggests that he responded in real time to what Abraham said, immediately after Abraham made his request known.


However, it is not out of the question for the meeting or this issue of the meeting to be put on hold and then resumed when Ephron could be brought in.


The options are like this: Abraham has an initial meeting with the heads of Hittites at that area. These may be Hittites who are in attendance at Sarah’s funeral; or Abraham has gone to the city where the land deed is recorded of the land that he wants, and he has expressed his desire at the gates of the city to the city elders.


The second set of options are, Ephron just turned out to be in the group of observers at the gates of the city; or this represents a second (or third) meeting which takes place at the gates of the city; and Ephron is summoned to be there.


Because of the urgency of Abraham’s request; if there were several meetings, they probably all took place in a period of 1 or 2 days.


The gate of the city is spoken of in v. 10, so this portion of the meeting definitely took place there. Whether this is a second meeting or not is unknown. Whether the first meeting took place here at the city gate is not clear either.


But we do know this—Abraham went about purchasing the piece of property legally. He knew who the property belonged to, but he probably did not know what this man looked like. He went to the gate of the city to negotiate and hopefully finalize the transaction in front of witnesses, in order to secure the deed.


Genesis 23:10b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʿânâh (עָנָה) [pronounced ģaw-NAWH]

to answer, to respond; to speak loudly, to speak up [in a public forum]; to testify; to sing, to chant, to sing responsively

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #6030 BDB #772

ʿEpherôwn (עֶפְרוֹן) [pronounced ģef-ROHN]

fawn-like; transliterated Ephron

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #6085 BDB #780

Chittîy (חִתִּי) [pronounced khiht-TEE]

a descendant of Heth; transliterated Hittite

gentilic adjective; with the definite article

Strong’s #2850 BDB #366

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated generally; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4


Translation: ...and he [lit., Ephron the Hittite] answered Abraham... Ephron answers Abraham, which implies that Abraham spoke, make his request known, and then Ephron stood up and answered him. However, it is certainly possible that Ephron made his statement publically at a different time.


As you notice, I have used the pronoun he instead of Ephron the Hittite, for stylistic reasons.


Genesis 23:10c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

ʾôzen (אֹזֶן) [pronounced OH-zen]

ears

feminine plural construct

Strong’s #241 BDB #23

bânîym (בָּנִים) [pronounced baw-NEEM]

sons, descendants; children; people; sometimes rendered men

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

Cheth (חֵת) [pronounced khayth]

transliterated Heth; Hittite

masculine proper noun

Strong’s #2845 BDB #366


Translation: ...in the hearing of the sons of Heth,... Ephron spoke among the sons of Heath. He made this declaration so that all those around him could here. There were no deals or offerings made in secret between Ephron and Abraham.


Genesis 23:10d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

kôl (כֹּל) [pronounced kohl]

with a plural noun, it is rendered all of; any of

masculine singular construct with a masculine plural noun

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh]

ones entering [coming, going, advancing] [in]; those entering [going, coming (in)]

masculine plural, Qal active participle

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

shaʿar (שַעַר) [pronounced SHAH-ģahr]

gate [control of city can be implied]; area inside front gate; entrance

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #8179 BDB #1044

ʿîyr (עִיר) [pronounced ģeer]

encampment, city, town

feminine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #5892 BDB #746


Translation: ...and [lit., to] all going in the gate of the city,... As has been suggested before, this appears to be a large public meeting, held near the gate of the city, which is where court cases were tried and public meetings held. Ephron spoke loud enough so that even those going into the city (suggesting that this takes place at the end of a day) could hear him.


It is never 100% clear whether this is the city of Kiriath-arba that we are speaking of, although that seems to be the most logical conclusion.

 

Matthew Henry: The conference was public. The place of session for judicial and other public business was the gate of the city, which was common ground, and where men were constantly going in and out. “His city.” This implies not that he was the king or chief, but simply that he was a respectable citizen.

 

Coke: The authors of the Universal History observe, that gates of cities in those days, and for many centuries after, were the places of judicature and common resort. Here the Governors, or elders of the city, met to hear complaints, administer justice, make conveyances of titles and estates, and to transact all the affairs of the place; whence that verse in the Psalms, they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate, i.e.. when they are accused by them before the court of magistrates. It is probable, that the room or hall where the magistrates sat, was over the gates.


Genesis 23:10e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #559 BDB #55


Translation: ...saying,... The content of what Ephron said comes in the next verse.


Here, it appears that we have a second meeting. Or, Ephron is called to this meeting and talks are resumed when he arrives. Very likely, he is filled in as to what has occurred so far.


Furthermore, even though we were uncertain as to the location of the first meeting, this second meeting clearly takes place at the public courthouse (which is the gates of the city).


——————————


“No, my adonai, hear me! The field, I have given to you. And the cave which [is] in him, to you, I have given her. For [two] eyes of sons of my people, I have given her to you. Bury your dying.”

Genesis

23:11

“No, my adonai, hear me! I give the field to you. The cave which [is] in it, I have also given it to you. In the sight of the sons of my people, I have given it to you. [Please] bury your dead.”

“No, my lord; please hear me out. I will give the field to you. I will give the cave, which is in the field, to you. In the sight of my people, I have given the cave and the field to you. Go and please bury your dead.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        “No, my adonai, hear me! The field, I have given to you. And the cave which [is] in him, to you, I have given her. For [two] eyes of sons of my people, I have given her to you. Bury your dying.”

Targum of Onkelos                My lord, listen to me: the field I give you, and the cave which is in it, to you I give it, as a gift before the sons of my people I give it to you; go, bury your dead.

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

Peshitta (Syriac)                    No, my lord, listen to me; I will give you the field and the cave which is in it, I will give it to you; in the presence of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.

Septuagint (Greek)                Attend to me, my lord, and hear me, I give to you the field and the cave which is in it; I have given it to you before all my countrymen; bury your dead.

 

Significant differences:           The Hebrew has I will give to you thrice; this is found twice in the Syriac and the Greek; and only once in the Latin.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       "Sir, the whole field, including the cave, is yours. With my own people as witnesses, I freely give it to you as a burial place for your dead."

Easy English                          He said, `No, my *lord, please listen to me. I give the field to you and I give the cave in it. My people's sons here are witnesses that I give it to you. So bury your dead people.'

Easy-to-Read Version            “No, sir. Here, in front of all my people, I give you that land and the cave on it so you can bury your wife.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         "Listen, sir; I will give you the whole field and the cave that is in it. Here in the presence of my own people, I will give it to you, so that you can bury your wife."

The Message                         "Oh no, my master! I couldn't do that. The field is yours--a gift. I'll give it and the cave to you. With my people as witnesses, I give it to you. Bury your deceased wife."

New Berkeley Version           “No, Sir. Listen to me! I give you the field and the cave it contains; I give it to you with the sons of my people witnessing; you bury your dead.”

New Century Version             "No, sir. I will give you the land and the cave that is in it, with these people as witnesses. Bury your dead wife."

New Life Bible                        He said, "No, my lord. Listen to me. I give you the field. And I give you the grave that is in it. I give it to you in front of the sons of my people. Bury your wife."


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          'Pay attention to me, my lord; Here before all my countrymen [I say], Bury your dead!'

God’s Word                         "No, sir, listen to me. I'm giving you the field together with the cave that is in it. My people are witnesses that I'm giving it to you. Bury your wife!"

International Standard V        "No, sir [Lit. No, my lord]. Listen to me! I'll give you the field, and I'll give you the cave that's in it. I give it to you publicly, in the sight of my people. Bury your dead."

NIRV                                      "No, sir," Ephron said. "Listen to me. I will sell you the field. I'll also sell you the cave that's in the field. I will sell it to you in front of my people. Bury your wife."

New Simplified Bible              »Hear me my lord, I give you the field, including the cave. It is yours. With my own people as witnesses, I freely give it to you as a burial place for your dead.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             No, my lord, I will give you the field with the hollow in the rock; before all the children of my people will I give it to you for a resting-place for your dead.

HCSB                                     "No, my lord. Listen to me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field and I give you the cave that is in it; I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”

New Advent Bible                  Let it not be so, my lord, but rather hearken to what I say: The field I deliver to you, and the cave that is therein; in the presence of the children of my people, bury your dead.


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

Christian Community Bible     “No, my lord, listen! I give you the field and I give you the cave in it. In the presence of the sons of my people, I give it to you. Bury your dead there.”

The Heritage Bible                 No, my lord; hear me attentively; I have given you the field, and I have given you the cave that is in it; I have given it to you before the eyes of the sons of my people; bury your dead.

New Jerusalem Bible             'No, my lord, listen to me,' he said. 'I give you the field and the cave in it; I make this gift in the presence of my kinsmen. Bury your dead.'

Revised English Bible            ‘No, sir; hear me: I shall make you a gift of the land and also give you the cave which is on it. In the presence of my people I give it to you; so bury your dead.’


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           "No, my lord, listen to me: I'm giving you the field, with its cave - I'm giving it to you. In the presence of my people I give it to you."

exeGeses companion Bible   No, my adoni, hear me: I give you the field

and I give you the cave therein

- I give you in the eyes of the sons of my people:

entomb yours who died.

Kaplan Translation                 '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.'


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    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. The same Oriental politeness continued to be exercised throughout. The offer of Ephron, the Hittite, made before the ears of all the members of his tribe and of all his fellow-citizens, was hardly intended seriously; for if Abraham had accepted his offer, he would, according to custom, have expected a very rich counter-present, and, in case Abraham chose to purchase the land, Ephron's offer was designed to prevent any abatement of the price he had fixed in his mind.

Lexham English Bible            "No, my lord, hear me. I give you the field and the cave which [is] in it, I [also] give it to you in the sight of the children of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead."

NET Bible®                             "No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell [Heb "give." The perfect tense has here a present nuance; this is a formal, legally binding declaration. Abraham asked only for a burial site/cave within the field; Ephron agrees to sell him the entire field.] you both the field and the cave that is in it [The Hebrew text adds "to you I give [i.e., sell] it." This is redundant in English and has not been translated for stylistic reasons.]. In the presence of my people [Heb "in the presence of the sons of my people."] I sell it to you. Bury your dead."

Translation for Translators     So, just to make the customary reply to start the real discussion about a price, Ephron said, "No, sir, listen to me. I will give to you the field and the cave in it, without charge, with the people here as witnesses."

The Voice                               Ephron: No, my lord, listen: I will not sell it to you; I will give you the field and the cave that lies on the property. In the presence of all of these people, my people, I give it to you so that you can go and bury your dead.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

American KJV                        No, my lord, hear me: the field give I you, and the cave that is therein, I give it you; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it you: bury your dead.

Concordant Literal Version    No, my lord! Hear me! The field I give to you. And the cave which is in it, to you I give it. Before the eyes of the sons of all my people I give it to you. Entomb your dead.

Context Group Version          Please, my lord, hear me. The field I give you, and the cave that is in it, I give it you. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.

LTHB                                     No, my lord, hear me. I have given the field to you; also the cave that is in it. I have given it to you. Before the eyes of the sons of my people I have given it to you. Bury your dead.

Updated Bible Version 2.11   Please, my lord, hear me. The field I give you, and the cave that is in it, I give it you. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.

World English Bible                "No, my lord, hear me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the children of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead."

Young’s Updated LT             “Nay, my lord, hear me: the field I have given to you, and the cave that is in it, to you I have given it; before the eyes of the sons of my people I have given it to you—bury your dead.”

 

The gist of this verse:          Ephron says that he will give not just the cave that Abraham wants to buy, but the field that the cave is in.


Genesis 23:11a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]

Lord (s), Master (s), my Lord (s), Sovereign; my lord [master]; can refer to the Trinity or to an intensification of the noun; transliterated Adonai, adonai

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #113 & #136 BDB #10

There are actually 3 forms of this word: ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; ʾădônay (אֲדֹנַי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; and ʾădônîy (אֲדֹנִי) [pronounced uh-doh-NEE].

This is a form of Strong’s #113, where there are three explanations given for the yodh ending: (1) this is a shortened form of the plural ending, usually written -îym (נִים) [pronounced eem], an older form of the pluralis excellentiæ (the plural of excellence), where God’s sovereignty and lordship are emphasized by the use of the plural; (2) this is the actual, but ancient, plural of the noun, which refers to the Trinity; or (3) this is the addition of the 1st person singular suffix, hence, my Lord (the long vowel point at the end would distinguish this from my lords).

shâmaʿ (שָמַע) [pronounced shaw-MAHĢ]

listen [intently], hear, listen and obey, [or, and act upon, give heed to, take note of], hearken to, be attentive to, listen and be cognizant of

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #8085 BDB #1033


Translation: “No, my adonai, hear me! I think what Ephron says sounds best as a series of statements without being tied together grammatically. He first says “no” but is not refusing to allow Abraham to bury his wife on his property, but he is either refusing to sell the property to Abraham (to give it to him instead) or he is refusing to sell Abraham the cave only, and that he believes Abraham should take the entire field as well.


The sort of bargaining which takes place here is very different from the way that we negociate contracts here.


Genesis 23:11b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

sâdeh (שָׂדֶה) [pronounced saw-DEH]

field, land, country, open field, open country

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #7704 BDB #961

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix; pausal form

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: I give the field to you. The word to give, in this chapter, can also mean to sell. However, it is not clear that is what Ephron is saying. It appears as though he is just going to give his property to Abraham. I believe that is the way that this should be understood; and he repeats this verb 2 more times in this verse.


So that there is no misunderstanding, Ephron is not really offering to give this field and the cave in the field to Abraham. This is their way of doing business.


Abraham asked specifically for the cave at the end of his field; Ephron is going to say that he needs to buy the field and the cave.

 

This struck me as odd. Dr. Thomas Constable explains it: Why did Ephron want to sell Abraham the entire plot of ground in which the cave lay rather than just the cave as Abraham requested (Genesis 23:8-11)? Hittite law specified that when a landowner sold only part of his property to someone else the original owner had to continue to pay all taxes on the land. However if he sold the entire tract the new owner was responsible to pay the taxes (cf. 1Chronicles 21:24). Consequently Ephron held out for the entire tract knowing that Abraham needed to make his purchase quickly so he could bury Sarah. [Note: Barker, p. 134.].


Genesis 23:11c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

meʿârâh (מְעָרָה) [pronounced me-ģaw-RAW]

cave, den, hole

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #4631 BDB #792

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #88

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

1st person singular, Qal perfect with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #5414 BDB #678


Translation: The cave which [is] in it, I have also given it to you. The cave that Abraham wants to buy is at the end of the field, at the property line. Ephron says that he will give the cave and the field to Abraham as well.


Genesis 23:11d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʿêynayim (עֵינַיִם) [pronounced ģay-nah-YIM]

eyes, two eyes, literal eye(s), spiritual eyes; face, appearance, form; surface

feminine plural construct

Strong’s #5869 (and #5871) BDB #744

The lâmed preposition + ʿayin mean, literally to [for] [one’s] eyes; before [one’s] eyes. The sense is before any one, in the sight of [someone], in view of [someone].

bânîym (בָּנִים) [pronounced baw-NEEM]

sons, descendants; children; people; sometimes rendered men

masculine plural construct

Strong’s #1121 BDB #119

ʿam (עַם) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun; construct form; with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

1st person singular, Qal perfect with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix; pausal form

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: In the sight of the sons of my people, I have given it to you. This is what makes such a gift or a sale legal. It is done in the sight of the people of Heth. They are witnesses to what Ephron is saying.


Ephron is saying that he will make a gift of this land to Abraham.


This is a very formal and sympathetic proceeding. What is done is certainly done within the laws of that time. Obviously, transactions of this type were made legal by the witness of several other disinterested (i.e., neutral third-) parties.


Ephron appears to be magnanimous enough to give Abraham this plot of land without strings and without cost. However, that could have simply been the custom of that day.


What is revealed here is friendship and mutual respect. Abraham desires to pay the full price of the field and the owner desires to give the field to Abraham without charge. In v. 11, Ephron has told Abraham that I have given you the field; perfect tense, referring to a completed past action. However, this action has not yet occurred. This is called heterosis [pronounced het'-e-rō'-sis] where a future action is considered so certain that it is referred to with the certainty of a past event. The same use of the perfect tense is also found in v. 13 where Abram states I have give you the price of the field.


Genesis 23:11e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

qâbar (קָבַר) [pronounced kaw-BAHR]

to bury, to heap up a mound

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #6912 BDB #868

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

Qal active participle, with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: [Please] bury your dead.” Then Ephron orders Abraham to bury his dead. I would assume that, by the way this is said, that he is, in a sense, saying, “Please.”


Whereas, when we buy a house, we often offer a low price whereas the seller has listed a slightly high price. Our negotiations are such that, the seller comes down in price and we come up in price until we find a meeting place. These negotiations are exactly the opposite. Ephron shows up to this meeting and he tries to give this piece of land to Abraham for free. In fact, he says, “I will give you both the field and the cave which is in it. This will be at no cost to you. I cannot charge your for this. Bury your dead.”


——————————


And so bows down Abraham to faces of people of the land.

Genesis

23:12

Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.

Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so bows down Abraham to faces of people of the land.

Targum of Onkelos                And Abraham bowed before the sons of Hittah.

Latin Vulgate                          Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.

 

Significant differences:           The targum has Shittah instead of land.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Abraham bowed before the local citizens...

Contemporary English V.       Once again, Abraham bowed down...

Easy English                          Then Abraham *bowed down in front of the people in that country.

Easy-to-Read Version            Abraham bowed before the Hittite people.

Good News Bible (TEV)         But Abraham bowed before the Hittites.

The Message                         Abraham bowed respectfully before the assembled council...

New Living Translation           Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land,...


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And at that, AbraHam bowed low before the people of the land,...

Beck’s American Translation Bowing before the people of the country, Abraham...

God’s Word                         Abraham bowed down again in front of the people of that region.

International Standard V        Abraham bowed before the people of the land...

New Simplified Bible              Once again, Abraham bowed down.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abraham bowed in front of the people of the land.

Bible in Basic English             And Abraham went down on his face before the people of the land.

HCSB                                     Abraham bowed down to the people of the land...

NIV – UK                                Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land...


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And Abraham prostrated himself before the face of the people of the land.

New American Bible              But Abraham, after bowing low before the people of the land, .

New Jerusalem Bible             Abraham bowed low to the local people...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abraham prostrates

at the face of the people of the land.

Hebrew Names Version         Avraham bowed himself down before the people of the land.

Kaplan Translation                 Abraham bowed down before the local people.


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. He once more gratefully acknowledged the kind intention of the Hittites, also in this offer as made by Ephron; he was not to be outdone in politeness.

NET Bible®                             Abraham bowed before the local people...

The Voice                               Abraham again bowed in respect to the people of the land and replied to Ephron so all those present could hear. A portion of v. 13 is included for context.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    And bowing down is Abraham before the people of the land.

Context Group Version          And Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land { or earth }.

English Standard V. – UK       Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.

World English Bible                Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land.

Young's Updated LT              And Abraham bows himself before the people of the land,...

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham then bowed before the people as a show of respect.


Genesis 23:12

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâchah (שָחַה) [pronounced shaw-KHAW]

to bow down, to prostrate oneself, to do obeisance to; to honor [with prayers]; to do homage to, to submit to

3rd person masculine singular, Hithpael imperfect

Strong’s #7812 BDB #1005

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

pânîym (פָּנִים) [pronounced paw-NEEM]

face, faces, countenance; presence

masculine plural construct (plural acts like English singular)

Strong’s #6440 BDB #815

Together, they mean upon the face of, before, before the face of, in the presence of, in the sight of, in front of. When used with God, it can take on the more figurative meaning in the judgment of. This can also mean forwards; the front part [or, the edge of a sword]. Lepânîym (לְפָּנִים) can take on a temporal sense as well: before, of old, formerly, in the past, in past times.

ʿam (עַם) [pronounced ģahm]

people; race, tribe; family, relatives; citizens, common people; companions, servants; entire human race; herd [of animals]

masculine singular collective noun; construct form

Strong’s #5971 BDB #766

ʾerets (אֶרֶץ) [pronounced EH-rets]

earth (all or a portion thereof), land, territory, country, continent; ground, soil; under the ground [Sheol]

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #776 BDB #75


Translation: Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. This again suggests that Abraham is before an assembly of people near the gate of the city; that Ephron has always been in the audience; and that what we have here is a meeting.


The customs of that time call for Abraham to bow before these people, and Abraham does this, showing deference towards them for their hospitality.


Again, Abraham shows deference to these people. It very well could be that, when he bowed, this was his way of indicating that he heard what they said to him and that he had something to say to them (he bows before them also in v. 7, right after they speak and before he speaks to them).

 

H. C. Leupold, D. D., who writes: Many of these fine acts of courtesy ascribed to Abraham were, no doubt, dictated by custom...Luther especially remarks what fine manners also a good man of God may have and recommends laying aside all boorish [behavior].


Gen. 23:1–12 And Sarah lived to be 127. When Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (later known as Hebron) in the land of Canaan, Abraham went to grieve for Sarah and to weep for her. Abraham rose up from over his deceased wife’s body, (and then went to the Hittites) and said to them: “I am an immigrant in your territory lacking property rights. Nevertheless, sell me a plot of land for a grave that I may bury my wife there, away from my sight.” The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying, “Listen, my lord, you are a prince of God in our midst. Please bury your dead in the choicest of our grave sites. There is no man among us who would withhold from you his grave site for the purpose of burying your wife.” Therefore, Abraham rose up and then he bowed down before the people of the land, the sons of Heth. Then Abraham spoke with them, saying, “If you are willing to allow me to bury my wife here, then urge Ephron the son of Zohar for me, that he will sell me his cave called Machpelah, which is at the end of his property line. I will pay him the full price in your presence so that I might take possession of this as a burial site.” All this time, Ephron was sitting out in the crowd of Hittites, so he answered Abraham so that all the Hittites there as well as those entering the city, could hear him. He said, “No, my lord; please hear me out. I will give the field to you. I will give the cave, which is in the field, to you. In the sight of my people, I have given the cave and the field to you. Go and please bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. And he spoke to Ephron in the presence of the people of the land, saying, “Listen, I will give you the silver for your field; please take it so that I may bury my wife’s body there.”


Abraham’s wife has died, and he wants to bury her in a place that he does not see daily. Abraham has chosen a plot of ground where he does not spend most of his time (which appears to be Hebron). He has a place which he has picked out, suggesting that he has given this some thought, probably over a period of time prior to Sarah’s death. There is this cave in a forested area where Abraham would like to bury his wife, on Hittite land, near Mamre (v. 17).


It is clear that Moses has a wonderful relationship with these Hittites and that they view him as a man of God.


At this point, we are in the midst of the negotiations about this cave.


As we have seen, this is much different than the way people negociate today. The owner of the land attempts to give the land to Abraham for free, and Abraham insists on paying a fair market price for the land. The seller starts at the lowest possible price (free) and it is up to the buyer to persuade the seller to take a fair market price for the land.

 

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Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: Here is a great show of generosity, but it was only a show; for while Abraham wanted only the cave, he joins "the field and the cave"; and though he offered them both as free gifts, he, of course, expected some costly presents in return, without which, he would not have been satisfied. The patriarch, knowing this, wished to make a purchase and asked the terms.


Map of Hebron and Mamre. Hebron and Mamre are close to one another, as this map reveals. The map is from Bible-history.com, accessed October 2, 2013.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


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And so he speaks unto Ephron in [two] ears of people of the land, to say, “Surely, if you—oh that, hear me: I have given the silver of the field. Take from me and I may bury my dying there-ward.”

Genesis

23:13

And he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “Surely, behold, if you would [sell to me]—hear me: I will give the silver of the field; take [it] from me that I may bury my dead there.”

And he spoke to Ephron in the presence of the people of the land, saying, “Listen, I will give you the silver for your field; please take it so that I may bury my wife’s body there.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so he speaks unto Ephron in [two] ears of people of the land, to say, “Surely, if you—oh that, hear me: I have given the silver of the field. Take from me and I may bury my dying there-ward.”

Targum of Onkelos                And he speaks with Ephron before the people of the land, saying, Nevertheless, if you are willing to do me a favour, hear me: I will give you in silver the price of the field; take (it) of me, and I will bury my dead there.

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

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Then he said to Ephron in the presence of the people of the land, If you are willing, then listen to me; I will give you money for the price of the field; take it from me, and I will bury my dead there.

Septuagint (Greek)                And he said in the ears of Ephron before the people of the land, Since you are on my side, hear me; take the price of the field from me, and I will bury my dead there.

 

Significant differences:           What exactly Abraham says to the people to begin with is unclear. The Syriac and targum understand this to mean, if you are willing.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       ...and said to Ephron, "In front of these witnesses, I offer you the full price, so I can bury my wife. Please accept my offer."

Easy English                          Abraham said to Ephron before all the people, “But I want to pay you the full price for the field. Accept my money, and I will bury my dead.”

Easy-to-Read Version            He spoke to Ephron and the people listened. `Please, listen to me. I will pay the right price for the field. Please take the money, so that I can bury my dead people there.'

Good News Bible (TEV)         ...and said to Ephron, so that everyone could hear, "May I ask you, please, to listen. I will buy the whole field. Accept my payment, and I will bury my wife there."

The Message                         ...and answered Ephron: "Please allow me--I want to pay the price of the land; take my money so that I can go ahead and bury my wife."

New Berkeley Version           ...and said to Ephron, so that all the natives heard it, “If you consent, then please listen to me, I will pay you for the fields; accept the money from me, and I will bury my dead.”

New Life Bible                        He said to Ephron so that all the people of the land heard it, "Listen to me if you will. I will give you the price of the field. Receive it from me, that I may bury my wife there."

New Living Translation           ...and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. "No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there."


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          ...and he told EphRon (before the people of the land): 'Since you're on my side, listen to me; Accept the price of the field from me and I'll bury my dead there.'

Beck’s American Translation ...said to Ephron while the people of the country were listening, “If you’re willing, please listen to me. I’m paying you the price of the fields; take it from me, and I’ll bury my dead one there.”

God’s Word                         He spoke to Ephron so that the people of that region could hear him. He said, "If you would only listen to me. I will pay you the price of the field. Take it from me so that I can bury my wife there."

International Standard V        ...and then addressed Ephron so all the people of the land could hear him: "Please listen to me! I'm willing to pay the price of the field. Accept it from me, so I may bury my dead there."

New Simplified Bible              He spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land. He said: »If you will only please listen to me. I will give the price of the field. Accept it from me that I may bury my dead there.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             And Abraham said to Ephron, in the hearing of the people of the land, If only you will give ear to me, I will give you the price of the field; take it, and let me put my dead to rest there.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 ...and addressed Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying; “Nay, if you are disposed to listen to me, I will pay you money for the field; so accept it from me and I will bury my dead there.”

HCSB                                     ...and said to Ephron in the presence of the people of the land, "Please listen to me. Let me pay the price of the field. Accept it from me, and let me bury my dead there."


Catholic Bibles (those having the imprimatur):

 

The Heritage Bible                 And he spoke to Ephron in the ears of the people of the land, saying, And if you would please hear me, I have given the silver for the field; take it from me, that I may bury my dead there.

New Jerusalem Bible             ...and, in the hearing of the local people, replied to Ephron as follows, 'Be good enough to listen to me. I shall pay the price of the field; accept it from me and I shall bury my dead there.'

Revised English Bible            ...and said to Ephron in their hearing, ‘Do you really mean it? But listen to me—let me give you the price of the land: take it from me, and I shall bury my dead there.’


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   ...and he words to Ephron

in the ears of the people of the land, saying,

If only you hear me:

I give you silver for the field; take it of me:

and there I entomb mine who died.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               ...and spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, “If only you would hear me out! Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.”

Judaica Press Complete T.    And he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, "But, if only you would listen to me. I am giving the money for the field; take it from me, and I will bury my dead there."

Kaplan Translation                 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.'


Expanded/Embellished Bibles:

 

Kretzmann’s Commentary    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. The words of Abraham at this point indicate some measure of agitation and a shade of impatience: But if thou-Oh, that thou wouldest listen to me! As he had indicated from the start, he did not want the cave as a gift, but had come prepared to pay for it.

Lexham English Bible            And he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, "{If only you will hear me}--I give the price of the field. Take [it] from me that I may bury my dead there."

NET Bible®                             ...and said to Ephron in their hearing, "Hear me, if you will. I pay [Heb "give."] to you the price [Heb "silver."] of the field. Take it from me so that I may [After the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose or result.] bury my dead there."

Translation for Translators     Abraham again bowed before the people who lived in the land, and said to Ephron, as all the others were listening, "No, listen to me. If you are willing, I will pay for the field. You tell me what the price is, and I will give it to you. If you accept it, the field will become mine, and I can bury my wife's body there." V. 12 is included for context.

The Voice                               Abraham: Please,