Bible Commentary

Genesis 23

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Genesis 23)

Verse 2

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

Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep — He did not only perform the ceremonies of mourning according to the custom of those times, but did sincerely lament the great loss he had, and gave proof of the constancy of his affection. Therefore these two words are used, he came both to mourn and to weep.

Verse 4

[4] I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you — Therefore I am unprovided, and must become a suiter to you for a burying-place. This was one occasion which Abraham took to confess that he was a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth. The death of our relations should effectually mind us that we are not at home in this world.

That I may bury my dead out of my sight — Death will make those unpleasant to our sight, who while they lived were the desire of our eyes. The countenance that was fresh and lively becomes pale and ghastly, and fit to be removed into the land of darkness.

Verse 6

[6] Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.

Thou art a prince of God among us — So the word is; not only great, but good. He called himself a stranger and a sojourner, they call him a great prince.

Verse 7

[7] And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.

Abraham returns them thanks for their kind offer, with all possible decency and respect. Religion teaches good manners, and those abuse it that place it in rudeness and clownishness.

Verse 11

[11] Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.

The field give I thee — Abraham thought he must be intreated to sell it, but upon the first mention, without intreaty, he freely gives it.

Verse 13

[13] And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.

I will give thee money for the field — It was not in pride that Abraham refused the gift; but 1. In justice. Abraham was rich in silver and gold, and therefore would not take advantage of Ephron's generosity. 2. In prudence. He would pay for it, lest Ephron, when this good humour was over, should upbraid him with it.

Verse 15

[15] My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.

The land is worth four hundred shekels of silver — About fifty pounds of our money, but what is that between me and thee? - He would rather oblige his friend than have so much money.

Verse 20

[20] And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.

A burying place — 'Tis worth noting, 1. That a burying-place was the first spot of ground Abraham was possessed of in Canaan. 2. That it was the only piece of land he was ever possessed of, tho' it was all his own in reversion. Those that have least of this earth find a grave in it.

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