1 And Sarah was 127 years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

Home at last to Hebron

Often when old age comes, there comes with it a yearning for the old things and the old places of earlier days. The journey taken by Abraham and Isaac had led them through Hebron, for it lay directly on the road to Salem, moving north as it climbed the Judaean hills.

Hebron was a place already special in the minds of the patriarchal couple, and it was to here therefore that they returned in the process of time.

The old oak tree still stood, and beneath its canopy the master's servants pitched the household tents with familiar ease. The flocks were settled on the old lands of nearby pasture, selected by the old shepherds who remembered the sweetest grazing from twenty years before.

The old altar was repaired with fresh stones from the rocky slopes, and from this place the smoke of the lamb of the peace offering rose again, as Abraham and Sarah breathed their prayers of thankfulness and praise to the Most High God. They dwelt in Hebron, in fellowship with each other, and in fellowship with God. Abraham and Sarah had come home.

Although their tents still proclaimed their pilgrim spirit, they felt settled in this their old resting place. How often is life's journey a sweeping circle that returns us at the last to our old original place and position in the truth. We finally learn to value the ancient landmark, and to abide content within its boundary.

Sometimes it takes a lifetime to return to Hebron, but when we do, we find fellowship with God. Here then, in this place, sanctified by its association with their earlier pilgrimage, Abraham and Sarah sojourned, content to see the son of their love grown to a strength and vigour that gladdened old hearts.

Isaac was mightily affected by the blessing of time spent in this place with his aged parents. Although the years of his manhood were spent in the lands of the south, he likewise returned in old age to the city of Hebron where the cave of Machpelah was. 4

4 Genesis 35:27.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 8

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.


Peter commends her as an example of a sister whose adornment was not outward, but inward, who called her husband lord, and whose ornament was of a meek and quiet spirit, of great price in the sight of God (1 Pet. 3. 3-6).

By faith she gave birth to Isaac, when old and past child bearing, but she staggered not. She died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off (Hb.11. 11-13)

Mortality, or the law of sin and death, eventually laid her low, 127 yrs of age, after her faithful companionship alongside Abraham, as an help meet. A virtuous woman busy with needle and thread, spinning, weaving and a thousand other tasks each day. Butter and cheese making, and washing and cooking for her family, rising early, industrious, and loving Israel's Hope and desiring to serve the Lord, supreme governor of Heaven and earth, Ail Shaddai ...(Pv 31).

The task of Abraham was now to find a place to bury his dear wife, since he owned none of the land. So he purchased or negotiated the purchase of a field from Ephron the Hittite.

The Apocalyptic Messenger, June 2016

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.

Sarah died in Kirjatharba

The bier was a simple wooden frame, plain and unadorned, for there is no point in gilding death. On this the body lay.

The curtains were thick enough to prevent the light of day, and two oil lamps placed at the two ends of the bier, lighted the tent instead. The lamps cast their steady glow, washing the tent walls with the yellow warmth of olive light. The light fell upon Sarah's face, but left it unwarmed, for drained of the blood wherein is the life, her countenance had that ghastly pallor that no light can cheer.

Death's colour is a cold hue. The body lay in the utter stillness of death that alarms the living. He half expected her to stir and move, but would have jumped with fear if she had. He stood beside the bier and looked upon the woman who had shared this journey offaith with him.

There was a terrible feeling within that the journey was somehow over, even though he was still alive. He remembered so many things, so many moments as he stood there, a changing, jumbled, vivid set of recollections that came without prompting or conscious thought.

Looking at Sarah now, it seemed so hard to believe that all was finished, the story told. And yet her motionless form was witness to the terrible finality of death, proof that she had gone the way of all flesh. Their mortal life together was ended.

...When Sarah died, a thousand of their secrets died with her. She would never pass them on to others, for death completely sealed her lips. But with Sarah gone, he could not share them either. No one else would really know, could really understand.

He was left alone with their private, personal, precious memories, left to guard and keep the story for both of them. From this time forth he would spend long moments in personal reverie, for it is the burden and privilege of the widowed to journey in mind to places where once they walked together, to smile and weep anew at long forgotten but altogether lovely things.

...Gently he bent and kissed her farewell, a chaste salute on alabaster lips...Reaching forth with a hand that shook slightly, he slowly closed her eyes. 6

... It was time for others to come, for the mourners to go about the streets and weep for this woman whom he had loved. And there was something else he must attend to immediately. Sarah's body must be buried without delay; 8 and for that to occur he needed to purchase a place for her burial, right here in Hebron, where their home had been.

6 It would seem that the custom was for the next of kin to close the eyes of their dead and give them a parting kiss, as a final mark of respect and affection (Genesis 46:4; 50:1).

8 It was the custom to bury bodies on the day of their death (John 11:17,39; Acts 5:6,9,10).

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

The purchase of a final resting place

The death of his help meet prompted him this day to an action that he had only performed once before. At the beginning of his journeyings in the land, he had purchased a parcel of ground. 9

Now at the end of his pilgrimage, he would buy another. He needed to provide a sure possession, so that his beloved could sleep in peace.

Only with Sarah at rest in undisturbed security could ne himself move on. So Abraham the pilgrim became Abraham the purchaser, and that very day sought an audience with the sons of Heth. His request was simple and clear. Despite his status as a sojourner among them, he sought permission to purchase a burying place.

For Abraham to be obliged to enter into this transaction was itself a paradox. As the rightful heir, he had been promised all this land as far as the eye could see, yet he needed permission to buy one small piece, 10 and even then to pay an exorbitant sum for it as events would prove.

As the Friend of God he had been promised a seed who should possess the gate of his enemies , 11 yet his purchase needed the approval of the gate of the Hittites before it could proceed. 12 As the father of the faithful he had been promised offspring which would be multiplied as the stars of heaven, yet even now, as he came to bury Sarah, it was the people of the land who were many and their sepulchres numerous. He, as yet, had but one single star of the galaxy that had been promised.

Yet Abraham was not deterred. His very statement that he was a stranger and sojourner declared plainly that he believed the promise, and that he awaited the county and city that God would prepare for him.

In the meantime, however, his pilgrim status would continue, and so his negotiations began. From the outset he knew the very portion he desired, and would have infinitely preferred to have asked for that portion outright, and paid without further ado. But there were protocols to be observed in the purchase of land, and the process could not be hurried or foreshortened. Besides, it was by no means sure that he would be successful in his request.

At question was the issue of whether a stranger such as Abraham should even be permitted to buy land at all. Behind the elaborate courtesy, which addressed him as a lord and mighty prince and offered him the choice among their own sepulchres, was a clever inducement to ensure that he remained as a landless dependant.

But Abraham persevered. He could not, would not bury Sarah among the faithless and profane. This was the woman who had walked with him as heir together of the promise, the mother of all the promised seed. He would not allow her bones to be mingled with the dust of dead Canaanites.

9 Acts 7:16 is to be taken as an inspired comment that adds further detail to the Genesis narrative. The most likely time for this to have occurred was in Genesis 12:6,7, Abraham buying a plot of land sufficient for the erection of his altar, and which may have included a burial cave on the site.

It is a further possibility that after Abraham's death the land reverted to the Amorites, until the time of Jacob, who then claimed his grandfather's portion by force as suggested in Genesis 48:22.

He subsequently enlarged his holding by purchase of the further parcel mentioned in Genesis 33: 19, all this finally becoming an inheritance of the children of Joseph, as witnessed by Joshua 24:32.

There will have been many actions of Abraham and Sarah which are not recorded, but which nevertheless occurred, and Acts 7:16 is but one example of several New Testament passages which add previously unknown details to the Old Testament narrative.

10 This is the force of Stephen's argument in Acts 7:5. Whatever portion of the land Abraham claimed in his lifetime, it came not by inheritance but by purchase, indicating that the promise of possession still lay in the future.

11 Genesis 22:17.

12 Genesis 23:18.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 8

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.

Burial of the Dead

As to the burial of dead bodies, a few words only are necessary. The Bible makes but little account of them or their burial; superstition, much of both. With this, the burial of the dead is a religious institution; and in proportion as the mind is spoiled by it so will it ceremonialize their obsequies.

The Lord Jesus Christ never officiated in burial services, or "funerals," as they are called, and discouraged the practice in his disciples. When he visited dead bodies, it was to raise them, and on those occasions he very unceremoniously put out the performers of funeral decencies. "Follow me!" said he to one of his disciples. "But he said, 'Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.'"

To a stickler for "the decencies of society" this would be regarded as a very reasonable request, and the teacher of religion that would refuse to allow it would be considered, by "the pious" of this "enlightened generation," as an unfeeling and unchristian character. But there is no accord between the thinking of the flesh and the thinking of the spirit. What pietists approve, Jesus refused to allow. "Let the dead bury their dead," said he; "but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."

This reply, however, does not meet Brother Hayes' inquiry. It only commands a disciple of Christ to leave the burying of those who have died in their sins to the attention of the living, who are "dead in trespasses and sins." A Christian of the Bible order is not to concern himself with the burial of sinners-let sinners bury their own dead.

But who shall bury the saints? The saints and their friends. And with what ceremonies? Consider the burial of the King of Saints. Who buried him? and with what formalities? Joseph and Nicodemus, men waiting for the kingdom of God, obtained the body, and wound it in linen, with spices, and laid it in a cave. There was no verbal ceremony, but a quiet and affectionate putting out of sight of the body in the usual way. I should prefer to bury my own, and be buried after this simple and unobtrusive example.


Herald of the kingdom and age to come, Feb 1854


5 And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,

6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty [Elohim] 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.

The above

is rendered 'very incorrectly'!

'Hear us Adoni, a prince of Elohim art thou amongst us' - 

Phanerosis - Hebrew titles of the Deity

The sons of Heth recognised Abraham as a personage of standing, well known in the land, whom God had blessed and made fruitful. This shows the integrity of Abraham, who though amongst enemies, quit himself wisely and sought not to alienate his Gentile neighbours. *

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

8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,

9 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 buryingplace amongst you.

The question arises Why? Why so much detail about this purchase? The Providence of Yahweh was at work, to show that although the entire land was promised to Abraham, during his life he owned none of it by Promise, but even had to purchase the piece of land from the Canaanites (Hittites) who then possessed the land, to bury his wife.

...In this cave are buried all the patriarchs and their wives, except Rachel, all awaiting the day of resurrection, when they will come forth.*

The cave of Machpelah and its field

Seizing on their willingness for him at least to bury his dead, he bowed low before the elders of the gate, and entreated them to act as mediators between himself and Ephron. This immediately turned his request from the general to the specific. He obviously had a particular property in mind, and Abraham declared his interest at once in the cave of Machpelah.

Ephron's offer to give Abraham the place without cost was the customary reply that began such a purchase. It was an empty gesture without honest intent or meaning, and yet it indicated at least that Ephron was prepared to negotiate, and possibly to sell. And there was something else as well. In Ephron's apparent generosity, which of course was to be refused, he had carefully widened the scope of the rransaction.

Abraham had sought a cave, but Ephron now offered him the whole field in which the cave lay. The patriarch understood and responded in kind. He referred to the field, and hastened to assure Ephron that he would not consider anything other than paying an excellent price for the same. All this was done after the time-honoured custom of the day. Such dealings were conducted in an apparently gracious and leisurely way, but concealed nevertheless behind the pleasantries a careful determination to bargain to best advantage.

Although Abraham spoke with Ephron ben Zohar, the words were exchanged through the many who assembled to act as go-betweens. Everyone became involved in the transaction, debating its merits as if the purchase were their own. To assemble in such a way was counted not as a burden, but an enjoyable task. After all, to hear the sagacious skill of the buyer in reducing the article to a thing of naught, and the shrewd cunning of the seller in defending its supreme worth, was an exchange to be relished.

And the presence of this multitude was the best evidence to make the transaction sure. These witnesses in the gate could vouch for every little detail that had been discussed and agreed, and without them the arrangement was of no legal standing. Now that the preliminaries were ended, it was time to begin the business of bargaining.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 8

10 And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,

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.

12 And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.

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.

14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,

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.

15 My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth 400 shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.

Ephron bargaining expands the sale to the field as well as the cave

Ephon's price: Four hundred shekels

...a comfortably large figure that allowed him ample room for negotiation. But he offered it with the air and flourish of a kindly benefactor intent on helping out another in distress. It was a skilful opening. Abraham however, had not become a wealthy man through indolence or ignorance. The patriarch was not deceived by Ephron's smile, or by Ephron's sum, and yet to the astonishment of all, he paid full money without discussion or debate.

The sons of Heth shook their heads sadly at the patriarch's price, for it told eloquently how much he grieved. This once, the seller rejoiced. 13 For Abraham sick at heart with the loss of his beloved, had no taste for commerce this day.

There was a deeper reason as well, which Gentiles could not understand. This purchase was his final salute of respect and affection for his wife. No cost was too great to secure a place that would be wholly hers then his also, when he joined her. He knew that he must pay the full sum in order to feel the full cost of this final offering of dedication made on her behalf. An honourable burial demanded an honourable price, and he would pay no less. It is the spirit that all his offspring must show as they strive to give full measure in their service. 14

The price served also to put the matter beyond dispute. He might be a stranger among them, but Abraham now owned this field, and everyone knew it. 15 All of it was his, every flower of the field, every rock and every tree, the landmarks which declared its boundaries, and at its nether end, the cave that he desired for the possession of a burying place. And the transaction was not only made certain for Abraham, but it stood the test of passing years, even to several generations. 16

Into this rocky sanctuary, hewn by the Almighty, and set apart within its own field, he brought the body of Sarah his wife, and laid her to rest.

13 Whereas usually the buyer did (Proverbs 20:14; Ezekiel 7:12).

14 1 Chronicles 21:24; Isaiah 61:8.

15 The very expressions in Genesis 23: 17,18 convey the legal terms of this purchase, WIth the boundaries and contents of the land being described, and also the witnesses who could thereafter attest to the transaction having taken place.

16 Genesis 49:30-32.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 8

16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, 400 shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.

Although offered free Abraham Insists to pay for the field and cave. The price stated is 400 shekels of silver, which Abraham weighs out and delivers to Ephron, as an honourable transaction between two parties.

Let all our dealings be such.

...Silver is the symbol of redemption; which is what the transaction represents, the redemption of the field from Gentile thraldom, for Abraham and his seed, foreshadowing the greater redemption in Christ of the inheritance of all the earth (Pslm. 2, 72)

*The Apocalyptic Messenger, June 2016

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

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

19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.

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.