Take time to rest in the comfort of the Lord today.
Genesis 23: 1-20 (NRSV)
Sarah lived one hundred twenty-seven years; this was the length of Sarah’s life. 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. Abraham rose up from beside his dead, and said to the Hittites, “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.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold from you any burial ground for burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. He said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me Ephron son of Zohar, so 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 a possession for a burying place.” 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, “No, my lord, hear me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it; in the presence of my people I give it to you; bury your dead.” Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. He said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “If you only will listen to me! I will give the price of the field; accept it from me, so that I may bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver—what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” Abraham agreed with Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, passed to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, in the presence of all who went in at the gate of his city. After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it passed from the Hittites into Abraham’s possession as a burying place.
I like to walk through the cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried dating as far back as the 1700s. I plan to be buried there. So I understand Abraham wanting a burial place for Sarah.
He had spent his life wandering without purchasing any land he could call his own. But when Sarah died at age 127 years he wanted a burial place for himself and Sarah in Canaan—a land promised to him by God. He bargained with the Hittites for the purchase of some property for a burial site and insisted on paying for it. He was taken advantage of during a time of grief and paid an exorbitant price for the field.
Greed has not changed. The field was deeded to Abraham and Canaan was his new homeland. It also later became the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah.
Loving God, we thank you for your comfort when we are hurting from the loss of loved ones. Thank you for the assurance that you are always there and for the promise of eternal life. Amen.
Go with God!