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GENESIS 23

2) 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.

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 burying place by the sons of Heth.

Sarah was 127 years old when she died. Isaac would have been 37 and Abraham 137. About 27 years has passed since the recorded events in chapter 22. Since Sarah died in Kirjath-arba, this tells us that Abraham had moved back to Hebron from Bersheba, about 30 miles.

When Sarah died, Abraham needed a place to bury her. Since he did not own any land, he had to purchase a burial place. He found a cave and attempted to buy it from one of his Hittite friends, Ephron. The Hittites wanted Abraham to simply use one of their "sepulchers", but he insisted on buying one of his own. Then Ephron wanted him to buy the whole field where the cave was found. The reason for this is not clear, but it may have had something to do with a law among the Hittites that certain feudal services (political services and fees) required of those who owned property. So, the reason Ephron wanted Abraham to buy the whole field was probably so that these services would no longer be his obligation.

Ephron wanted to give Abraham the field, but Abraham declined the offer, he needed to feel the cave was his to use for future generations. A price was set of four hundred shekels of silver. Abraham paid the money in the presence of witnesses and buried Sarah there. Later, Abraham himself was buried there and, also, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and Jacob, who was returned there from Egypt. Today a large mosque stands over the traditional site containing monuments to all of them.

DO YOU OWN A CAVE?

Do you have your burial plot picked out? Abraham had to find and buy a place to bury his wife after she died. Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough without having to make all arrangements, not knowing what the deceased would want. We should discuss these matters with our closest relatives so they won't find themselves in the same situation at a time when they are bereaved. Some of the things we need to discuss are:

  • The place of burial.
  • Funeral home and place of service.
  • The minister preferred.
  • The music.
  • Kind of flowers preferred.
  • Type of coffin and clothes.
  • Pallbearers.

Another thing that would make it easier for loved ones after we have gone on is if they know what we want done with our things such as items of jewelry, clothing and other personal belongings. Try to find time to have a discussion with your loved ones soon and make some lists to help ease bereavement times. I know death is not something any of us like to think about, but it is inevitable.

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