23:3 Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife 4 and said to the sons of Heth, 5 23:4 “I am a temporary settler 6 among you. Grant 7 me ownership 8 of a burial site among you so that I may 9 bury my dead.” 10
23:5 The sons of Heth answered Abraham, 11 23:6 “Listen, sir, 12 you are a mighty prince 13 among us! You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb to prevent you 14 from burying your dead.”
23:7 Abraham got up and bowed down to the local people, 15 the sons of Heth. 23:8 Then he said to them, “If you agree 16 that I may bury my dead, 17 then hear me out. 18 Ask 19 Ephron the son of Zohar 23:9 if he will sell 20 me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly 21 for the full price, 22 so that I may own it as a burial site.”
23:10 (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite 23 replied to Abraham in the hearing 24 of the sons of Heth – before all who entered the gate 25 of his city – 23:11 “No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell 26 you both the field and the cave that is in it. 27 In the presence of my people 28 I sell it to you. Bury your dead.”
23:12 Abraham bowed before the local people 23:13 and said to Ephron in their hearing, “Hear me, if you will. I pay 29 to you the price 30 of the field. Take it from me so that I may 31 bury my dead there.”
23:16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price 34 and weighed 35 out for him 36 the price 37 that Ephron had quoted 38 in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard measurement at the time. 39
23:17 So Abraham secured 40 Ephron’s field in Machpelah, next to Mamre, including the field, the cave that was in it, and all the trees that were in the field and all around its border, 23:18 as his property in the presence of the sons of Heth before all who entered the gate of Ephron’s city. 41
23:19 After this Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah next to Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 23:20 So Abraham secured the field and the cave that was in it as a burial site 42 from the sons of Heth.
[23:2] 3 sn 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 (v. 3).
[23:3] 5 tn 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.
[23:6] 13 tn 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.
[23:10] 25 sn 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.
[23:11] 26 tn 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.
[23:15] 33 sn Four hundred pieces of silver. The standards for weighing money varied considerably in the ancient Near East, but the generally accepted weight for the shekel is 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce). This makes the weight of silver here 4.6 kilograms, or 160 ounces (about 10 pounds).