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Genesis 23

Victor M. Eskew


I.           The Title of Genesis 23


A.   Death Necessitates A Burial Place

B.    The Purchase of the Cave of Machpelah

C.   Abraham Buries Sarah His Wife


II.         The Key Verse of Genesis 23:  Genesis 23:19


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.


Why this verse?  This verse mentions burial which is a key word in this chapter.  It also mentions the place of burial, Machpelah.  It also reveals the fact that this burial site was “in the land of Canaan.”


III.       The Outline of Genesis 23


i.               SARAH’S DEATH (Gen. 23:1)

ii.              ABRAHAM’S DEAL (Gen. 23:2-18)

iii.            SARAH’S DEPOSITION (Gen. 23:19-20)


IV.        The Lessons of Genesis 23


A.   This is not the first death in the Bible, but it is the first burial about which we read in God’s Word.


B.    Burial is a very important part of this chapter.  The word, or a form thereof, is used 11 times in the chapter.


Burial (Gen. 23:4, 9, 20)

Bury (Gen. 23:4, 6(2x), 9, 11, 13, 15)

Buried (Gen. 23:19)


C.   All lives, even those of many years, will come to an end (Gen. 23:1).


And Sarah as a hundred and seven and twenty years old:  these were the years of the life of Sarah.


1.     Abraham would have been 137 years old at her death.

2.     Isaac was 37 years old at her death.

3.     Ishmael was 150 years old at her death.




D.   Almost all deaths are associated closely with the place of death (Gen. 23:2a).


And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan…


E.    The natural response to death is grief, a period to mourn and weep (Gen. 23:2b).


…and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to week for her.


F.     The dead require a proper burial place (Gen. 23:3-4).


And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you:  give me a possession and a burial place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.


G.   It is possible for godly people to live in such a way as to have the respect of strangers (Gen. 23:5-6).


And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord:  Thou art a mighty prince among us:  in the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us shall with-hold from thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.


H.   We learn something about good business dealings in this chapter.

1.     Sales are the result of needs (Gen. 23:4).

2.     The purchaser must make a request (Gen. 23:4).

3.     There needs to be mutual respect between parties (Gen. 3:6).

4.     Courtesy should be involved in business transactions (Gen. 23:7).


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


5.     One should be willing to give a reasonable price for his purchase (Gen. 23:9).


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 worthy he shall give it me for a possession of a burial place amongst you.


6.     Payment should be made on all purchases (Gen. 23:16).


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


7.     Once the purchase is made, the transfer of goods should be made sure (Gen. 23:17-18).


And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, 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 unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.


I.     Sometimes a relationship is more important than the money being exchanged between individuals (Gen. 23:14-15).


And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken unto me:  the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that between me and thee?  Bury therefore thy dead.


J.    The day of burial comes for all men (Gen. 23:19).


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.


K.   Machpelah was Abraham’s only possession in the land of Canaan (Gen. 23:20).


And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burial place by the sons of Heth.