24 Jan. Genesis 23:1-19

24 Jan. Sarah dies and is buried at Hebron

"Sarah lived to be 127 years old. She died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan."

"Abraham was very sad and cried because of her. After a while he got up from the side of his wife's body and went to talk to the Hittites. He said, 'I am only a stranger and a foreigner here. Sell me some of your land so that I can bury my dead wife.'"

"The Hittites answered Abraham, 'Sir, you are a great leader among us. You may have the best place we have to bury your dead. You may have any of our burying places that you want, and none of us will stop you burying your dead wife.'"

"Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, 'If you truly want to help me bury my dead wife here, speak to Ephron, the son of Zohar, for me. Ask him to sell me the cave of Machpelah at the edge of his field. I will pay him the full price. You can be the witnesses that I am buying it as a burial place.'"

"Ephron was sitting among the Hittites at the city gate. He answered Abraham, 'No, sir. I will give you the land and the cave that is in it, with these people as witnesses.'... "

"[Abraham said] 'Please let me pay you the full price for the field.'... Ephron answered, 'Sir, the land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but I won't argue with you over the price.'..."

"Abraham agreed and paid Ephron in front of the Hittite witnesses... So Ephron's field in Machpelah, east of Mamre, was sold... After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. (Mamre was later called Hebron in the land of Canaan.)"

          (Genesis 23:1-19)


 

Sarah died at an old age at Kiriath Arba (Hebron), and Abraham bought Machpelah Cave at Mamre near Hebron from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site.

The purchase symbolized Abraham's determination to inhabit the region of Canaan as a long-term settler - not just as a temporary nomad among a race of foreigners.

The Hittites, who inhabited the area around Hebron in Abraham's time, were a race of people from Central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). Their formidable empire was based on the city of Hattusha (Bo─čazkale), the excavated remains of which can be visited on the Anatolian Plateau.

In c.939 BC, Ramesses II of Egypt fought the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh. The ensuing peace treaty, carved on a stone tablet, is now on display at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. The Hittite civilisation rapidly disintegrated after this as a result of three generations of civil wars, and Hattusha was destroyed during the 8th century BC.

When Abraham arrived in Canaan from Mesopotamia in c.1855BC, there were already many Hittites living here (see Genesis 15:20). When Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died he approached "the people of the land" and bought a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite (see Genesis 23:3-20).

This tomb – the Cave of Machpelah at Hebron – became the Tomb of the Patriarchs which can still be visited today (see Genesis 35:29 & 50:12-13). The site is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, who both recognise Abraham as one of their greatest ancestors.

The photo (by Daniel) shows the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs at Machpelah Cave, Hebron.

You can read more about the Hittites in the Old Testament @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/23-the-journeys-of-adam-enoch-noah-abraham/abrahams-wife-dies-at-hebron/


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