23:2 Then she 1 died in Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 2
23:3 Then Abraham got up from mourning his dead wife 3 and said to the sons of Heth, 4 23:4 “I am a temporary settler 5 among you. Grant 6 me ownership 7 of a burial site among you so that I may 8 bury my dead.” 9
23:5 The sons of Heth answered Abraham, 10 23:6 “Listen, sir, 11 you are a mighty prince 12 among us! You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb to prevent you 13 from burying your dead.”
23:7 Abraham got up and bowed down to the local people, 14 the sons of Heth. 23:8 Then he said to them, “If you agree 15 that I may bury my dead, 16 then hear me out. 17 Ask 18 Ephron the son of Zohar 23:9 if he will sell 19 me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly 20 for the full price, 21 so that I may own it as a burial site.”
23:10 (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite 22 replied to Abraham in the hearing 23 of the sons of Heth – before all who entered the gate 24 of his city – 23:11 “No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell 25 you both the field and the cave that is in it. 26 In the presence of my people 27 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 28 to you the price 29 of the field. Take it from me so that I may 30 bury my dead there.”
23:16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price 33 and weighed 34 out for him 35 the price 36 that Ephron had quoted 37 in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard measurement at the time. 38
23:17 So Abraham secured 39 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. 40
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 41 from the sons of Heth.
1 tn Heb “Sarah.” The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“she”) for stylistic reasons.
2 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).
3 tn Heb “And Abraham arose from upon the face of his dead.”
4 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.
5 tn Heb “a resident alien and a settler.”
7 tn Or “possession.”
8 tn Following the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose.
9 tn Heb “bury my dead out of my sight.” The last phrase “out of my sight” has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
10 tn Heb “answered Abraham saying to him.”
11 tn Heb “Hear us, my lord.”
12 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.
13 tn The phrase “to prevent you” has been added in the translation for stylistic reasons.
15 tn Heb “If it is with your purpose.” The Hebrew noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) here has the nuance “purpose” or perhaps “desire” (see BDB 661 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ).
16 tn Heb “bury my dead out of my sight.” The last phrase “out of my sight” has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
17 tn Or “hear me.”
18 tn Heb “intercede for me with.”
20 tn Heb “in your presence.”
21 tn Heb “silver.”
23 tn Heb “ears.” By metonymy the “ears” stand for the presence or proximity (i.e., within earshot) of the persons named.
24 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.
25 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.
26 tn The Hebrew text adds “to you I give [i.e., sell] it.” This is redundant in English and has not been translated for stylistic reasons.
27 tn Heb “in the presence of the sons of my people.”
28 tn Heb “give.”
29 tn Heb “silver.”
30 tn After the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose or result.
31 tn The word “worth” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
32 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).
33 tn Heb “listened to Ephron.”
34 tn Heb “and Abraham weighed out.”
35 tn Heb “to Ephron.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
36 tn Heb “silver.”
37 tn Heb “that he had spoken.” The referent (Ephron) has been specified here in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.
38 tn Heb “passing for the merchant.” The final clause affirms that the measurement of silver was according to the standards used by the merchants of the time.
40 tn Heb “his city”; the referent (Ephron) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
sn See G. M. Tucker, “The Legal Background of Genesis 23,” JBL 85 (1966):77-84; and M. R. Lehmann, “Abraham’s Purchase of Machpelah and Hittite Law,” BASOR 129 (1953): 15-18.
41 tn Heb “possession of a grave.”