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Genesis 23:6-16

Context
23:6 “Listen, sir, 1  you are a mighty prince 2  among us! You may bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb to prevent you 3  from burying your dead.”

23:7 Abraham got up and bowed down to the local people, 4  the sons of Heth. 23:8 Then he said to them, “If you agree 5  that I may bury my dead, 6  then hear me out. 7  Ask 8  Ephron the son of Zohar 23:9 if he will sell 9  me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly 10  for the full price, 11  so that I may own it as a burial site.”

23:10 (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite 12  replied to Abraham in the hearing 13  of the sons of Heth – before all who entered the gate 14  of his city – 23:11 “No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell 15  you both the field and the cave that is in it. 16  In the presence of my people 17  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 18  to you the price 19  of the field. Take it from me so that I may 20  bury my dead there.”

23:14 Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 23:15 “Hear me, my lord. The land is worth 21  400 pieces of silver, 22  but what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.”

23:16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price 23  and weighed 24  out for him 25  the price 26  that Ephron had quoted 27  in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard measurement at the time. 28 

1 tn Heb “Hear us, my lord.”

2 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.

3 tn The phrase “to prevent you” has been added in the translation for stylistic reasons.

4 tn Heb “to the people of the land” (also in v. 12).

5 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).

6 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.

7 tn Or “hear me.”

8 tn Heb “intercede for me with.”

9 tn Heb “give.” This is used here (also a second time later in this verse) as an idiom for “sell”; see the note on the word “grant” in v. 4.

10 tn Heb “in your presence.”

11 tn Heb “silver.”

12 tn Or perhaps “Hittite,” but see the note on the name “Heth” in v. 3.

13 tn Heb “ears.” By metonymy the “ears” stand for the presence or proximity (i.e., within earshot) of the persons named.

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.

17 tn Heb “in the presence of the sons of my people.”

18 tn Heb “give.”

19 tn Heb “silver.”

20 tn After the imperative, the cohortative with the prefixed conjunction expresses purpose or result.

21 tn The word “worth” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

22 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).

23 tn Heb “listened to Ephron.”

24 tn Heb “and Abraham weighed out.”

25 tn Heb “to Ephron.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

26 tn Heb “silver.”

27 tn Heb “that he had spoken.” The referent (Ephron) has been specified here in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.

28 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.



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