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Genesis 23:9-20

Context
23:9 if he will sell 1  me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him; it is at the end of his field. Let him sell it to me publicly 2  for the full price, 3  so that I may own it as a burial site.”

23:10 (Now Ephron was sitting among the sons of Heth.) Ephron the Hethite 4  replied to Abraham in the hearing 5  of the sons of Heth – before all who entered the gate 6  of his city – 23:11 “No, my lord! Hear me out. I sell 7  you both the field and the cave that is in it. 8  In the presence of my people 9  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 10  to you the price 11  of the field. Take it from me so that I may 12  bury my dead there.”

23:14 Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, 23:15 “Hear me, my lord. The land is worth 13  400 pieces of silver, 14  but what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.”

23:16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price 15  and weighed 16  out for him 17  the price 18  that Ephron had quoted 19  in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard measurement at the time. 20 

23:17 So Abraham secured 21  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. 22 

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 23  from the sons of Heth.

1 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.

2 tn Heb “in your presence.”

3 tn Heb “silver.”

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

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

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

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

10 tn Heb “give.”

11 tn Heb “silver.”

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

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

14 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).

15 tn Heb “listened to Ephron.”

16 tn Heb “and Abraham weighed out.”

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 The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

18 tn Heb “silver.”

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

20 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.

21 tn Heb “And it was conveyed.” The recipient, Abraham (mentioned in the Hebrew text at the beginning of v. 18) has been placed here in the translation for stylistic reasons.

22 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.

23 tn Heb “possession of a grave.”



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