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First Roots — Genesis Chapter 23

This blog post will cover the devotionals #112, 113 for Genesis Chapter 23.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[112] Genesis 23:1,2

Sarah died at 127 years of age in Kirjatharba (Hebron in Canaan). Abraham was 137 years old at that point, and their son, Isaac, was thirty-seven. It seems to appear that Abraham came to mourn for her from somewhere else (as though he was apart from her when she died). There’s no true clarity on this, because it could just be that he came to the exact location where she died to mourn (like people do at crash sites, etc.). There are theories that Sarah died while Abraham and Isaac were gone on their trip to make the burnt offering, but based on the ages of all of them, it seems unlikely. We discussed how Isaac was likely mid-twenties to early-thirties (though it was possible he was older than that) when they went to sacrifice, which would’ve been a few years before she died. There are other theories that Abraham stayed away after the close call with Isaac on the altar because he feared that Sarah would think he’d gone mad, and/or that she’d never let him near Isaac again. I also doubt this, because of how God had worked with them in their marriage. The story alone would’ve been enough to help her understand how God had been involved in the situation. Genesis 23:2 shows that Abraham was mourning and weeping for the loss of his wife but doesn’t mention Isaac’s response. However, we know that Isaac was well-saddened by the death of his beloved mother, because we see him taking her tent for his marriage (in Genesis 24:67), and finally comforted in her absence. In devotional #113, we'll see how Abraham gave her a proper burial place.

[113] Genesis 23:3-20

Remember that Abraham wasn’t the owner of the land of Canaan yet. He was just a sojourner there. He spoke with the children of Heth, asking to buy a burial site from them. They responded by calling him a mighty prince in their presence, and that he could choose the finest of all their sepulchers to bury Sarah. Abraham then requested to buy the cave of Machpelah (in the end of the field) from Ephron the Hittite, the son of Zohar. Ephron responded by offering to give Abraham the field and the cave, but Abraham insisted on paying for it. So, Ephron told him that it was only worth four hundred shekels of silver, and Abraham weighed out the money based on the current exchange rate. They made it official that he now owned the field, the cave, and all the trees around the border of it. Even though God had promised Abraham the land of Canaan, his only current terrain-related possession there was the field (and cave) of Machpelah, which he bought to bury his beloved wife. However, God’s promise to give the land to Abraham wasn’t forgotten, and he was content knowing that he’d receive an immortal inheritance. Hebron was twenty miles north of Beersheba, and halfway between there and the future location of Jerusalem. Hebron was originally called Kirjath-arba (which is where Sarah died), meaning, ‘the city of four [giants]’, then Mamre. The field of Ephron, in Machpelah, was before Mamre (Hebron) in Canaan. This is interesting because this is the same area where Abraham had built his altar after he and Lot separated, choosing their locations (in Genesis 13:18). He didn’t own that land, but he was staying there, and he specifically wanted that location to bury Sarah. This is also where he, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah would also be buried later. What's phenomenal is that this place became a focal point later, after the promise was fulfilled. After the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, following their spying out of Canaan—Hebron was the place that Caleb (one of the only two men that gave a good report from their spying) requested as his inheritance—where Abraham and his descendants had lived and been buried. At eighty-five years old, Caleb was prepared to take on the daunting Anakim (who'd intimidated the spies forty years before)—trusting wholeheartedly in God’s original promise to give them the land as an inheritance. Finally, God’s promise would be fulfilled. Then, years later, after King Saul had died and David was safe, he could return to his own land. When he asked God where he should go, God told him to go to Hebron (which had been Caleb’s possession). He arrived with his men, and the people were waiting to crown him king. Hebron was now the chief city of Judah, and was surrounded by fertile hills, fruitful lands, and Palestine’s most beautiful vineyards. God had indeed brought them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

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