Sarah's Death and Burial
1-2When Sarah was 127 years old, she died in Kiriath-Arba, better known as Hebron, in the land of Canaan. After Abraham had mourned for her, 3he went to the Hittites and said, 4 “I live as a foreigner in your land, and I don't own any property where I can bury my wife. Please let me buy a piece of land.”
5-6“Sir,” they answered, “you are an important man. Choose the best place to bury your wife. None of us would refuse you a resting place for your dead.”
7Abraham bowed down 8and replied, “If you are willing to let me bury my wife here, please ask Zohar's son Ephron 9to sell me Machpelah Cave at the end of his field. I'll pay what it's worth, and all of you can be witnesses.”
10Ephron was sitting there near the city gate, when Abraham made this request, and he answered, 11“Sir, the whole field, including the cave, is yours. With my own people as witnesses, I freely give it to you as a burial place for your dead.”
12Once again, Abraham bowed down 13and said to Ephron, “In front of these witnesses, I offer you the full price, so I can bury my wife. Please accept my offer.”
14-15“But sir,” the man replied, “the property is worth only 400 pieces of silver. Why should we haggle over such a small amount? Take the land. It's yours.”
16-18Abraham accepted Ephron's offer and paid him the 400 pieces of silver in front of everyone at the city gate. That's how Abraham came to own Ephron's property east of Mamre, which included the field with all of its trees, as well as Machpelah Cave at the end of the field. 19So Abraham buried his wife Sarah in Machpelah Cave that was in the field 20he had bought from the Hittites.
My aging father and I climbed in his van and drove through town. He wanted to show me a narrow slice of land he’d recently bought, he told me. A hill or two later, we pulled over to the side of a gravel road, parked, and got out.
He led me down a rain-slick, pebbled path that wound through scenic grounds with tall trees. The city sprawled below.“Gorgeous view, Dad.”
Chuckling, he pointed to a grassy area. “Over there.” His land. Just enough room for two graves – the future burial plot for himself and my mother.
Making our way back to the car, I picked up a stone as a keepsake; oatmeal-colored, with a strange fossil-like marking. It sits on a bookshelf in my office. Each time I look at it, I’m reminded that I’ll walk that path again – only this time, like Abraham, bowed in sorrow as I say farewell to those I have loved.
Like Dad, Abraham had found what he thought an appropriate burial site—a humble cave on the edge of a field. A place to lay the body of his beloved wife. He insisted on paying fair cost, and with that crucial transaction, the tree-covered field became legally his own.
A place to weep? Yes, but far more. Until Sarah died, Abraham, friend of God, forger of faith, inheritor of the covenant, owned no property in Canaan, this land God had promised him. Though his wife’s death left him bereft, on the tide of his grief floated tangible evidence that God keeps his promises.
On my future walk down Dad’s cemetery path, I’ll weep too. But hope will ride the tide of my tears, for without death, heaven remains out of reach. My rock reminds me of that too—and of Jesus, the Solid Rock on whom my hope rests.
Promise-keeper supreme, remind me that you keep your promises on your terms and in your time. I choose to trust you, even when life is full of more hard places than glorious hurrahs.