Thru The Word Ministries
Genesis 21-23


1 - Then Yahweh attended to Sarah according to that [which] He said; and Yahweh did for Sarah according to that [which] He had spoken.  

2 - Then Sarah conceived and bore to Abraham a son in his old age at the appointed time that Elohim had spoken unto him.

The promise was made by Yahweh and it was fulfilled by Him.  It was made in His time and was fulfilled in the same manner.  Man tried to rush things and to fulfill it in his own way, but God permitted certain events and reiterated His promise.  Some twenty-five years later a child was born.  Not just any child, but of Abraham’s “old age.”  Sarah was an old mother too, by anyone’s standards.  This is exactly the lesson to be learned here, folks.  It’s not that a child was born; that happens many times over every day.  We in fact know that it was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age.  That’s what makes this a miracle baby!  There is only one way this birth could have taken place.  Because God became supernaturally involved.  He did what man could never have done.  The result is that we have full knowledge He is able to keep His promises and works miracles that could never occur short of His supernatural involvement.  

3 - And Abraham called the name of his son that was born to him, that Sarah bore to him, Isaac.  

So that no mistake could ever be made as to who this miracle baby is, Moses assures and reassures the reader that it was the son Sarah bore.  The name ‘Isaac’ means “laughter.”  We’ll see why this is worth noting in a little bit.  

4 - Then Abraham circumcised Isaac his son, eight days [old], according to that [which] Elohim had commanded him.  

He remains faithful to uphold his end of the covenant initiated by God Himself.  Abraham’s part in the covenant is to be obedient to it.  

5 - And Abraham was a hundred years [old] when Isaac his son was born unto him.  

What was considered “old age” at the time of Isaac’s birth?  This is the verse that tells us.  We also know from previous passages that Sarah was ninety at the time.  You tell me if that’s a miraculous birth or not!  

6 - And Sarah said, “Elohim has made laughter for me; all hearing will laugh with me.”  

Sarah is reflecting on the name of their new child.  If you’ll recall in our study of chapter seventeen, God originally named the child in response to Abraham’s reaction to the news that he and his wife would have a child in their old age.  When he responded with a laughter of amazement, God at that moment shared with him that his child would be named after his laughter.  His wife is now reflecting on the name of her new son by crediting God with this miracle birth.  Chapter nineteen depicted Sarah laughing in derision at how she would give birth at a time in her life when such a thing was way past impossible.  Now, Sarah finds herself laughing with joy at how God has been faithful to His promise and she has a child of her very own.  

7 - She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?  For I have born a son in his old age.”  

8 - And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast in the day Isaac was to be weaned.

Celebration was only right on such a day in their culture.  The new father goes about preparing “a great feast.”  When this happened in the life of the child is up for debate.  According to Guzik, “Some ancients say children were not weaned until twelve years of age and some say five years, but the most reliable research indicates an age of three.”1

9 - Then Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, that she had bore to Abraham, mocking.  

Ishmael is a teenager by this time.  In other words he is old enough to know better but still too young to care, in the words of the old Country song.  

10 - So she said to Abraham, “Drive out this handmaid and her son, because this son of the handmaid shall not inherit with my son, with Isaac.”  

Sarah is stating the obvious to Abraham here.  We will find out why in just a few verses so hang in there.  

11 - And the thing was very displeasing in the sight of Abraham because of his son.  

Any parent remotely worth their salt understands how the heart of Abraham must be breaking half in two with his wife’s pronouncement.  It’s easy for us to want to step in on behalf of Abraham, but in this case he probably already knows what has to be done.  

12 - But Elohim said to Abraham, “Let it not be very evil in your sight on account of the boy or your handmaid.  All that Sarah said to you, you shall listen to her voice; for in Isaac will your offspring be named for you.  

13 - “And also the son of the handmaid will become a nation, because he [is] your offspring.”

The word of the Lord to Abraham is basically along the lines of, “Take heart, Abraham!  All is not lost.”  Indeed good will come of this conflict because from Ishmael will come the Arabian people.  The “nation” is what we know today as Saudi Arabia.  The Arabian people came from Abraham’s oldest son, Ishmael.  

14 - So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and he sent her away.  Then she went and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-shaba.  

Given what we know about Abraham, this seems a little skimpy in the way of provisions for his son and his mother.  Someone today with his kind of wealth could at least put up his son in the finest of hotels with around-the-clock room service.  Abraham could easily have afforded the finest for both of them.  Yet all they get is some bread and a canteen full of water.  Does Abraham not care?  Obviously he does, but it appears he has a funny way of showing it.  

I would submit to you that Abraham is merely acting on the word of the Lord.  In other words God said everything was going to be all right as it concerned the child and Abraham was willing to take the Lord at His word.  Indeed Abraham was learning greater lessons in faith in order to accept what God was saying to him as absolute truth.  When God said Ishmael would become a nation, he was to the point in his relationship with the Lord that all he could do was accept it as fact.  Abraham had his own life to look to as ‘Exhibit A‘ of God‘s faithfulness on full display.  With that realization Abraham knew God would make provision for him all along the way.  Truly where God guides, God provides.  

15 - And the water in the skin was used up, and she cast the boy underneath one of the bushes.  

When the proverbial well runs dry, all seems lost in man’s economy.  Fortunately for us, God sees it as an opportunity to speak and be heard.  

16 - Then she went and sat herself down out of his sight, a great distance, as [if] shooting a bow; for she said, “Do not let me see the death of my child.”  Then she sat opposite to [him], and lifted up her voice and wept.  

17 - And Elohim heard the voice of the boy, then a messenger of God called to Hagar from the heavens and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar?  Do not fear, because Elohim has heard the voice of the boy there where he [is].  

18 - “Arise!  You are to lift up the boy and hold him with your hand, for I will establish by him a great nation.”

It just seems to us that all is lost.  God upholds each of us and sustains us when all seems lost too.  If only we were willing to make the time to see that in our everyday lives, it would make all the difference in our daily walk with the Lord.  We would see that He is faithful, even when and especially when we are not.  Then we wouldn’t have to spend our time foolishly by asking God to show Himself through some sort of supernatural phenomena, as many people have done.  God has already revealed more of Himself through nature alone than many of us are willing to admit.  Even many of us who profess to be Christians.  

19 - Then Elohim opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; then she went and filled the skin with water and gave to the boy to drink.  

Is this well something that she overlooked before and now she ‘just happens’ to notice or is there another explanation for this?  I’m not certain we know, but we do know the Lord caused her to notice this well (“…opened her eyes…”) and wasted no time in getting the necessary provision for her son.  Otherwise it would be safe to say he would’ve died without it seeming as to how he was alone in the wilderness.  The simple lesson is that Abraham was right.  He had God’s assurance the child would not only survive, but thrive.  Therefore he knew the Lord would provide for his son all along the way, no matter where he was.  We also know it from observing our next verse in the text.  

20 - So Elohim was with the lad, and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and he was becoming an archer.  

Ishmael was a bow-and-arrow master in the making.  Not only did he have a place to live but a way to provide food for himself and his mother as he lived there.  He was about to have more than that too.  

21 - And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took for him a wife from the land of Egypt.  

Here we have good ol’ matchmaker Mom, setting up her son for success.  Once again we see God providing Ishmael with all the necessary essentials to become successful and grow into the great nation God promised Abraham would happen.  We’ll see in just a few chapters that his marriage would serve to produce twelve sons, hence the beginnings of the promised nation.  

22 - Now it came to be at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, chief of his army, spoke to Abraham saying, “Elohim [is] with you in everything that you are doing.  

23 - “Now therefore, swear to me here by Elohim that you will not break faith with me, or with my offspring, or with my progeny.  According to the kindness that I have done to you, you shall do to me, and to the land where you have sojourned.”  

24 - And Abraham said, “I will swear.”

This appears to be most incredible.  Abimelech seems to be blessing the same Abraham he was all but cursing in the previous chapter.  Some commentators have no reason to believe that this could be anyone other than the same ruler depicted in chapter twenty.  Others say this is not the same ruler, and that Abimelech is only a title for the Canaanite rulers.  I see more reason to believe it is the same king that we observed just a  few verses back.  It certainly seems apparent from the text that the king has been watching Abraham over time.  Verse twenty-three has the real key, I believe, to unraveling this potential mystery ("According to the kindness that I have done to you...").  

As Abimelech observes Abraham’s life and service to the Lord and others, he also is thinking in terms of the future.  He wonders what is going to happen to the land over which he now rules.  He then becomes at least somewhat fearful.  He’s thinking of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and wondering what will become of them.  This concern would appear to intensify as he observes the riches and wealth that Abraham possesses.  Abimelech is possibly of the belief that Abraham can potentially rule the land himself, given he has those aspirations.  So he thinks it wise to strike a pact with Abraham.  As he is, if you will, pitching Abraham on this great idea of his, he reminds him, “Now I’ve been nice to you, so you need to return the favor by showing favoritism to me, my children, and my grandchildren,” and so forth.  As this seems fair enough to Abraham, he agrees by swearing an oath to Abimelech that he will have his full cooperation in bringing all of that to pass in due time.  

25 - And Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water that the servants of Abimelech seized.  

Abraham sees an opportunity to bring to the floor some old business, so to speak…  

26 - And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; and also you did not tell me.  What is more, I did not hear [of it] until today.”  

Abimelech tells him, “I had nothing to do with it.  I didn’t know anything about it until just now.”  

27 - So Abraham took a sheep and an ox, and he gave them to Abimelech; and the two men made them a covenant.  

The Hebrew phrase finishing off this verse literally means, “…the two men cut a covenant.”  The next time you hear of someone ‘cutting a deal’, you’ll know that phrase has its origins in this passage of Scripture.  

28 - Then Abraham placed seven ewe lambs of the flock to be separate.  

29 - And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What are these seven ewe lambs that you have placed to be separate?”  

30 - And he said, “Because seven ewe lambs you shall take from my hand, so that they will be a witness to me, that I have dug this well.”

They make the covenant and seal it, with Abraham transferring assets to Abimelech in the form of these seven ewe lambs, probably as a reminder of the covenant.  With Abraham’s wealth this should not be a problem.  There’s some significance to this, however, as our next verse tells us.  

31 - Therefore he called that place ’Beer-shaba’, because they both swore an oath there.  

“Beer-Shaba” can be rendered either ’well of the oath’ or ’well of the sevens’.  How interesting that both renderings would be applicable in this case.   

32 - So they made a covenant at Beer-shaba.  Then Abimelech arose, and Phicol, the chief of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.  

33 - And he planted a tamarisk tree at Beer-shaba, and there called on the name Yahweh, the everlasting God.

Contextually, “he” would refer to Abraham seeming as to how the previous verse tells us the king and his army chief of staff had already departed.  Yahweh El-Olam in the Hebrew gives us the literal rendering of the phrase, “God, the God everlasting.”  God isn’t going anywhere because any of us believe He should.  He is everlasting … always has been, always will be!  

34 - And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.  

This doesn’t seem odd at all.  True, Abraham and Abimelech had just cut their covenant.  But Abraham had no reason not to dwell in the land.  Why?  Because God had already given him the land!  While Lot eventually headed for Sodom, Gomorrah, etc., God promised all the other land to Abraham and the place where Lot lived literally went up in smoke.  Small wonder he lived there many days; at least until Isaac was grown.    


1 - And it came to be after these things that Elohim put Abraham to the test, and said to him, “Abraham!”  And he said, “Behold, I [am here].”  

We see here the phrase “after these things.”  What things?  The things of chapter twenty-one, where he ‘cut the covenant’ with Abimelech, planted the tamarisk tree, called on Yahweh-El-Olam, and dwelled in Philistia.  We have reason to believe that a great deal of time transpired between these chapters to the point where Isaac grew from a toddler into young adulthood.  We find this more as we move through the text.  

2 - And He said, “Take now your son, your only [son] whom you love, Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will tell you of.”  

Get the picture: the son of the promise from which will come a great and mighty nation, this still-single young man is about to be slaughtered, then torched as a burnt offering.  How cruel it all seems at first.  Yet the instructions to Abraham are clear … or at least clear enough to him.  

Notice also how Isaac is referred to as his “only son.”  In other words Ishmael is now out of the picture, so that can only leave Isaac.  But in making sure nothing is left to the imagination, God calls Isaac by name.  

3 - So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, along with Isaac his son, and split wood for the whole burnt offering, then arose and went to the place that Elohim told him.  

In our vernacular we would say Abraham had his act together.  He left no stone unturned, so to speak, as he gathered, packed, and went on his way with everything he would need to carry out the Lord’s direct instructions.  As opposed to getting there and, for instance, thinking, “Wow!  Wouldn’t you know it?  It just came to me that I don’t have any wood for the burnt offering.  Oh well, easy come, easy go.  I’m sure sorry about that, Lord.  I’ll get Your instructions straight next time, though …”  He has what he knows he needs to flawlessly carry out the Lord’s instructions from start to finish.  

4 - Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from a distance.  

5 - And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, while I and the boy go over there to worship, and we will return to you.”

Abraham doesn’t offer a suggestion, but rather gives a directive to the two non-family members of his entourage.  He communicates that this is a matter between father and son.  As a matter of linguistics, the Hebrew word for “young men” is the same word rendered “lad” in referring to Isaac.  For this reason we can deduce that Isaac had grown into manhood by this point.  He was at least in his mid-to-late twenties, with a few Old Testament scholars believing he could have been in his late thirties by this time.  

Take note of Abraham’s confidence as he tells the young men to “stay here … and we will return to you.”  Doesn’t that seem a bit strange coming from a man who has been instructed to slay his fellow traveler?  But Abraham is speaking in the first person plural, not singular.  We will return, he says.  What confidence in God’s Word this man of faith has.  This is one of the primary reasons we have this account as part of the Word of God.  This proves how God was not seeking to produce faith in the life of Abraham, or even build faith.  Rather it was to reveal this man’s faith as a testimony of how the Lord can take each of our lives, strip them bare if need be of every worldly encumbrance that would keep us from following Him in total dependence, and lay a foundation on which He can build.  The difference between Abraham and most all of us is that Abraham was willing to take God at His Word and comply in simple, humble obedience.  Need I say more?   

6 - Now Abraham took the wood of the whole burnt offering, and he set it upon Isaac his son.  Then he took the fire in his hand along with the knife, and the two of them went together.  

Notice this picture of Isaac carrying the wood on which he would supposedly be sacrificed.  Thus Isaac is a type of Christ, who would carry His own wood all the way to Calvary, where He would be sacrificed.  

7 - And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father.”  And he said, “Here I am, my son.”  Then he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the whole burnt offering?”  

According to the text, we see no conversing between father and son on the way to Moriah.  Then the son breaks the silence with his query.  In the New Testament, we see where Jesus broke the silence between He and the Father as He cried in agony on the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34).  Was Isaac about to sense that same forsakenness at the hand of his father?  

8 - And Abraham said, “Elohim will select for Himself a lamb for the whole burnt offering, my son.”  So the two of them went together.  

Wow!  Did Abraham really realize how prophetic that statement was at the time?  I can’t say for sure, but I do know he was walking by faith in a mighty God at that moment.  This was the same God that had already promised him that from the son that he would have by his wife would come a great and mighty nation.  That was apparently all he needed to see him through.  

9 - Then they came to the place that Elohim had told him about.  And Abraham built there an altar and set the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son and put him on the altar on top of the wood.  

What ever would prompt Isaac to go along with being set on top of the wood?  Surely a young man would realize what was about to happen.  And yet we see in our text nothing that would resemble protest of any sort.  What could possibly explain this?  Isaac chose to be obedient to his father, just as Abraham chose to be obedient to his Father.  

10 - Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.  

Isaac would be killed first then burned as an offering, as opposed to being burned alive at the stake, as it were.  

11 - But the angel of Yahweh called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham!  Abraham!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  

12 - And He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the boy, and do not do anything to him, because now I know that you fear Elohim, and have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

This “angel of Yahweh,” keep in mind, is the pre-incarnate Christ that continues to guide Abraham right up to the time of the slaughter of his only son.  This is the type of obedience spoken of in the song, All the Way My Savior Leads Me.  He was Abraham’s Savior at this moment, He was certainly Isaac’s Savior, and He continues to be your Savior and mine to this very day.  

13 - Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a ram behind [him] caught in the thicket by his horns.  And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it for a whole burnt offering instead of his son.  

The “lamb” spoken of by Abraham and Isaac in verses seven and eight was simply going to have to wait for another day.  In this case we have what is referred to as a ‘substitutionary atonement’.  The ram that seemed to appear out of nowhere is actually God’s provision.  He knew He would provide the ram instead of Isaac for the burnt offering.  It is as if the Lord knew Abraham would be obedient all along.  Yet there had to come that time of actual testing.  James refers to this in the second chapter of his epistle when he goes rather in-depth as to how works are indicative of faith.  I would encourage you to review that chapter (and the entire epistle for that matter) to get the correct order in regard to this faith/works issue.  To this day I have found no one who can speak to this better than Pastor Chuck Smith:

Hebrews said that, by faith, Abraham offered up Isaac, believing that God would, if necessary, raise him from the dead to fulfill His word (Hebrews 11:17-19).  James looked at Abraham’s offering of Isaac from a different standpoint.  James said that the offering of Isaac was a practical demonstration of Abraham’s faith in God’s promises.  By his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham proved the faith that he had in God’s promises.  Now it wasn’t the act of offering Isaac that caused God to account Abraham righteous.  He was accounted righteous by his faith alone, but his faith was then acted out in his offering of Isaac.  

No man will ever be moved to action without faith.  But no man’s faith is genuine unless it moves him to action.

14 - And Abraham called the name of that place ’Yahweh-Yireh’, because it is said [even] today, “In the mountain of Yahweh, He shall appear.”  

The Hebrew verb raah in its root form means “to be seen.”  Its usage here gives it the meaning of how something is to appear or be seen.  In this case that something is God.  Yahweh-Yireh very literally means “God shall appear.”  And He did … about the time Abraham had his hand “stretched out.”  He became salvation for all involved at that moment.  When God appears, all doubt, dismay, and despair disappears.  Now the pre-incarnate Christ makes another announcement as we see in our next few verses.  

15 - Then the angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,

16 - And said, “By myself I have sworn, announces Yahweh, that on account of this thing that you have done, that you have not withheld your son, your only son,

17 - “Now I will very greatly bless you, and will make your offspring very numerous, like the stars of the heavens, and like the sand that is on the edge of the sea, and your offspring shall possess the gate of those being hostile to it.  

18 - “And in your offspring shall all nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.”  

Again, whenever we see the description “angel of Yahweh,” that is another way of saying someone on earth has encountered Christ in His pre-incarnate form.  This time it is to make an announcement of major proportions.  This particular one has to do with a word from Yahweh.  We learned at the beginning of chapter two that the name ‘Yahweh’ is the personal name for God.  He is a personal God and He has a personal word for Abraham.  It involves the future of his family in relation to the promise made earlier by God.  There is a related blessing for his descendants in regard to how they will overtake the strongholds of their enemies.  To tie a bow in it, He promises blessings will abound toward Abraham’s offspring, all stemming from his ultimate obedience to the Lord.  This is just one of the many condition/result promises that are fulfilled by God as He is depicted in many places throughout the Old Testament.  I’ll say for now that the fulfillment isn’t always a positive thing and leave it at that.  Any other details will be explained in full as we approach each of these accounts in the text.   

19 - So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-shaba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-shaba.  

20 - Now it came to be after these things that it was told to Abraham, saying, “Behold, Milcah, she has bore sons to Nahor, your brother:

21 - “Uz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram,

22 - “And Kesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Yidlaph, and Betuel.”  

This is a parenthesis of sorts in our passage that speaks to the introductory stages of the fulfillment of the promise stated above.  But it’s also a look at how life has progressed for Nahor, the brother of Abraham.  I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say that Abraham and Sarah had thought many times about their family where they were still residing after Abraham followed the Lord’s instructions to pull up stakes and move on from there.  Somehow he receives this update concerning how offspring have been begotten by his brother.  Who the informant was we don’t know, but it is safe to say that they were providentially guided in regard to making contact with Abraham.  It was also someone who knew the two parties well enough to sense the freedom to share this news with Abraham.  We also can tell that the informant knows Nahor to the point where he or she got to know the names of his children.  I don’t know of anyone who can pull eight names off the top of their head in conversation because they heard something in passing or have a sort of nodding acquaintance with someone else.  This is obviously someone who knew the family quite well by having spent time with them.  Who knows but that Abraham’s name may have come up in conversation at some time or another, prompting this unknown party to seek out Abraham for the purpose of passing along the latest ‘family business’.  

Whatever the case we sense, don’t we, God’s sovereignty at work in the life of His special servant by the name of Abraham.  

23 - And Betuel bore Rebecca; these eight Milcah did bare to Nahor, brother of Abraham.  

24 - And his concubine, so named Reumah, she bore Tebah and Gaham, and Tahash, and Maachah.

A couple of grandchildren are even mentioned in the middle of all this name-dropping, one in particular whose name we will see in a later chapter.  Rebecca will serve a very special place in the lives of this good and godly couple who are proven to be ‘the real deal’ … now more than ever!  


1 - So Sarah’s lifespan was one hundred twenty-seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.  

Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age at the time of her death is revealed.  This should tell us at least a little about the legacy of faith she leaves that is vital to living a life pleasing to Him (Hebrews 11:1, 6, 11-12).  

2 - And Sarah died in Kiriath-Arba (that [is], Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.  

Based on our text it is at least barely possible that Abraham was away from home at the time of Sarah’s death.  When we see that “Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah…” there is some measure of agreement.  Her death apparently was sudden and not terminal, or else it would seem reasonable that Abraham would not have gone away but remained at her bedside to care for her.  Some more liberal scholars would tell us that it was during the time Abraham was away she received word of Abraham and Isaac’s adventure on Mount Moriah, thus prompting her sudden demise.  There is no proof, only speculation.  

3 - Then Abraham rose from before his wife’s corpse and spoke to the sons of Heth by saying,

4 - “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you.  Please give to me a piece of property for a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”

True, God had already given the land to Abraham, but not in terms of ownership.  For Sarah’s sake and the sake of his family, he thought it wise to have a permanent place for he and his loved ones to be buried that would transcend generations.  Out of respect for them this was property that had to be purchased and not rented.  

5 - And the sons of Heth answered Abraham by saying to him,

6 - “Hear us, my lord: you are a prince of God in our midst.  In the choicest of our sepulchers, bury your dead.  None of us will withhold from you his sepulcher, after [which] you may bury your dead.”

I hope you understand these Hittites were more than a little fond of Abraham.  They offer to him the best burial property there is in the land.  And in case any of it is occupied by one of the sons of Heth, he will gladly turn loose of it in short order to hand it over to Abraham so that his Sarah may be buried there.  

7 - Then Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, to the sons of Heth.  

8 - And he spoke with them in saying, “If you are willing for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and plead with Ephron, the son of Zohar, on my behalf,

9 - “That he may give to me the cave of Machpelah that belongs to him, which [is] at the end of his field, let him give it to me for sepulcher property in your midst.”

Showing honor and respect for the Hittites, he asks them to act if necessary as an intermediary to Ephron.  He was the one running things in the city at the time.  Abraham, it would appear, was already thinking of a particular piece of property as we know by way of his rather specific suggestion.  He wanted the cave of Machpelah very possibly for its beauty and serenity.  Nevertheless he knew exactly where it was located.  He possibly was able to picture it in his mind’s eye as he was talking about it to them.  It could be said this property was exactly what he was looking for and was willing to pay any price for it.  

10 - Now Ephron was dwelling in the midst of the sons of Heth.  And Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the sons of Heth; [even] to all coming in at the gate of his city, by saying,

11 - “No, my lord!  Hear me: the field I give to you and the cave that [is] within it, I give it to you.  In the sight of the sons of my people, I give it to you.  Bury your dead!”

Ephron’s price for Abraham’s purchase of Machpelah was zero dollars and zero cents.  He too chose to honor Abraham by awarding the property to him outright.  The fact that he announced it “at the gate of his city” is significant.  The city gate is where all city business was legally transacted.  It served as the city/town hall.  That way everyone would know where to go to be first-hand party to whatever was going on in the town.  

12 - And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.  

13 - Then he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land in saying, “Surely, if you were [to give it], hear me please, I will give you full price for the land.  Take it from me and let me bury my dead there.”

Not content with that, he offers to pay them full price for the land, whatever “full price” may be considered.  Regardless of the amount, Abraham knew the city gate would be the place to find out, seeming as to how it would be considered a legal transaction.  

14 - And Ephron answered Abraham in saying to him,

15 - “My lord, hearken unto me: [The price of] the land [is] four hundred shekels of silver, [but] what is that between me and you?  So [then] bury your dead.”

Probably due to Abraham’s insistence, Ephron gives him the legal price for the land but insists before all in attendance that money is no object where Abraham is concerned.  

16 - And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron, and Abraham weighed to Ephron the [amount of] silver that he had announced in the hearing of the sons of Heth; four hundred shekels of silver acceptable to the traders.  

17 - So the property of Ephron was transferred over; [the field] that [was] in Machpelah, that was before Mamre, the field and the cave that [was] in it, and all the trees that [were] in the field, that [was] in all the territory round about,

18 - [All went] to Abraham as an acquisition before the eyes of the sons of Heth, [and] among all going in at the gate of his city.

With the transaction formalized, the land was transferred over (“deeded over”, ESV) at the city gate where all could be party to it, thereby making it a thoroughly legalized transaction.  

19 - And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah before Mamre (that [is], Hebron) in the land of Canaan.  

20 - So the field and the cave that [was] in it were transferred over to Abraham for sepulcher property by the sons of Heth.

This account is one of several, especially in the Old Testament, whereby departed loved ones were buried.  There is a lot of talk in Christian circles in the day in which this is being written as to how cremation serves as an alternative option for the Christian upon leaving this life.  I certainly am not one to say what should become of the remains of a friend or loved one once they leave this life, but I believe this passage of Scripture sets the biblical precedent as to how the departed one should be honored and respected.  Your decision in this regard is just that but as for me, my desire is to be buried in a casket with a tombstone marking my grave.  It is my personal belief that this is the most God-honoring option available to the Christian.  I would also want someone to engrave my tombstone with the words, “He stood for the Truth.”  This is a direct reference to the Truth of God’s Word, the Bible.  It would be quite difficult for future generations to be able to reference me or that aspect of me if my remains were in an urn or a canister of some sort sitting on a loved one’s cabinetry somewhere.  

In any event, the focal Scripture reference as it pertained to me at that point would also be appropriate to include on my tombstone, and that is 2 Corinthians 5:8: “…to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  Will you be able to say that about your body upon departure from this life?  The only way that can happen is to be in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  1 Timothy 2:5

He is the way - the only way - to God!  Do you know Him today?  You will know death one day, just like Sarah and eventually Abraham.  What will become of you at that moment?  To be justified (declared righteous) before God is all that matters, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, [and] after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today and make Him the Lord of your life.  You’ll never regret it.  In fact the only regret you’ll ever really have after you do is that you didn’t make your decision sooner.  

Please click the link entitled ‘The Main Thing’ to find out more.  May the Lord bless you as you do! 



2Charles W. Smith, The Word for Today Bible, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005),