|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-13 The longest life must shortly come to a close. Blessed be God that there is a world where sin, death, vanity, and vexation cannot enter. Blessed be his name, that even death cannot part believers from union with Christ. Those whom we most love, yea, even our own bodies, which we so care for, must soon become loathsome lumps of clays, and be buried out of sight. How loose then should we be to all earthly attachments and adornments! Let us seek rather that our souls be adorned with heavenly graces. Abraham rendered honour and respect to the princes of Heth, although of the ungodly Canaanites. The religion of the Bible enjoins to pay due respect to all in authority, without flattering their persons, or countenancing their crimes if they are unworthy characters. And the noble generosity of these Canaanites shames and condemns the closeness, selfishness, and ill-humour of many that call themselves Israelites. It was not in pride that Abraham refused the gift, because he scorned to be beholden to Ephron; but in justice and in prudence. Abraham was able to pay for the field, and therefore would not take advantage of Ephron's generosity. Honesty, as well as honour, forbids us to take advantage of our neighbour's liberality, and to impose, upon those who give freely.
Verses 5, 6. - And the children of Heth answered. Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord. My lord (Adoni) = sir, monsieur, or mein herr. One acts as the spokesman of all; the number changing from plural to singular. The LXX., reading לֹא instead of לו, after the Samaritan Codex, render μὴ κύριε, Not so, my lord; but hear us. Thou art a mighty prince among us. Literally, a prince of Elohim; not of Jehovah, since the speakers were heathen whose ideas of Deity did not transcend those expressed in the term Elohim. According to a familiar Hebrew idiom, the phrase might be legitimately translated as in the A.V. - cf. "mountains of God," i.e. great mountains, Psalm 36:6; "cedars of God," i.e. goodly cedars, Psalm 80:10 (Calvin, Kimchi, Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'); but, as employed by the Hittite chieftains, it probably expressed that they regarded him as a prince or phylarch, not to whom God had given an elevated aspect (Lange), but either whom God had appointed (Gesenius), or whom God manifestly favored (Kalisch, Murphy). This estimate of Abraham strikingly contrasts with that which the patriarch had formed (Ver. 4) of himself. In the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us will withhold from thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. This remarkable offer on the part of the Hittites Thomson ('Land and Book,' p. 578) regards as having been merely compliment, which Abraham was too experienced an Oriental not to understand. But, even if dictated by true kindness and generosity, the proposal was one to which for many reasons - faith in God, love for the dead, and respect for himself being among the strongest - the patriarch could not accede. With perfect courtesy, therefore, though likewise with respectful firmness, he declines their offer.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the children of Heth answered Abraham,.... In a very civil and respectful manner:
saying unto him, as follows:
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