Genesis 23:1
And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXIII.

DEATH AND BURIAL OF SARAH.

(1) Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old.—Sarah is the only woman whose age at her death is mentioned in the Bible, an honour doubtless given her as the ancestress of the Hebrew race (Isaiah 51:2). As she was ninety at Isaac’s birth, he would now be thirty-seven years of age.

Genesis 23:1. The years of the life of Sarah — Of all the women that had lived, it is the peculiar honour of Sarah, the mother of the faithful, 1 Peter 3:6, to have the number of the years of her whole life recorded in Scripture.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.Sarah is the only woman whose age is recorded in Scripture. She meets with this distinction as the wife of Abraham and the mother of the promised seed. "A hundred and twenty and seven years," and therefore thirty-seven years after the birth of her son. "In Kiriatharba." Arba is called the father of Anak Joshua 15:13; Joshua 21:11; that is, of the Anakim or Bene Anak, a tall or gigantic tribe Numbers 13:22; 28; 33, who were subsequently dispossessed by Kaleb. The Anakim were probably Hittites. Abraham had been absent from Hebron, which is also called Mamre in this very chapter Genesis 23:17, Genesis 23:19, not far from forty years, though he appears to have still kept up a connection with it, and had at present a residence in it. During this interval the sway of Arba may have commenced. "In the land of Kenaan," in contradistinction to Beer-sheba in the land of the Philistines, where we last left Abraham. "Abraham went to mourn for Sarah," either from Beer-sheba or some out-field where he had cattle pasturing.CHAPTER 23

Ge 23:1, 2. Age and Death of Sarah.

1. Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old, &c.—Sarah is the only woman in Scripture whose age, death, and burial are mentioned, probably to do honor to the venerable mother of the Hebrew people.Sarah’s age and death; Abraham mourns, Genesis 23:1,2. He speaks to the sons of Heth for a burying-place, Genesis 23:3,4. They offer him the choice of their sepulchres, Genesis 23:5,6. Abraham desires to purchase a field of Ephron, Genesis 23:8,9. Ephron would give it him, Genesis 23:10-15. Abraham purchases it, and weighs the silver, Genesis 23:16. The field made sure to Abraham for a possession before witnesses, Genesis 23:17-20.

1860

This is the peculiar honour of Sarah the mother of the faithful, 1 Peter 3:6, to have the years of her life numbered in Scripture.

And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old,.... This following immediately upon the account of the offering up of Isaac, led many of the Jewish writers to conclude, that Isaac was when thirty seven years of age, as he must be when Sarah his mother was one hundred and twenty seven, for he was born when she was ninety years of age; but this seems not to be observed on that account, but to give the sum of her age at her death, since it follows:

these were the years of the life of Sarah; who, as it is remarked by many interpreters, is the only woman the years of whose life are reckoned up in Scripture.

And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. the life of Sarah] Sarah died at the age of 127, 37 years after the birth of Isaac. Cf. Genesis 17:1; Genesis 17:17, Genesis 21:5 (P).Verse 1. - And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old (literally, and the lives of Sarah were an hundred and twenty and seven years); so that Isaac must have been thirty-seven, having been born in his mother's ninetieth year. Sarah, as the wife of Abraham and the mother of believers (Isaiah 51:2; 1 Peter 3:6), is the only woman whose age is mentioned in Scripture. These were the years of the life of Sarah - an emphatic repetition designed to impress the Israelitish mind with the importance of remembering the age of their ancestress. After Abraham had offered the ram, the angel of the Lord called to him a second time from heaven, and with a solemn oath renewed the former promises, as a reward for this proof of his obedience of faith (cf. Genesis 12:2-3). To confirm their unchangeableness, Jehovah swore by Himself (cf. Hebrews 6:13.), a thing which never occurs again in His intercourse with the patriarchs; so that subsequently not only do we find repeated references to this oath (Genesis 24:7; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 50:24; Exodus 13:5, Exodus 13:11; Exodus 33:1, etc.), but, as Luther observes, all that is said in Psalm 89:36; Psalm 132:11; Psalm 110:4 respecting the oath given to David, is founded upon this. Sicut enim promissio seminis Abrahae derivata est in semen Davidis, ita Scriptura S. jusjurandum Abrahae datum in personam Davidis transfert. For in the promise upon which these psalms are based nothing is said about an oath (cf. 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17:1). The declaration on oath is still further confirmed by the addition of יהוה נאם "edict (Ausspruch) of Jehovah," which, frequently as it occurs in the prophets, is met with in the Pentateuch only in Numbers 14:28, and (without Jehovah) in the oracles of Balaam, Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15-16. As the promise was intensified in form, so was it also in substance. To express the innumerable multiplication of the seed in the strongest possible way, a comparison with the sand of the sea-shore is added to the previous simile of the stars. And this seed is also promised the possession of the gate of its enemies, i.e., the conquest of the enemy and the capture of his cities (cf. Genesis 24:60).

This glorious result of the test so victoriously stood by Abraham, not only sustains the historical character of the event itself, but shows in the clearest manner that the trial was necessary to the patriarch's life of faith, and of fundamental importance to his position in relation to the history of salvation. The question, whether the true God could demand a human sacrifice, was settled by the fact that God Himself prevented the completion of the sacrifice; and the difficulty, that at any rate God contradicted Himself, if He first of all demanded a sacrifice and then prevented it from being offered, is met by the significant interchange of the names of God, since God, who commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac, is called Ha-Elohim, whilst the actual completion of the sacrifice is prevented by "the angel of Jehovah," who is identical with Jehovah Himself. The sacrifice of the heir, who had been both promised and bestowed, was demanded neither by Jehovah, the God of salvation or covenant God, who had given Abraham this only son as the heir of the promise, nor by Elohim, God as creator, who has the power to give life and take it away, but by He-Elohim, the true God, whom Abraham had acknowledged and adored as his personal God, and with whom he had entered into a personal relation. Coming from the true God whom Abraham served, the demand could have no other object than to purify and sanctify the feelings of the patriarch's heart towards his son and towards his God, in accordance with the great purpose of his call. It was designed to purify his love to the son of his body from all the dross of carnal self-love and natural selfishness which might still adhere to it, and so to transform it into love to God, from whom he had received him, that he should no longer love the beloved son as his flesh and blood, but simply and solely as a gift of grace, as belonging to his God-a trust committed to him, which he should be ready at any moment to give back to God. As he had left his country, kindred, and father's house at the call of God (Genesis 12:1), so was he in his walk with God cheerfully to offer up even his only son, the object of all his longing, the hope of his life, the joy of his old age. And still more than this, not only did he possess and love in Isaac the heir of his possessions (Genesis 15:2), but it was upon him that all the promises of God rested: in Isaac should his seed be called (Genesis 21:12). By the demand that he should sacrifice to God this only son of his wife Sarah, in whom his seed was to grow into a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:4, Genesis 17:6, Genesis 17:16), the divine promise itself seemed to be cancelled, and the fulfilment not only of the desires of his heart, but also of the repeated promises of his God, to be frustrated. And by this demand his faith was to be perfected into unconditional trust in God, into the firm assurance that God could even raise him up from the dead. - But this trial was not only one of significance to Abraham, by perfecting him, through the conquest of flesh and blood, to be the father of the faithful, the progenitor of the Church of God; Isaac also was to be prepared and sanctified by it for his vocation in connection with the history of salvation. In permitting himself to be bound and laid upon the altar without resistance, he gave up his natural life to death, to rise to a new life through the grace of God. On the altar he was sanctified to God, dedicated as the first beginning of the holy Church of God, and thus "the dedication of the first-born, which was afterwards enjoined in the law, was perfectly fulfilled in him." If therefore the divine command exhibits in the most impressive way the earnestness of the demand of God upon His people to sacrifice all to Him, not excepting the dearest of their possessions (cf. Matthew 10:37, and Luke 14:26); the issue of the trial teaches that the true God does not demand a literal human sacrifice from His worshippers, but the spiritual sacrifice of an unconditional denial of the natural life, even to submission to death itself. By the sacrifice of a ram as a burnt-offering in the place of his son, under divine direction, not only was animal sacrifice substituted for human, and sanctioned as an acceptable symbol of spiritual self-sacrifice, but the offering of human sacrifices by the heathen was condemned and rejected as an ungodly ἐθελοθρησεία. And this was done by Jehovah, the God of salvation, who prevented the outward completion of the sacrifice. By this the event acquires prophetic importance for the Church of the Lord, to which the place of sacrifice points with peculiar clearness, viz., Mount Moriah, upon which under the legal economy all the typical sacrifices were offered to Jehovah; upon which also, in the fulness of time, God the Father gave up His only-begotten Son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, that by this one true sacrifice the shadows of the typical sacrifices might be rendered both real and true. If therefore the appointment of Moriah as the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac, and the offering of a ram in his stead, were primarily only typical in relation to the significance and intent of the Old Testament institution of sacrifice; this type already pointed to the antitype to appear in the future, when the eternal love of the heavenly Father would perform what it had demanded of Abraham; that is to say, when God would not spare His only Son, but give Him up to the real death, which Isaac suffered only in spirit, that we also might die with Christ spiritually, and rise with Him to everlasting life (Romans 8:32; Romans 6:5, etc.).

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