Genesis 23:11
Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
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(11) The field give I thee.—Only the cave had! been mentioned, but for its quiet possession the land around was necessary. In the thrice repeated “give I it thee,” there is the same courtly idea as in Genesis 23:6, that they were not buying and selling, but making mutual presents.

Genesis 23:11. The field I give thee — Thus Ephron manifests his generosity. So far was he from needing to be entreated to sell it, that, upon the first mention, he freely gives it. In the presence of my people — Grants, or contracts, were then made before all the people, or their representatives. And the gates of cities were in those days, and for many centuries after, the places of judicature and common resort, for transacting business. We may observe that Abraham finds favour in the sight of every people wherever he goes. And we need not wonder at this, considering of what a noble, candid, upright, and generous character he was. Undoubtedly, however, the peculiar favour he found among all people was chiefly owing to the providence of God: for the Scriptures always teach us to ascribe our finding favour with men to the divine blessing.

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.The transaction now comes to be between Abraham and Ephron. "Was sitting." The sons of Heth were seated in council, and Ephron among them. Abraham seems to have been seated also; for he stood up to make his obeisance and request Genesis 23:7. "Before all that went in at the gate of his city." The conference was public. The place of session for judicial and other public business was the gate of the city, which was common ground, and where men were constantly going in and out. "His city." This implies not that he was the king or chief, but simply that he was a respectable citizen. If Hebron was the city of the Hittites here intended, its chief at the time seems to have been Arba. "The field give I thee." Literally, have I given thee - what was resolved upon was regarded as done. "In the sight of the sons of my people." This was a public declaration or deed before many witnesses.

He offers the field as a gift, with the Eastern understanding that the receiver would make an ample recompense. This mode of dealing had its origin in a genuine good-will, that was prepared to gratify the wish of another as soon as it was made known, and as far as it was reasonable or practicable. The feeling seems to have been still somewhat fresh and unaffected in the time of Abraham, though it has degenerated into a mere form of courtesy. "If thou wilt, hear me." The language is abrupt, being spoken in the haste of excitement. "I give silver." "I have given" in the original; that is, I have determined to pay the full price. If the Eastern giver was liberal, the receiver was penetrated with an equal sense of the obligation conferred, and a like determination to make an equivalent return. "The land is four hundred shekels." This is the familiar style for "the land is worth so much." The shekel is here mentioned for the first time. It was originally a weight, not a coin. The weight at least was in common use before Abraham. If the shekel be nine pennyweights and three grains, the price of the field was about forty-five pounds sterling. "And Abraham weighed." It appears that the money was uncoined silver, as it was weighed. "Current with the merchant." The Kenaanites, of whom the Hittites were a tribe, were among the earliest traders in the world. The merchant, as the original imports, is the traveller who brings the wares to the purchasers in their own dwellings or towns. To him a fixed weight and measure were necessary.

11-15. Ephron answered, Nay, my lord, &c.—Here is a great show of generosity, but it was only a show; for while Abraham wanted only the cave, he joins "the field and the cave"; and though he offered them both as free gifts, he, of course, expected some costly presents in return, without which, he would not have been satisfied. The patriarch, knowing this, wished to make a purchase and asked the terms. No text from Poole on this verse.

Nay, my lord, hear me,.... Or not so, my lord, as Aben Ezra paraphrases it; not that he denied his request entirely, or refused him the cave at any rate, but that he should not buy it of him, he would give it to him, and therefore he desires he would hear what he had to say further:

the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein I give it thee; which was more than Abraham asked to purchase; he only desired to have the cave, which lay in one corner of the field, but Ephron proposes both to give him the cave, and the field also:

in the presence of the sons of my people give I it hee; both field and cave; three times he says, "I give it thee", to show that he freely gave it, and that Abraham was welcome to it, and for the confirmation of the grant:

bury thy dead; in the cave, at once, immediately, without any more ado.

Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.
11. the field give I thee, &c.] As in Genesis 23:6, we have here the complimentary style of bargaining. Observe the successive stages: Abraham in Genesis 23:9 asks to buy the cave only; Ephron in Genesis 23:11 offers to give the whole field and the cave in it for nothing; Abraham in Genesis 23:13 offers to pay for the field; Ephron in Genesis 23:15 mentions the price for the land; Abraham in Genesis 23:16 duly pays for the field and the cave (Genesis 23:17).

Verse 11. - Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee - an Oriental mode of expressing willingness to sell. Ephron would make a present of cave and field to the patriarch, - "and just so have I had a hundred houses, and fields, and horses given to me" ('Land and Book,' p. 578), - the design being either to obtain a valuable compensation in return, or to preclude any abatement in the price (Keil), though possibly the offer to sell the entire field when he might have secured a good price for the cave alone was an indication of Ephron's good intention (Lange). At least it seems questionable to conclude that Ephron's generous phrases, which have now become formal and hollow courtesies indeed, meant no more in that simpler age when the ceremonies of intercourse were newer, and more truly reflected its spirit (Dykes, 'Abraham, the Friend of God,' p. 287). In the presence of the ions of my people give I it thee (literally, have I given, the transaction being viewed as finished): bury thy dead. Genesis 23:11He then went to the Hittites, the lords and possessors of the city and its vicinity at that time, to procure from them "a possession of a burying-place." The negotiations were carried on in the most formal style, in a public assembly "of the people of the land," i.e., of natives (Genesis 23:7), in the gate of the city (Genesis 23:10). As a foreigner and sojourner, Abraham presented his request in the most courteous manner to all the citizens ("all that went in at the gate," Genesis 23:10, Genesis 23:18; a phrase interchangeable with "all that went out at the gate," Genesis 34:24, and those who "go out and in," Jeremiah 17:19). The citizens with the greatest readiness and respect offered "the prince of God," i.e., the man exalted by God to the rank of a prince, "the choice" (מבחר, i.e., the most select) of their graves for his use (Genesis 23:6). But Abraham asked them to request Ephron, who, to judge from the expression "his city" in Genesis 23:10, was then ruler of the city, to give him for a possession the cave of Machpelah, at the end of his field, of which he was the owner, "for full silver," i.e., for its full worth. Ephron thereupon offered to make him a present of both field and cave. This was a turn in the affair which is still customary in the East; the design, so far as it is seriously meant at all, being either to obtain a present in return which will abundantly compensate for the value of the gift, or, what is still more frequently the case, to preclude any abatement in the price to be asked. The same design is evident in the peculiar form in which Ephron stated the price, in reply to Abraham's repeated declaration that he was determined to buy the piece of land: "a piece of land of 400 shekels of silver, what is that between me and thee" (Genesis 23:15)? Abraham understood it so (ישׁמע Genesis 23:16), and weighed him the price demanded. The shekel of silver "current with the merchant," i.e., the shekel which passed in trade as of standard weight, was 274 Parisian grains, so that the price of the piece of land was 52, 10s.; a very considerable amount for that time.
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