And he spoke to Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if you will give it, I pray you, hear me: I will give you money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me.—Heb., But if thou wilt, I pray thee, hear me. It expresses simply a strong desire that Ephron will listen to and grant his next request.Genesis 23:13. I will give thee money — Abraham was rich in silver and gold, and therefore thought it unjust to take advantage of Ephron’s generosity. Perhaps, also, there may be weight in Le Clerc’s observation: “The orientals,” says he, “seem to have had the same notions about burying- places, which prevailed among the Greeks and Romans, namely, that it was ignominious to be buried in another person’s ground: and therefore every family, the poorer sort excepted, had a sepulchre of their own, in which they would not suffer others to be interred.”
Genesis 23:15-16. Four hundred shekels of silver — A shekel is computed to be of about the value of two shillings and four pence farthing; so that the sum mentioned here amounted to about forty-six pounds of our money. What a noble and amiable pattern of a generous behaviour between friends, free from selfishness, have we in Abraham and Ephron! The one earnestly presses to give, while the other as generously declines to receive. Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver — For in those times money (or, more properly, silver or gold, for it was not coined) was paid by weight, (Genesis 43:21; Jeremiah 32:10,) and continued to be so till the Babylonish captivity.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.But if thou wilt give it; it is a short speech, and something must be supplied; either if thou wilt give or resign it to me; or, if thou be the man of whom I speak; for though Abraham knew his name, he might not know him by face, nor that he was then present. He prudently chose rather to buy it than to receive it as a gift, partly because it would be the surer to him and his, Genesis 23:17,20, and partly because he would not have too great obligations to his pagan neighbours.
saying, but if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me; the words are very concise, and in the original text are only "if thou", and differently supplied; by some, "if thou art he" (c), Ephron, whom it is supposed Abraham knew not by face, or that he was present; which is not likely, since Abraham had lived in those parts now so as to be well known himself, and must know his neighbours; and had lived formerly here, and could not but know so great a prince as Ephron, whose city he dwelt in. The Targum of Jonathan is,"if thou art willing to do me a kindness, hear me;''it will be taken as a favour to admit me to speak once more, and to grant what shall be desired. Others read the words thus,"if thou wilt hear me, or I pray thee hear me, or if thou, if (I say) thou wilt hear me (d):''then follows his proposal:
I will give thee the money for the field; Abraham did not choose to receive it as a free gift, but to make a purchase of it, that it might be sure to him and his posterity; for though Ephron was now in this generous mood, he might change his mind, or hereafter upbraid Abraham with it, should he fall out with him, or his posterity might claim it again, and dispute his right to it:
take it of me: the purchase money, the full worth of the field:
and I will bury my dead there, or "then will I bury", &c. (e); and not before.
(c) "si tu is es", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth. (d) "Auscultares", so Tigurine version; "si tu", Schmidt. (e) "et tum sepeliam", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "tunc", Schmidt.And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. But if thou wilt] Abraham answers in short, broken sentences, acknowledging the generous offer, but insisting on the payment of the price. Here, however, he makes an offer for “the field,” not merely for “the cave in the end of the field”; cf. Genesis 23:9. He politely declines to notice the suggestion of a gift, but offers to buy.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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