Genesis 23:2
And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
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(2) Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron.—This was a very ancient city, built seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Numbers 13:22), probably by a tribe of Semites on their way to the Delta. It lies upon the very border of the Negeb of Judah, about twenty-two miles south of Jerusalem. Originally it was named Kirjath-arba, and though Arba is called “the father of Anak” (Joshua 15:13), yet the literal meaning City of Four (arba being the Hebrew numeral four), coupled with the fact that Hebron means alliance (Genesis 13:18), suggests that its building was the result of the union of four families; and afterwards, from the name of the city, Arba may have been often used as a proper name. At the conquest of Palestine there were descendants of Anak still dwelling there, and apparently they had restored the old title, but were expelled by Caleb (Joshua 15:14), who took it as his possession, and seems to have given its name to a grandchild, as a memorial of his victory (1Chronicles 2:42). It is still an important town, with a population of 17,000 Moslems and about 600 Jews.

Abraham came to mourn.—At this period Abraham was in quiet possession of several headquarters, and apparently was himself at Beer-sheba when Sarah died at Hebron, where probably he had left Isaac in charge of his mother and the cattle.

Genesis 23:2. Sarah died in Kirjath-arba, or city of Arba — So called, it seems, from Arba, a giant, who lived and ruled in those parts, Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13. Abraham came into Sarah’s tent to mourn for Sarah. He did not only perform the ceremonies of mourning according to the custom of those times, but did sincerely lament the great loss he had sustained, and gave proof of the constancy of his affection. Therefore these two words are used, he came both to mourn and to weep.

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.2. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, &c.—He came from his own tent to take his station at the door of Sarah's. The "mourning" describes his conformity to the customary usage of sitting on the ground for a time; while the "weeping" indicates the natural outburst of his sorrow. Kirjath-arba, or, the city of Arba; so called probably from a giant or great man called Arba, who lived and ruled in those parts. See Joshua 14:15 15:13. It is objected against this scripture, that this city was not called Hebron till Joshua’s time, Joshua 14:15; but this is a mistake, Joshua doth not say so, but only that the name of Hebron before, ( or in old time), as this very particle is rendered, Deu 2:20, and elsewhere. So the sense is, the most ancient name of it was Kirjath-arba. Nor doth Joshua there give any account or reason of this change of the name at that time, or upon that occasion, as the sacred writers used to do in such cases, but rather supposeth that Hebron was the name of it before he came thither; and how long before that time he doth not express.

Abraham came into Sarah’s tent, {see Genesis 18:6,9}

to weep for her, according to the laudable custom of all ages and nations, to manifest their sense of God’s hand upon them, and of their own loss. See Genesis 50:3 Deu 34:8, &c.

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba,.... Which was so called, either, as Jarchi says, from the four Anakims or giants that dwelt here, Joshua 15:13; or else, as the same writer observes, from the four couple buried here, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah; but then it must be so called by anticipation; rather, as Aben Ezra thinks, it had its name from Arba, a great man among the Anakims, and the father of Anak, Joshua 14:15; though some take it to be a Tetrapolls, a city consisting of four parts; but be it as it will, here Abraham and Sarah were at the time of her death; when they removed from Beersheba hither is not said:

the same is Hebron, in the land of Canaan; so it was afterwards called: here Abraham and Sarah had lived many years ago, see Genesis 13:18; and hither they returned, and here they ended their days and were buried:

and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her; Aben Ezra observes, that, when Sarah died, Abraham was in another place, and therefore is said to come to mourn for her; and the Targum of Jonathan is,"and Abraham came from the mount of worship (Moriah), and found that she was dead, and he sat down to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.''Others (u) report, that, upon hearing of the offering up of Isaac, she swooned away and died. But the meaning is, that he came from his own tent to Sarah's, see Genesis 24:67, where her corpse was, to indulge his passion of grief and sorrow for her; which, in a moderate way, was lawful, and what natural affection and conjugal relation obliged him to. The Hebrews (w) observe, that, in the word for "weep", one of the letters is lesser than usual, and which they think denotes, that his weeping for her was not excessive, but little; but both phrases put together seem to denote that his sorrow was very great; and the one perhaps may refer to his private, and the other to his public mourning for her, according to the custom of those times.

(u) Pirke Eliezer, c. 32. Jarchi in loc. (w) Baal Hatturim in loc.

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
2. Kiriath-arba (the same is Hebron)] Cf. Genesis 35:27 (P). Kiriath-arba means “the city of four,” probably four confederate tribes. It was the earlier name of Hebron, which itself may mean “Confederation.” The two names are mentioned in Jdg 1:10. In Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13, where the early name is also mentioned, Arba is regarded as a proper name. For Hebron as one of the dwelling-places of Abraham, see Genesis 13:18.

Abraham came to mourn for Sarah] As if, at the time of Sarah’s death, Abraham had been residing in some different place. He came to “mourn”; and this word refers to the Oriental solemnity of wailing for the departed.

Verse 2. - And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba - or city of Arba, Abraham having again removed thither after an absence of nearly forty years, during which interval Murphy thinks the reign of Arba the Anakite may have commenced, though Keil postpones it to a later period (cf. Joshua 14:15). The same is Hebron - the Original name of the city, which was supplanted by that of Kir-jath-arba, but restored at the conquest (Keil, Hengstenberg, Murphy; vide Genesis 13:18) in the land of Canaan - indicating that the writer was not then in Palestine ('Speaker's Commentary'); perhaps rather designed to emphasize the circumstance that Sarah's death occurred not in the Philistines' country, but in the promised land (Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy). And Abraham came - or went; ἤλθε (LXX.), venit (Vulgate); not as if he had been absent at her death (Calvin), either in Beersheba, where he retained a location (Clarke), or in Gerar, whither he had gone to sell the lands and other properties he held there (Luther), or in the pasture grounds adjoining Hebron (Keil, Murphy)'; but as addressing himself to the work of mourning for his deceased wife (Vatablus, Rosenmüller), or perhaps as going into Sarah's tent (Maimonides, Ainsworth, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary') - to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. "To arrange for the customary mourning ceremony" (Keil); the first verb, סָפַד (cf. σφαδάζω), referring to the beating of the breast as a sign of grief (cf. 1 Kings 14:13); and the second, בָּכָה, to flow by drops, intimating a quieter and more moderate sorrow. Beyond sitting on the ground and weeping in presence of (or upon the face of) the dead, no other rites are mentioned as having been observed by Abraham; though afterwards, as practiced among the Hebrews, Egyptians, and other nations of antiquity, mourning for the dead developed into an elaborate ritual, including such ceremonies as rending the garments, shaving the head, wearing sackcloth, covering the head with dust and ashes (vide 2 Samuel 3:31, 35; 2 Samuel 21:10; Job 1:20; Job 2:12; Job 16:15, 16). Cf. the mourning for Patroclus ('Il.,' 19:211-213). Genesis 23:2Sarah is the only woman whose age is mentioned in the Scriptures, because as the mother of the promised seed she became the mother of all believers (1 Peter 3:6). She died at the age of 127, thirty-seven years after the birth of Isaac, at Hebron, or rather in the grove of Mamre near that city (Genesis 13:18), whither Abraham had once more returned after a lengthened stay at Beersheba (Genesis 22:19). The name Kirjath Arba, i.e., the city of Arba, which Hebron bears here and also in Genesis 35:27, and other passages, and which it still bore at the time of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites (Joshua 14:15), was not the original name of the city, but was first given to it by Arba the Anakite and his family, who had not yet arrived there in the time of the patriarchs. It was probably given by them when they took possession of the city, and remained until the Israelites captured it and restored the original name. The place still exists, as a small town on the road from Jerusalem to Beersheba, in a valley surrounded by several mountains, and is called by the Arabs, with allusion to Abraham's stay there, el Khalil, i.e., the friend (of God), which is the title given to Abraham by the Mohammedans. The clause "in the land of Canaan" denotes, that not only did Sarah die in the land of promise, but Abraham as a foreigner acquired a burial-place by purchase there. "And Abraham came" (not from Beersheba, but from the field where he may have been with the flocks), "to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her," i.e., to arrange for the customary mourning ceremony.
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