I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burial plot with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A possession of a buryingplace.—While strangers might pasture their cattle upon the open downs, yet the consent of the natives seems to have been necessary before Abraham could occupy any spot permanently (Genesis 15:13; Genesis 20:15). He now wanted even more, and for the actual appropriation of any portion of the soil a public compact and purchase was required, which must be ratified not merely by the seller but by the consent of all the tribe, convened in full assembly at the gate of the city. Thus, in spite of his power and wealth, Abraham, as regards his legal position towards the inhabitants, was but a stranger and sojourner (Hebrews 11:9), and could secure a resting- place for his dead only by their consent.Genesis 23:4. I am a stranger and a sojourner with you — Therefore I am unprovided, and must become a suiter to you for a burying-place. This was one occasion which Abraham took to confess that he was a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth. The death of our relations should effectually put us in remembrance, that we are not at home in this world. That I may bury my dead out of my sight — Death will make those unpleasant to our sight, who, while they lived, were the “desire of our eyes.” The countenance that was fresh and lively becomes pale and ghastly, and fit to be removed into the land of darkness.
3. Abraham stood up, &c.—Eastern people are always provided with family burying-places; but Abraham's life of faith—his pilgrim state—had prevented him acquiring even so small a possession (Ac 7:5).
spake unto the sons of Heth—He bespoke their kind offices to aid him in obtaining possession of a cave that belonged to Ephron—a wealthy neighbor.Numbers 33:4 Deu 31:23 Job 5:26. For which cause Abraham desires a distinct burying-place separated from the pagan people.
With you, in Canaan. There he, and after him other patriarchs, earnestly desired to be buried, upon this account, that it might confirm their own and their children’s faith in God’s promise, and animate their children in due time to take possession of the land. See Genesis 25:9 47:29,30 50:13,25 Exo 13:19 Hebrews 11:22.
That I may bury my dead out of my sight; so she that before was the desire of his eyes, Ezekiel 24:16, is now, being dead, become their torment.
give me a possession of a buryingplace with you; not that he desired it as a free gift, but that he might be allowed to make a purchase of a piece of ground to bury his dead in; so the Targum of Jonathan,"sell me a possession,'' &c. Genesis 23:9; and this he was the rather desirous of, not only because it was according to the rules of humanity, and the general custom of all nations, to provide for the burial of their dead; but he was willing to have such a place in the land of Canaan for this purpose, to strengthen his faith and the faith of his posterity, and to animate their hope and expectation of being one day put into the possession of it; hence the patriarchs in later times, as Jacob and Joseph, were desirous of having their hones laid there:
that I may bury my dead out of my sight; for, though Sarah was a very lovely person in her life, and greatly desirable by Abraham, yet death had changed her countenance and was turning her into corruption, which rendered her unpleasant, and began to make her loathsome; so that there was a necessity of removing her out of his sight, who before had been so very agreeable to him; and this is the case of the dearest relation and friend at death.I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. a stranger and a sojourner] Abraham describes himself, in a proverbial phrase, as one whose origin is foreign, and whose period of residence is uncertain. LXX πάροικος καὶ παρεπίδημος, Lat. advena et peregrinus; cf. Leviticus 25:23; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalm 105:12; Hebrews 11:9. The same phrase is employed by St Peter in 1 Peter 2:11 to describe the shortness and uncertainty of life on earth, and to indicate that the true citizenship is in heaven. The “stranger,” in the Heb., belongs to the phraseology of nomad life; “the sojourner,” of settled life.Verse 4. - I am a stranger and a sojourner with you. Ger, one living out of his own country, and Thoshabh, one dwelling in a land in which he is not naturalized; advena et peregrinus (Vulgate); πάροικος καὶ παρ ἐπίδημος (LXX.). This confession of the heir of Canaan was a proof that he sought, as his real inheritance, a better country, even an heavenly (Hebrews 11:13). Give me a possession of a burying-place with you. The first mention of a grave in Scripture, the word in Hebrew signifying a hole in the earth, or a mound, according as the root is taken to mean to dig (Furst) or to heap up (Gesenius). Abraham's desire for a grave m which to deposit Sarah's lifeless remains was dictated by that Divinely planted and, among civilized nations, universally prevailing reverence for the body which prompts men to decently dispose of their dead by rites of honorable sepulture. The burning of corpses was a practice common to the nations of antiquity; but Tacitus notes it as characteristic of the Jews that they preferred interment to cremation ('Hist.,' 5:5). The wish to make Sarah's burying-place his own possession has been traced to the instinctive desire that most nations have evinced to lie in ground belonging to themselves (Rosenmüller), to an intention on the part of the patriarch to give a sign of his right and title to the land of Canaan by purchasing a grave in its soil - cf. Isaiah 22:16 (Bush), or simply to anxiety that his dead might not lie unburied (Calvin); but it was more probably due to his strong faith that the land would yet belong to his descendants, which naturally led him to crave a resting-place in the soil with which the hopes of both himself and people were identified (Ainsworth, Bush, Kalisch). That I may bury my dead out of my sight - decay not suffering the lifeless corpse to remain a fit spectacle for grief or love to gaze on. Genesis 22:20, as compared with Genesis 11:29, in the expression, "she also." Nahor, like Ishmael and Jacob, had twelve sons, eight by his wife Milcah and four by his concubine; whereas Jacob had his by two wives and two maids, and Ishmael apparently all by one wife. This difference with regard to the mothers proves that the agreement as to the number twelve rests upon a good historical tradition, and is no product of a later myth, which traced to Nahor the same number of tribes as to Ishmael and Jacob. For it is a perfectly groundless assertion or assumption, that Nahor's twelve sons were the fathers of as many tribes. There are only a few names, of which it is probable that their bearers were the founders of tribes of the same name. On Uz, see Genesis 10:23. Buz is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:23 along with Dedan and Tema as an Arabian tribe; and Elihu was a Buzite of the family of Ram (Job 32:2). Kemuel, the father of Aram, was not the founder of the Aramaeans, but the forefather of the family of Ram, to which the Buzite Elihu belonged, - Aram being written for Ram, like Arammim in 2 Kings 8:29 for Rammim in 2 Chronicles 22:5. Chesed again was not the father of the Chasdim (Chaldeans), for they were older than Chesed; at the most he was only the founder of one branch of the Chasdim, possibly those who stole Job's camels (Knobel; vid., Job 1:17). Of the remaining names, Bethuel was not the founder of a tribe, but the father of Laban and Rebekah (Genesis 25:20). The others are never met with again, with the exception of Maachach, from whom probably the Maachites (Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5) in the land of Maacah, a small Arabian kingdom in the time of David (2 Samuel 10:6, 2 Samuel 10:8; 1 Chronicles 19:6), derived their origin and name; though Maachah frequently occurs as the name of a person (1 Kings 2:39; 1 Chronicles 11:43; 1 Chronicles 27:16).
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