Genesis 23:5
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 23:5. The children of Heth answered — From Abraham’s treating with the people of Heth, and from many other transactions related in the Scriptures, it seems as if kings and magistrates in those days did nothing of a public nature, but in conjunction with the people; and that the people had a great share in the management of all affairs.

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.Abraham purchases a burying-ground in the land. "The sons of Heth." These are the lords of the soil. "A stranger and a sojourner." He is a stranger, not a Hittite; a sojourner, a dweller in the land, not a mere visitor or traveller. The former explains why he has no burial-ground; the latter, why he asks to purchase one. "Bury my dead out of my sight." The bodies of those most dear to us decay, and must be removed from our sight. Abraham makes his request in the most general terms. In the somewhat exaggerated style of Eastern courtesy, the sons of Heth reply, "Hear us, my lord." One speaks for all; hence, the change of number. "My lord" is simply equivalent to our "Sir," or the German "mein Herr." "A prince of God" in those times of simple faith was a chief notably favored of God, as Abraham had been in his call, his deliverance in Egypt, his victory over the kings, his intercession for the cities of the vale, and his protection the court of Abimelek. Some of these events were well known to the Hittites, as they had occurred while he was residing among them.Ge 23:3-20. Purchase of a Burying-Place.

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.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the children of Heth answered Abraham,.... In a very civil and respectful manner:

saying unto him, as follows:

And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 5, 6. - And the children of Heth answered. Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord. My lord (Adoni) = sir, monsieur, or mein herr. One acts as the spokesman of all; the number changing from plural to singular. The LXX., reading לֹא instead of לו, after the Samaritan Codex, render μὴ κύριε, Not so, my lord; but hear us. Thou art a mighty prince among us. Literally, a prince of Elohim; not of Jehovah, since the speakers were heathen whose ideas of Deity did not transcend those expressed in the term Elohim. According to a familiar Hebrew idiom, the phrase might be legitimately translated as in the A.V. - cf. "mountains of God," i.e. great mountains, Psalm 36:6; "cedars of God," i.e. goodly cedars, Psalm 80:10 (Calvin, Kimchi, Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'); but, as employed by the Hittite chieftains, it probably expressed that they regarded him as a prince or phylarch, not to whom God had given an elevated aspect (Lange), but either whom God had appointed (Gesenius), or whom God manifestly favored (Kalisch, Murphy). This estimate of Abraham strikingly contrasts with that which the patriarch had formed (Ver. 4) of himself. In the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us will withhold from thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. This remarkable offer on the part of the Hittites Thomson ('Land and Book,' p. 578) regards as having been merely compliment, which Abraham was too experienced an Oriental not to understand. But, even if dictated by true kindness and generosity, the proposal was one to which for many reasons - faith in God, love for the dead, and respect for himself being among the strongest - the patriarch could not accede. With perfect courtesy, therefore, though likewise with respectful firmness, he declines their offer. Genesis 23:5He 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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