Genesis 23:7
And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
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Genesis 23:7. Abraham bowed himself — Thus returning them thanks for their kind offer, with all proper decency and respect. Religion not only allows, but requires civility and good manners, and those gestures which express it, and every professor of it should carefully avoid rudeness and clownishness. “Love doth not behave itself unseemly.”

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 now makes a specific offer to purchase the field of Makpelah from Ephron the son of Zohar. "Treat for me" - deal, use your influence with him. Abraham approaches in the most cautious manner to the individual with whom he wishes to treat. "The cave of Makpelah." The burial of the dead in caves, natural and artificial, was customary in this Eastern land. The field seems to have been called Makpelah (doubled) from the double form of the cave, or the two caves perhaps communicating with each other, which it contained. "For the full silver." Silver seems to have been the current medium of commerce at this time. God was known, and mentioned at an earlier period Genesis 2:11; Genesis 13:2. "A possession of a burying-ground." We learn from this passage that property in land had been established at this time. Much of the country, however, must have been a common, or unappropriated pasture ground.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.

i.e. Showed a civil respect to them in testimony of his thankfulness. Religion allows and requires civility, and those gestures which express it.

To the people of the land; to the governors of the people, who managed all public affairs in the people’s name and stead, and for their good.

The children of Heth, so called from Heth the son of Canaan, Genesis 10:15.

And Abraham stood up,.... For, having made his speech to the children of Heth, he sat down waiting for an answer; or rather perhaps they obliged him to sit down, out of reverence to so great a personage; and when they had done speaking, he rose up:

and bowed himself to the people of the land; the principal of them, in token of the grateful sense he had of the honour they had done him, and of the great civility with which they had used him:

even to the children of Heth; this seems to be added to distinguish them from the common people, and as an explanation of the preceding clause; See Gill on Genesis 23:3.

And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
7. bowed himself] Abraham’s humble demeanour towards the people of the land doubtless conforms to the elaborate usages of Oriental bargaining. But it is also probably here emphatically recorded as indicating Abraham’s loneliness among the people of the land, and, therefore, in ironical contrast with the time when his descendants would conquer the Canaanites and possess their country.

the people of the land] Cf. Genesis 42:6 (P). This is the phrase, ’am ha-âreṣ, so common in post-exilic literature for “the heathen”: compare “peoples of the land,” Ezra 10:2; Ezra 10:11; Nehemiah 10:28; Nehemiah 10:30.

Verse 7. - And Abraham stood up (the customary posture among Orientals in buying and selling being that of sitting), and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Hath - an act of respect quite accordant with modern Oriental manners (vide Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 579). Genesis 23:7He 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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