That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burial plot among you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The cave of Machpelah.—That is, the double cave, consisting probably of an outer and an inner compartment. As the land around is also called “the field of Machpelah” (Genesis 49:30; Genesis 1:13), some imagine that it was the valley that was double; but more probably’it took its name from the cavern. For a description of the Haram, within which the bones of Abraham and Sarah probably still lie, see Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, p. 397; Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 101; and also the Appendix to his Sermons in the East.
For as much money as it is worth.—Heb., for full silver, rendered “the full price” in 1Chronicles 21:22.
A buryingplace amongst you.—This translation is quite wrong. Abraham had no wish that Sarah should be buried amongst the Hittites, but required that the sale should be duly attested. The Heb. is. Let him give it me in the midst of you (that is, in a general assembly of the people), for a possession and a buryingplace.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.Machpelah, which seems to be the proper name of the place, Genesis 23:17,19, so called from its duplicity, because the cave was double, either one for men, and another for women; or the one served only for an entrance into the other, which was the burying-place.
For as much money as it is worth; Heb. for full money, 1 Chronicles 21:22,24; i.e. for money of full weight, answerable to its worth.
which is in the end of his field,.... The Targum of Jonathan renders it, "the double cave", and so do the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; and, according to Aben Ezra and Ben Melech, it was so called because there was a cave within a cave in it; and, as Jarchi thinks, because it was a house and chamber over it (y) or, as he adds, because it was fit for couples, for two corpses to be laid in it; and the Jews say (z), here Adam and Eve were buried, which made Abraham so desirous of having it for a buryingplace: but it seems rather to be the proper name of a place, and indeed of a tract of land, in which the field and the cave in the corner of it lay, and which all belonged to Ephron; for both the field and the cave in it are distinguished from Machpelah, in which they were, and that from them, Genesis 23:17; and it is highly probable, that this cave was never made use of before for such a purpose as it was now sought for, since Abraham did not think fit to accept of the offer made him of any of their sepulchres; and chose rather that his dead should not lie with them, but in a separate place, though among them, they being Heathens and idolaters, and unacquainted with the resurrection of the dead, and would have no part in the first resurrection, which Abraham believed and hoped for:
for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me, for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you; or, "for full money" (a), that which is full weight, for money was paid by weight in those times, as appears from Genesis 23:16; or for the full price and value of it: for, as Abraham did not desire to have it as a free gift, so neither at an under price; he was very willing to give the full worth of it; he did not ask it with any covetous view, or to encroach upon them.That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. the cave of Machpelah] Machpelah is not the name of the cave, but of the locality; cf. 17, Genesis 49:30, Genesis 50:12. The old explanation that the cave was so called, because it was “a double cave,” has therefore been questioned; but the LXX and the Lat. both render Machpelah as if it were the equivalent of “double,” LXX τὸ σπήλαιον τὸ διπλοῦν, Vulg. speluncam duplicem. The name in the Hebrew always has the article, as an appellative or descriptive noun. The tradition of the cave being a double one is continuously maintained. Its correctness is indisputable.
in the end of his field] Abraham here only asks for the cave at one end of the field of Machpelah.
for the full price] Lit. “for full silver”; cf. 1 Chronicles 21:22. The payment was to be full value and in good money. See note on Genesis 23:16. The expression is one which was also current in the Assyrian language.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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