Chapter 23 – Saying Goodbye

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Now Sarah lived 127 years; these were all the years of her life. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Genesis 23:1-2

This week, Abraham says goodbye to his beloved Sarah. What a life they had together! If we quickly read through Genesis 23, it can seem a little boring. No time is spent telling us about Abraham’s grief experience, favorite memories of his life with Sarah or even about her memorial service. I mean, did he sing her favorite hymn and have her favorite flowers?  It’s got to be a heart-wrenching moment, after all their years, adventures and struggles together to say good-bye. However, they spend the entire chapter on the business transaction between Abraham and Ephron to purchase a burial cave for Sarah.

Why leave everything else out and focus on the purchase of the burial cave? Why did her burial spot  need to be in this spot? Canaan was the promised land promised to Abraham by God, but that time was yet to come so he called himself a foreign resident. Foreign resident or not, the Hittites must have greatly admired Abraham because they called him lord and offered him their finest burial-place.

Then Abraham got up from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites: “I am a foreign resident among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead.” The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Listen to us, lord. You are God’s chosen one among us. Bury your dead in our finest burial place. None of us will withhold from you his burial place for burying your dead.” Genesis 23:3-6

As I began to ponder this business transaction and the importance of it for Abraham, it occurred to me. Abraham knew God had promised this land to his descendants and that God would one day return to call them home to Heaven. He wanted to be sure they were all together, in their promised land, on that day of God’s return. If you think about it, it’s really the first recorded family cemetery. Abraham was concerned with the important details. Not the flowers or songs sung, but the location of burial. One where they could all be buried together through the generations. Buried in the land God promised and Abraham trusted would be his through faith, and trusting they would one day rise together on the glorious day of God’s return to go home.

After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field at Machpelah near Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.  The field with its cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham as a burial place. Genesis 23:19-20

The Bible is so incredible. I know I’ve read and skimmed this chapter many times in my life without giving enough thought to the reason behind the “boring” details of this burial land purchase. How amazing and humbling to realize that the more we read the Bible, the more information, knowledge, wisdom, and truth our eyes are opened to.

I’m so incredibly thankful for the word of God!

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