In “a burial ground and resting place” Jefferson Vann shows that the patriarchs did not see death as their salvation, but as a temporary unconscious state. They looked forward to a future resurrection.
Genesis 23:1-20 (JDV)
Genesis 23:1 Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.
Genesis 23:2 And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (also known as Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah, to cry over her loss.
Genesis 23:3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead and spoke to the Hittites, and this is what he said,
Genesis 23:4 “I am a foreign guest among you; give me some property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
Genesis 23:5 The Hittites answered Abraham, and this is what he said,
Genesis 23:6 “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince from God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will hold back from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.”
Genesis 23:7 Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of that land.
Genesis 23:8 And he said to them, “If your souls are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar,
Genesis 23:9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”
Genesis 23:10 Now Ephron was sitting among those Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the other Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city,
Genesis 23:11 “No, my lord, hear me: I will give you the field, and I will give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.”
Genesis 23:12 Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.
Genesis 23:13 And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I will give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.”
Genesis 23:14 Ephron answered Abraham, and this is what he said,
Genesis 23:15 “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”
Genesis 23:16 Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the other Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.
Genesis 23:17 So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was sold
Genesis 23:18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city as witnesses.
Genesis 23:19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (also known as, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.
Genesis 23:20 The field and the cave that is in it were sold to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.
a burial ground and resting place
Princess Sarah falls asleep in the LORD, and Abraham, whom the Hittites call a “prince of God” negotiates with them a burying place. He wanted the field of Ephron, son of Zohar. He purchased the field and the cave of Machpelah on it. It would be the only property in Canaan that Abraham would own. It would serve as a guarantee of the greater inheritance. The rest of the land promised would be received by his descendants.
This land Abraham bought would serve later as a burial ground and resting place for Abraham himself, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah and Leah as well. Like Sarah here, their story does not end with their being transported somewhere else at death. The patriarchs did not see death as their salvation. At death, they sleep in the dust of the earth and – like us – await their Savior who will come down and rescue them from death by raising them to eternal life.
LORD, come quickly and rescue us from the enemy, death. Many of your saints await you and what you promised – eternal life.
For more on the unconscious intermediate state, see: