Why did Abraham pay full price for Sarah’s grave?
By: William J Jackson – https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies We start off in Genesis 23 with Sarah’s death (v 23:1-2). From here most of chapter 23 is dedicated to Abraham’s negotiation for her burial plot which is a cave in Hebron (v 23:3-20). It seems like the Hittites are trying to give Abraham the cave as a gift but he is insisting on paying full price. Why would anyone turn dow…n a deal like this? The answer is in the people, not the land.Abraham, was a stranger in a strange land (v 23:4), but he was in this strange land for over 50 years now (1). He knew the people of the region. He did business with them and knew their business practices. We can look at “The Covenant in Beer-Sheba” (v 21:32) some 27 years earlier (1). This is where Father Abraham had some wells and the Philistines were forcibly taking them from him. Abraham addresses it to their King, Abimelech, but the King denies knowledge of these goings on (v 21:26). Abraham decides to pay King Abimelech for the wells (v 21:27-30). Even though Abraham owned them this might have been the only way to peaceably solve this dispute. Beer-Sheba was only 26 miles (2) from Hebron where Abraham bought the cave for Sarah. I assume Abraham may have been leery of dealing with people in these areas. You know the type of folks that would renege on a promise if it was in their interest.
What about the price that Abraham settled on “four hundred shekels of silver” (v 23:16), how much is that by today’s standards? Modern day scholar calculate that cost at about $100,000 (3). Although this dollar amount is just an assumption, we know the price Abraham paid was hefty. But Abraham wasn’t just paying for a cave, the word used was “Machpelah” (v 23:9) which means double (3), thus a double cave. Also he was getting the land and the trees around the cave (v 23:17). So as we can see this was not a single grave sight, this would become the family tomb for the Patriarchs (v 25:9, 35:29, 49:29-31, 50:2-13).
Conclusion: Most of us have been betrayed by people in our dealings whether business or social. Their motives usually vary? Father Abraham gives us a healthy guidelines for doing business:
A. Be Honest
B. Have Witnesses
C. Get it in writing (a contract)
D. Understand when something is too good to be true it isn’t