Verses 16–20

We have here the conclusion of the treaty between Abraham and Ephron about the burying-place. The bargain was publicly made before all the neighbours, in the presence and audience of the sons of Heth, Gen. 23:16, 17. Note, Prudence, as well as justice, directs us to be fair, and open, and above-board, in our dealings. Fraudulent contracts hate the light, and choose to be clandestine; but those that design honestly in their bargains care not who are witnesses to them. Our law countenances sales made in market-overt, and by deed enrolled. Observe, 1. Abraham, without fraud, covin, or further delay, pays the money, Gen. 23:16. He pays it readily, without hesitation,—pays it in full, without diminution,—and pays it by weight, current money with the merchant, without deceit. See how anciently money was used for the help of commerce; and see how honestly money should be paid where it is due. Observe, Though all the land of Canaan was Abraham’s by promise, yet, the time of his possessing not having come, what he had now occasion for he bought and paid for. Note, Dominion is not founded in grace. The saints’ title to an eternal inheritance does not entitle them to the possessions of this world, nor justify them in doing wrong. 2. Ephron honestly and fairly makes him a good title to the land, Gen. 23:17, 18, 20. The field, with all its appurtenances, is conveyed to Abraham and his heirs for ever, in open court, not by writing (it does not appear that writing was then used), but by such a public solemn declaration before witnesses as was sufficient to pass it. Note, As that which is bought must be honestly paid for, so that which is sold must be honestly delivered and secured. 3. Abraham, thereupon, takes possession, and buries Sarah in the cave or vault (whether framed by nature or art is not certain) which was in the purchased field. It is probable that Abraham had buried servants out of his family since he came to Canaan, but the graves of the common people (2 Kgs. 23:6) might suffice for them; now that Sarah was dead a peculiar place must be found for her remains. It is worth noting, (1.) That a burying-place was the first spot of ground Abraham possessed in Canaan. Note, When we are entering into the world it is good to think of our going out of it; for, as soon as we are born, we begin to die. (2.) That it was the only piece of land he ever possessed, though the country was all his own in reversion. Those that have least of this earth find a grave in it. Abraham provided, not cities, as Cain and Nimrod, but a sepulchre, [1.] To be a constant memorandum of death to himself and his posterity, that he and they might learn to die daily. This sepulchre is said to be at the end of the field (Gen. 23:9); for, whatever our possessions are, there is a sepulchre at the end of them. [2.] To be a token of his belief and expectation of the resurrection; for why should such care be taken of the body if it be thrown away for ever, and must not rise again? Abraham, in this, said plainly that he sought a better country, that is, a heavenly. Abraham is content to be still flitting, while he lives, but secures a place where, when he dies his flesh may rest in hope.