And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. — Genesis 23:1-2
One of the most difficult times in my life was waking up one Sunday morning to learn that my grandmother had passed away. She had been the spiritual rock in my life from my earliest recollection. She was faithful to encourage all of her unsaved family members and acquaintances to turn their hearts toward God. After the Lord saved me when I was twenty-one years old, I moved in with this grandmother. It was a privilege to have her guidance for the first two years of my Christian walk.
Although I knew that my grandmother had gone to be with the Lord when she died, the loss seemed almost unbearable. However, even though I was grieving, I realized that her passing provided the opportunity to reach out to many unsaved individuals among our family and friends. As a young Christian, that experience showed me God’s ability to cause good to come out of the most difficult of circumstances.
Abraham had followed God faithfully for many years, and God had blessed him as He had promised. Now, in the twilight of Abraham’s life, he suffered a great loss. He did not blame or question God as to why. He knew that losing a loved one is part of the lot of the human family. Abraham accepted Sarah’s passing with a resolute and responsible attitude by standing up “from before his dead” (Genesis 23:3) and addressing the inhabitants of the land. He handled her burial with thoughtfulness and care.
Like Abraham, we too have a responsibility to handle both the good and challenging circumstances of our lives in a manner that glorifies God. A necessary part of living is grieving the loss of people we love. In those times, may we endeavor to exhibit godly virtues as Abraham did. If we do, God will give us His strength and take us through the hard times, just as He did Abraham.
The last verses of chapter 22 list the descendants of Abraham’s brother, Nahor. It is probable that this list was included in Scripture in order to show the family connection with Rebekah, who would become Isaac’s wife.
Chapter 23 gives the account of Sarah’s death at 127 years old. The Bible does not record the age at death of any other woman. Sarah had been with Abraham since before God called him to leave his country, and they had been together in the land of Canaan for over sixty years. Along with Abraham, she had believed God and received the son of promise. She was ninety years old when Isaac was born, and Isaac was thirty-seven years old when she died.
Because of the needs of his many flocks, Abraham moved about in Canaan, but apparently he often stayed in Beersheba and Hebron. In his own words, he was “a stranger and a sojourner” (Genesis 23:4), and as such, he began a negotiation process to purchase a burial place. The children of Heth were Hittites, and they treated Abraham with admiration and respect. They called him “a mighty prince” (verse 6), which could be translated “a prince of God.”
The Hittites offered to share their sepulchers, but Abraham wanted to own the property. He chose the cave of Machpelah, which was near Hebron. Ephron, the owner, asked an extremely high price for the land. In that culture, it was common for the seller to name a price that was twice the value of the property, expecting the purchaser to come back with a price halfway between. However, Abraham did not seek to make a good deal. He paid the asking price — four hundred shekels of silver. Today’s value for this silver is unknown, but “current money with the merchant” (verse 16) indicates it was the rate used by the local merchants. Verse 17 resembles the legal description on a title deed. Thus Abraham purchased his first piece of property in the land God had promised him.
In the process of time, Abraham also was buried in this cave of Machpelah (Genesis 25:9), as were Isaac, Rebekah, Leah (Genesis 49:31), and finally Jacob (Genesis 50:13). Throughout history, the Jewish people have honored this location. A monument was constructed over the site during the time of Herod the Great. This 200-by-10-foot structure, which resembles Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem, is still intact today.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
5. The progeny of Nahor, Abraham’s brother (22:20-24)
6. The death of Sarah (23:1-20)
God promises to be near us in our grief, helping us to honor Him in that time of difficulty, just as He does in more joyful times.