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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

The summary of the entire Torah is as simple as this:
Love what HaShem loves; hate what HaShem hates. All else is commentary.

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית • B'resheet
(“In Beginning” or “At First”)
The First Book of Moses,
Commonly Called


~ 23 ~

Parashah 5: Hayyei-Sarah
(“Sara’s Life,” Gen. 23:1-25:18)
(Small Roman numerals in the text indicate each 'aliyah.)

The brakah (blessing) to recite prior to reading the Parashah is here.

[Hebron [MAP] 1830 BCE]

V. Parashah Hayyei-Sarah (Sarah’s Life) 23:1-25:18

A. Sarah’s Death and Burial (23:1-20)

1. Abraham Mourns Sarah’s Death (23:1-2)

(i) 1Sarah lived one hundred twenty-seven years; this was the length of Sarah’s life. 2Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba (also called HevronHebron),[2] in the land of Kena'anCanaan (“lowland”).[MAP] Avraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

2. Cave Purchased for a Tomb (23:3-18)

 3Then Avraham rose up from beside his his dead wife and said to the sons of Het,[3]  4“I am a sojourner and an alien[4] living among you. Give me possession of a burial site among you, so that that I may bury my dead.”

5The sons of Het answered Avraham, 6“Hear us, my lord. You are a prince of Elohim[GN] among us. Bury your dead in the finest of our tombs. None of us will withhold his tomb from you for burying your dead.”[6]

7Avraham rose up, and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Het. 8He said to them, “If you are willing for me to bury my dead, hear me, and ask ‘EfronEphron the son of TzocharZohar for me, 9to sell me the cave of MakhpelahMachpelah, which belongs to him, which is in the end of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence, for the full price, as a burial site.”

10Now ‘Efron was sitting among the sons of Het. So in the presence of all the sons of Het who had come to the city gate,[10] ‘Efron the Hittite answered Avraham, 11“No, my lord, listen to me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.”

12Avraham bowed down before the people of the land 13and he said to ‘Efron in their presence, “If you will, please hear me. I will pay you the price of the field. Accept it from me so that I may bury my dead there.”

14‘Efron answered Avraham, saying to him, 15“My lord, listen to me. What is a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver[15] between me and you? Therefore bury your dead.”

16Avraham listened to ‘Efron. Avraham weighed out to ‘Efron the amount of silver he had named in the presence of the sons of Het, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the current merchants’ standard.

(ii) 17So ‘Efron’s field in Makhpelah,[MAP] which was near Mamre, the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were within its borders, were deeded 18to Avraham’s possession in the presence of the sons of Het who were at the city gate.

3. Sarah Buried (23:19-20)

 19After this, Avraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Makhpelah near Mamre (that is, Hevron), in the land of Kena'an. 20The field and its cave were deeded to Avraham for a burial site by the sons of Het.[20]

Chapter 24

 2. Kirjath-arba (“city of Arba”) was the early name of the city which after the conquest was called Hebron (“association”). [RETURN]

 3. Sons of Het (Heth), the Hittites. [RETURN]

 4. Sojourner (Heb. גֵּר, ger), a temporary inhabitant, a newcomer lacking inherited rights; and an alien (Heb. תּוֹשָׁב, toshab) outsider, stranger, sojourner. [RETURN]

 6. Avraham was reluctant to bury Sarah in a borrowed tomb, because he was only living there temporarily. The burial custom of the time was to lay the dead on a special slab in the tomb [PICTURE] until all the flesh was decayed away, then transfer the bones to a box called an ossuary to be placed elsewhere in the same or another tomb, freeing the slab for the tomb’s next occupant. If he had buried Sarah in a borrowed tomb and then moved to somewhere else, he had no way of knowing what would happen to her bones when the cave was needed by its owner. Abraham wisely insisted on purchasing the tomb for himself and his family members, paying full price for it to ensure that there would be no question of ownership later. See “Cave of the Patriarchs.” Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah are all buried in the same Cave of Machpelah. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. [RETURN]

10. In ancient times in the middle east, all legal business transactions were conducted at the city gates, the equivalent of our city hall. [RETURN]

15. A shekel is about 10 grams, so 400 shekels would be about 4 kg, 8.8 pounds, or 140.8 ounces. At today’s price of silver ($26.27) the value of that much silver is $3,698.82. [RETURN]

20. The Cave of Machpela has an ancient history dating back to the earliest man and woman in the Bible. Adam and Eve are said to be buried in the cave, the first of four couples to be buried there. The Cave of Machpela and the field around it were Abraham’s first acquisition in the Land that God promised to him and his descendants. See “Cave of the Partiarchs (Machpelah): History, Structure, and Spiritual Significance” and “Cave of the Patriarchs[RETURN]

Page last updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2022 03:23 PM
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