Deeper Roots – Genesis 23:7-16


April 20, 2022

A humbled and open heart is fertile soil for God’s seeds of wisdom. Establishing deeper roots requires analyzing God’s word to discover truths, values, and lessons for application to our lives. Periodically, a scripture or passage calls for further exploration, like Genesis 23:7-16.

Then Abraham bowed low before the Hittites and said, “Since you are willing to help me in this way, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of Zohar to let me buy his cave at Machpelah, down at the end of his field. I will pay the full price in the presence of witnesses, so I will have a permanent burial place for my family.” Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the Hittite elders of the town. “No, my Lord,” he said to Abraham, “please listen to me. I will give you the field and the cave. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead.” Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land, and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. “No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.” Ephron answered Abraham, “My Lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.” So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and paid the amount he had suggested—400 pieces of silver, weighed according to the market standard. The Hittite elders witnessed the transaction.

Genesis 23:7-16 NLT

Our Deeper Roots passage in Genesis shows us that God’s promises may not look like we envisioned, but His word will come to pass. Our scripture selection begins after Abraham’s wife, Sarah, has passed away. Abraham still considered an outsider, is bargaining for land to bury his wife. The scripture says Abraham bowed low before the Hittite elders. Then, the haggling for property began. Abraham wanted the cave at Machpelah, but Ephron wanted to sell both the cave AND the field. Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms of the agreement and purchased the burial place for 400 pieces of silver.

At first glance, the exchange between Abraham and Ephron looks like a friendly exchange. As we dig deeper, we find Abraham yielded to the negotiations of the Hittites. Remember, he was still a foreigner in their land. So the exchange at the gates with the elders and being offered all the pieces of land to bury Sarah was part of the customs of that tribe. Abraham wanted the cave but purchased the cave and land because that’s what Ephron wanted to sell. Abraham didn’t haggle back and forth with the price. He paid what was necessary to secure an ancestral burial place for his family.

When people died, the custom was to return to their ancestral land to be buried. Abraham’s purchase of a new burial place means that the foreign land of Canaan was now his home. If we look at this moment in time, we see Abraham, a stranger in a foreign land, in mourning over the loss of his wife Sarah, with only a plot of land/cave in his name. He has one son, Isaac, and the other, cast away. Comparing this moment in time to the promise of God would lead one to question some things. Where are the numerous offspring? Where is the land as far as one can see? Where are all the promises, God?

Comparing current circumstances to the promise of God might make the promise look unfulfilled. BUT God is good. His promises will come to pass. It might not look like all we’ve imagined… but it will happen. Even in grief, Abraham purchased this land in faith. Faith that despite earthly death, the promise of God remains forever. And as we look around at the numerous offspring, we have no choice but to acknowledge the promise is still being fulfilled today. This is a reminder of the faithfulness of God. Hold tight to the promise and continue to operate in faith. He who promised is faithful.

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