For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4


Genesis 23

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

23:1.  “And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.”

As has been noted in earlier studies, Sarah represents, not only the principle of grace, but also the believing remnant within the nation of Israel.  Since that remnant is the only part that God really counts, Sarah’s death represents the end of the nation of Israel.  That end, of course, is not permanent, for the same God Who has cut her off because of sin, will bring her back to life (Ro 11).

We must note also that at the time when Israel’s autonomy was brought to an end in A.D.70, the Jewish believers, scattered with their unbelieving brethren, were members of the Church; and as also noted already, in the 38 years between A.D.32 and A.D.70, there was a divinely appointed order for believing Jews, and another order for believing Gentiles (cp. Ac 15:28, and Ac 18:21; 21:24-26).  After A.D.70, the latter order alone governed the life of Jewish and Gentile believers alike.

Since Sarah’s age, 127, is a prime number, and the method of ascertaining the meaning of such numbers seems to be to separate 1, the number of God, and then to factorize the remainder, we have 1 + 2 x 3 x 3 x 7.  The lesson therefore, is that God will yet restore to Israel the privilege of being His witness on the earth, two being the Scriptural number of witness; the process by which He will accomplish that purpose being by a double resurrection, (three being the number of resurrection): first, of her national autonomy, and then, out of that restored nation, the calling of believers, the godly remnant who will be the true Israel that will enter the Millennium; seven (number of perfection) being but the symbol of the perfection that marks God’s ways, not only with Israel, but with all men.

It should be remembered that while Israel’s autonomy ceased in A.D.70, the Jews, as individuals, have continued to exist among the nations, the foretold restoration of national autonomy, and which began in 1948, simply confirming that the day is not far off when God’s purposes for His ancient people will be accomplished, and the blessing, so long delayed by their disobedience, will be theirs.

23:2.  “And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”

The place of her death is designated first by its Canaanite name, Kirjath-arba city of four; and then by its Hebrew name, Hebron communion.  The two-fold description of the place of her death confirms that she is a type of Israel and of grace, for Kirjath-arba declares the truth that the unbelieving mass of the nation was spiritually no different from the ungodly Canaanites; but Hebron reminds us that the believing remnant within the apostate mass, enjoyed communion with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  While it may have appeared to the natural eye that there was only one Israel in A.D.70, there were, as always, two:  the unbelieving mass, and the believing remnant.

At this point we must note also that, contrary to what is generally taught, Israel’s autonomy did not end with the rending of the veil at the instant of the Lord’s death in A.D.32.  For the next 38 years the Gospel continued to be preached first to Israel, and only when she rejected it, to the Gentiles.  And it must not be forgotten that the offer of the millennial kingdom did not cease until A.D.70.  Israel as a nation was cut off, not for crucifying Christ, but for refusing to believe in His resurrection, see Ac 3:17-26.  The 38 years from A.D.32 till A.D.70 correspond to the 38 years of wandering that followed Israel’s refusal to enter Canaan (Nu 13, 14).  The first 2 years in the wilderness were not years of wandering, but Israel’s refusal to enter the land at that time caused those first 2 years then to be invested with the same character as the following 38, so that the whole 40 years became years of wandering.

The 38 years between A.D.32 and A.D.70 are foreshadowed in the 38 years of wilderness wandering when the unbelieving generation died out, and their children, a new generation, grew up and inherited the blessings forfeited by their faithless fathers.  In the first 38 years of the Apostolic age, the unbelieving generation of Jews died out, and a new generation, believing Jews and Gentiles, grew up to inherit better spiritual blessings than the millennial blessings forfeited by their unbelieving contemporaries.

Those 38 years were a testing time for Israel, and they ended in judgment and death.  For her as a nation, the grace which Sarah represents, “died” that day when God’s patience came to an end, and he brought Titus into Jerusalem at the head of the Roman legions as His instrument of destruction.

During those 38 years Jerusalem was spiritually Kirjath-arba, a “Canaanite” city, for Canaanite means trafficker, and the Jewish leaders were nothing but spiritual “Canaanites” trafficking in spiritual things.

But Kirjath-arba was also Hebron communion.  In every age there has been a small godly remnant in the midst of the rebellious nation, and the 38 years of the early Apostolic age were no exception.  The first preachers of that era were Jews, as were also the first converts to Christianity.  The Church in its beginning was a called out company of believing Jews.  Like their unbelieving countrymen, they also dwelt literally in Jerusalem, but spiritually they dwelt in “Hebron” - they enjoyed communion with God.

Many of them also died, not only by the sword of the Roman, but also at the hand of their fellow Jews.  But for those martyrs, the result was vastly different.  The stroke that terminated their earthly sojourn in spiritual “Hebron” began their eternal dwelling in the “Hebron” which is God’s dwelling place, heaven.

In Abraham’s coming to lament the death of Sarah we have a symbolic picture of God’s sorrow at the “death” of Israel, and of His having to cut grace off from them.  We see that divine sorrow expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ as He surveyed Jerusalem, and declared, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Mt 23:37-38).  Desolate indeed is the house that must mourn the death of grace.  Again in Lk 19:41-42 we read “And when He was come nigh, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

In this, as in everything, however, Israel is the mirror in which God bids us see ourselves.  He is no less grieved at the death of one unrepentant sinner than at the death of the unrepentant nation of Israel, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”  Faith always weeps to see grace “buried,” that is, to see salvation refused so long that God finally withdraws His offer.

Abraham’s weeping reminds us that when faith becomes separated from grace, weeping is always the result: it causes God to “weep,” but it will cause the unbeliever also to weep eternally.

23:3.  “And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,”

23:4.  I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”

There is good reason why it should have been Heth, rather than one of the other Canaanites, who must supply the burying place for Sarah.  Heth means terror, and in Job 18:14 death is identified as the king of terrors.  Sarah’s burying place was bought out from under the control of “terror,” and she was buried in ground that belonged to Abraham, the representative of faith.  The believer’s burying place is no longer the possession of the king of terrors.  Christ has bought the “field” (the world) at Calvary.

“I am a stranger and a sojourner ....”  Christ was also a stranger and a sojourner here on earth, as is also the man of faith: he is a stranger and a sojourner on the earth, passing through on his way home to heaven.

”... give me a possession of a burying place.”  Though all of Canaan had been promised to him, Abraham knew that the promise would be made good in resurrection.  Sarah’s burial plot was the only part of Canaan he ever actually possessed, as far as the Scriptural record is concerned.  But that field was more than just a burying place.  It was the earnest (surety or pledge) that one day, not just that field, but the whole land would be his.  It was the OT foreshadowing of what the believer has today.  “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ep 1:13-14).

It is instructive to note that according to Strong’s Concordance “possession” is derived from a word meaning to seize.  Christ not only bought “the field” with His blood, He seized it from Satan’s grasp, the adversary having been defeated in that mighty battle fought at Calvary.

Abraham’s committal of Sarah’s body to the grave was in anticipation of a resurrection; and it is the same today for the believer, “But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as other which have no hope” (1 Th 4:13).  The believer’s body is committed to the grave in anticipation of resurrection. 

23:5.  “And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,”

23:6.  “Hear us my Lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead: none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.”

Those children of Heth terror addressed Abraham as one who was their superior.  They called him lord, and acknowledged that he was a mighty prince, literally a prince of God.  Those Hittites were themselves the representatives of the king of terrors, Death, but as they stood in the presence of the man who is the type of Christ and of faith, they were made to confess that they stood in the presence of one who was greater than they.

This is but the OT illustration of the believer’s position in relation to death.  We stand in association with the Christ Who has vanquished him that had the power of death, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15).

That same Christ assured John, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Re 1:18).  Those Hittites might well acknowledge the superiority of the man of faith.

“In the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead.”  The believer always has the best sepulchre.  It will open at the resurrection of life, a thousand years before that of the unbeliever, and it will open to let the body rise, glorious, powerful, spiritual, to enter heaven.  When the sepulchre of the unbeliever opens at the resurrection of death it will be to send the body into the eternal torment of the lake of fire, which is the second death (Re 20).

23:7.  “And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.”

The typical details of this section will be better understood if we realize that God is presenting us with a picture of Calvary.  Abraham’s purchase of the field of Machpelah, as well as the cave that lay at the end of it, is the typical revelation of Christ’s purchase of this world.

In Abraham’s bowing himself to these children of Heth terror, we are being given a glimpse of the Lord’s humility in submitting Himself to death, “... being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Php 2:8).  God would have us see in this “mighty prince” who “bowed himself to the children of Heth” the Mighty Prince of Peace, submitting Himself to death, so that we might be delivered from the dominion of the king of terrors.

23:8.  “And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zoar.”

Several things would seem to mark Ephron as a type of Satan.  He was the owner of the field, and in Scripture, the field represents the world (Mt 13:38).  Satan is the prince of this world, and as has been noted in earlier studies, this world appears to have been given him as his kingdom in a remote past age, and has not yet been take away from him.

The name Ephron means he of dust, but dust is Scripturally connected with death, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Ge 3:19); “Thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (Ps 22:15).  The evil prince of this world will yet be brought into the “dust of death.”

He was the son of Zohar whitening, and in the context of the purchase of a sepulchre, we recall the Lord’s words relative to the “whited sepulchers” of His day (Mt 23:27).  The beautiful white exterior distracted the mind of the observer from the corruption that was inside.  Satan always seeks to distract men from the contemplation of the true nature of death.

23:9.  “That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burying place amongst you.”

Clearly the word give is to be construed here in the sense of sell, as is made clear in the verses that follow.

In Scripture the cave is connected with death and burial, and the fact that this cave is described as being “in the end of his field” would remind us that man’s journey through the “field” of this world ends in a “cave” i.e., the grave.

Machpelah has two meanings doubling and he brought low the set apart.  Several thoughts connect themselves with both meanings.  The first doubling certainly evokes the thought of the double aspect of death.  There is first the death of the body, but for the unbeliever there is also “the second death” (Re 20:14-15).  Doubling however, bears also the thought of doubling back in the sense of returning, and having regard to the fact that since Sarah’s burial had resurrection in view, this may well be the lesson God would teach us in Abraham’s burying her in the cave of Machpelah. The body which faith commits to the grave will return (double back) to fullness of life in resurrection.

The second meaning he brought low the set apart is less easy to interpret just because of its ambiguity.  Does the he refer to God or to Satan?  Is the set apart the believer, set apart for God, or is the reference to those who are “set apart” for destruction?  One thing certainly seems clear: the grave “brings low” believer and unbeliever alike.  For the former, however, it is only for a moment: that body will rise again to the enjoyment of eternal life, but for the unbeliever, the grave is but the beginning of a still more terrible descent, for at the resurrection of death (Jn 5:29), body, soul and spirit will be cast into the unfathomable depths of the lake of fire (Re 20:14-15).

”... for as much money as it is worth.”  The full price must be paid for the field and cave where faith would bury its dead, for God will not have faith debtor to the enemy.  Faith’s dead are not to await resurrection in a place that belongs to the king of terrors.  They are to “sleep” in the place that belongs to the Lord of life.  He has purchased “the field” with His own life at Calvary.

“... for a burying place amongst you.”  This clause is invested with deep significance.  Sarah’s burying place would be “amongst” the “sons of terror,” but it wouldn’t belong to them.  They would have no control over it.  God is careful to remind His own that while death may seem to rule everywhere, there is one part over which it has no control: the burying place of the believer may be “amongst” the sons of “Heth,” but it belongs to Christ, having been purchased for the full price at Calvary.

23:10.  “And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,”

As Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth, so does Satan, the one Ephron typifies, dwell still amongst men.  Man can’t escape from the king of terrors: where man is, there also is death.  As if to emphasize the character of the evil prince portrayed by Ephron, God describes him as the Hittite terror.

As the transaction between Abraham and Ephron was carried out publicly “in the audience of ... all that went in at the gate of his city” so was it when the type was fulfilled and the Lord Jesus Christ bought “the field” (the world) out from under Satan’s power.

23:11.  “Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.”

This seeming generous offer anticipates the day when Satan offered “the field” to Christ, “And the devil, taking Him up into a high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world ... and the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me.... If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Lk 4:5-7).  The world itself, as well as the men upon it, lay under the thraldom of Satan.  Both alike needed to be redeemed.  The earth, blighted by the sin brought in by Adam, must be delivered from that corruption, but as is written in Scripture, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22).  The Lord will reign only over an earth which He has redeemed with His own precious blood.  In offering Christ the world, Satan’s ulterior motive was to prevent the redemption of that world.

But Abraham would accept no gift from the Hittite prince, nor would Christ from Satan.  God alone must have the glory for everything faith possesses.  The principle is declared in Ge 14:23 when Abraham refused to accept anything from the king of Sodom “I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet ... lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abraham rich.”

”Bury thy dead.”  To have received the field and cave as a gift from the hand of Ephron would have been to limit Abraham’s use of it.  Ephron’s intention was that it should be used only as a burying place.  And Satan’s offer to Christ would have limited the world to the same use.  Apart from payment of the price, there would have been no redemption, either of the earth or of those dwelling upon it: it would have been for ever a vast sepulchre in which men would be entombed while awaiting the resurrection of damnation, Jn 5:29.

But God meant that field to be more than a burying place where Sarah’s body would lie for ever.  He was looking to the day when the cave would be opened, as was the cave in which Lazarus lay, and as was also the one in which the body of Christ lay.  God had resurrection in view.  When He instructed Abraham to buy the field, He was looking to that day when He Himself would be glorified in Sarah’s resurrection.  (That He did instruct His servant seems obvious.  How else would Abraham have known to insist upon paying the full price?).  Nor did God intend to allow the earth to be only a vast tomb to receive the bodies of men doomed to eternal death.  Calvary’s work had in view the glory of God in the resurrection of men out of death, physical as well as spiritual.

But in regard to the field of Machpelah, God had even more in mind.  It must become Abraham’s possession, and as such it was not only the place where he buried Sarah’s body in hope of resurrection, it was also the earnest (surety or pledge) that one day the whole land would be his, also in resurrection.

The same is true of the earth.  No matter how much a man may acquire here on earth, all except his grave will become the possession of another when he dies.  But if that man is a believer, that burying place is for him also the earnest of his inheritance in resurrection, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise” (Ga 3:29), “For all things are yours: whether Paul, or Appolos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death ... all are yours: and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Co 3:21-23).

23:12.  “And Abraham bowed himself before the people of the land.”

In the repetition of the fact that Abraham bowed down to these Canaanites, we have God’s emphasis upon Christ’s humbling Himself.  The value the Father has set upon that humiliation may be learned from the corresponding exaltation He has bestowed, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php 2:7-11).

23:13.  “And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field: take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.”

Since Ephron is clearly a type of Satan, it isn’t difficult to understand Abraham’s refusal to bury Sarah in ground belonging to the Hittite, or even given by him as a gift.  The children of faith must not be buried where there is even the semblance of the enemy’s control.  Faith in Christ has delivered them from that control, and God would have even the believer’s sepulchre bear testimony to that truth.

“I will give thee money for the field.”  The field represents the world, and in Ephron’s ownership of it we have the declaration of the truth that Satan is the prince of this world.  But the question may be asked, How did the field come into his possession?”

It would appear that it was given him by God while he was Lucifer, that is, when he was in his unfallen state.  Whether he lost it at the time of his rebellion, and then recovered it at the time of Adam’s rebellion, is conjectural and unimportant for our present study.  The fact remains that the kingdoms of this world are his today, and will remain his until the soon-coming day when the scepter of earth will be placed in the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It should be noted that when Satan made that claim (by implication) in Lk 4:6, the Lord didn’t contradict him.

Abraham, no matter what the cost, would buy the field, so that Sarah would be buried, not in a place that belonged to the sons of terror, but to the representative of faith.  At Calvary Christ bought the “field” so that His own would be buried where He, not Death, reigns.

23:14.  “And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him,”

23:15.  “My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee?  Bury therefore thy dead.”

Abraham’s superiority continues to be emphasized in Ephron’s addressing him as “my lord.”  It isn’t important to the spiritual lesson to know whether the price was exorbitant, as many allege.  What is important is that the amount was four hundred shekels, and that they were shekels of silver.

Four is the number of earth in connection with testing.  It confirms that this transaction is a picture of Calvary where Christ paid the redemption price, not only for men’s souls, but for the “field” - the earth itself.  Since silver is the Biblical emblem of redemption, we are being taught the redemptive character of Christ’s sacrifice.  Godward, that sacrifice was for the Father’s glory; manward, it was for our redemption.  That sacrifice was the crowning act of an obedience that had been tested throughout the Lord’s more than thirty years of life as a man amongst men here on earth.

Ephron’s language would imply that the price was insignificant, and in the view of men as rich as Abraham and he, it may well have been, but we may perhaps detect in this the OT foreshadowing of Satan’s continuous attempt to minimize the value of the price the Lord paid at Calvary.  God, however, reminds us of the inestimable worth of that sacrifice, “... ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot ....” (1 Pe 1:18-19).

23:16.  “And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron: and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.”

Everything emphasizes that nothing was left undone that would ever enable Ephron or anyone else to raise a question as to Abraham’s ownership of both field and cave.  It was Ephron who set the price.  It was he who received the four hundred shekels of silver, and it was “in the audience of the sons of Heth.”  There was no lack of witnesses.  And the quality of the silver was beyond dispute: it was “current money with the merchant.”

The type was fulfilled at Calvary.  No one in heaven, earth or hell can question Christ’s title to the “field.”  The price was fully paid “in the audience of the sons of Heth.”  There too the “silver” was pure.  The blood (the redemption price) was not that of a sin-tainted mortal.  It was the blood of God’s spotless Lamb.

23:17.  “And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure.”

“... which was before Mamre” is literally “east of Mamre.”  As we have learned already, the east is always connected with sin and departure from God, and certainly no one will question that the world, here represented by the field, is spiritually in the “east.”  It is far off from God, and sin of course is the reason.

As Abraham bought the field and the cave, so has Christ acquired possession of the world, including the realm of death, represented by the cave.  He is Lord of all.

“... and all the trees.”  Trees in Scripture, represent humanity.  The believer willingly acknowledges Christ’s lordship now, but in a coming day every rebel also will be made to bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

“... that were in all the borders round about.”  To the uttermost limits of earth, men will be compelled to acknowledge that Christ is Master.

Mamre lay west of Machpelah, and as we have seen in our study of chapter fourteen, Mamre causing fatness represents that richness of soul enjoyed by the man who obeys God.  Machpelah’s being east of Mamre, points to the truth that the world, of which Machpelah is a type, is far away from God.  In Machpelah’s being the burial place of those who await the resurrection of life, we have the symbolic declaration of the truth that the believer’s full enjoyment of his eternal blessings must also await that resurrection.

23:18.  “Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.”

Possession here is literally “what is held fast.”  This field which he had bought for four hundred pieces of silver would never pass out of Abraham’s possession.  Nor will the “field” purchased by His own blood ever pass out of Christ’s possession.

The repeated reference to the multitude of witnesses continues to point to Calvary.  There too, the witnesses were many.  It can never be denied that the Lord Jesus Christ has a faultless title to the “field” He bought with His life that day.

23:19.  “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.”

“After this ....”  After the price had been paid, and the field made sure to Abraham, then, and only then, did he bury Sarah.

Prophetically this points to the fact that it wasn’t until after Calvary that the nation of Israel, of which Sarah is a type, was “buried,” her autonomy being brought to an end in A.D.70.  The burial place was in the “field” among the nations.  Note that in verse four Abraham describes the burying place as being “with you,” that is, “in the midst of you.”

But the spiritual application is also to “spiritual Israel,” the Church.  Those who die “in Christ” are buried, and await the resurrection of life, in the “field” among the unbelieving multitudes of earth “the sons of Heth.”  As Abraham first bought the field in which he would bury his dead, so that her sepulchre would be in his possession, so has Christ first bought the “field” so that His own would be “buried” in the “field” that belongs to Him.

“... the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.”  It is not Machpelah, but Mamre causing fatness, which is Hebron communion.  Prosperity of soul, and communion with God are synonymous.

There seems to be almost an implied emphasis upon the fact that it is Mamre, and not Machpelah, which is Hebron.  The lesson perhaps being taught is that death (here associated with Machpelah) separates from communion with God.  For the believer, communion will not be complete until his body is resurrected, that is, until it has left “Machpelah.”  For the unbeliever, death separates him from God eternally.

The additional description of Hebron as being “in the land of Canaan” should not be ignored.  There is a sense in which Canaan may be viewed as a type of heaven: but strictly speaking it represents the sphere where the believer here on earth may enter in spirit into the enjoyment of all his blessings in Christ.  Canaan was a place of blessing, but also of struggle and warfare: the blessings had to be won, the land had to be taken by force from the Canaanites, and the enemy driven out.  None of these things is true of heaven.  There there is rest, the warfare is ended, the enemy gone, the inheritance ours for ever, without the need to defend it against possible loss.

23:20.  “And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying place by the sons of Heth.”

As the field was made sure to Abraham, so is the world made sure to the believer.  The cave, the actual sepulchre, was also made sure.  Abraham was the master of that tomb.  He buried his dead in it in the sure knowledge that it was only till the resurrection of life.  The believer’s body may sleep in the tomb, but he is the master through Christ Who has conquered death.

“... by the sons of Heth.”  It was they who had set the price.  They could never claim that they had received anything less than the full value of the field and everything in it.  Nor can the king of terrors ever complain that he received anything less than the full price.  He demanded Christ’s life, and at Calvary the price was paid in full.

Abraham became master of both field and cave, and the believer, through Christ, has become master of the world, and also of death.  “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect.... Who is he that condemnet­h? it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again .... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation ... or sword?  For thy sake we are killed ... we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Ro 8:33-37).

[Genesis 24]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough