The last place mentioned in Abraham’s travels is Beersheba (Genesis 22:19). And yet, when Genesis 23 opens with the death of Sarah, she is living twenty miles to the north in Hebron and Abraham goes there to mourn for her and weep.
This very brief note, coming hot on the heels of the story of Abraham attempting to offer Isaac, has me wondering if Abraham’s actions of faith had not driven a wedge between himself and his wife and son. If yes, then it is just another sign that faithfulness to God often requires we give up what we hold most dear. (But I must write this: be sure it actually is faithfulness to God, and not dedication to a personal ideal or opinion before you give up everything for it.)
Holding on to this issue, look at Abraham: Wealthy? Yes. Powerful? Absolutely. Influential? Obviously. As an alien in Canaan, he would have had a difficult time owning property. Because he was a foreigner, it was easy for locals to take advantage of him and he would normally have no standing in the community. But in chapter 23, Abraham has enough standing to be able to meet with the Elders of Hebron and negotiate a price for Sarah’s burial plot. Abraham has sacrificed everything to receive the land of Canaan as God has promised. But now, at age 137, he owns not a square inch of property. When will God come through?
Did Abraham love Sarah? I believe he did. He pays the princely sum of ten pounds of silver for a family burial plot – nearly $20,000 in modern currency. And so, at this late stage in his life, the only land he really owned is land he paid for.
The bargaining dance of chapter 23 is fun to read, but more important, I think, is to consider Abraham’s great confidence in God, and a willingness to pursue it regardless of the cost.