Devotional Short Note to Genesis 23


Moses knew about name substitution of towns in the days of Abraham. Hebron in Hebrew was called Kiriath-arba by the Amorites and other Canaanites living in the country. Canaanite is another name for migrant just like Philistine is. They in turn considered the Habiru migrants in their areas. The Habiru or SA.GAZ people were the Hebrews. They existed from ancient times. Just like Abraham is found at a number of places in his life, so the Habiru can be found in different texts and times in early and later history of the Levant. They were the trouble-makers after the death of Moses in 1410 BCE during the five years invasion of Canaan and the early Amarna corpus continuously lament their presence and actions in the country and asked the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmosis IV in vain to come over and help them. The pharaohs of Egypt were dragging feet against the Habiru. The God of the Exodus was too strong. His grandfather Thutmosis III died by the hand of this very same God.

So Abraham called Kiriath-arba the name Hebron related to Habiru. One can say, Abraham was a SA.GAZ or Habiru. In Genesis 23:2 we find Abraham on a trip for he had to “come” to Hebron to mourn Sarah. He was not there when she died.

Heth was at Hebron and he asked him a piece of land to bury Sarah (Genesis 23:3-4). Abraham followed the protocol of those days and bowed down in respect as a thanks for their free offer to him of a tomb for Sarah.

Abraham selected the cave of Machpelah but had to pay Ephron the son of Zohar for it. Ephron was a Hittite but sitting together with Heth and his sons. This is what Canaanite means: a mixture of opportunists in a foreign country. The Americans are Canaanites and so are the Australians, New Zealanders, the South Africans, and one can go on. Hittite and Amorite = Canaanite (Genesis 23:10).

The deal was made at the gate of the city (Genesis 23:10). That is where the judges are sitting for their court sessions and that is where contracts of land-acquisition were concluded: in the presence of witnesses. Ephron answered that Abraham can have the land and cave for free in the presence of witnesses (Genesis 23:11). Abraham bowed down to show his appreciation.

But now starts what I call, the Asian or in my case, the “Korean dance”. It is two individuals who refuse the other to pay or refuse to take money from one another and they insist so that kindness meets kindness and the two dance in a loud debate and even shuffling. The witnesses normally smiles during such a “dance”. We see it at restaurants when people pay for each other.

Abraham wants to pay (Genesis 23:15). Ephron says that the land is just 400 shekels so what is that between the two of them? Still free and bury the dead (Genesis 23:16). Abraham determined to pay heard Ephron saying the amount and weighed it out to give to him in the presence of the witnesses.

The land, the trees, the cave was given a border so that it was now Abraham’s (Genesis 23:17-18).

The children of Heth made sure that Abraham was seen as the owner of this cave in Hebron.


Dear God

Abraham in this chapter had to complete a proper funeral for his wife Sarah and the generosity of the people of that area in Hebron can only come as a blessing from Your Hand. So we are also blessed daily and we thank You for that. In Jesus Name. Amen.