Genesis 23

A chapter that starts off with sorrow, with the death of Sarah. It’s interesting that we consider funerals to be a fairly significant religious service, but Genesis 23 only goes as far as to say

Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her

That’s it. That is the entirety of Sarah’s funeral in the bible. Sometimes the bible can be almost as interesting for what it leaves out as what it puts in. Funerals, along with church services and weddings, barely get a mention. Not because they are unimportant, but perhaps to remind us that the rituals associated with them are mostly of our own invention. Even the communion we take in church, whether you’re Catholic, traditional or pentecostal, doesn’t bear as much resemblance to the last supper as we like to think it does. It’s not that tradition is bad, simply that we shouldn’t hold it too dearly. Anyway, I’m beginning to rant.

What follows the mourning of Sarah seems to be an epicly polite argument of “no, you go first”. Once again, Abraham’s favour with the people he comes into contact with is reflected in the fact that he wishes to buy a burial plot for Sarah but they insist on giving it to him. This takes up the rest of the chapter.

Sarah’s death takes up two sentences. Abraham’s argument insisting on paying for the burial plot takes up the whole rest of the chapter! Again, a message that God wants us to know about the favour that comes with obeying Him more than He wants us to know how to run a funeral. The Hittites seemed to think Abraham was the bee’s knees.

Things this chapter tells us about God:

  • Again and again, obedience to God is essential. Would Abraham be so loved and favoured by these people if he went around doing his own thing? I’d argue no.
  • God provides. Even in a foreign land, Abraham was able to bury his dead. And in a prime site at that!

Source Text: Genesis 23

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