The field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
Many of us realize that planning for our deaths can serve as an act of love and faith. Whether it takes the form of life insurance to provide for loved ones or planning our funeral service to bring glory to God, how we die can testify to what we valued in life.
By the time of Sarah’s death, she and Abraham had wandered for at least fifty years. The “great nation” (12:2) promised them numbered one: their son Isaac. On different occasions (see chapters 12 and 15) God had promised them the land of Canaan, but up to this point Abraham owned none of it. Sarah’s burial plot was the first bit of the “promised land” that belonged to Abraham.
To ensure his possession of the cave, Abraham went above and beyond local customs. In the ancient Near East, purchases often took place through a system of bargaining. One party made an opening offer, then the other counter-offered, and so on. The price Ephron first cited was quite high—some estimate it amounted to a year’s wages—and it was not what he expected Abraham to pay. But Abraham didn’t care. He could have buried Sarah for free (v. 11), but owning this cave had crucial importance to him.
We gain greater insight when we understand that in the ancient world (and in many places today) people have a strong desire to lie at rest in their homeland (cf. 50:5). In Abraham and Sarah’s case, we might expect that would be Ur, where they grew up and met (11:28)—but no. The faith of both Abraham and Sarah illuminates this choice of a burial site. Their home was a place they never owned. Having seen only the merest beginning, they still trusted that God would fulfill His pledge. The Promised Land was their home, and it was where they would be buried.
Apply the Word
The end of your life can be a testimony of your faith. If you need resources for financial planning, you can contact the Stewardship department at Moody Bible Institute for assistance. You can also pass along your stories of God’s faithfulness, perhaps in a journal or family Bible that your loved ones can cherish.