“So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is your wish for me to bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and approach Ephron the son of Zohar for me, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he owns, which is at the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in your presence for a burial site.”” Gen. 23:7-9

Abraham bows to the sons of Heth as a sign of thankfulness and humility; due to his status as a resident alien, they did not have to sell property to him. Abraham is meeting them at the gate of the city (v. 10) as this is essentially a business deal.  Since Abraham is a sojourner, there would likely have to be agreement among some of the prominent men of the city in order to sell land to Abraham.

As they have already made it clear they have no problem doing business with Abraham (v. 6), he entreats them to speak with Ephron, who owns the property he wishes to purchase.  Abraham explains that he specifically desires the cave of Machpelah for a burial site.   Macphpelah may mean ‘double‘, which would be fitting since ultimately several couples are laid to rest there (Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah).

In verse 9 Abraham makes it plain that he is not asking for the property for free – although he uses the word ‘give’ as he did in previous verses, it is now in conjunction with paying the full price for it.

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