“So Ephron’s field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.  After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.  So the field and the cave that is in it, were deeded over to Abraham for a burial site by the sons of Heth.”  Gen. 23:17-20

The final verses of Genesis 23 serve to confirm the legality of this real estate transaction, yet there is more significance than this.  Abraham is beginning to see the second part of his grand promises from God coming to pass, albeit in a small way;  he first saw the birth of Isaac to count toward his descendants, and now he acquires a piece, no matter how small, of the land God promised him.

Although Abraham knows this promise concerning the land in his heart, he can only hold to the promise that one day it will in fact be fulfilled, at a time beyond his own death.  This brings to mind Jesus’ teaching that ‘the meek will inherit the earth’  and the New Testament concept that as followers of Christ, there is a wonderful promise waiting for us – being in the presence of God in the world to come, which most would refer to as heaven – but this cannot happen until our life here on earth ends.  This is our irony as followers of Christ as well, that we know what is in store for us, but to those who do not know God, they say “show me the proof!” Here, Abraham has no proof that all the land is his, he only has the promise.

The Oxford Jewish Study Bible points out the theme of the next few chapters as Abraham getting his affairs in order.  Here we see him secure the family burial ground, next he plans finding a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24), and lastly deals with his estate (Gen. 25).