Torah Mosheh 1:

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Genesis Chapter 23

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Sarah's Death and Burial

Parashah 5: Chaiyei Sarah (Sarah's life) 23:1-25:18

23:1 (i) And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.

23:2 And Sarah died in Kiryat-Arba (city of four); the same [is] Hevron in eretz Kenaan: and Avraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

23:3 And Avraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to banim Het, saying,

23:4 I [am] a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a kever with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

23:5 And the banim Het answered Avraham, saying to him,

23:6 "Hear us, adoni: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of kevareinu. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead."

23:7 And Avraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, [even] to the banim Het.

23:8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron Ben Tzochar,

23:9 That he may give me the cave of Makpelah, which he has, which [is] in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.

23:10 And Ephron dwelled among the children of Het: and Ephron the Hittite answered Avraham in the audience of the bnei Het, [even] of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying,

23:11 Nay, my adon, hear me: the field give I you, and the cave that [is] therein, I give it thee; in the presence of banim my people give I it you: bury your dead.

23:12 And Avraham bowed down himself before the people of the land.

23:13 And he spoke to Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if you [will give it], I pray you, hear me: I will give you money for the field; take [it] of me, and I will bury my dead there.

23:14 And Ephron answered Avraham, saying to him,

23:15 My adon, listen to me: the land [is worth] four hundred shekels of silver; what [is] that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore your dead.

23:16 And Avraham listened to Ephron; and Avraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of banim Het, four hundred shekels of silver, current [money] with the merchant.

23:17 (ii) And the field of Ephron, which [was] in Makhpelah, which [was] before Mamre, the field, and the cave which [was] therein, and all the trees that [were] in the field, that [were] in all the borders round about, were made sure

23:18 to Avraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Het, before all that went in at the gate of his city.

23:19 And after this, Avraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Makhpelah before Mamre: the same [is] Hevron in eretz Kenaan.

23:20 And the field, and the cave that [is] therein, were made sure to Avraham for a possession of a buryingplace by banim Het.


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Why did Sarah die?

The Rabbis explain that Sarah died before her time out of fright and connected her death with the Binding of Isaac (last Shabbat parashat).

Although Sarah does not appear in the Binding narrative, this is the last event to be mentioned before her death. The midrash tells that Isaac was concerned about his mother’s welfare, and when he was tied to the altar and thought that he was about to die, he asked of his father: “Father, do not tell my mother [of my death] when she is standing by a pit or when she is standing on the roof, lest she cast herself down and die.”

That moment a heavenly voice went forth and said to Abraham (Gen. 22:12): “Do not raise your hand against the boy.”

HaSatan went to Sarah and appeared to her in the countenance of Isaac. When she saw him, she said to him: “My son, what has your father done to you?” He answered her: “Father took me and raised me up to the mountains and brought me down into the valleys. He took me up to the top of one mountain, built an altar, arranged the woodpile, and placed the logs. He bound me on the altar and took a knife to slaughter me. If God had not told him: ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy,’ I would already be slaughtered.”

HaSatan did not finish speaking, and Sarah passed away (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayera 23).

It therefore is said (Gen. 23:2): “And Abraham proceeded [va-yavo, literally, and he came] to mourn for Sarah”—where did he come from? from Mount Moriah (Genesis Rabbah 58:5).

This early aggadic tradition is depicted in a synagogue mural in Dura-Europus (an ancient city on the Euphrates), with a portrayal of Isaac, and at a distance, Sarah gazing upon the scene from within her tent.

The purchase of the Cave of Machpelah in the land (Beresheet 23:1-20)

Abraham’s purchase of a burial cave “near Mamre” (Beresheet 23:19; cf. Beresheet 13:18; Beresheet 14:13; Beresheet 18:1) was occasioned by the death of Sarah, who lived to be 127.

The temple Mount perception

Avahram perceive as a- Mountain - mount Moriyah

Yitzchak perceive - field

Yaakov perceive - House