How to Bury Your Wife (legally)
1 Now Sarah and Abraham had been separated for a few years (since Abraham had tried to kill their son Isaac), when she died, aged 127. 2 When Abraham heard the news, he travelled from Beersheba to Kiriath Arba in Canaan, where she’d been living, to make burial arrangements.
3 After visiting her body and checking to make sure she was definitely dead, Abraham spoke to the Hittites, saying, 4 ‘Please, sell me a tomb so that I can bury my wife.’
5 The Hittites replied, 6 ‘Why certainly, sir. How much were you planning on spending?’
‘What kind of question is that? Has anybody ever answered, “as much as possible”?’
The Hittites replied, ‘Well, no…’
7 ‘Exactly,’ snapped Abraham. ‘Also, how do you all manage to answer in unison? It’s creepy.’
‘Sorry,’ replied the Hittites.
8 Then Abraham said to them, 9 ‘Could you ask Ephron, son of Zohar, if he will sell me the tomb in his field, the Cave of Machpelah?’
‘Don’t you think it’ll freak him out to have a whole tribe of people turn up at his door? Why don’t you ask him yourself?’
‘Aren’t I like a mighty prince to you?’
The Hittites looked at each other and said, ‘No, we don’t even know who you are…’
10 So Abraham went to see Ephron the Hittite, who was sitting at the gate of the city, and asked him to sell him the cave.
11 Ephron replied, ‘No, sir. I don’t want you trampling my crops when you go to mourn your wife. If you want to buy the cave to bury your wife, you’ll also have the buy the field.’
12 ‘But I only want the cave!’ protested Abraham. 13 ‘Why don’t I buy the cave, and you can throw in the field for free?’
14 ‘The land alone is worth 400 shekels of silver!’ rebuked Ephron.
‘How much is cave worth?’
‘Well, the cave is worth 300. I’ll give you the field and the cave for 600 shekels.’
‘I don’t want the fucking field!’
15 ‘Okay,’ sighed Ephron. ‘What if I give you it just for the price of the field? That’s a saving of 300 shekels. But keep this just between you and me. If people hear the good deal I’m giving you, they’re going to think I’m a sucker!’
‘It’s not a saving! I’d be paying 100 shekels more than the price of the cave, and all I want is the bloody cave!’
‘Well, you can’t have the cave without the field, so take it or leave it.’
‘Fine!’ huffed Abraham.
16 So Abraham paid Ephron 400 shekels of silver for the Cave of Machpelah and the field it stood in, 17 and Ephron had his lawyer draw up a deed and present it to Abraham in front of all the Hittites.
18 Once all the legalities were out of the way, 19 Abraham buried Sarah in the cave. 20 It’s important to re-iterate, in case, God forbid, there’s ever any kind of conflict over the land: Abraham legally owned the field of Machpelah near Mamre (aka Hebron) in Canaan.