Skip to main content

Genesis 23 Mysteries of Genesis

Genesis 23 Mysteries of Genesis
table of contentsback to books

Page 190

Chapter VIII: The Mental Supplants the Physical

Genesis 23 Spiritually Interpreted

Gen. 23:1-2. And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

What is denoted by Sarah's death at Kiriath-arba?

The name Kiriath-arba means "city of Arba," "city foursquare." Symbolically Kiriath-arba denotes the state of consciousness that attributes to material reason the perfection belonging to and coming from spiritual understanding only; that attributes strength, power, knowledge, and greatness to the outer formed world instead of knowing that all power and reality exists in Spirit, in the unformed ideas of the one Mind.

Do the higher activities of the soul ever die?

Sarah (symbolizing the spiritual soul in a certain degree of unfoldment) died in Kiriath-arba. In truth however the higher activities of the soul cannot die. It may seemingly become entangled in thoughts on the natural plane and disappear for a season from the conscious mind. However it is enjoying a period of rest in preparation for a new and higher expression.

Gen. 23:3-20. And Abraham rose up from before his dead, and spake unto the children of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord; thou art a prince of God among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. And Abraham rose up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for the full price let him give it to me in the midst of you for a possession of a burying-place. Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the children of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead. And Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt, I pray thee, hear me: I will give the price of the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there. And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, My lord, hearken unto me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore my dead. And

Page 191

Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named in the audience of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.

So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, 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 border thereof round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of the city. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Heth.

Abraham requested the children of Heth to "entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar" that he might give him the cave of Machpelah for a burying place for Sarah.

The name Zohar means "whiteness," "brightness," "nobility." Zohar represents thoughts of a pure, clear, lofty, discriminating character.

The name Ephron means "gazellelike," "quick," "volatile." Ephron represents a type of thought that is very impulsive, light, airy, and quick to change.

What do we mean by saying that our spiritual ideals are "buried" in the cave of Macpelah?

The name Machpelah means "equally divided," "twofold," "spiral form." Machpelah represents subconscious body substance (a field in which there was a cave). Sarah and the others buried in this cave symbolize the submergence of spiritual ideals in us. When these ideals have done their work in the conscious realm of our mind, for the time being they give

Page 192

way to other activities of the mind, while they sink back into the subconsciousness (cave). There they take deep root in substance and continue their work, which is not apparent to the outer, conscious, thinking part of the mind. They work out into the body consciousness in another incarnation, thus aiding in raising the whole organism to a higher plane of expression.

What is the reaction of the human mind to the letting go of states of consciousness that have fulfilled their usefulness? What attitude of mind is helpful in overcoming this tendency?

When going through the inner experience of releasing from consciousness some much-cherished soul quality or thought activity that has become useless for the time being, one may have a tendency to grieve and to hold to the good that seems to be becoming inactive in one's life. Then the thought activity represented by Ephron comes to one's rescue to aid one in making the necessary change and in letting go of the old. Sarah died in Hebron, and it was in Hebron that Abraham bargained with Ephron for the cave of Machpelah in which to bury Sarah. Hebron refers to the conscious mind; also to a certain "association" of thoughts. Faith (Abraham) suggests the awakening of man's mind to higher ideals, and hills denote their manifestation.

The word Mamre means "firmness," "vigor," "strength." The oak trees (which surrounded Mamre) in themselves denote strength and protection; but the Hebrew name for oak trees has a deeper significance than this; it comes from a root similar to the one from which is derived the word Elohim. Thus we are reminded of the truth that those who trust in God as their defense, their refuge, and their fortress, and who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, abide under the shadow of the Almighty, (Psalms 91:1) and not only are kept from all evil and its results but also continue

Page 193

to grow and unfold in understanding, in spirituality, in every good. The Hebrew words ayil, elon, and allah all refer to the oak or terebinth, and express the ideas of power, elevation, and expansion. The prefix al or el that begins the name Elohim, or better AElohim, comes from the same root, which refers to the power of expansive movement, the power of extension, and is also the personal pronoun el, which stands for the strong one or the absolute.

Is it wise to insist on giving value received for everything?

Abraham's insistence on paying Ephron for the ground where Sarah was to be buried emphasizes the sufficiency of Spirit and the opulence of those who live under its law. Abraham was the possessor of an all-producing faith, and he was expected to use it on all occasions to supply his every need. Those who have a living faith in God's all-sufficiency do not beg or accept things without recompense but give value received for everything.