Genesis 23:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 23:15, NIV: "Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.'"

Genesis 23:15, ESV: "“My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”"

Genesis 23:15, KJV: "My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead."

Genesis 23:15, NASB: "'My lord, listen to me: a plot of land worth four hundred shekels of silver—what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.'"

Genesis 23:15, NLT: "'My lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.'"

Genesis 23:15, CSB: ""My lord, listen to me. Land worth four hundred shekels of silver--what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.""

What does Genesis 23:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Middle Eastern business transactions of Abraham's era included generous offers and respectful language. Those offers were understood to come with an unspoken price. Abraham's offer to buy Ephron's cave as a burial site for Sarah (Genesis 23:2) was countered by Ephron. He offered to "give" Abraham the cave and the field attached to it. Abraham replied by insisting on buying both the cave and the field, not accepting them as a gift, though he did not need the field.

Ephron responds using a phrase uttered by several parties in this back-and-forth conversation: "Listen to me" or "hear me." It could be taken to mean, "Seriously, I mean this." Ephron names a price for the field in the most casual and non-committal way he can. His offer suggests that, since he had previously offered to give the field Abraham, how insignificant is 400 shekels of silver between two friends? In other words, he is agreeing to Abraham's terms of full ownership, but for the price of 400 shekels of silver.

Again, Ephron ends his offer with "bury your dead," implying that he is being generous in helping Abraham to get past this unpleasant negotiating and back to the business of burying his wife Sarah. This is also a shrewd business tactic: reminding the buyer of what they stand to gain when they "seal the deal."

Abraham will respond to Ephron's terms in the following verse.