What does Acts 7:16 mean?
ESV: and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
NIV: Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.
NASB: And they were brought back from there to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
CSB: were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
NLT: Their bodies were taken to Shechem and buried in the tomb Abraham had bought for a certain price from Hamor’s sons in Shechem.
KJV: And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
NKJV: And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.
Verse Commentary:
Stephen is finishing his story of how the Israelites came to Egypt. In the beginning, he showed how the Israelites were far from respecting God's prophets. In truth, they have a long habit of persecuting them, starting with the tribal patriarchs who sold their brother Joseph into slavery (Acts 7:9–14). Now, Stephen returns to the historical proof that God is with His people no matter where they live—including Egypt. Soon, he will return to the idea of rejected prophets, focusing on Moses (Acts 7:35–43).

There is some confusion about the geographical locations mentioned here. Abraham bought a field in Machpelah from the Hittites, west of the Dead Sea at Hebron, to bury Sarah (Genesis 23). Abraham and Jacob were later buried in the same place (Genesis 25:9–10; 50:12–13). Jacob bought a piece of land to pitch his tent near Shechem, north of Hebron, about half-way between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee (Genesis 33:16–20). This is where Joshua 24:32 says Joseph was buried.

So, why is Stephen saying Abraham bought the land where Joseph is buried? There are two possible explanations: 1. Stephen has very little time to explain, so he combines the two events and locations. His Jewish audience would know what he meant. 2. Abraham did buy the land initially, in an unrecorded transaction, and Jacob reaffirmed that purchase as Isaac did when he reclaimed the well of Beersheba (Genesis 26:26–33) which Abraham had dug (Genesis 21:22–31). It's even possible that Abraham bought the land when he built his first altar to God there (Genesis 12:6–7).
Verse Context:
Acts 7:9–16 describes one of the church's first deacons, Stephen, during his trial before the Sanhedrin. A crowd of Jews has accused him of speaking against Moses, the Mosaic law, and the temple (Acts 6:8–15). Stephen uses his defense to show how Abraham's descendants have been God's people since long before the Law or the temple. In Acts 7:1–8, he gave a summary of how God called Abraham far from the land his people would later inherit. Stephen continues showing how God cared for His people without a place, adding that they didn't respect His prophets, starting with Joseph. Joseph's story is in Genesis 37—Exodus 1.
Chapter Summary:
Stephen is a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian and one of the first deacons in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1–7). He's also a skilled apologist and has been debating Jews from outside Judea about the proper place of the Mosaic law and the temple (Acts 6:8–15). His opponents cannot counter his arguments so they resort to lies. They tell the Sanhedrin that Stephen wants to destroy the temple and repeal the Mosaic law. Stephen counters that his accusers don't respect Moses or the Law, and the temple isn't necessary to worship God. This enrages the mob, and Stephen is stoned, becoming the first Christian martyr.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 7 is one of the pivot points of the book of Acts. Until recently, the early church has seen favor from the people and indifference from the Sanhedrin. Now, the Sanhedrin has beaten the apostles and ordered them not to preach about Jesus (Acts 5:40), and the people are starting to realize how different Christianity is. In Jerusalem, a Hellenist Jewish Jesus-follower named Stephen has been in a debate with other foreign Jews who finally accuse him of wishing to destroy the temple, like Jesus (Acts 6:8–15). This is Stephen's defense, which leads to his death and the introduction of Paul.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/25/2024 12:18:37 AM
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