Ephron (the Hittite)

EPHRON (the Hittite) ē’ frŏn (עֶפְרֹ֥ון, fawn?) The Hitt. from whom Abraham purchased a burial place for Sarah his wife (Gen 23:8). Ephron was the son of Zohar a Hitt. and owned a field in Machpelah, E of Mamre (Hebron) (23:17). The study of the transaction between Abraham and this Hitt. is a study in oriental shrewdness and politeness.

Apparently Ephron was willing to sell the land but for a good price (23:14). Yet he did not initially state the price, but depending on Abraham’s knowledge of propriety, he offered at first to give away the land (23:11). Even when Abraham properly insisted on paying for it (23:13), Ephron did not offer to sell the land, but slyly stated the value which he put on the property (23:15). Abraham, understanding that this was the asking price, responded by purchasing it at that price (23:16).

The field formerly owned by Ephron had a cave and several trees (23:17). Sarah was buried there and later Abraham (25:9). Later on Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah were buried at Machpelah.

Today a large Muslim stone structure covers the cave and marks the spot in Hebron where the field of Machpelah was. Visitors may see the interior of the building, but are not shown the cave.