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What Was So Special About Ephron’s Cave?

What Was So Special About Ephron’s Cave?



So Sarah dies, Abraham needs to buy a burial plot for her, and he asks for a cave in a field belonging to Ephron the Hittite. What did Abraham know about that cave that he was willing to pay 400 shekels for it?


Allow me to share some history as it is recorded in the mystical texts.

Rabbi Rechumai taught that after Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden, G‑d Himself hewed out of rock a place near the entrance to the Garden where he would bury Adam, the patriarchs and the matriarchs.

(Rabbi Kisma added that when Eve died and Adam buried her there, he smelled the tantalizingly familiar aroma of the Garden and wanted to burrow further, but a voice rang out telling him to stop. When Adam died, he was buried there as well.)

Eventually the location was forgotten, and not a soul knew about it. Until Abraham, who entered the cave, saw it, sniffed the scent of Eden, and heard a voice saying, “Adam is buried here, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should be prepared for this place as well.” He saw a candle burning there, and left.

From then on, he had his heart set on that special burial plot. Many others attempted to be buried there, but the ministering angels guarded the place faithfully. The would-be buriers would see the fire burning and were unable to enter—until Abraham entered and purchased it.

How did Abraham come across the cave in the first place?

Rabbi Elazar revealed that Abraham first found this special place on the day that the angels came to tell him that Sarah would give birth to Isaac. When the three men (angels) visited Abraham, he chased after a calf to slaughter and feed his guests (see Genesis 18:7). The calf ran into the cave, and Abraham followed in pursuit. After that, he would go every day to that field from whence the heavenly aromas came. There he would pray to G‑d, and there G‑d would speak to him.

Now, the nature of the cave was such that only its true owner was able to see its special qualities. Where Abraham saw light, Ephron saw darkness.

Nevertheless, Abraham did not purchase the place until Sarah passed away, so as not to arouse people’s interest in the place. Only when he needed to bury his beloved wife did he buy Ephron’s field and its wondrous cave.

Zohar Chadash, Ruth; Zohar 1:127–128.
Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Phil Indianapolis November 9, 2017

I really enjoyed reading this. However, a thought came to mind. If no one knew about the cave, whom would Abraham have bought it from? The owner that Abraham bought it from, certainly would have known of the cave. Looking forward to your comments. Thank you! Reply

Rabbi Miriam Charney November 9, 2017

gan eden aroma of such a beautiful teaching. thank you for bringing it to light.
aroma of gan eden? exciting! is that the "special spice" we need for Bias Shlishi do you think? Reply

Bill July 7, 2017

Many years of reading the Scriptures, it did not dawn on me to ask "why this cave?" My thanks for the insights! Reply

michael cuba enterprise, kansas November 7, 2012

The Cave This is very interesting. Not only the history but the ability to see or feel the 'truth'.
In this portion, Isaac and Ishmeal both buried Abraham at that location. The question is of wheather Ishmael was at all challanged by the angels? Were any of Abraham childrens present at the funeral? And, before I ever read this, where is Ishmael buried? A quest to unify the separated whole. Reply

Anonymous Toronto November 15, 2011

re: Shekels Shekels definitely WERE around during Abraham's time. We have record of shekels far earlier than 800 BC. They are mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi. A simple wikipedia search for "shekels" will confirm this... Reply

Moshe ,Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel November 15, 2011

the word SHEKEL As to Gary's comment ,The use of the word was first found in c.2150 BCE during the Akkadian Empire and again later in 1700 BCE in the Code of Hammurabi. It as the word shows relates to a weight. Clearly something used in Avraham Avinu's time Reply

Carmen November 15, 2011

That's why the Holyland only flourishes in life and history when Jews are there.When not, it is desert Nobody sees nothing in there... Reply

Gary Kula, Hi July 2, 2011

Shekels When was the bible written if shekels were not in-till around 800 BC? In Abrahams supposed time they weighed gold there was no coinage. Reply

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