And he spoke with them, saying, “If it is in your mind that I may bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat Ephron the son of Zohar for me, Bible see other translations

“mind.” The Hebrew is nephesh (#05315 נֶפֶשׁ), often thought of and translated “soul,” but very often used in the Old Testament for the person himself or herself. In this case, nephesh is used for the activity of the mind: one’s thoughts and emotions. In this verse it could be translated, “If it is how you feel,” or “If you are thinking that,” or even, as some versions, “If you agree.”

[See Appendix 7, “Usages of ‘Soul.’”]

entreat Ephron the son of Zohar for me.” We learn from the context that Ephron was sitting right there with Abraham and the elders of the Hittites, but culture and custom directed that it was wise for Abraham to use intermediaries. When someone of lesser status, power, or influence (in this case, Abraham), wanted something from someone of greater position (in this case, Ephron, who owned the land), the best way to move forward in the biblical culture was to secure an intermediary or intermediaries who had influence with the one from whom the favor was desired. Thus Abraham, instead of looking at Ephron and saying, “I want to buy your cave,” asked the Hittite elders to entreat Ephron to sell the cave.

[For more on the use of intermediaries, see commentary on John 12:21.]

Commentary for: Genesis 23:8