And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,…
Abraham declares himself a stranger and a sojourner in the land, and humbly prays for a burying-place to bury his dead, once so dear and so lovely, "out of his sight"; expressing thus a sad, universal, and most humiliating fact, that death "changes the countenance" of its victims, as well as "sendeth them away"; and so changes them that disgust succeeds to delight, terror to affection; and so dreadful is the mixture of the memory of past beauty and the sight of present decay, that the survivor needs no exhortation to hide his friend in the grave, but with eager haste commits parent, or child, or brother, or wife, or lover, into the dust, and almost rejoices as he shuts the coffin to know that that disfigured countenance he shall see no more. What a strange view of the power and mystery of death is implied in the thought of not hatred, but love, crying out for the eternal removal of its object out of its sight! But often it is not the mere physical rottenness which awakens this desire; often, too, there arise painful, agonizing, terrible thoughts on the sight of a departed friend. The whole of the past history of the friendship or love; its first commencement and the joys connected with it; the trials and troubles, perhaps partial estrangement or complete alienation for a time, which darkened its progress; the exquisite pleasures, or no less exquisite pangs, which alternated; benefits received from the departed which were unrequited, or injuries done to them which were never fully repaid; every harsh look or word on the side of the living remembered, while on that of the dead all but their smiles and kindness are forgotten; the scenes of the sick-bed; the last farewell on the brink of eternity; all these heartquaking, melting, rending images arise, and clustered around and pictured as they are on the mirror of that pale face and shut eye, might drive to insanity and howling despair, were it not that a veil for that mirror of past joy became sorrow, and past grief became distraction, has been provided, in the merciful lid of the coffin — a lid which henceforth only the worm, the eye of imagination sometimes venturing to peep into darkness, but as speedily withdrawing the gaze, and the light of the last morning, shall be able to penetrate.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,