But before we consider the joy Isaac's bride would bring him, Moses first details an event that would grieve both he and his father--the death of Sarah. "Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her" (Gen. 23:1,2). Of all women mentioned in Scripture, this is the only one whom we know the age of at death. At her death, Abraham would have been 137 and Isaac 37 years old. Isaac would marry 3 years after his mother's death (cf. 25:20). Abraham would live another 38 years after this (cf. 25:7).
It was customary to bury the dead as soon as possible (typically within 1 day of death). Abraham quickly makes arrangements for a burial spot. He spoke to the sons of Heth, saying - "I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (Gen. 23:4). Abraham was not from this area and did not own land there; he was a sojourner (cf. Heb. 11:13-16). He had a dwelling place (i.e., a tent) but no real estate. The context makes it clear that Abraham was not asking for a gift; he wanted someone to sell him land for burial purposes. The dialogue between Abraham and the sons of Heth is very positive. They consider Abraham a "mighty prince" (literally, a "prince of God"; Gen. 23:6). He was exceedingly wealthy and had been very blessed by God. Ephron was willing to give Abraham the land he needed, but Abraham was firm in his desire to pay for it. Ephron mentioned what the field and cave he owned were worth and Abraham weighed out the amount in silver. So, "Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave that is in it were deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as property for a burial place" (23:19,20). This cave was used as a burial spot by Abraham's family for several generations.
One might rightly ask: "Why is an entire chapter of God's inspired word devoted to the death and burial of Sarah?" Perhaps the best answer some have suggested is this: Sarah is the mother of all believers (cf. I Pet. 3:6). In a spiritual sense, Christian women are her "daughers" and Christian men are therefore her "sons" by implication (cf. Gal. 3:29). Her importance merits such information being recorded by Moses. Furthermore, she is the mother of the child of promise (Isaac) and her passing seems to encourage Abraham to make arrangements for the marriage of his son. Such was necessary in order for Isaac to have children, that the promise of becoming a great nation could progress.