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Genesis 23

1 Now Sarah lived to be 127 years old. 2 She died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went out to mourn and to weep for her.

3 Then Abraham got up from beside his dead wife and said to the Hittites, 4 “I am a foreigner and an outsider among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead.”

5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Listen to us, sir. You are God’s chosen one among us. Bury your dead in the finest of our tombs. None of us will withhold his tomb for burying your dead.”

How did the Hittites know that Abraham was chosen by God?

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The version of the OP is rather interpretive. Here is a more literal rendering Gen 23:6 (NASB) -

“Hear us, my lord: you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.”

The word rendered (correctly) "mighty" here is actually, "elohim" = "God" but does not exclusively denote such; hence most versions translate "mighty".

I am at a loss to understand how "mighty prince" might end up as "God's chosen one" as per the OP's version.

"Mighty Prince" in entirely understandable for the following reasons:

  • In Gen 14 we read about Abraham's household "army" of 318 men defeating a coalition of five kings. This alone suggests that his personal entourage number probably more than 2000 people.
  • Abraham was immensely wealthy (eg, the story of Gen 13) - probably the richest man in the area - he had been blessed by God on many occasions including by the hand of Pharaoh as recorded in Gen 12
  • Despite this, he was probably well known as a prophet because of the altars and worship places he left wherever he traveled, and his personal integrity etc.

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