(Mach·peʹlah) [from a root meaning “double,” possibly indicating that the cave had a double entrance or two recesses or receptacles].
The name used with reference to a field and a cave in the vicinity of Hebron, purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels (c. $880). The cave served as a burial place for Abraham’s wife Sarah and for at least five others: Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah.—Ge 23:14-19; 25:9; 49:30, 31; 50:13.
The burial cave is generally identified with Meʽarat HaMakhpela, located in modern Hebron beneath a Moslem mosque within an enclosure called Haram el-Khalil.
At Genesis 23:17 the Hebrew-language term indicating the position of the cave of Machpelah in relation to Mamre has been variously rendered “east of” (RS), “before” (AS), “near” (BE), “opposite” (JB), and “in front of Mamre” (NW). If the traditional location of Mamre (er-Ramat el-Khalil) is correct, the rendering “east of Mamre” would not be appropriate, since this site lies about 3 km (2 mi) N of modern Hebron. The phrase “Mamre, that is to say, Hebron” (Ge 23:19), may mean that Mamre was in the district of Hebron.