also sepulcher, c.1200, "tomb, burial place," especially the cave where Jesus was buried outside Jerusalem (Holy Sepulcher or Saint Sepulcher), from Old French sepulcre "tomb; the Holy Sepulchre" (11c.), from Latin sepulcrum "grave, tomb, place where a corpse is buried," from root of sepelire "to bury, embalm," originally "to perform rituals on a corpse," from PIE *sep-el-yo-, suffixed form of root *sep- "to handle (skillfully), to hold (reverently);" cf. Sanskrit saparyati "honors." No reason for the -ch- spelling, which dates to 13c. Whited sepulchre "hypocrite" is from Matt. xxiii.27.
first mentioned as purchased by Abraham for Sarah from Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23:20). This was the "cave of the field of Machpelah," where also Abraham and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah were burried (79:29-32). In Acts 7:16 it is said that Jacob was "laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem." It has been proposed, as a mode of reconciling the apparent discrepancy between this verse and Gen. 23:20, to read Acts 7:16 thus: "And they [i.e., our fathers] were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [the son] of Sychem." In this way the purchase made by Abraham is not to be confounded with the purchase made by Jacob subsequently in the same district. Of this purchase by Abraham there is no direct record in the Old Testament. (See TOMB.)