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Genesis 20

20
Abraham at Gerar.#Abraham again passes off his wife Sarah as his sister to escape trouble in a foreign land (cf. 12:10–13:1, the J source). The story appears to be from a different source (according to some, E) and deals with the ethical questions of the incident. Gn 26:6–11 is yet another retelling of the story, but with Isaac and Rebekah as characters instead of Abraham and Sarah. 1From there Abraham journeyed on to the region of the Negeb, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur.#Kadesh and Shur: Kadesh-barnea was a major oasis on the southernmost border of Canaan, and Shur was probably the “way to Shur,” the road to Egypt. Gerar was a royal city in the area, but has not been identified with certainty. While he resided in Gerar as an alien, 2Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took Sarah. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him: You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she has a husband. 4Abimelech, who had not approached her, said: “O Lord, would you kill an innocent man? 5Was he not the one who told me, ‘She is my sister’? She herself also stated, ‘He is my brother.’ I acted with pure heart and with clean hands.” 6#Abimelech is exonerated of blame, but by that fact not cleared of the consequences of his act. He is still under the sentence of death for abducting another man’s wife; the consequences result from the deed not the intention. God answered him in the dream: Yes, I know you did it with a pure heart. In fact, it was I who kept you from sinning against me; that is why I did not let you touch her. 7So now, return the man’s wife so that he may intercede for you, since he is a prophet,#Prophet: only here is Abraham explicitly called “prophet,” Hebrew nabi (cf. Ps 105:15). that you may live. If you do not return her, you can be sure that you and all who are yours will die.
8Early the next morning Abimelech called all his servants and informed them of everything that had happened, and the men were filled with fear. 9Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him: “What have you done to us! What wrong did I do to you that you would have brought such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have treated me in an intolerable way. 10What did you have in mind,” Abimelech asked him, “that you would do such a thing?” 11Abraham answered, “I thought there would be no fear of God#Fear of God is the traditional though unsatisfactory rendering of Hebrew yir’at YHWH, literally, “revering Yahweh.” The phrase refers neither to the emotion of fear nor to religious reverence of a general kind. Rather it refers to adherence to a single deity (in a polytheistic culture), honoring that deity with prayers, rituals, and obedience. The phrase occurs again in 26:24; 43:23; and 50:19. It is very common in the wisdom literature of the Bible. in this place, and so they would kill me on account of my wife. 12Besides, she really is my sister,#My sister: marrying one’s half sister was prohibited later in Israel’s history. but only my father’s daughter, not my mother’s; and so she became my wife. 13When God sent me wandering from my father’s house, I asked her: ‘Would you do me this favor? In whatever place we come to, say: He is my brother.’”#Gn 12:13.
14Then Abimelech took flocks and herds and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. 15Then Abimelech said, “Here, my land is at your disposal; settle wherever you please.” 16To Sarah he said: “I hereby give your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This will preserve your honor before all who are with you and will exonerate you before everyone.” 17Abraham then interceded with God, and God restored health to Abimelech, to his wife, and his maidservants, so that they bore children; 18for the Lord had closed every womb in Abimelech’s household on account of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

Genesis 20

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1Abraham traveled towards the Negev, staying between Kadesh and Shur. After that he moved on to live in Gerar. 2During his time there, when Abraham told people about his wife Sarah, he said, “She's my sister.” So Abimelech,#20:2. “Abimelech” means “my father is the king,” or “my father is Molech,” a Canaanite god. This may well have been a formal title rather than a personal name (see also 26:8). king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her to become one of his wives.#20:2. “To become one of his wives”: supplied for clarity.
3But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “Listen! You're going to die because the woman you've taken is already married—she has a husband.”
4Abimelech hadn't touched Sarah, and he asked, “Lord, do you kill good people? 5Didn't Abraham tell me himself, ‘She's my sister,’ and didn't Sarah also say, ‘He's my brother’? I did this in all innocence—my conscience is clear!”
6God told him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this in all innocence, so I prevented you from sinning against me. That's why I didn't let you touch her. 7Send the man's wife back to him. He's a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don't send her back to him, you should know for sure that you and all your family will die.”
8Abimelech got up early in the morning and called all his servants together. He explained everything that had happened, and they were all terrified. 9Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and asked him “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you should treat me like this, bringing this terrible sin on me and my kingdom? You've done things to me that no one should ever do!”
10Then Abimelech asked Abraham “What were you thinking when you did this?”
11“Well, I thought to myself, ‘Nobody respects God in this place. They'll kill me just to get my wife,’” Abraham replied. 12“Anyway, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father but not my mother, and I married her. 13Since my God made me move far away from my family home, I told her, ‘If you really love me, then wherever you go with me you must tell people: He's my brother.’”
14Then Abimelech gave Abraham gifts of sheep, cattle, and male and female slaves, and returned his wife Sarah to him. 15Abimelech told him, “Look over my land. You can choose to live anywhere you like.” 16Abimelech also told Sarah, “Notice that I'm giving your brother a thousand pieces of silver. This is to compensate you for the wrong done to you in the eyes of everyone with you, and to make sure that your name is publicly cleared.”
17Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female slaves, so that they could have children again. 18For the Lord had made all the women unable to have children because Abraham's wife, Sarah, had been taken.#20:18. “Was taken”: supplied for clarity.