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Genesis 20

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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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Abraham tried to trick a big boss called Abimelek
1At one time, Abraham moved his camp south to the Negev desert, and he lived between the 2 towns called Kadesh and Shur. Then later, he moved his camp to a town called Gerar. 2While Abraham and Sarah were in Gerar, Abraham told everyone that his wife, Sarah, was his sister, not his wife. The big boss of Gerar was called Abimelek. He believed Abraham, so he sent somebody to get Sarah so that he could marry her.#Genesis 12:13; 26:7
3God was not happy that Abimelek was going to marry Sarah, so one night he gave Abimelek a dream, and in that dream, God told him, “You are going to die. You took Sarah to be your wife, but she is already married to Abraham.”
4Abimelek said, “But God, I haven’t married Sarah yet. I have not slept with her, like a man sleeps with his wife. Me and my people, we haven’t done anything wrong. Will you kill us for nothing? 5Abraham told me himself that Sarah was his sister. And she said that Abraham was her brother. I didn’t know that she was already married to him. I didn’t want to do anything wrong.”
6God kept talking to him in that dream. He said, “Yes, I know that you didn’t want to do anything wrong. You didn’t know that Sarah was a married woman. That’s why I did not let you touch her. I stopped you from doing a bad thing. 7So now, give Sarah back to Abraham. He is my special man, and he will pray for you, so that you will not die. But I’m telling you, if you don’t give her back to Abraham, I will kill you, and I will kill everyone that lives with you.”
8So early in the morning, Abimelek called a meeting for all his important workers. He told them everything that God said, and they were all very frightened. 9Then Abimelek sent somebody to get Abraham to come to that meeting. Abimelek said to Abraham, “Look, you have made trouble for me and my people. What did I do to you, so that you pay me back with this trouble? You have done a bad thing to us. 10Why did you do that? Why did you tell us that Sarah is your sister?”
11Abraham said, “I’m sorry. I thought that nobody here respected God, so I was frightened of you mob. I reckoned that you would kill me so that you can marry Sarah. 12But anyway, Sarah really is my sister. We have the same father, but different mothers.” You see, in Abraham’s culture, men could marry their half-sisters.
13Then Abraham said, “God told me to leave my father’s country, so we moved around from place to place, and I was frightened of the people. So I told Sarah, ‘Be good to me and tell everyone that you are my sister. Then I will be safe.’ ”
14Then Abimelek did what God told him to do. He gave Sarah back to Abraham, and he also gave him some sheep, and some goats, and some cows, and some bulls, and some workers, both men and women. 15And Abimelek said to Abraham, “Friend, look around at all my country. You can live anywhere you like in this country.” 16Then Abimelek said to Sarah, “I’m giving Abraham, your brother, a lot of money, to pay for the trouble I gave you. I’m giving him 1,000 pieces of silver money to show your mob, and everyone else, that you did nothing wrong.”
17-18Then Abraham prayed to God and asked him to make Abimelek and his mob better. You see, before, at the time when Abimelek got Sarah so that he could marry her, God made Abimelek sick and stopped all the women in Abimelek’s house from having babies. But then God talked to Abimelek, and Abimelek gave Sarah back to Abraham. So then Abraham prayed to God, and God made Abimelek better, and he made Abimelek’s wife better, and he made all the women that lived in Abimelek’s house better too, so that they had babies again.