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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

20
Abraham and Sarah visit Gerar
1Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the arid southern plain, and he settled as an immigrant in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur. 2Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar took her into his household.
3But God appeared to Abimelech that night in a dream and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of this woman you have taken. She is a married woman.”
4Now Abimelech hadn’t gone near her, and he said, “Lord, will you really put an innocent nation to death? 5Didn’t he say to me, ‘She’s my sister,’ and didn’t she—even she—say, ‘He’s my brother’? My intentions were pure, and I acted innocently when I did this.”
6God said to him in the dream, “I know that your intentions were pure when you did this. In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That’s why I didn’t allow you to touch her. 7Now return the man’s wife. He’s a prophet; he will pray for you so you may live. But if you don’t return her, know that you and everyone with you will die!”
8Abimelech got up early in the morning and summoned all of his servants. When he told them everything that had happened, the men were terrified. 9Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that you have brought this terrible sin to me and my kingdom, by doing to me something that simply isn’t done?” 10Abimelech said to Abraham, “What were you thinking when you did this thing?”
11Abraham said, “I thought to myself, No one reveres God here and they will kill me to get my wife. 12She is, truthfully, my sister—my father’s daughter but not my mother’s daughter—and she’s now my wife. 13When God led me away from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is the loyalty I expect from you: in each place we visit, tell them, “He is my brother.”’”
14Abimelech took flocks, cattle, male servants, and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and Abimelech returned his wife Sarah. 15Abimelech said, “My land is here available to you. Live wherever you wish.” 16To Sarah, he said, “I’ve given your brother one thousand pieces of silver. It means that neither you nor anyone with you has done anything wrong. Everything has been set right.” 17Abraham prayed to God; and God restored Abimelech, his wife, and his women servants to health, and they were able to have children. 18Because of the incident with Abraham’s wife Sarah, the LORD had kept all of the women in Abimelech’s household from having children.