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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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Chapter 20
Abraham and Abimelech
1Abraham travelled south to the Negev desert. He lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a time he stayed in Gerar. 2While he was there, Abraham told people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister. Because of this, the king of Gerar took Sarah so that she would become his wife. The king's name was Abimelech.
3But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream. He said to Abimelech, ‘Now you will die! The woman that you have taken to be your wife is already a married woman.’
4But Abimelech had not yet touched Sarah. He said to God, ‘Lord, I have not done anything wrong. Surely you will not destroy me and my people. 5Abraham told me that Sarah was his sister. And she herself said, “I am his sister.” So I am not guilty! I did not think that I was doing a bad thing.’
6God spoke to Abimelech again in a dream. He said, ‘That is true. You did not think that you were doing something wrong. I know that. So I did not let you touch her. I stopped you from doing anything wrong against me. 7You must now give her back to her husband. He is a prophet and he will pray for you. Because of that, you will not die. But if you do not give her back, you and all your people will surely die.’
8Early the next morning, Abimelech called together his officers. He told them what had happened. When the officers heard about it, they were very afraid. 9Abimelech called Abraham to come to him. He said to Abraham, ‘Why have you done this bad thing against us? I have not done anything wrong against you. Now you have made me and the people in my kingdom guilty of a very bad thing. Nobody should ever do the things that you have done to me.’ 10Abimelech asked Abraham, ‘What caused you to do this?’
11Abraham replied, ‘I did it because I was afraid. I thought, “The people here do not respect God. They will kill me so that they can take my wife from me.” #20:11 Verses 1-11 are like Genesis 12:11-20. Again, Abraham does not think that God will keep him safe. 12And also, she really is my sister. She is the daughter of my father. But she is not the daughter of my mother. And she became my wife. 13God told me to leave my father's house and to travel. At that time I said to Sarah, “This is how you can show that you love me. Everywhere we go, tell people that I am your brother.” ’
14Then Abimelech brought sheep and cows to give to Abraham. He also gave to Abraham male and female servants. And he gave Sarah back to Abraham. 15Abimelech said, ‘Look! See my land all round you. Go and live anywhere that you want to live.’
16Abimelech said to Sarah, ‘I have given 1,000 pieces of silver to your brother. #20:16 Abimelech is very kind. He calls Abraham Sarah's brother, just like Abraham had said. He shows that people in that place did respect God. So Abraham had been wrong to be afraid. This is to show everyone that you yourself did nothing wrong. It will pay you for any trouble that you have received.’
17Then Abraham prayed to God. As a result, God made Abimelech become well again. He also made Abimelech's wife and his female slaves become well, so that they could have children again. 18The Lord had made them unable to have children. He did this because of what happened to Abraham's wife, Sarah.