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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.
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Abraham and Abimelek
Ge 12:10–20; 26:1–11
1#Ge 26:6; 18:1Abraham journeyed from there toward the Negev, settled between Kadesh and Shur, and then he sojourned in Gerar. 2#Ge 12:15; 26:7Then Abraham said about Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelek, king of Gerar, sent for her and took Sarah.
3#Job 33:15; Ps 105:14But God came to Abimelek in a dream by night and said to him, “You are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
4#Ge 18:23–25; 1Ch 21:17Abimelek had not gone near her, and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation? 5#1Ki 9:4; Ps 7:8Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and did not even she herself say, ‘He is my brother’? In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.”
6#1Sa 25:26; 25:34And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also kept you from sinning against Me. Therefore, I did not let you touch her. 7#1Sa 7:5; Job 42:8Therefore return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet and he will pray for you. Moreover, you will live. However, if you do not return her, know that you will surely die, you and all who are yours.”
8So Abimelek rose early in the morning, and called all his servants and told them all these things, and the men were very afraid. 9#Ge 12:18; 26:10Then Abimelek called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you that you would bring on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done things to me that should not have been done.” 10Then Abimelek said to Abraham, “What were you thinking of, that you did this thing?”
11#Ge 12:12; 26:7Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will slay me because of my wife. 12#Ge 11:29Still, indeed, she is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother. She became my wife. 13#Ge 12:1; 12:9When God caused me to travel from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is your kindness which you must show me: Every place where we go, say concerning me, He is my brother.’ ”
14#Ge 12:16Then Abimelek took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned his wife Sarah to him. 15#Ge 13:9; 34:10Abimelek said, “My land is before you; settle wherever it pleases you.”
16#Ge 20:5; Pr 27:5To Sarah he said, “I have given your brother a thousand shekels of silver.#About 25 pounds, or 12 kilograms. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.”
17#Jas 5:16So Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children. 18#Ge 12:17For the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelek because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.