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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
1Abraham went forth from thence into the land of the south, and dwelled betwixt Kadesh and Shur, and was a pilgrim in Gerar;
2and he said of Sarah, his wife, She is my sister. Therefore Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent, and took her.
3Soothly God came to Abimelech by a sweven in the night, and said to him, Lo! thou shalt die, for the woman which thou hast taken, for she hath an husband.
4Forsooth Abimelech [had] touched not her; and he said, Lord, whether thou shalt slay a folk unknowing and just [or rightwise]?
5Whether he said not to me, She is my sister, and she said, He is my brother? In the simpleness of mine heart, and in the cleanness of mine hands, I did this.
6And the Lord said to him, And I know that thou didest by simple heart, and therefore I kept thee, lest thou didest sin against me, and I suffered not that thou touchedest her;
7now therefore yield thou the wife to her husband, for he is a prophet; and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live; soothly if thou wilt not yield her, know thou that thou shalt die by death, thou, and all things that be thine.
8And at once Abimelech rose by night, and called all his servants, and spake all these words in the ears of them; and all men dreaded greatly.
9Soothly Abimelech called also Abraham, and said to him, What hast thou done to us? what sinned we against thee, that thou hast brought in on me and on my realm such a great sin? thou hast done to us which things thou oughtest not to do.
10And again Abimelech asked, and said, What thing sawest thou, that thou wouldest do this?
11Abraham answered, I thought within me, and said, In hap the dread of God is not in this place; and they shall slay me for my wife;
12in other manner forsooth and she is my sister verily, the daughter of my father, and not the daughter of my mother; and I wedded her into wife;
13soothly after that God led me out of the house of my father, I said to her, Thou shalt do this mercy with me in each place to which we shall enter; thou shalt say, that I am thy brother.
14Therefore Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and servants, and handmaids, and gave to Abraham; and he yielded to him Sarah, his wife,
15and said, The land is before you; dwell thou, wherever it pleaseth thee.
16Forsooth Abimelech said to Sarah, Lo! I gave a thousand pieces of silver to thy brother; this shall be to thee into a covering of eyes, to all men that be with thee; and whither ever thou goest, have thou mind that thou art taken.
17Soothly for Abraham prayed, God cured Abimelech, and his wife, and handmaids, and they childed;
18for God had closed each womb of the house of Abimelech, for Sarah, the wife of Abraham.