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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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1And Aḇraham set out from there to the land of the South, and dwelt between Qaḏĕsh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.
2And Aḇraham said concerning Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Aḇimeleḵ sovereign of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
3But Elohim came to Aḇimeleḵ in a dream by night, and said to him, “See, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
4However, Aḇimeleḵ had not come near her, and he said, “יהוה, would You kill a righteous nation also?
5Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and in the innocence of my hands I have done this.
6And Elohim said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. For this reason I did not let you touch her.
7And now, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and let him pray for you and you live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall certainly die, you and all that are yours.
8So Aḇimeleḵ rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and spoke all these words in their hearing. And the men were greatly frightened.
9And Aḇimeleḵ called Aḇraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? In what have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my reign a great sin? You have done matters to me that should not be done.”
10And Aḇimeleḵ said to Aḇraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this matter?”
11And Aḇraham said, “Only because I said to myself, the fear of Elohim is not in this place, and they shall kill me for the sake of my wife.
12“And yet, she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.
13And it came to be, when Elohim caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your loving-commitment that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
14Then Aḇimeleḵ took sheep, and cattle, and male and female servants, and gave them to Aḇraham. And he returned Sarah his wife to him.
15And Aḇimeleḵ said, “See, my land is before you, dwell wherever it is good in your eyes.”
16And to Sarah he said, “See, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. See, it is to you a covering of eyes before all who are with you and before all others, and you are cleared before everyone.”
17And Aḇraham prayed to Elohim, and Elohim healed Aḇimeleḵ, and his wife, and his female servants, so they bore children,
18for יהוה had closed up all the wombs of the house of Aḇimeleḵ because of Sarah, Aḇraham’s wife.