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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 Deceives Abimelech
1Abraham moved to the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was living in Gerar, 2Abraham told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar sent men to take Sarah. 3God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You’re going to die because of the woman that you’ve taken! She’s a married woman!” 4Abimelech hadn’t come near her, so he asked, “Lord, will you destroy a nation even if it’s innocent? 5Didn’t he tell me himself, ‘She’s my sister,’ and didn’t she even say, ‘He’s my brother’? I did this in all innocence and with a clear conscience.”
6“Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience,” God said to him in the dream. “In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That’s why I didn’t let you touch her. 7Give the man’s wife back to him now, because he’s a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don’t give her back, you and all who belong to you are doomed to die.”
8Early in the morning Abimelech called together all his officials. He told them about all of this, and they were terrified. 9Then Abimelech called for Abraham and asked him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you that you would bring such a serious sin on me and my kingdom? You shouldn’t have done this to me.” 10Abimelech also asked Abraham, “What were you thinking when you did this?”
11Abraham said, “I thought that because there are no God-fearing people in this place, I’d be killed because of my wife. 12Besides, she is my sister—my father’s daughter but not my mother’s. She is also my wife. 13When God had me leave my father’s home and travel around, I said to her, ‘Do me a favor: Wherever we go, say that I’m your brother.’ ”
14Then Abimelech took sheep, cattle, and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 15Abimelech said, “Look, here’s my land. Live anywhere you like.” 16He said to Sarah, “Don’t forget, I’ve given your brother 25 pounds of silver. This is to silence any criticism against you from everyone with you. You’re completely cleared.”
17Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female slaves so that they could have children. 18(The Lord had made it impossible for any woman in Abimelech’s household to have children because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.)