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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

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Abraham’s Treachery
1Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the #I.e., South countryNegev, and #Lit dweltsettled between Kadesh and Shur; then he lived for a time in Gerar. 2And Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent men and took Sarah. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is #Lit married to a husbandmarried.” 4Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You kill a nation, even though #Lit righteousblameless? 5Did he himself not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my #Lit palmshands I have done this.” 6Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also #Lit restrainedkept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know that you will certainly die, you and all who are yours.”
8So Abimelech got up early in the morning and called all his servants, and told all these things in their #Lit earspresence; and the people were greatly frightened. 9Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And #Lit whathow have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me #Lit deedsthings that ought not to be done.” 10And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What have you #Lit seenencountered, that you have done this thing?” 11Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. 12Besides, she actually is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife; 13and it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is #Lit yourthe kindness which you will show to me: #Lit at every place whereeverywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ” 14Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned his wife Sarah to him. 15Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; #Lit dwellsettle wherever #Lit it is good in your sightyou please.” 16To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. #Lit Behold, it isIt is #Lit for you a covering of the eyesyour vindication before all who are with you, and before everyone you are cleared.” 17Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his female slaves, so that they gave birth to children. 18For the Lord had completely closed all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.