Genesis 20:1-18

Abraham and Abimelek

1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,
2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?
5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
7 Now 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, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.
9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.”
10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.
15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”
16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels[a] of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,
18 for the LORD had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

Genesis 20:1 in Other Translations

KJV
1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
ESV
1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar.
NLT
1 Abraham moved south to the Negev and lived for a while between Kadesh and Shur, and then he moved on to Gerar. While living there as a foreigner,
MSG
1 Abraham traveled from there south to the Negev and settled down between Kadesh and Shur. While he was camping in Gerar,
CSB
1 From there Abraham traveled to the region of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived in Gerar,

Genesis 20:1-18 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 20

This chapter relates the removal of Abraham to Gerar, Ge 20:1; the king of Gerar's taking to him Sarah, whom Abraham had called his sister, Ge 20:2; who is rebuked of God for it in a dream, Ge 20:3; for which he makes an apology that is admitted, only he is ordered to restore to Abraham his wife, Ge 20:4-7; and accordingly early in the morning he called his servants, and acquainted them with what had happened, Ge 20:8; and then sent for Abraham, and expressed his resentment at his usage of him, Ge 20:9; which Abraham defended as well as he could, Ge 20:10-13; the issue of all which was, great kindness was shown to Abraham, and his wife restored to him, though with a reproof to her from the king, Ge 20:14-16; upon which Abraham prayed for the healing of Abimelech and his family, in which he was heard and answered, Ge 20:17,18.

Genesis 20:1-18 In-Context

1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,
2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?
5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
7 Now 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, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.
9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.”
10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ”
14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.
15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”
16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,
18 for the LORD had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

Cross References 33

  • 1. Genesis 18:1
  • 2. S Genesis 12:9
  • 3. S Genesis 14:7
  • 4. S Genesis 16:7
  • 5. Genesis 26:3
  • 6. Ge 26:1,6,17
  • 7. ver 12; S Genesis 12:13; Genesis 26:7
  • 8. ver 14; Genesis 21:22; Genesis 26:1
  • 9. S Genesis 12:15
  • 10. Numbers 22:9,20
  • 11. Genesis 28:12; Genesis 31:10,24; Genesis 37:5,9; Genesis 40:5; Genesis 41:1; Numbers 12:6; Deuteronomy 13:1; Job 33:15; Daniel 2:1; Daniel 4:5; Matthew 27:19
  • 12. Exodus 10:7; Exodus 12:33; Psalms 105:38
  • 13. ver 7; Genesis 26:11; 1 Chronicles 16:21; Psalms 105:14
  • 14. S Genesis 18:25
  • 15. S Genesis 12:19
  • 16. S Genesis 17:1
  • 17. Psalms 7:8; Psalms 25:21; Psalms 26:6; Psalms 41:12
  • 18. 1 Samuel 25:26,34
  • 19. S Genesis 13:13; Psalms 41:4; Psalms 51:4
  • 20. Deuteronomy 18:18; Deuteronomy 34:10; 2 Kings 3:11; 2 Kings 5:3; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15
  • 21. ver 17; Exodus 8:8; Numbers 11:2; Numbers 12:13; 1 Samuel 7:5; 1 Kings 13:6; Job 42:8; Jeremiah 18:20; Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 42:2
  • 22. S ver 3; S Psalms 9:5
  • 23. S Genesis 12:18; Genesis 26:10; Genesis 34:7
  • 24. Genesis 42:18; Nehemiah 5:15; Job 31:23; Psalms 36:1; Proverbs 16:6
  • 25. S Genesis 12:12; Genesis 26:7; Genesis 31:31
  • 26. S Genesis 12:13
  • 27. Deuteronomy 26:5; 1 Chronicles 16:20; Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 63:17
  • 28. S Genesis 12:1
  • 29. S ver 2
  • 30. Genesis 12:16
  • 31. Genesis 13:9; S Genesis 45:18
  • 32. S ver 7; Job 42:9
  • 33. Genesis 12:17

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. That is, about 25 pounds or about 12 kilograms
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.