Genesis 20

1 Abraham traveled from there south to the Negev and settled down between Kadesh and Shur. While he was camping in Gerar,
2 Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She's my sister."
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and told him, "You're as good as dead - that woman you took, she's a married woman."
4 Now Abimelech had not yet slept with her, hadn't so much as touched her. He said, "Master, would you kill an innocent man?
5 Didn't he tell me, 'She's my sister'? And didn't she herself say, 'He's my brother'? I had no idea I was doing anything wrong when I did this."
6 God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know your intentions were pure, that's why I kept you from sinning against me; I was the one who kept you from going to bed with her.
7 So now give the man's wife back to him. He's a prophet and will pray for you - pray for your life. If you don't give her back, know that it's certain death both for you and everyone in your family."
8 Abimelech was up first thing in the morning. He called all his house servants together and told them the whole story. They were shocked.
9 Then Abimelech called in Abraham and said, "What have you done to us? What have I ever done to you that you would bring on me and my kingdom this huge offense? What you've done to me ought never to have been done."
10 Abimelech went on to Abraham, "Whatever were you thinking of when you did this thing?"
11 Abraham said, "I just assumed that there was no fear of God in this place and that they'd kill me to get my wife.
12 Besides, the truth is that she is my half sister; she's my father's daughter but not my mother's.
13 When God sent me out as a wanderer from my father's home, I told her, 'Do me a favor; wherever we go, tell people that I'm your brother.'"
14 Then Abimelech gave Sarah back to Abraham, and along with her sent sheep and cattle and servants, both male and female.
15 He said, "My land is open to you; live wherever you wish."
16 And to Sarah he said, "I've given your brother a thousand pieces of silver - that clears you of even a shadow of suspicion before the eyes of the world. You're vindicated."
17 Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his maidservants, and they started having babies again.
18 For God had shut down every womb in Abimelech's household on account of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

Genesis 20 Commentary

Chapter 20

Abraham's sojourn at Gerar, Sarah is taken by Abimelech. (1-8) Abimelech's rebuke to Abraham. (9-13) Abimelech restores Sarah. (14-18)

Verses 1-8 Crooked policy will not prosper: it brings ourselves and others into danger. God gives Abimelech notice of his danger of sin, and his danger of death for his sin. Every wilful sinner is a dead man, but Abimelech pleads ignorance. If our consciences witness, that, however we may have been cheated into a snare, we have not knowingly sinned against God, it will be our rejoicing in the day of evil. It is matter of comfort to those who are honest, that God knows their honesty, and will acknowledge it. It is a great mercy to be hindered from committing sin; of this God must have the glory. But if we have ignorantly done wrong, that will not excuse us, if we knowingly persist in it. He that does wrong, whoever he is, prince or peasant, shall certainly receive for the wrong which he has done, unless he repent, and, if possible, make restitution.

Verses 9-13 See here much to blame, even in the father of the faithful. Mark his distrust of God, his undue care about life, his intent to deceive. He also threw temptation in the way of others, caused affliction to them, exposed himself and Sarah to just rebukes, and yet attempted an excuse. These things are written for our warning, not for us to imitate. Even Abraham hath not whereof to glory. He cannot be justified by his works, but must be indebted for justification, to that righteousness which is upon all and unto all them that believe. We must not condemn all as hypocrites who fall into sin, if they do not continue in it. But let the unhumbled and impenitent take heed that they do not sin on, thinking that grace may abound. Abimelech, being warned of God, takes the warning; and being truly afraid of sin and its consequences, he rose early to pursue the directions given him.

Verses 14-18 We often trouble ourselves, and even are led into temptation and sin, by groundless suspicions; and find the fear of God where we expected it not. Agreements to deceive generally end in shame and sorrow; and restraints from sin, though by suffering, should be thankfully acknowledged. Though the Lord rebuke, yet he will pardon and deliver his people, and he will give them favour in the sight of those with whom they sojourn; and overrule their infirmities, when they are humbled for them, so that they shall prove useful to themselves and others.

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries